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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Smartphones such as the ZTE Kis 3 Max often pose a problem for reviewers. There's no denying that at just under £60 this is a very cheap smartphone and offers a number of features that wouldn't have been thought possible a few years ago at this price point.

Because it's so cheap we can't really expect stellar specifications, and knocking a handset that costs so little for poor performance might seem a little unfair. However, the Kis 3 Max falls down in a number of ways that just aren't acceptable – no matter how much you've paid for it.

We liked

When I first unpacked the Kis 3 Max my hopes were raised as it's a very good looking phone, especially considering its budget price (which is a plus point on its own). While other manufacturers might not spend too much time worrying about what their budget offerings look like and give them perfunctory designs, ZTE has evidently thought long and hard about how the Kis 3 Max looks. The camera was also pleasantly surprising considering the price, for still photos at least.

We didn't like

Sadly there were quite a few things I didn't like about the Kis 3 Max. The low price meant I wasn't expecting particularly strong specifications, but a cheap price tag can only excuse so much.

My time with the Kis 3 Max was plagued by pauses and crashes, which revealed that the phone just isn't up to the task of running Android 4.4 and a lot of modern apps. Games, media and internet browsing were particularly problematic.

Final verdict

Unfortunately just because the Kis 3 Max has a low price it doesn't mean it's good value. Far too many corners have been cut in the hardware department to make the handset enjoyable to use. Frequent pauses kept Android 4.4 from running as smoothly as we expect.

You might be tempted to buy the Kis 3 Max because it is just £60, however you'd be much better off spending £40 to £50 extra to get a more competent and future-proof budget phone, such as the HTCDesire 510. It's a shame because it has such a nice design. If ZTE had put in slightly better components it might not have had such a cheap phone, but it would have been a lot more attractive.

Sure, the Kis 3 Max handles calls and text fine, but these days we expect a little more from our handsets. The Kis 3 Max fails to deliver in many regards, and its ultra-low price can't excuse that.

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. Ever since he got an Amiga A500+ for Christmas in 1991, he's loved using (and playing on) computers, and will talk endlessly about how The Secret of Monkey Island is the best game ever made.