ZTE ZMAX Review

ZTE ZMAX Review
ZTE ZMAX Review
ZTE ZMAX Review
ZTE ZMAX Review
Introduction


Being a household name takes a lot of work in the mobile space, especially when there are so many companies competing for a piece of the pie. That, of course, is something that has eluded ZTE tie-after-time here in the US market. In its latest quest to try and break free from that stigma, the company is banking that a run in the entry-level market with its new phablet smartphone in the ZTE ZMAX, will yield fruitful rewards in giving its name some substance amongst consumers. Even now, it’s still rare to find a budget oriented phablet, but the ZMAX surely gains attention with its outright cost of $252 – so will it be enough to get people to take notice of it?

The package contains:

  • microUSB cable
  • Wall charger
  • Start guide
  • User manual

Design

The ZTE ZMAX is as generic looking as they come.

Indicative of its low pricing, the ZTE ZMAX’s design doesn’t spark the imagination. Aesthetically, it’s pretty generic looking with its hard lined look, all-plastic black body, and tapered edges. Naturally, it’s a handful to operate due to its immense size, a quality that’s emblematic of any phablet, but the plastic material makes the _phone_ rather slippery.

As for the placement of its physical buttons, they’re in locations that are ideal for a tablet – like how the power button is on the right side of the phone, and the volume controls on the left. Other ports around its body include its microUSB port, various microphones, SIM slot, and microSD slot. Interestingly, they’ve opted to outfit the _phone_ with capacitive Android buttons, as opposed to having them incorporated into the interface.

 

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Front view | Side view
ZTE ZMAX
ZTE ZMAX
6.4 x 3.3 x 0.35 inches
162.6 x 83.8 x 8.9 mm
5.5 oz (156 g)

ZTE ZMAX

Huawei Ascend Mate 2 4G
Huawei Ascend Mate 2 4G
6.34 x 3.33 x 0.37 inches
161 x 84.7 x 9.5 mm
7.13 oz (202 g)

Huawei Ascend Mate 2 4G

Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8
Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8
6.46 x 3.3 x 0.38 inches
162.6 x 82.4 x 9 mm
6.42 oz (182 g)

Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8

Sony Xperia T2 Ultra
Sony Xperia T2 Ultra
6.5 x 3.3 x 0.3 inches
165.2 x 83.8 x 7.65 mm
6.07 oz (172 g)

Sony Xperia T2 Ultra



Display

Large in size, its specs might not impress, but it has enough pleasing qualities to like.

Sporting a massive sized 5.7-inch 720 x 1280 TFT display, there’s no denying that it fits the mold of what we’d expect to find in a phablet – where we’re given a sizable real estate to work with. Chiming in with 720p resolution, it might not appear super sharp upon close inspection with its pixel density count of 258 ppi, but it’s still nonetheless usable from a normal viewing distance. Meanwhile, there are other qualities about the screen that surprisingly give it a favorable tone – like its color temperature of 7000 K, 441 nit brightness, and 2.05 gamma value. However, there’s visible distortion at wide viewing angles, and it’s not entirely accurate with its color reproduction. For all intents and purposes, the display is usable and we’re genuinely pleased by the qualities produced by this affordably priced phone.

Display measurements and quality

Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better Contrast Higher is better Color temperature (Kelvins) Gamma Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Sony Xperia T2 Ultra 508
(Excellent)
26
(Poor)
1:1473
(Excellent)
7071
(Good)
2.9
5.39
(Average)
7.47
(Average)
Huawei Ascend Mate 2 4G 457
(Good)
21
(Poor)
1:1189
(Good)
6554
(Excellent)
2.24
2.37
(Good)
2.75
(Good)
ZTE ZMAX 441
(Good)
13
(Poor)
1:801
(Average)
7000
(Excellent)
2.05
5.09
(Average)
5.91
(Average)
Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8 430
(Good)
11
(Average)
1:1082
(Good)
8970
(Poor)
2.68
9.27
(Poor)
8.21
(Poor)
View all

The numbers below represent the amount of deviation in the respective property, observed when a display is viewed from a 45-degree angle as opposed to direct viewing.

