Chinese language smartphone producer ZTE took us unexpectedly final 12 months with the ZMax Professional, particularly due to its $100 price ticket (on MetroPCS). Its huge, brilliant, lovely display, strong efficiency, and long-lasting battery made its disappointing digital camera straightforward to forgive.
Now, ZTE’s again with one other budget-focused cellphone: The ZMax XL. It’s the religious successor to the ZMax Professional, however outfitted with a much bigger battery and different minor updates. Better of all, it prices the identical $100, although this time that worth is out there solely on Increase Cellular.
Sadly, the ZMax XL’s upgrades aren’t cash effectively spent. An extended-lasting battery isn’t sufficient to justify a subpar display, a sluggish processor, and one other disappointing digital camera. The ZMax XL could also be low cost, however its worth isn’t low sufficient to justify the compromises.
Barely thicker, however extra snug to carry
You’d be forgiven for mistaking the ZMax XL for the ZMax Professional. From the entrance, the 2 telephones look an identical.
Regardless of the ZMax XL’s large 6-inch footprint, I didn’t discover it any extra awkward to deal with than final 12 months’s ZMax Professional. Admittedly, one-handed use is just about not possible — you’re compelled to shimmy up the ZMax XL’s edges to achieve the highest. However contemplating the beneficiant quantity of actual property afforded, it’s a worth to pay for followers of large-screen telephones.
The ZMax XL’s large display is shielded by curved 2.5D Gorilla Glass three.Zero. The sides are ever-so-slightly raised above the ZMax XL show, and contoured across the cellphone’s 4 edges. We’re huge followers of the execution, right here — the sloping glass feels and appears simply pretty much as good, if not higher, because it does on the ZMax Professional.
Whereas the XL is lighter than the Professional, it feels bulkier and is thicker. It’s doubtless because of the larger battery within the XL, and we don’t thoughts — in spite of everything, who doesn’t need extra battery life?
The opposite variations between the 2 telephones are a bit harder to identify. The ZMax XL inherits the ZMax Professional’s sturdy textured energy button and two-button quantity rocker. The SIM card tray and MicroSD card slot haven’t moved from their respective positions on the cellphone’s upper-left facet. The XL retains a three.5mm audio jack and a USB Kind-C port, which is greater than may be mentioned for some funds telephones.
On the again, the ZMax XL’s rear digital camera — an ideal circle — sits above a single LED flash. The embedded fingerprint, positioned beneath the flash, has a sloping edge that’s not as harsh on pores and skin because the the ZMax Professional sensor’s sharp edges.
One other miss is the ZMax XL’s lack of a NFC chip.
There’s one similarity between the ZMax XL and ZMax Professional we had been upset to see: Its three-button row of touch-sensitive navigation buttons. They don’t have any distinguishable icons to remind you which ones is the again button, and which is the Current apps button — and worst of all they’re generally unresponsive.
One other miss is the ZMax XL’s lack of a near-field communications (NFC) sensor. Similar to the ZMax Professional, it doesn’t help Android Pay — you possibly can’t faucet to pay at grocery shops, espresso retailers, and different retailers with contactless terminals; pair with different NFC gadgets; or switch information by way of Android Beam. Faucet-to-pay platforms like Android Pay are gaining steam, so it’s unhappy to see ZTE leaving NFC out. However the firm isn’t alone — Lenovo’s Moto G5 lacks NFC in some territories as effectively.
All that mentioned, the ZMax XL isn’t devoid of enhancements. It’s a tad bit extra snug to carry, because of rounded-out sides and corners. It ditches the ZMax Professional’s gold accents, as an alternative choosing a strong light-grey scheme. The brand new again cowl materials resists oily fingerprints, and has a a lot better grip.
Pinkish hues within the show
We weren’t anticipating a lot from the ZMax XL’s Full HD (1,920 x 1,080 pixels) display, and that instinct turned out to be on level. In our testing, textual content was sharp and the panel’s scale lent a cinematic high quality to films and TV reveals, however we observed pinkish distortion that appeared to worsen in apps with white menus like Chrome and YouTube. We reached out to ZTE about this concern, however didn’t get a response.
Viewing angles weren’t nice both — tilting the ZMax XL a bit to the left or proper resulted in washed-out colours.
ZTE ZMax XL In contrast To
Brightness is kind of the identical on the most setting, when in comparison with the ZMax Professional’s display. Nonetheless, it’s a disgrace the XL’s display is such a step down.
The XL’s exterior speaker can be about the identical. We discovered the ZMax Professional’s loudspeaker to be tinny and vague, and the ZMax XL’s mannequin is not any completely different. The included Dolby Audio equalizer app, which helps you to tweak frequency ranges and change between pre-programmed audio profiles, didn’t appear to enhance something.
The ZMax XL shares much more with the ZMax Professional internally than it does externally. It packs the identical octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 processor — the processor contained in the Moto G4 and G4 Plus. We might have favored to see a brand new chipset right here, however the 617 isn’t dangerous in any respect.
In our testing, the ZMax XL dealt with mild duties like a champ. Albums in Fb and Chrome loaded comparatively rapidly, as did chat threads in Slack and Fb Messenger. Pinch-to-zoom in Google Maps was as speedy on the ZMax XL as it’s was the ZMax Professional. We didn’t discover any slowdowns whereas opening massive attachments in Gmail, which generally bogs down even one of the best performers.
