One of the more interesting devices in Boost Mobile’s lineup is the Boost Max. This is a 5.7-inch device from ZTE. Its actually known as the ZTE Iconic Phablet elsewhere, but here in the States’ it’s the Boost Max on Boost Mobile. Boost Mobile is selling this device for $299 outright. That’s without a contract since the carrier is a prepaid carrier. So having said that, don’t expect anything too amazing from this device given it’s price tag. As far as specs go, we’re looking at a 5.7-inch 1280×720 resolution IPS display, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of storage along with a microSD card slot inside, 8MP rear-facing shooter, 1MP front-facing shooter, Android 4.3, and a 3200mAh battery inside. So as you can see the specs aren’t exactly where we’d want it, but for $299, it’s not bad at all.
Editor’s Note: Now the Boost Max does run on Sprint’s network since Boost Mobile is a Sprint MVNO, but it does not support Sprint Spark. Although the first device to support it is the LG Volt, on Boost Mobile.
As far as hardware goes, it’s not exactly bad, but it’s not exactly good either. As expected, this is a pretty large phone. In the picture above you can see it next to the BLU Life Pure XL, LG G2, Samsung Galaxy S5 and the Kyocera Hydro Vibe smartphones, and it’s bigger than all of them. The back is two toned, so you’ve got the metal – or at least it looks like metal – in the middle with soft touch plastic at the top and bottom. It’s not the most comfortable phone to hold, but then again, name a 5.7-inch device that is? Only one I can think of is the Galaxy Note 3.
As far as where everything is, on the back there’s your 8MP camera with flash and a few microphone holes. No branding or logos at all anywhere on this device. On the right-hand side we’ve got the power button, while the left-hand side houses the microSD card slot and volume rocker. The MicroSD card slot is set up similar to the one on the HTC One M8, where it’s a tray that pulls out. Also on the left side is the micro-USB port for charging your device. On the top we’ve got the 3.5mm headphone jack as well. Then on the front there’s the front facing camera and notification light at the top. Then your 5.7-inch 720p display in the middle and capacitive back, home and menu buttons.
The display is actually quite good when you think about it, it’s a 720p display stretched out to 5.7-inches. It’s also an IPS display so it’s nice and bright. Which is great to have on a big device like this. It doesn’t quite match up to the IPS display on the LG G2, but it’s pretty close. I’d say in the middle of the G2 and Nexus 5 as far as colors and such, but as far as pixel density, the Nexus 5 definitely wins.
Inside is an unspecified Qualcomm chipset, which I believe is the Snapdragon 400. It’s a decent chipset, just don’t expect anything magnificent out of this device. It’s enough to play games, multi-task and all that good stuff. But it will lag, if you’re doing some intensive stuff on this device. Again, remember that this is a $299 device, and that’s full retail.
While the battery life wasn’t stellar, it was enough to get through a full day. I was able to get around 12-15 hours with about 2-3 hours on screen time. Now that was mostly on WiFi since I barely have any signal at my house from Sprint/Boost Mobile. So if you’re out all day, you’re likely going to get less battery out of it. This also included watching some videos on YouTube and such. I was pleased with the battery, just not impressed.
For those of you interested in benchmarks, they are above. As always we tested with AnTuTu X, and the results are shown above.
Now here’s where things get fun. ZTE or Boost Mobile (not sure who’s skin it is since I’ve never used a ZTE device before) have gone crazy with the orange here. But they have managed to keep the device almost completely stock Android. The lockscreen is a bit weird to me, at least. It has a big “Start” button in the center which you have to hold that for a few seconds until the device unlocks. You can’t just swipe like on most other smartphones. Which took a little getting used to, but it wasn’t a huge deal. On the home screen you’ll see the orange clock/weather widget. Along with Boost Zone, Gallery, Camera and Voicemail on the home page. Now in the notification bar, you’ll see the quick toggles across the top, which expand with a few others, but below that it’s basically like having a stock Android notification panel. Now the app drawer, that’s straight out of AOSP. Same 4×5 grid and everything.
In the settings, there’s really only one new item in there that you don’t see in AOSP. And that’s smart viewer. Basically with Smart Viewer on you can hold down the back key and drag the app to where you want it. It’s basically ZTE’s take on Samsung’s multi-window, although it doesn’t work nearly as well as Samsung’s does. But on the bright side, all the apps installed on the device do work with Smart Viewer. Otherwise, we’re looking at basically stock Android throughout this device.
I will also say that the software seems to be optimized, as it is pretty fast and fluid. That’s definitely something we like to see on low and mid-range devices.
We’ve got a 8MP camera here on the back. Now the software is pretty straight-forward. Settings, filters, flash, switching cameras, etc. As far as how the images look, feel free to check out the gallery below, where we have plenty of sample shots for you to check out.
I have to say, it is a nice device, especially considering the price point here. But I’m not sure I can recommend it to everyone. Mostly because of it’s size. If you’re looking for a device like the Note 3, because you like it’s size, but you don’t want to pay nearly $700 for it, then the Boost Max is a good choice, and probably you’re only choice on Boost Mobile. Otherwise, I’d suggest something like the LG Volt, which has Sprint Spark now. Because it’s a bit smaller, and well it supports Spark which means faster speeds. You could even check out the Moto G on Boost Mobile as well. Which is a great device, however it is 3G only at this time.