Maximum brightness Lower is better Minimum brightness Lower is better Contrast Lower is better Color temperature Lower is better Gamma Lower is better Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
ZTE ZMAX 75.1%
76.9%
63.5%
11.4%
4.4%
7.3%
49.2%
Sony Xperia T2 Ultra 85.4%
88.5%
99.8%
9.4%
1%
2.2%
4.7%
Huawei Ascend Mate 2 4G 86.2%
85.7%
82.2%
5.7%
10.7%
22.8%
156.4%
Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8 No data
No data
93.3%
1.6%
67.5%
3.1%
118.1%
View all

The CIE 1931 xy color gamut chart represents the set (area) of colors that a display can reproduce, with the sRGB colorspace (the highlighted triangle) serving as reference. The chart also provides a visual representation of a display's color accuracy. The small squares across the boundaries of the triangle are the reference points for the various colors, while the small dots are the actual measurements. Ideally, each dot should be positioned on top of its respective square. The 'x: CIE31' and 'y: CIE31' values in the table below the chart indicate the position of each measurement on the chart. 'Y' shows the luminance (in nits) of each measured color, while 'Target Y' is the desired luminance level for that color. Finally, 'ΔE 2000' is the Delta E value of the measured color. Delta E values of below 2 are ideal.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Color accuracy chart gives an idea of how close a display's measured colors are to their referential values. The first line holds the measured (actual) colors, while the second line holds the reference (target) colors. The closer the actual colors are to the target ones, the better.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Grayscale accuracy chart shows whether a display has a correct white balance (balance between red, green and blue) across different levels of grey (from dark to bright). The closer the Actual colors are to the Target ones, the better.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

View all


ZTE ZMAX Review

ZTE ZMAX Review
ZTE ZMAX Review
ZTE ZMAX Review
ZTE ZMAX Review
Introduction


Being a household name takes a lot of work in the mobile space, especially when there are so many companies competing for a piece of the pie. That, of course, is something that has eluded ZTE tie-after-time here in the US market. In its latest quest to try and break free from that stigma, the company is banking that a run in the entry-level market with its new phablet smartphone in the ZTE ZMAX, will yield fruitful rewards in giving its name some substance amongst consumers. Even now, it’s still rare to find a budget oriented phablet, but the ZMAX surely gains attention with its outright cost of $252 – so will it be enough to get people to take notice of it?

The package contains:

  • microUSB cable
  • Wall charger
  • Start guide
  • User manual

Design

The ZTE ZMAX is as generic looking as they come.

Indicative of its low pricing, the ZTE ZMAX’s design doesn’t spark the imagination. Aesthetically, it’s pretty generic looking with its hard lined look, all-plastic black body, and tapered edges. Naturally, it’s a handful to operate due to its immense size, a quality that’s emblematic of any phablet, but the plastic material makes the phone rather slippery.

As for the placement of its physical buttons, they’re in locations that are ideal for a tablet – like how the power button is on the right side of the phone, and the volume controls on the left. Other ports around its body include its microUSB port, various microphones, SIM slot, and microSD slot. Interestingly, they’ve opted to outfit the phone with capacitive Android buttons, as opposed to having them incorporated into the interface.


Front view | Side view
ZTE ZMAX
ZTE ZMAX
6.4 x 3.3 x 0.35 inches
162.6 x 83.8 x 8.9 mm
5.5 oz (156 g)

ZTE ZMAX

Huawei Ascend Mate 2 4G
Huawei Ascend Mate 2 4G
6.34 x 3.33 x 0.37 inches
161 x 84.7 x 9.5 mm
7.13 oz (202 g)

Huawei Ascend Mate 2 4G

Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8
Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8
6.46 x 3.3 x 0.38 inches
162.6 x 82.4 x 9 mm
6.42 oz (182 g)

Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8

Sony Xperia T2 Ultra
Sony Xperia T2 Ultra
6.5 x 3.3 x 0.3 inches
165.2 x 83.8 x 7.65 mm
6.07 oz (172 g)

Sony Xperia T2 Ultra



Display

Large in size, its specs might not impress, but it has enough pleasing qualities to like.

Sporting a massive sized 5.7-inch 720 x 1280 TFT display, there’s no denying that it fits the mold of what we’d expect to find in a phablet – where we’re given a sizable real estate to work with. Chiming in with 720p resolution, it might not appear super sharp upon close inspection with its pixel density count of 258 ppi, but it’s still nonetheless usable from a normal viewing distance. Meanwhile, there are other qualities about the screen that surprisingly give it a favorable tone – like its color temperature of 7000 K, 441 nit brightness, and 2.05 gamma value. However, there’s visible distortion at wide viewing angles, and it’s not entirely accurate with its color reproduction. For all intents and purposes, the display is usable and we’re genuinely pleased by the qualities produced by this affordably priced phone.

Display measurements and quality

Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better Contrast Higher is better Color temperature (Kelvins) Gamma Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Sony Xperia T2 Ultra 508
(Excellent)
26
(Poor)
1:1473
(Excellent)
7071
(Good)
2.9
5.39
(Average)
7.47
(Average)
Huawei Ascend Mate 2 4G 457
(Good)
21
(Poor)
1:1189
(Good)
6554
(Excellent)
2.24
2.37
(Good)
2.75
(Good)
ZTE ZMAX 441
(Good)
13
(Poor)
1:801
(Average)
7000
(Excellent)
2.05
5.09
(Average)
5.91
(Average)
Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8 430
(Good)
11
(Average)
1:1082
(Good)
8970
(Poor)
2.68
9.27
(Poor)
8.21
(Poor)
View all

The numbers below represent the amount of deviation in the respective property, observed when a display is viewed from a 45-degree angle as opposed to direct viewing.