That mentioned, the Snapdragon 617 is beginning to present its age. In Chrome, high-res photos strained the Adreno’s 450 chip — panning and zooming turned noticeably jittery. Apps generally hesitated a second or two earlier than launching, and there gave the impression to be a slight, pervading lag on the house display and within the multitasking menu.
However it didn’t present in benchmarking exams. In 3D Mark’s Sling Shot ES three.1 check, the ZMax XL managed a rating of 380 — a bit higher than the ZMax Professional (368) and about even with the Moto G4 (384), however far wanting getting older competitors just like the two-year-old Nexus 5X (1,487), which was barely costlier and has a unique processor.
Day-long battery life
We had been impressed by the ZMax Professional’s long-lasting battery, and the ZMax XL is a good higher performer. That’s not precisely stunning — its three,990mAh battery is nearly 600mAh larger than the the ZMax Professional’s (three,400mAh). The Snapdragon 617 can be energy environment friendly, as our evaluations of Lenovo’s G4 and G4 Plus revealed.
Over the course of three pretty lengthy workdays, the ZMax XL lasted like a champ.
Over the course of three pretty lengthy workdays, the ZMax XL lasted like a champ. Fb updates, e-mail attachments, RSS feeds, and light-weight web shopping drained it to about 40 p.c. By the point I slapped it on the charger round midnight, it had about 25 p.c. Altogether, that labored out to about 18 hours of battery life.
The ZMax XL, similar to the ZMax Professional, helps Qualcomm’s Fast Cost 2.Zero fast charging know-how. It doesn’t cost as rapidly because the chip maker’s new Fast Cost four.Zero-enabled chips, which ship as much as 5 hours of battery life in 5 minutes. However it’s no slouch. In our testing, the ZMax XL took between forty minutes to an hour and a half to recharge totally.
Poor digital camera
The ZMax Professional’s 13-megapixel rear digital camera struggled with element, coloration inaccuracy, and noise. Sadly, the ZMax XL — which packs the identical sensor — doesn’t enhance on a lot.
In first rate sunny, outside lighting, the ZMax XL captured competent — however not nice — photographs. It rendered buildings in New York Metropolis’s Flatiron district a bit dimmer than it ought to’ve, and shadows lacked element.
Indoor photographs had been a unique story. Underneath the brilliant florescents of Digital Tendencies’ NYC workplace, distinction was considerably degraded. The ZMax XL had a troublesome time accounting for synthetic mild sources, leading to low-contrast, out-of-focus images with a lot of noise.
The front-facing 5-megapixel digital camera was no higher. In our testing, selfies got here out blurry and noisy.
Close to-stock Android software program
Among the best issues concerning the ZMax Professional was its “mild contact” tackle Android.
Among the best issues concerning the ZMax Professional was its “mild contact” tackle Android. If we didn’t know any higher, we’d assume it was working bone-stock Android Nougat 7.1.1 — the icons, lock display, and menus are as shut as you’ll discover to the vanilla model of Android. It isn’t fully untarnished — the notification shade is clear, for instance — however ZTE left the core components intact.
ZTE has stored bloatware to a minimal, too, simply because it did with the ZMax Professional. Lookout, a cell safety app, is in tow, as is a sound recorder app, an FM radio app, and a fundamental file supervisor. That’s about it.
Guarantee, pricing, and availability
ZTE gives a normal one-year restricted guarantee on the ZMax XL. It affords replacements and repairs on items which might be discovered to be “faulty in materials or workmanship,” and affords a refund if a restore is decided to be not possible. It doesn’t cowl unauthorized modifications made to the ZMax, after all, and unintended harm can even void the guarantee. In different phrases, if the ZMax’s display shatters or its casing scratched, these repairs should be paid for out of pocket.
The ZTE ZMax XL is unique to Increase Cellular, T-Cellular’s pay as you go model, in the interim. It’s accessible for $100 after a $30 promotional low cost.
ZTE’s ZMax Professional could not have been good, but it surely was a fairly compelling deal at $100. There’s much less to advocate concerning the ZMax XL.
How lengthy will it final?
ZTE’s usually good about holding its telephones updated, although you might have to attend just a few months. It lately rolled out Android 7.1.1 Nougat, the most recent model, to the ZMax Professional, and Axon 7. It introduced that older telephones, together with the Axon Max, and Axon Elite will obtain the improve to Nougat within the close to future.
The DT Accent Pack
Traditionally, ZTE’s baked main new options into software program updates. The Axon 7, for instance, acquired help for Wi-Fi calling and Google’s Daydream digital actuality platform. In the event you pull the set off on the ZMax XL, you possibly can anticipate it to final a minimum of a 12 months.
Is there a greater different?
Sure. Final 12 months’s ZMax Professional, which retails for about the identical worth because the ZMax XL on Amazon, is healthier in a number of respects. It captures sharper footage, and the display doesn’t exhibit the identical pinkish tinge. The ZMax Professional’s battery gained’t final as lengthy, however we expect the opposite positives outweigh the negatives.
In the event you can spring for a better tier of funds cellphone, although, we extremely advocate the Lenovo Moto G5, which has a much better digital camera, processor, and display than each the ZMax Professional and the ZMax XL. It begins at $230, however in our estimation, it’s extra cash effectively spent.
Do you have to purchase it?
No. The ZMax XL could also be an inexpensive cellphone, but it surely’s not an excellent one. Until you’re a Increase Cellular buyer who doesn’t need to fork out a penny over $100, we’d advocate giving the ZMax XL a go. Its predecessor is measurably superior in some methods, and there are higher choices on the market on the $200+ worth level.