ZTE Zmax2 smartphone review 2016
a cheap, nice, rugged, and BIG smartphone


ZTE Zmax2 smartphone
Rating: 5/5 by Steve
Last Updated: November 16, 2016

I recently purchased an AT&T ZTE Zmax2 GoPhone smartphone to have another cheap GSM smartphone to test one of my FreedomPop GSM sims. I got it because it was cheap, and I read that I could unlock it right away (which I was able to do). The ZTE Zmax2 is my new favorite smartphone. I love the big 5.5" screen, and now realize that size really does matter! Seriously though, the bigger screen makes the phone much easier to use, and it's the phone my family grabs if they want to check something on the internet. I don't have any problem carrying it in my back pocket, and because it is cheap, I've decided not to bother with a case for it (which would make it bigger). The screen resolution and colors are great. The sound is awesome. As for sound volume and quality, our other smartphones seem adequate but weak in comparison. The ZTE Zmax2 speakers are much louder, and the phone has Dolby Digital Audio (which improves the sound even more). The Zmax2 isn't going to replace our home stereo system, but for a smartphone, the sound rocks! The one drawback with larger (5.5") phone size is that if I am going to use it as a phone for an extended period of time (such as a one hour walk spent talking with my father), I prefer to use one of our smaller (4.5" screen) Moto G smartphones. Otherwise, the ZTE Zmax2 for the price (about $100) just can not be beat. I should also mention it has a monster 3000mAh battery that lasts "forever", and is removable and replaceable, should it ever be necessary.

You can buy the ZTE Zmax2 on Amazon (see below). You can save a bit and get the AT&T GoPhone version like I did, and then unlock it before you first use it (so you can use it with other carriers like FreedomPop). I explain how to unlock the AT&T GoPhone version below. Or you can pay a little more and get the generic unlocked version. In either case, this is a great smartphone to pair with a FreedomPop GSM free cellar data sim and a Google Voice (via Hangouts) phone number, which enables you to have FREE cellular phone service.

ZTE Zmax2 Specifications:
 * PHONE SIZE/WEIGHT: 6.06" x 2.99" x 0.37", 6oz
 * SCREEN SIZE: 5.5 inch HD Display Screen (1280 x 720 pixels)
 * Gorilla Glass 3
 * 1.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 410
 * 2 GB RAM
 * 16 GB ROM (internal memory) plus up to 32GB MicroSD
 * Google Android 5.1 Lollipop
 * supports wifi (802.11 b/g/n), 2G, 3G, 4G, LTE
 * GSM - works with AT&T and TMobile, is not CDMA and does not work with Sprint or Verizon
 * also works with any AT&T or TMobile MVNOs (resellers), for example, with both FreedomPop LTE and Global GSM sims
 * 8MP main camera with LED flash
 * 2MP selfie camera
 * Micro-USB charging/data port, standard headphone jack
 * Dolby Digital Plus sound
 * 3000 mAh REMOVABLE Battery (this is a monster battery with a theoretical standby time of up to 16 days!)


PRICE: When you can get this phone for $100 bucks or less, I really not sure why you would want to spend a whole lot more on a smartphone. If you lose or break this phone, you're out $100, unlike a $500 - $800 smartphone. I'd be nervous carrying around an expensive iPhone. I'm not nervous carrying around this phone.

BATTERY: The ZTE Zmax2 has a monster 3000 mAh battery. It seems to the last the longest of any of our smartphones. I like a phone that I don't have to worry about charging very often. Also, the battery is removable and replaceable, which is a nice but uncommon feature on smartphones today. If or when the battery starts to wear out, you can easily buy a new battery and pop it in. I like that.

SCREEN/DISPLAY: I have a 4.5" screen Moto G, and 5.0" screen BLU R1 HD, and now this 5.5" screen ZTE Zmax2. I love the big screen. It makes everything much easier (my eyes aren't what they used to be). The only downside is that the phone is a bit large if your holding it by your head for a long phone call. It might also be an issue for people with small pockets. But other that that, the large screen is awesome (and the colors and resolution are gorgeous).

SPEAKERS/SOUND: The speakers are some of the loudest I've heard on a smartphone, and the Dolby Digital Plus audio improves the sound even more. I like the speakers and sound!

TALKING: All of my phone calls so far have been just fine. This phone works as a phone, as one would expect and hope for.

TEXTING: works just fine as expected, and is usually my main form of communicating (text not talk).

CAMERA: I don't take a lot of pictures. I've used both the main camera and selfie camera, and both look fine. Some other reviews state the camera is so-so. It seems fine for what most people take pictures for, and I wouldn't expect the state of the art camera one would get with the latest iPhone. My kids like all the added features on the camera app.

FIT AND FINISH: The phone looks good and feels solid.

RELIABILITY: We've had multiple Motorola phones (including old school RAZR flip phones and more modern Moto G smartphones), and I've always found Motorola phones to be reliable long-term. I've never had a ZTE phone before. So far I haven't had any reliability problems. If I do, I'm only risking very much. At this point, I have good expectations for this phone.

I really can't say anything bad about this phone. It does everything I need. I love the size and the large battery. It's a great phone. The only fault I could find with it (which really isn't a fault) is that the power button is below the volume buttons, unlike the Motorola phones which have the power button above the volume buttons. I'm now used to the new power button location on the Zmax2, but when I go to use one of our Moto G smartphones, I often hit the volume button instead of the power button, because the placement is the opposite.


 * You can buy an unlocked ZTE Zmax2 smartphone on Amazon for $99.

 * Or, you can buy the AT&T GoPhone ZTE Zmax2 smartphone on Amazon for $79.

If you get the AT&T version, I recommend you unlock it before you use it so you can use it on other carriers besides AT&T (like FreedomPop). I had no problem unlocking my AT&T Zmax2 after I bought it by using the following instructions. The key is that you need to request the unlock code BEFORE you turn on or otherwise activate the phone. You will also need a non-AT&T sim to put in the phone to get the unlock prompt. If you don't have a non-AT&T sim, you can get a FreedomPop GSM sim (which is sometimes on sale for as little as $1).

1) When you get the phone, DO NOT OPEN THE PACKAGE! Leave the phone in the unopened package and DO NOT TURN IT ON.
2) On the back of the package, there will be a label with the phone's IMEI number.
3) Go to https://www.att.com/deviceunlock/?#/
4) Click "Unlock your device"
5)  Select "NO" for the question: "Are you an AT&T wireless customer?"
 (You must answer NO (meaning that you are NOT an AT&T customer) if you want to get an unlock code! Otherwise, if you don't, you will need to use the phone with AT&T for 6 months before you can request an unlock code.)
6) Enter your IMEI from the back of the package, and check the "I've read the legal stuff" box
7) Fill out the rest of the form and submit
8) You will be sent an email. You will need to click a link in that email to confirm your request for the unlock code.
9) After you confirm your request, you will receive a second email within 2 business days with an unlock code. I got mine the next day.
10) After you get the code, open up your package and take out the phone. DO NOT TURN IT ON YET. Open the back of the phone and and remove the AT&T sim. Put in a different carrier's sim card (like a $1 FreedomPop GSM free data sim). After you put in your own sim, then turn on the phone, and it will prompt you for the unlock code.
11) Enter the code, and your phone will be unlocked!


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