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ZTE's midrange Max XL smartphone goes big on everything except price

ZTE Tempo X
Update: The ZTE Max XL is now available from Sprint, on top of the previous availability from Boost and Virgin.

ZTE’s Zmax Pro was one of the most impressive budget smartphones of 2016. We were blown away by its price point, which managed to cost less than competitors like Samsung’s Galaxy J7 and Lenovo’s Moto G4 Plus without making compromisse. And in that regard, its successor appears to be no different.

The ZTE Max XL was first launched a few months ago for Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile, however it now looks like the phone will make its way into the big leagues — Sprint has announced that users will be able to get the device through the Sprint website. Unfortunately, it won’t be as cheap as it was at Boost or Virgin — while it cost $130 at those carriers, at Sprint it comes in at $192.

The Max XL packs a 6-inch IPS (1920 x 1080 pixels) display shielded with shatter-resistant Gorilla Glass, and a 1.4GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 435 processor (a slight step down from the ZMax Pro, which had a 1.5GHz octa-core Snapdragon 617). There’s 2GB of RAM inside, plus a whopping 128GB of storage (expandable via MicroSD slot) and a 3,990mAh battery that lasts up to 26.6 hours on a charge.

The Max XL doesn’t skimp in other areas. There’s a 13MP rear and 5MP front camera, and an FM radio. Rounding out the internals are a 3.5mm headphone jack, Bluetooth 4.0, a fingerprint sensor, and GPS. And it ships running Android 7.0 Nougat, the latest version of Google’s mobile operating system.

The Max XL launches on Boost Mobile’s 2GB plan ($30 with auto-renew, $35 without), which includes unlimited talk and text and 1GB of additional data for $5 a month (or 2GB for $10 a month). It’s also available on Boost Mobile’s Unlimited Gigs plan, which comes with unlimited talk, text, and data starting at $50 a month ($30 a month for a second line, up to five total). As mentioned, it’s also now available from Sprint for $192.

ZTE said it’s the first Boost Mobile phone to support Sprint’s HPUE (High Performance User Equipment) technology and LTE+, which translates to faster network speeds and increased coverage. And it supports international roaming — with Boost Mobile’s $5 Todo Mexico Plus add-on, you get unlimited calls to Mexico and Canada, plus unlimited international texting.

“We continue to push the boundaries and give consumers more of what they want — bigger battery, bigger screen, and the best connection possible — all at an affordable price,” said Cheng.

From what we’ve seen of the Max XL so far, it’s tough to argue.

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