2017 has been an incredible year for budget smartphones, but what is life like with a $100 smartphone? What kind of value can you get out of a $100 smartphone? Well with the ZTE Max XL, there’s a lot to offer for the price. Snapdragon 435, 6 inch 1080p display, 3990 maH battery, 16GB of storage and two gigs of RAM. Even though this phone doesn’t have the latest Snapdragon chipset, with day-to-day tasks this phone does just fine. There isn’t any noticeable lags or stutters between switching apps, taking pictures or normal tasks. There’s a few weird things like a screen might go black while being on YouTube and starting off the display and turning it back on solves this problem and this could be a RAM management problem, potentially it is definitely not a speed demon by any stretch of the imagination, but you’re not gonna notice a huge difference when opening and closing and switching between apps versus a faster flagship. But because of the slower chipset this really allows the device to sit battery day-to-day. This 3990 maH battery and only 1080p display, you have no issues of getting two work days of battery life on the ZTE Max XL.
The media experience with the Max XL is solid. This display looks good and has good viewing angles. Least favorite part would be this back facing speaker, but it is loud and sounds decently clear, you do start to get some distortion at the higher ends and it is a little tinny if you turn it up too loud. You may have noticed the size of the phone and there’s no getting around this, this is a huge phone, you’ll most likely have to use two hands for every day use. Thankfully it has aluminum body, around the edges here and has a nice texture back which feels good in the hand.
ZTE offers Vanilla Android experience and you get Android 7.1.1 right out of the box. You won’t find a lot of bloatware here and that really adds the overall speed of this device. The camera experience on the Max XL can be hit or miss. You really start to see the limitations of a budget smartphone in this category. In low light you really start to see the limits of the sensor and you see grain in your shots and you have to hold it really still and it does take quite a while to focus. If you’re selfie fanatic this phone might not be your best option. It gets the job done here for a selfie or a Snapchat from here to here but not the best.
ZTE offers manual camera modes, you can adjust your ISO shutter speed and white balance manually is quite nice. This is a budget phone for sure with its limits but with that display and battery life it makes up for a slower processor and a just okay camera. For a $100 this can be a great option for a lot of people.