Earlier today, ZTE held a pretty awesome rooftop event to announce its latest device, the ZTE Z Max Pro. The device announcement comes a bit surprising considering the praise and hubbub surrounding the upcoming ZTE Axon 7, which is slated to come out on July 28th.
— ZTE USA (@ZTE_USA) July 18, 2016
The company started the event with a presentation going over the growth of ZTE ever since the release of its first cell phone and ending with the newly introduced ZTE ZMax Pro. Throughout the presentation, the name of the game was to describe how ground-breaking the ZMax Pro will be to the market as a whole, with its included fingerprint scanner and USB Type-C charging port. Additionally, time was taken during the presentation to go over the partnership between both ZTE and T-Mobile-owned, MetroPCS.
Luckily, unlike the Moto Z/Moto Z Force or the Axon 7, ZTE still included the 3.5mm headphone jack with the ZMax Pro, so you won’t need to worry about finding an adapter, or only relying on your Bluetooth headphones. We were able to get our hands on the device in New York and take a look at just how premium this budget device is.
The ZMax Pro offers a premium feel, although the sides and back panel are not made of metal. The overall design feels sturdy and definitely will withstand the day-to-day abuse that our smartphones take on a regular basis.
The front of the device features a Gorilla Glass 3 display panel with a resolution of 1920 x 1080. Looking at the display, you can tell it’s not as clear as the Nexus 6P, but that’s just one of the corners that were cut to bring this device under $100. Also placed on the front of the ZMax Pro are three navigation buttons, with the back and recents button being able to be switched around within the Settings App.
As for the rear, you’ll notice a soft texture that makes it easy for this huge device to nestle itself in your hands. With the fingerprint scanner located just above the middle of the device, and the camera located just above that. While holding the device, the fingerprint scanner placement is ideal, as it rests just where my index finger lands, making this a no-brainer of a win.
Around the sides of the ZMax Pro, you’ll find the sim card/microSD card tray on the left side, with the power and volume rocker on the right. At the top, the 3.5mm headphone can be found, and on the bottom is where the USB Type-C charging port is nestled. With this device, ZTE opted to place the speaker on the rear of the device, which is known to not be a very friendly place when listening to music or watching videos, as our hands will muffle the sound.
Overall, the ZMax Pro seems like an extremely well-built and sturdy device, even if it doesn’t include a metal build. We’ll have to see how this device holds up over time, but first impressions are that it will do just fine.
The software has a stock feel to it, with a few differences than what you would expect. Instead, the company opted for a redesigned notification shade, with a more minimal look and feel to it. Although the notification drawer and lock screen software is altered, the rest of the device feels as if its running a modified version of Google’s Now Launcher.
As with most carrier devices, MetroPCS definitely has their hand in the cookie jar with the ZMax Pro, as the device comes bundled with a few “bloat” applications, but nothing like what we’ve seen from other devices in the past.
The software felt quick and snappy during out brief hands-on with the device, but we’ll need to take a deeper look at how the 2GB of RAM hold up to more intensive usage. Opening and switching between applications was easy and there was no noticeable stutter while navigating through the app drawer and Settings menus.
ZTE surprised us with the inclusion of a fingerprint scanner on a sub-$100 device, but the real surprise came while playing around with the ZMax Pro. After a quick set up with multiple fingerprints, the scanner performed pretty fast. It’s not as instantaneous as other devices, but it still performs better than one would expect.
The ZMax Pro includes a few different features that will allow users to take advantage of the fingerprint scanner in other ways than just keeping your device secure. First, users will be able to designate a “quick-open app” which will open once the fingerprint scanner is activated. This feature will only work when the screen is off and locked, but will make opening your favorite app a breeze.
There are also two options within the fingerprint settings that don’t require fingerprint verification. Users will be able to either take a photo, or answer a phone call just by tapping the fingerprint scanner. This essentially adds another button to the device, without actually sacrificing thickness by adding another button on the device. Of course, these options aren’t customizable, but they are still nifty features nonetheless that aren’t found elsewhere currently.
Overall the ZMax Pro is looking to take the budget market by storm, but may deal with some complications due to its exclusivity to MetroPCS. The device itself feels sturdy, is huge, and has a few features that are surprising with a device priced below $100.
The ZTE ZMax Pro is coming to MetroPCS on August 1st for just $99, with pre-orders open starting today. Additionally, the first 5,000 customers who pre-order the device will receive a free leather case, and if you want to snag one of these, click here. Drop us a line below and let us know what you think about ZTE’s latest offering, and how this device could affect future budget releases from other manufacturers in the future.