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ZTE ZMAX unboxing and first impressions

Join us as we take a first look at the ZTE Zmax, a attractive looking mid-ranger with a great price tag and equally impressive specs for the money.
September 16, 2014

ZTE unveiled its latest mid-range smartphone offering, the ZMAX, at a press event in New York earlier today, along with announcing the exclusive availability of the device from T-Mobile. Bringing to the table a large display, 4G LTE support, and a big battery, the newest addition to T-Mobile’s smartphone portfolio gives users a great mid-range option at a more than reasonable price point, perfect for those not looking to spend the big bucks on the latest and greatest. Before we dive into a full review, we first take a look at the unboxing, and give you our first impression of the ZTE ZMAX!

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Opening the box shows you the phone in all its glory. Underneath, you’ll find the microUSB cable, the AC charger, a pin to open up the SIM tray and the microSD card slot, and the usual paperwork, including the instruction manual, warranty information, and legal notices. Considering that the device will be available exclusively from T-Mobile, a T-Mobile SIM pack is also included in the box.

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The ZTE ZMAX comes with a beautiful curved back design with a semi-matte finish, that definitely gives the device a more premium look and feel than its specifications and price tag would suggest. The power button and the microSIM card slot are found the right side, with the volume rocker and the microSD card slot on the left. With its 5.7-inch display, it is no doubt a large device, but the placement of the buttons make them easy to reach. The headphone jack is found up top, with the microUSB port at the bottom. The front of the phone is dominated by the large display, with a set of capacitive keys found just below it. The handling experience is as you’d expect from a device of this size, with the curved back allowing it to sit nicely in your hand but the gripping on the sides isn’t ideal since they aren’t flat.

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When it comes to the display, you get a large 5.7-inch screen with a resolution of 1280 x 720, resulting in a pixel density of 258 ppi. It’s not the highest resolution and pixel density we’ve seen on a display of this size, but is par for the course as far as current mid-range offerings are concerned. The LCD display brings with all that you’d expect, including good color reproduction, great brightness, and fantastic viewing angles. Despite its lower pixel count, you’ll still have a good time doing anything on this display.

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Under the hood is a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, clocked at 1.2 GHz, and backed by the Adreno 305 GPU. It may not be the fastest processing package out there, but performs well enough to handle day to day tasks with ease, helped along by the near stock-like software experience. Other specifications include 16 GB of internal storage, that is further expandable via microSD, and a large 3,400 mAh battery, that should offer almost two days of battery life with average use.

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The camera setup isn’t nearly as impressive as some other mid-range smartphones out there, at least on paper. You get an 8 MP rear camera that should do a decent job, but a more in-depth review of the camera will be required before we jump to any conclusions. the ZTE ZMAX also comes with a 1.6 MP front-facing shooter.

When it comes to the software, you get a near stock-like Android 4.4 Kitkat, which is certainly a pleasant change from the more drastic measures that Chinese OEMs tend to take with their software experiences. One of the few noticeable changes to the stock apps, however, is the camera. While the Zmax might not have the most impressive camera (at least on paper), there’s actually quite a few options when it comes to the camera app including a manual mode that lets you further enhance your photo taking experience.

Overall, the ZTE Zmax is a solid looking device, both on-paper and in terms of aesthetics. On the downside, it’s also a pretty big device, not just because of the display, but also because of the large bezels found around the device. This means the Zmax might have a great price tag and good specs, but it’s also a bit unwieldy.

This concludes our first impression of the ZTE Zmax, though stay tuned for the full review which should be on its way in relatively short order.