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ZTE blows budget phones out of the water with the ZMax Pro, now at T-Mobile

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Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

ZTE is perhaps best known for offering buyers more bang for their buck with cheap smartphones, but that’s not a totally fair assessment anymore. After all, the company’s Axon line can be listed among the cream of the high-end smartphone crop, and the new ZMax Pro is a solid midrange phone with a remarkably low price tag.

The ZMax line has always been affordable since the first one debuted in 2014 for $200. Its successor, the ZMax 2, hit store shelves for just $150 last year. This year’s ZMax Pro is even cheaper, and after a bout of exclusivity at MetroPCS starting in August, it’s now available at T-Mobile for $180.

“The ZMax lineup continues to challenge what consumers should expect from their smartphone,” said Lixin Cheng, chairman and CEO of ZTE USA. “The ZMax Pro is one of the highest-spec’d and lowest-cost phones on the market, and the device should be a great option for T-Mobile customers looking for a quality product at an affordable price point.”

Related: ZTE ZMax Pro review

Indeed, this phone has solid midrange specs that pit it against the $250 Moto G4 Plus, which is regarded as the king of budget phones.

The ZMax Pro, like 2015’s ZMax 2 before it, features a 1080p (1,920 x 1,080 pixels) screen that measures an impressively large 6 inches diagonally. Around back, it sports a 13-megapixel camera and fingerprint sensor. Meanwhile, the front of the device sports a 5-megapixel shooter.

It has equally impressive guts: an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 617, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, a MicroSD card reader that supports cards of up to 128GB, dual SIM slots, and a USB Type-C port. Finally, the ZMax Pro has a larger battery than last year’s model, too — 3,400mAh versus 3,000mAh — and it supports Qualcomm’s Quick Charge technology.

In terms of software, the ZMax Pro won’t ship with any surprises. It’s running Android 6.0 Marshmallow, and atop it ZTE’s customized interface, MiFlavor.

Those specifications are relatively passé in the budget smartphone sphere, but the real draw is the price. $100 slots it well below Lenovo’s new Moto G4, which sports much the same hardware — a smaller battery (3,000mAh), for one, plus an identical processor and a screen the same resolution — for double the price, or $200.

Related: 8 powerful smartphones you can buy for $400 or less

“First, we delivered the ZMax, the largest phablet under $200 and made it available on T-Mobile. Now, we are delivering a premium fingerprint sensor on the ZMax Pro with MetroPCS,” Cheng said. “We continue giving consumers what they want, value, and use at a pace in which they ask for it.”

The ZMax Pro is now available at MetroPCS and at T-Mobile stores.

Buy at T-Mobile

Updated on 10-26-2016 by Lulu Chang: Added news that ZTE ZMax Pro is now available at T-Mobile.