The 6 Best ZTE Phones to Buy in 2018

Picking up a cellular device from this company is a smart idea

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The Rundown

  • Best Overall: ZTE Axon M at Amazon, “One of the most unique smartphones available today, this dual-display device differentiates itself from the pack.”
  • Best Budget: ZTE Blade Spark at Amazon, “The display alone, a 5.5-inch HD screen with Gorilla Glass 3 protection, is better than you’d expect for the price.”
  • Best Value: ZTE Axon 7 Mini at Amazon, “Calling it compact might be a matter of opinion but it still packs in a 5.2-inch AMOLED display.”
  • Runner-Up, Best Value: ZTE Zmax 2 at Amazon, “An ideal choice for smartphone buyers who want nothing but the basics.”
  • Best Mid-Range: ZTE Blade V8 Pro at Amazon, “A good choice for those who don't feel like lugging around a spare charger.”
  • Best Prepaid: ZTE Maven 3 at Best Buy, “If checking social media and taking a few pictures are your biggest smartphone needs, then this phone should get the job done.”

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: ZTE Axon M

ZTE Axon M

 Courtesy of Amazon

One of the most unique smartphones available today, this dual-display device differentiates itself from the pack. What helps the ZTE Axon M truly stand out are the dual 5.2-inch displays. Each screen presents Full HD 1080 resolution and 426ppi (pixels per inch). Here you can play games or watch video on a larger display. Mirror mode or “Tent Mode” displays the same video on each screen so you can watch with a friend.  

Once the phone is folded up, it looks like a regular smartphone (ZTE refers to this as “Traditional Mode”). The caveat is that the phone is slightly thicker and a little bit heavier because of both displays. The thicker bezels might be distracting to some, but it’s a small price to pay for the dual displays.

If you look past the various “modes”, there’s a 20-megapixel camera that captures terrific photos and 4K video. As you need to power both displays simultaneously, ZTE included a 3180mAh battery life for all-day support.

Best Budget: ZTE Blade Spark

If you’re on the hunt for a solid budget phone with some nice extra features, the ZTE Blade Spark is worth a look. The display alone, a 5.5-inch HD screen with Gorilla Glass 3 protection, is better than you’d expect for the price. It won’t match flagship quality, but the colors are more than good enough for everyday use, and ZTE has even managed to squeeze in a rear fingerprint sensor for added security. That’s unusual on a budget device but certainly a welcome feature.

The front-facing five-megapixel camera produces surprisingly good photos, especially in poorly-lit environments, and while a dedicated selfie button is a rarity on today’s smartphones, it serves a purpose. On the back, the 13-megapixel camera produces strong results. Colors are lifelike and even nighttime shots outperform expectations.

It’s unlikely you’ll be playing the latest in Android games, but a Snapdragon 425 processor with 2GB of RAM ensures keeps things running smoothly. No matter what tasks you want to complete on the Blade Spark, its 3140mAh battery adds all-day battery life. 

Best Value: ZTE Axon 7 Mini

The premium-feeling ZTE Axon 7 Mini comes in either gold or gray, and calling it compact might be a matter of opinion but it still packs in a 5.2-inch AMOLED display. A non-removable 2,705 mAh battery provides up to 15 hours of talk time and 11 days of standby between charges and incorporates Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0 for fast charging. Inside the Mini is a pair of dual stereo speakers bolstered by Dolby Atmos technology, which makes for some of the best HiFi audio available on a smartphone today. The centerpiece of the rear of the device is a 16-megapixel camera that can capture video memories in 1080p HD formatting.

Runner-Up, Best Value: ZTE Zmax 2

Feature rich with a budget price, the ZTE Zmax 2 is an ideal choice for smartphone buyers who want nothing but the basics. Compatible with AT&T, T-Mobile and MetroPCS 4G LTE networks, the Zmax 2 has a 5.5-inch HD display and Dolby Digital Plus audio that helps take movie watching and music listening to a heightened level. Your favorite moments can happen in a flash, so ZTE packed in an eight-megapixel shooter with 16GB of internal memory and up to 64GB’s of expandable memory via microSD. Keeping things moving is a quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM and a 3,000 mAh battery that supports up to 17 hours of talk time and up to 384 hours (16 days) of standby time.

Best Mid-Range: ZTE Blade V8 Pro

Bolstered by a 3,140 mAh battery that supports up to 24 hours of talk time and a whopping 552 hours of standby time, the ZTE Blade V8 Pro is a good choice for those who don't feel like lugging around a spare charger. And when you are low on juice, Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 2.0 refills it faster than others. The device runs on a Snapdragon 625 processor and has a 5.5-inch Full HD display with Gorilla Glass 3 durability, a fingerprint sensor for quickly logging in or protecting your sensitive information, as well as expandable storage up to 128GB. The dual 13-megapixel cameras allow you to capture great photos (and you'll have great picture-editing capabilities), while the rubberized textured back of the Blade V8 Pro hardware makes the phone comfortable to hold while snapping images or texting.

Best Prepaid: ZTE Maven 3

ZTE Maven 3

 Courtesy of Best Buy

If checking social media and taking a few pictures are your biggest smartphone needs, then the ZTE Maven 3 should get the job done. A vibrant five-inch FWVGA 854 x 480 display adds plenty of detail for web browsing or viewing photos. Large fonts will make text easy to read. For photos, a rear five-megapixel camera captures memories with decent photo quality. The front-facing two-megapixel camera is poorer quality but works well enough for selfies and video calling. Expandable storage up to 32GB adds plenty of room for images, video, and music.

A quad-core 1.1GHz processor keeps things moving without noticeable slowdowns, but it might not perform so well if there are multiple apps running in the background. That being said, applications still launch quickly and switching between apps shows almost no lag time. The Maven 3 runs Android 7.0 Nougat and offers some of the latest Android software available. With Nougat it can even run apps side by side when flipped into landscape mode.

Initially compatible with AT&T’s prepaid network, the Maven 3 can be unlocked for use on T-Mobile’s LTE network.

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