ZTE Max XL review

Big phone for a small price

Great Value

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One common area budget phones compromise is the camera and the ZTE Max XL is no exception. In ideal lighting conditions, the Max XL is actually capable of some good looking photos but the camera quickly falls on its face in low light. This is something that many flagship smartphones can’t get right, so it’s expected for a budget device to struggle especially here.

Even with photographic subjects in direct sunlight, the ZTE Max XL’s camera struggles with dynamic range, blowing out highlights or obscuring details in the shadows. Looking at photos at 100% crop, there’s a noticeable lack of sharpness with details blurring into one another.

The 5MP front facing camera is even worse, struggling to show any sort of dynamic range and sharpness. Selfies look like they’ve been put through a softness filter, though it does have a nice smile detection feature.

On the positive side, the camera software of the ZTE Max XL is good, offering a ton of customization for filters, HDR, self-timers, panoramas, timelapse and multiple exposures. There’s even a manual mode to adjust aperture, ISO, white balance, and exposure independently. These are nice features to have but users will quickly bump into the camera’s limitations. 

  • Large 3,990mAh battery can last two days with moderate use
  • Quick Charge 3.0 compatible
  • Idling lost only 4% overnight

Perhaps the biggest selling point of the ZTE Max XL is its huge 3,990mAh battery. In our week of testing, we managed to get two full days of light use out of the Max XL. With heavier use like watching video and constant texting, you’ll still need to charge the phone overnight but most users will get through a typical day comfortably.

In terms of idling performance, the ZTE Max XL lost about 4% overnight, thanks to the battery optimizations done in Android 7.1.1 Nougat.

For those who are constantly on their phones, the ZTE Max XL comes with Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0 built-in so topping up from flat takes about less than 2 hours. ZTE includes a USB quick charger and USB-C cable in the box, which are nice additions for a phone this cheap.

Lewis Leong
Lewis Leong is a freelance writer for TechRadar. He has an unhealthy obsession with headphones and can identify cars simply by listening to their exhaust notes.