Maximum brightness Lower is better Minimum brightness Lower is better Contrast Lower is better Color temperature Lower is better Gamma Lower is better Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
ZTE ZMAX 75.1%
76.9%
63.5%
11.4%
4.4%
7.3%
49.2%
Sony Xperia T2 Ultra 85.4%
88.5%
99.8%
9.4%
1%
2.2%
4.7%
Huawei Ascend Mate 2 4G 86.2%
85.7%
82.2%
5.7%
10.7%
22.8%
156.4%
Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8 No data
No data
93.3%
1.6%
67.5%
3.1%
118.1%
View all

The CIE 1931 xy color gamut chart represents the set (area) of colors that a display can reproduce, with the sRGB colorspace (the highlighted triangle) serving as reference. The chart also provides a visual representation of a display's color accuracy. The small squares across the boundaries of the triangle are the reference points for the various colors, while the small dots are the actual measurements. Ideally, each dot should be positioned on top of its respective square. The 'x: CIE31' and 'y: CIE31' values in the table below the chart indicate the position of each measurement on the chart. 'Y' shows the luminance (in nits) of each measured color, while 'Target Y' is the desired luminance level for that color. Finally, 'ΔE 2000' is the Delta E value of the measured color. Delta E values of below 2 are ideal.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Color accuracy chart gives an idea of how close a display's measured colors are to their referential values. The first line holds the measured (actual) colors, while the second line holds the reference (target) colors. The closer the actual colors are to the target ones, the better.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Grayscale accuracy chart shows whether a display has a correct white balance (balance between red, green and blue) across different levels of grey (from dark to bright). The closer the Actual colors are to the Target ones, the better.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

View all


Interface and Functionality

The experience is mostly stock, thankfully.

Always the one to please purists, the ZTE ZMAX is running a mostly stock Android 4.4.2 KitKat experience out of the box. In fact, the only thing not stock is the camera app, which we’ll detail a bit later on. Clean looking and packing all of the core functions of Android, the experience here is simple, straightforward, and uncomplicated. Out of everything, our only reservation is finding out how quickly ZTE is willing to push out future software updates to it.
In comparison to other notable phablets, the ZTE ZMAX lacks the depth of productivity tools and software features to keep the on-the-go user satisfied. Sure, the spacious sized screen offers some advantages, like being able to see more of an email or document, but it doesn’t go beyond from the diversified features set that we get from other phablets.

Typing up messages is a breeze using the default, stock Android keyboard, since the layout is spacious and its responsiveness is good in keeping up with our rate of input.

Processor and Memory

Don’t expect the snappiest performance with this, but it suffices for basic things.

Due to its low cost, it should be no surprise to anyone that the ZTE ZMAX opts to pack an entry-level processor – a quad-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 8926 SoC paired with 2GB of RAM and the Adreno 305 GPU. Basic tasks are handled with no frills at all, but its performance begins to crumble against more processor intensive stuff. It’s most noticeable with games, as missed frames are evident in its performance.

Accompanied with 16GB of internal storage, which translates to 11.64GB of usable space out of the box, that’s a tally we’re satisfied with – more so when that tally can be supplemented thanks to its microSD slot.

Performance benchmarks

Quadrant
Higher is better
Huawei Ascend Mate 2 4G 11210
Sony Xperia T2 Ultra 9785.6
ZTE ZMAX 8513
Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8 3856
AnTuTu
Higher is better
Huawei Ascend Mate 2 4G 22341
Sony Xperia T2 Ultra 19422.3
ZTE ZMAX 17306
Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8 7999
Vellamo Metal
Higher is better
Huawei Ascend Mate 2 4G 886
Sony Xperia T2 Ultra 582
ZTE ZMAX 699
Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8 386
Vellamo Browser
Higher is better
Huawei Ascend Mate 2 4G 1879
ZTE ZMAX 1632
Sunspider
Lower is better
Huawei Ascend Mate 2 4G 1382.6
Sony Xperia T2 Ultra 1408.4
ZTE ZMAX 1496.7
GFXBench T-Rex HD on-screen
Higher is better
Huawei Ascend Mate 2 4G 10.7
Sony Xperia T2 Ultra 10.9
ZTE ZMAX 10.6
GFXBench Manhattan on-screen
Higher is better
Huawei Ascend Mate 2 4G 4.3
Sony Xperia T2 Ultra 4.1
ZTE ZMAX 3.9
Basemark OS II
Higher is better
Huawei Ascend Mate 2 4G 471
Sony Xperia T2 Ultra 447
ZTE ZMAX 494
View all

Internet and Connectivity


Although its performance isn’t the best, the ZTE ZMAX at least suffices enough when it comes to surfing the web. It’s partly due to its speedy 4G LTE connection, large screen, and effective navigational controls.

