Chinese language smartphone producer ZTE took us abruptly 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 digicam simple 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 value is accessible solely on Enhance Cell.
Sadly, the ZMax XL’s upgrades aren’t cash nicely spent. An extended-lasting battery isn’t sufficient to justify a subpar display, a sluggish processor, and one other disappointing digicam. The ZMax XL could also be low-cost, however its value 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 similar.
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 unimaginable — you’re pressured to shimmy up the ZMax XL’s edges to achieve the highest. However contemplating the beneficiant quantity of actual property afforded, it’s a value 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 nearly 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 possible because of the larger battery within the XL, and we don’t thoughts — in any case, who doesn’t need extra battery life?
The opposite variations between the 2 telephones are slightly more durable 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 will be mentioned for some price range telephones.
On the again, the ZMax XL’s rear digicam — an ideal circle — sits above a single LED flash. The embedded fingerprint, positioned under 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 typically 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 assist 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 through 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 nicely.
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 motion pictures and TV reveals, however we seen pinkish distortion that appeared to worsen in apps with white menus like Chrome and YouTube. We reached out to ZTE about this problem, however didn’t get a response.
Viewing angles weren’t nice both — tilting the ZMax XL slightly 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 totally 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’d have favored to see a brand new chipset right here, however the 617 isn’t unhealthy in any respect.
In our testing, the ZMax XL dealt with gentle duties like a champ. Albums in Fb and Chrome loaded comparatively shortly, 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 typically 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 typically 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.
Nevertheless it didn’t present in benchmarking exams. In 3D Mark’s Sling Shot ES three.1 take a look at, the ZMax XL managed a rating of 380 — slightly higher than the ZMax Professional (368) and about even with the Moto G4 (384), however far wanting ageing competitors just like the two-year-old Nexus 5X (1,487), which was barely costlier and has a distinct 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 shocking — its three,990mAh battery is sort of 600mAh larger than the the ZMax Professional’s (three,400mAh). The Snapdragon 617 can be energy environment friendly, as our opinions 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 lightweight web shopping drained it to about 40 %. By the point I slapped it on the charger round midnight, it had about 25 %. Altogether, that labored out to about 18 hours of battery life.
The ZMax XL, identical to the ZMax Professional, helps Qualcomm’s Fast Cost 2.Zero fast charging know-how. It doesn’t cost as shortly 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. Nevertheless it’s no slouch. In our testing, the ZMax XL took between forty minutes to an hour and a half to recharge totally.
The ZMax Professional’s 13-megapixel rear digicam struggled with element, coloration inaccuracy, and noise. Sadly, the ZMax XL — which packs the identical sensor — doesn’t enhance on a lot.
In respectable sunny, outside lighting, the ZMax XL captured competent — however not nice — photographs. It rendered buildings in New York Metropolis’s Flatiron district slightly dimmer than it ought to’ve, and shadows lacked element.
Indoor photographs had been a distinct story. Beneath the intense florescents of Digital Tendencies’ NYC workplace, distinction was considerably degraded. The ZMax XL had a tricky time accounting for synthetic gentle sources, leading to low-contrast, out-of-focus pictures with a lot of noise.
The front-facing 5-megapixel digicam was no higher. In our testing, selfies got here out blurry and noisy.
Close to-stock Android software program
Probably the greatest issues in regards to the ZMax Professional was its “gentle contact” tackle Android.
Probably the greatest issues in regards to the ZMax Professional was its “gentle contact” tackle Android. If we didn’t know any higher, we’d suppose 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 parts 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 supplies a normal one-year restricted guarantee on the ZMax XL. It provides replacements and repairs on models which might be discovered to be “faulty in materials or workmanship,” and provides a refund if a restore is decided to be unimaginable. It doesn’t cowl unauthorized modifications made to the ZMax, in fact, and unintentional injury 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 Enhance Cell, T-Cell’s pay as you go model, in the interim. It’s accessible for $100 after a $30 promotional low cost.
ZTE’s ZMax Professional might not have been good, nevertheless it was a fairly compelling deal at $100. There’s much less to suggest in regards to the ZMax XL.
How lengthy will it final?
ZTE’s usually good about holding its telephones updated, although you’ll have to attend a couple of months. It just lately rolled out Android 7.1.1 Nougat, the latest 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.
Traditionally, ZTE’s baked main new options into software program updates. The Axon 7, for instance, acquired assist for Wi-Fi calling and Google’s Daydream digital actuality platform. Should you pull the set off on the ZMax XL, you possibly can count on it to final not less than a 12 months.
Is there a greater different?
Sure. Final 12 months’s ZMax Professional, which retails for about the identical value because the ZMax XL on Amazon, is best in a number of respects. It captures sharper photos, 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.
Should you can spring for a better tier of price range cellphone, although, we extremely suggest the Lenovo Moto G5, which has a much better digicam, processor, and display than each the ZMax Professional and the ZMax XL. It begins at $230, however in our estimation, it’s more money nicely spent.
Do you have to purchase it?
No. The ZMax XL could also be an inexpensive cellphone, nevertheless it’s not an excellent one. Until you’re a Enhance Cell buyer who doesn’t wish to fork out a penny over $100, we’d suggest giving the ZMax XL a move. Its predecessor is measurably superior in some methods, and there are higher choices on the market on the $200+ value level.