ZTE Kis 3 Max review

More fudges than features with this budget handset

ZTE Kis 3 Max review
It's got the price right, but not enough else

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The biggest selling point of the ZTE Kis 3 Max is its very low price. At £64.99 (which includes £10 top-up from Virgin Mobile). It's one of the cheapest smartphones on the market.

In pursuit of this low price, ZTE has cut back on features and specifications. Don't expect a stunning high definition screen here: the 4.5-inch screen comes with a 480 x 854 resolution. This gives the ZTE Kis 3 Max a pixel density of 218 ppi. The low pixel count results in a screen that is sometimes blurry and lifeless.

ZTE Kis 3 Max review

The screen is one of the Kis 3 Max's big disappointments

The VodafoneSmart 4 mini, which at £50 is slightly cheaper than the ZTE Kis 3, comes with a 4-inch display running at 480 x 800 pixels and a pixel density of just 233ppi. It's not a great screen by any measure, but still looks sharper than the Kis 3 Max's.

The similarly-priced Lumia 530 manages the same 480 x 854 resolution as the Kis 3 but in a smaller screen size of 4-inches, giving it a pixel density of 245ppi.

While it is understandable that the ZTE Kis 3 Max doesn't come with an eye-poppingly vibrant screen, its competitors show that a smaller screen size can result in a more impressive display.

I'll go into more detail about the hardware specifications of the ZTE Kis 3 Max later on in this review, but as expected the handset isn't very powerful with a dual core 1.3GHz processor and 512MB of RAM.

Because of the low price it almost feels uncharitable to knock the low specs of the ZTE Kis 3 Max. The Nokia Lumia 530 packs a quad-core processor in for the same price but both the Huawei Ascend Y530 and Vodafone Smart 4 mini have similar dual-core CPUs.

All the handsets also sport 512MB of RAM, which is the norm for handsets around this price point. It does mean that the ZTE Kis 3 Max will show the strain as time goes by and more intensive apps are released.

The ZTE Kis 3 Max also comes with just 4GB of internal storage, a pretty paltry amount but again not uncommon for devices in this price range. Straight out of the box you only get 1.27GB of usable space due to the preinstalled apps and operating system. If you're looking to take photos or store songs and videos on the handset, you can expand the storage space with a microSD card - the Kis 3 Max supports these up to 32GB in size.

This puts it on a par with its closest competitors. However, with slightly better specs the ZTE Kis 3 Max could have had a better shot at standing out from the crowd. Slightly more powerful components would have jeopardised the low price of the Kis 3 Max, but while a £60 smartphone is cheap now, it doesn't work out quite as cost effective if you have to upgrade in a year.

ZTE Kis 3 Max review

With Android 4.4 pre-installed, the Kis 3 Max is relatively feature-rich

Another key feature of the ZTE Kis 3 Max is that it comes with Android 4.4 KitKat already installed. Other handsets around the same price point come with older, less feature-rich versions of Android, so it's nice to see ZTE include the current version of Android.

ZTE has rightfully made a big deal about the inclusion of Android 4.4, and the handset benefits from a number of new features that come with that version of Google's mobile operating system. However Android 5.0 Lollipop is just around the corner. I've contacted ZTE to see if there are any plans to update the Kis 3 Max to Android 5.0 and have been told that it won't be upgraded.

If you've been eyeing up the new features that Google is implementing in the upcoming Android 5.0 then you'll want to avoid the Kis 3 Max, as it won't be benefiting from them.

Matt Hanson
Managing Editor, Core Tech

Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Core Tech, looking after computing and mobile technology. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. He’s personally reviewed and used most of the laptops in our best laptops guide - and since joining TechRadar in 2014, he's reviewed over 250 laptops and computing accessories personally.