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ZTE ZMAX: Huge 3,400-mAH Battery, 5.7-inch Screen for $250

NEW YORK - Apple wants you to pay an extra $100 for the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus, but ZTE is giving you a bigger screen for less. Today at its media event, the Chinese phone maker proved it can offer a great phone at a small price with the ZMAX phablet. Available from Sept. 24 at T-Mobile stores nationwide, the 5.7-inch Z Max will cost just $250 unlocked (or $0 down and 24 monthly payments of $10.)

I got an early look at the brand new ZMAX and was impressed with its big battery, display and performance for the price. 

The first thing you'll notice on the ZMAX is its 5.7-inch HD Gorilla Glass 3 display.  Colors, such as the blue Skype icon on a bright green, yellow and orange wallpaper, were vivid and clear. However, I noticed some distortion when I tilted the phone at extreme angles. 

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While its simple black squarish design with round sides won't blow you away, the 6.4 x 3.3 x 0.35-inch ZMAX is sturdy and sleek. The Galaxy Note 4 measures a shorter and slightly slimmer 6.04 x 3.09 x 0.33 inches.

The ZMAX runs a clean version of Android 4.4.2 KitKat, meaning it doesn't have any additional software to make better use of all that display space. Samsung offers a Multi Window feature to split your screen, while LG has QSlide, which lets you float multiple apps in their own windows at the same time.

ZTE's handset has mid-range specs. It's powered by a quad-core Snapdragon 400 CPU and backed by 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage. Still, the ZMAX was zippy and responsive during my time with it. I flipped through home screens and the apps drawer with ease. The camera app fired up without delay and shot multiple pictures in rapid succession. Of course, for more detailed performance tests, we'll have to wait for a full review to see how the ZMAX does. 

With a larger screen and capable processor, you're going to want to stare at your phone all day, and the ZMAX should last you all day. Carrying a 3,400-mAH battery, the ZMAX beats Samsung's recently announced Galaxy Note 4 (3,220 mAh).

Still, the battery inside the ZMAX is smaller than the 4,100-mAH monster inside Huawei's Ascend Mate 7, which will reportedly last 2 days. The Ascend Mate 7 will cost some $650 when it launches though, and while we don't know the price of the Note 4 yet, we expect it to cost upwards of $500 based on the price of previous Note devices.

On the ZMAX's rear is an 8-megapixel camera, while a 1.6-MP one sits up front. It also carries speakers with Dolby Digital sound.

The ZMAX's specs aren't the most impressive, but what really wows is the big screen, generous battery and solid build for an extremely competitive price. We can't wait to get our hands on a review unit to see just how well the ZMAX stacks up.