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ZTE's new $130 Grand X 4 smartphone won't break the bank for reasonable hardware

It’s a veritable cage match among smartphone makers for the best budget handset these days and it’s no surprise why — analysts at Gartner and elsewhere point to affordable phones as one of smartphone market’s primary growth drivers. But as some manufacturers try to nab a slice of the lucrative pie, not all find success — some budget phones cut too many corners, or launch at an inappropriately high price, or cannibalize sales of existing phones. But leave it to ZTE, masters of bang-for-your-buck smartphones, to debut a winner. On Wednesday, the smartphone maker took the wraps off the Grand X 4, a $130 smartphone bound for subscribers on Cricket Wireless.

The Grand X 4 may not quite punch high enough above its weight class to rival phones like Apple’s iPhone or Google’s Pixel, but it boasts respectable hardware all the same. On the outside, ZTE’s latest packs 5.5-inch HD TFT display and cameras in the form of a 13-megapixel rear-facing model (capable of shooting 1080p video) and five-megapixel front-facing shooter (capable of 720p video). The Grand X 4’s internals are no less impressive for the price tag — a quad-core 1.4 GHz processor paired with 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage expandable via a microSD Card slot, a fingerprint sensor, and a USB Type-C port. Rounding things out is a 3,140 mAh nonremovable battery with support for Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 1.0 standard, which Qualcomm said delivers power 40 percent faster than phones that lack it.

Related: For less than $100, you can pick up the ZTE Tempo with Android Marshmallow

On the software side of the equation, the Grand X 4 packs Dolby Audio equalization software that delivers “premium” sound for music, movies, and gaming, online retailer Amazon’s app, and a mobile hotspot function for sharing your cellular connection. ZTE’s preloaded a few health-focused apps for fitness aficionados, too — principally Argus, a fitness- and activity-tracking app that measures metrics like heart rate and calorie intake, and AskMD, a “personalized health consultation” that helps identify minor and major ailments. A voice recorder lets you create ringtones, a selfie shortcut lets you quickly snap your portrait on the go, and Cricket’s suite of apps help you manage your plan details check your voicemail, and stream music from Deezer.

The Grand X 4 is available from Cricket’s online retail store. It will ship in the coming days.

Related: The ZTE Axon 7 Max launches with a massive 6-inch display and 4GB of RAM

Just how the Grand X 4 compares to the competition depends on your criteria. It is superior to Lenovo’s budget headliner, the $150 Moto G4 Play, which sports a smaller display (5 inches versus 5.5) and slower chip (1.2GHz versus 1.4GHz) than the Grand X 4 and lacks accouterments like fast charging and a fingerprint sensor. But ZTE’s $180 ZMax Pro, the Grand X 4’s spiritual older brother, packs a slightly more vibrant (LCD versus the Grand X 4’s TFT) and bigger (6 inches versus 5.5) touchscreen, plus a faster processor (1.5GHz versus 1.4GHz) and more internal storage (32GB versus 16GB).

Ultimately, it is a matter of your pocketbook. If you are stretched for cash, you will be pleased with the Grand X 4. But if you can stretch for an upgrade, ZTE’s higher-end alternative is worth considering.