Of Unsung Heroes: The Budget Smartphone That Won The Internet's Heart in 2016 (ZTE ZMAX Pro/MetroPCS Review)

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The ZTE ZMAX Pro was definitely the budget phone steal of 2016 on MetroPCS. At only $99 after rebates, this phone outperformed the flagship LG Stylo G 2 Plus - which was no laughing matter. As a devoted fan of the Stylo G, I walked in to the store ready to upgrade to the Stylo G 2 Plus, but after playing with this phone, it became clear to me that I would be getting ripped off by buying the Stylo G 2 Plus if I went with it instead of the ZTE ZMAX Pro. A definite attention getter from the start was the phone's large 6" screen, but also its snappier response and equal if not superior display quality. Once I found out it had USB C and more up to date Bluetooth, along with 32GB of ROM space, I was completely sold - especially since it saved me about $40 in comparison to the Stylo G 2 Plus.

I have now had this phone for about a year, and it is still an awesome phone that I can't find much to complain about, even though my fingers are getting that familiar twitch to get a hold of a new handset, and I've already got an upgrade picked out. Still, for some reason, I find myself clinging to this handset, and constantly telling myself I don't really need to upgrade yet. It's such a good phone that it really doesn't lack much in comparison to the upgrade I've been eyeballing - which also costs more, with little to offer in comparison for the higher price. The ZTE ZMAX Pro continues to be a king among budget phones. I don't even feel comfortable calling it a budget phone, because if you look at its features, it really does belong in the mid-range market. I have no idea how a phone like this ended up being so cheap. Usually I can figure out some major flaw that has caused a phone with these types of features to get banished to the budget section, but this one has left me pretty clueless. It does have some annoyances - as you can see below, my con list is just as long as my pros. However, none of the cons are bad enough to make this phone a bad phone at all. My Samsung Galaxies have annoyed me more than this phone has.

So that is why I call this phone the unsung hero of 2016. It truly has kept up with the mid range phones from last year, and seems to be keeping up the pace this year as well, for just a mere $99. It's actually holding me back from my yearly upgrade - that's a FIRST for me. I've never had a phone stop me from doing a yearly upgrade, EVER. But I have done one thing with this phone. I've taken the cover off. YES. I have dared to take that cover off and enjoy my final days with it relishing in its sexy rubberized, luxurious slim design, figuring eventually it will get banged up enough to force me to do my yearly upgrade. Because let's face it. I got another review to write about a new phone, lol. And even a phone as sexy and functional as this ZTE ZMAX Pro can't hold me back from doing what I do best. ;)


  • 6" sized, 1080x 920px resolution screen
  • Corning Gorilla Glass 3
  • 13mp back cam & 5mp front cam w/ image stabilization
  • octacore 1.2ghz processor
  • 32gb internal storage
  • 2gb RAM
  • haptic feedback
  • image stabilization
  • bright flash
  • Came with Lollipop, upgraded to Marshmellow, and now has Nougat
  • rubberized finish with chrome edges
  • flat, slim design
  • usb c adapter for quick charging
  • no bloat
  • stock android
  • decent battery life, removable battery
  • up to 64gb SD storage
  • Dolby surround sound is GREAT with earbuds


  • curved display means you will never, ever get a tempered glass protector to fit flush around edges
  • had to replace handset once due to charging port loosening to the point it wouldn't charge any more (and I'm not rough on my handsets at all)
  • poor resource management - I'm not sure if this is ZTE's fault or Google's
  • NO auto brightness adjustment
  • has issues with proximity sensor, likes to mute and hang up on people while on phone
  • earpiece doesn't get sufficient volume - makes a separate Bluetooth piece mandatory
  • doesn't cooperate with NameID to show caller's names
  • also doesn't cooperate with NameID to drop calls without sending to voice mail
  • impossible to root
  • auto focus is sluggish and insensitive
  • no nfc chip
  • no wireless charging capability
  • outdated WiFi means you won't be getting on any 5ghz networks - 2.4ghz only

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