Thankfully, this GSM-enabled smartphone bears all of the essential connectivity features we expect to find in a modern phone – like aGPS, Bluetooth 4.0, dual-band 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, and NFC. Heck, it even offers support for Wi-Fi calling through T-Mobile!



Camera

It’s decent looking with its results.

Armed with an 8-megapixel main camera, it’s nothing too extravagant, but it serves its purpose. From the looks of it, the camera app is one of the few non-stock Android things with the experience. Impressively, the interface is loaded with manual controls and several shooting modes to please the most demanding shutterbug. From usual staples like HDR and panoramic modes, we’re also given secondary modes such as interval and blink detection.

Generally speaking, its quality is decent enough to accept. It’s far from perfect, that’s for sure, since there are certain elements that prove distracting. First, it’s pretty slow to focus, and when it does, the camera is sometimes too slow in capturing the snapshot – resulting in many images coming out blurry. On top of that, dynamic range isn’t handled evenly, which results in certain areas being overexposed. Under low lighting, there’s a fair amount of noise and softer details.


Camera speed

Taking a pic (sec)Lower is better Taking an HDR pic (sec)Lower is better CamSpeed score Higher is better CamSpeed score with flash Higher is better
ZTE ZMAX 2
No data
425
394
Huawei Ascend Mate 2 4G 3.1
8.5
293
282
Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8 4.4
No data
365
317
Sony Xperia T2 Ultra 4.5
5.7
377
348
View all

Our reservations are the same with its 1080p video recording quality, where it’s pretty slow to focus and seems rather finicky with its exposure.


Multimedia

Great for watching videos, we’re impressed to find that ZTE sprinkles a multi-tasking element with it.

Of course, the stock Android experience means that we’re given the Google Play Music app for all our music listening needs – albeit, ZTE’s own music player is available as well. Emitting its audio through the rear firing speaker, it delivers an output of 70.9 dB, which sounds rather sharp in tone to the ear.

Largely because of its gigantic screen, the ZTE ZMAX is an ideal thing if you plan on watching a lot of videos. Not only do they play smoothly and look good on the phone, but ZTE offers a multi-tasking element where the video is overlaid on top of whatever we’re doing. It’s nice gesture, of course, but there’s a slight hitch to the phone’s overall performance.



Audio output

Headphones output power (Volts)
Higher is better
Huawei Ascend Mate 2 4G 0.88
ZTE ZMAX 0.44
Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8 0.37
Sony Xperia T2 Ultra 0.27
Loudspeaker loudness (dB)
Higher is better
Huawei Ascend Mate 2 4G 76.3
ZTE ZMAX 70.9
Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8 74
Sony Xperia T2 Ultra 81
View all


ZTE ZMAX Review
Call Quality

More times than none, you’re going to ask you callers to repeat themselves frequently.

Voices through the earpiece exhibit a subtle robotic tone, but its volume output is ample enough to discern our callers under noisy environments. However, that’s not the case with the speakerphone – not only because of its weak output, but also due to the hollow voices it produces. On the other end of the line, though, our callers have no complaints about the rich and clear voices they’re given.

ZTE ZMAX Review
Battery

A big phone deserves a big battery! And boy is it long lasting.

Stuffed inside its body is a massive sized 3400 mAh battery, which permits us close to two days of normal usage from a full charge. No doubt, it’s pretty darn good, but it even reaches a great mark in our battery benchmark test – where it achieves an impressive tally of 10 hours 53 minutes.

Battery life

We measure battery life by running a custom web-script, designed to replicate the power consumption of typical real-life usage.

name
Time
Higher is better
Huawei Ascend Mate 2 4G
11h 26 min (Excellent)
ZTE ZMAX
10h 53 min (Excellent)
Sony Xperia T2 Ultra
10h 16 min (Excellent)
Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8
5h 11 min (Average)
View all


Conclusion


Looking at the overall package, we can say that the ZTE ZMAX is as generic as they get, but for a phablet, we’re content to know that it’s accompanied with an affordable price tag of $252 outright. Certainly, it’s the least features rich phablet we’ve come across, as it mostly provides a stock Android experience. Then again, for those looking for a competitively priced phablet that won’t break the bank, it provides enough quality elements to give consumers a valuable offering they can surely grow to love.

Software version of the review unit:
Android Version: 4.4.2
Baseband Version: P892T57B01
Kernel Version: 3.4.0-g9b6969a-00468-g8a5deba