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ZTE's ZMax is a big, cheap phablet for T-Mobile

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ZTE has announced its latest smartphone for the US market, the ZMax. Exclusive to T-Mobile, the ZMax is a 5.7-inch phablet that will sell for $252, or $10.50 per month for 24 months on T-Mobile's installment plan. The ZMax has a 3,400mAh battery, 8-megapixel camera, 720p display, quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, 16GB of internal storage, and runs Android 4.4 KitKat. ZTE says it also has Dolby Digital sound enhancements and supports T-Mobile's LTE network and Wi-Fi calling features. It will be available for sale starting September 24th.

The ZMax isn't a striking phone — its design is pretty non-descript and the all black color scheme makes it look more like a reference design than anything else. But it's put together well and in our brief time with it, performed on par with other entry-level smartphones available today. ZTE has kept the software on the ZMax mostly stock Android, but it included the camera app from its Nubia line, which offers more manual control than Android's standard camera app.

The ZMax represents a shift from ZTE's earlier strategy of selling white-label smartphones to US carriers. From now on, the company says it will only offer ZTE-branded devices on carriers in the US. The company has long been a value option for smartphone shoppers, and that strategy isn't changing. But like Huawei, ZTE feels it's time to make its own brand stand out among the many others on carrier shelves today.

ZTE ZMax