Our Verdict

The ZMax Pro is an incredible value for an affordable phone that does so much right. But it's not worth switching carriers for.

For

  • Incredible value
  • Good build quality
  • Close to stock Android

Against

  • Dim screen
  • Bad speaker

Update: The ZTE ZMax Pro has now arrived at T-Mobile, so now even more people can enjoy this slick deal. However, 9to5Google notes that ZTE's asking price is now $129 - up from $99 at MetroPCS. Even with the slight jump in price, it's worth your cash.

Original review follows below.

It's getting harder and harder to find a bad phone nowadays. Phones like the OnePlus 3 and ZTE Axon 7 show that you don't need to empty your coffers for a flagship smartphone. Plus, phones like the Moto G4 Play and the Huawei Honor X5 show that you can get a fully-featured smartphone with little compromise for around $200.

But what if you venture even lower than $200? How about a phone that costs $100? For that price, you'd expect a potato of a smartphone, but ZTE managed to surprise us with its budget ZMax Pro smartphone.

After spending a week with the ZMax Pro, we've come to the conclusion that it's one of the best budget smartphones out there, but you're probably not going to buy it. Here's why.

ZTE ZMax Pro price and release date

The ZTE ZMax Pro is available now in the US from MetroPCS for $99 and from T-Mobile for $129. MSRP for the phone is $179. Unfortunately, the phone is not unlocked, nor is it available in the UK or Australia at the time of writing.

Design

  • The ZTE ZMax Pro is made entirely of plastic but it doesn't feel flimsy
  • The rear-firing speaker is easily covered up and doesn't get very loud

The ZTE ZMax Pro bears a striking resemblance to the Motorola-built Nexus 6 with its curved sides and similar button arrangement. The phone features a 6.0" Gorilla Glass 3 covered screen with a resolution of 1920x1080. On the front of the phone, you'll find a 5-megapixel front-facing camera, earpiece and backlit capacitive buttons. On the top, you'll find the trusty 3.5mm headphone jack. On the bottom is a USB-C port for charging.

ZTE ZMax Pro

On the rear of the device you'll find a 13-megapixel camera, flash, fingerprint sensor and ZTE logo. There are rose gold plastic accents around the phone, giving this budget phone a premium look.

ZTE ZMax Pro

The phone is made entirely out of plastic but it doesn't look or feel like a $99 phone. Soft touch plastic was chosen for the back, giving the ZMax Pro a bit of grip, though its plastic frame ultimately makes the phone feel slippery in the hand.