T-Mobile and ZTE announce the ZMax, a $250 phablet with a huge battery

Phablets are once again in the mobile spotlight as gadgets like the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and iPhone 6 Plus launch in the coming weeks. These larger smartphones often come at a steep price for the extra screen real estate — but not the ZTE ZMax. ZTE’s new phablet will retail for just $250 for a 5.7-inch display as well as a huge 3,400mAh battery. That’s $250 without a contract, not with a 2-year lock-in.

The ZTE ZMax, debuting with T-Mobile, comes at just a third of the price of a iPhone 6 Plus, yet brings with it a 5.7-inch display to match the other phablets on the market. If you take advantage of T-Mobile’s monthly Equipment Installation Plan for the ZMax, then you’ll pay just over $10 a month to own this gadget, a far cry from the $27 a month you’ll need to pay to own the new iPhone 6 Plus and its 5.5-inch display.

As the saying goes though, you still get what you pay for. the ZTE ZMax may have the bigger screen, but with just a 720p LCD screen, things will look far less crisp than the 1080p or Quad HD displays on the iPhone 6 Plus and Samsung Galaxy Note 4. The device will be powered by a quad-core Qualcomm snapdragon processor, have a 8-megapixel camera in the back and 1.6-megapixel camera up front. ZTE also stuffed in a much bigger 3,400mAh battery to help users get an all-day battery life, while still keeping the device just 0.34 inches thick. The features are nonetheless more than enough for most smartphone owners looking for a bigger screen and comes in a price perfect for T-Mobile’s contract-free pricing model.

The ZMax is part of ZTE’s ambition, like those of Huawei and other value-oriented manufacturers, to help raise the recognition of its own brand name. Many ZTE phones tend to be branded by wireless carrier names instead of ZTE’s own name. We’ll have to wait and see how many people bite on the idea of a budget phablet in America.