Feb 13 AT 3:22 PM Brooks Barnard 50 Comments

ZTE Boost Max first impressions

Boost Max Feature

It was announced at CES in January as the ZTE Iconic Phablet. Later that same month, Boost Mobile announced it would be carrying the Boost Max, which is simply the ZTE Iconic Phablet renamed. For now, Boost Mobile is the exclusive carrier of this ZTE phablet and it’s got some interesting perks. If you’re not familiar with Boost Mobile, it’s a prepaid Sprint MVNO that has pretty cheap unlimited plans. Right now, Boost Mobile is offering a deal for unlimited 4G LTE for the first six months for only $35 a month with the purchase of an LTE device, such as the Boost Max. The catch? You have to pay full price for the Boost Max. The twist? The Boost Max is only $299 off contract.

So the Boost Max is a phablet. That means in regards to its size, it’s in the same class as the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, the Galaxy Mega, and the LG G Pro. Is the Boost Max in the same class as these devices with anything besides size? Not really. But where it can seriously compete is with price. ZTE is gunning for a market that thus far has been untouched in the mobile arena. No one is offering an entry level phablet. So are you on the hunt for a BIG phone with a budget price? Read on my friend.


  • Height 6.5″
  • Width 3.25″
  • Depth 0.4″
  • 5.7″ 720p (258 ppi) IPS LCD display
  • Weight 6.87 oz
  • Non-removable 3200 mAh lithium ion battery
  • 1.2GHz Dual Core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor
  • 8MP rear camera, 1 MP front
  • Fairly stock Android 4.1.2
  • Dual mode 3G/4G LTE

A few pics

What has impressed

  • The battery life. I’ve had the Boost Max since Friday and I may have charged it three times. It has battery life like a tablet, likely because it’s the size of a tablet. But seriously, I haven’t been easy on the device using it as a GPS and watching video and it’s up to the task.
  • The display. I thought I was going to hate looking at a 720p 5.7″ display after being so accustomed to the 5″ 1080p display on my Nexus 5, but it hasn’t bothered me at all. The IPS LCD display is bright, has great viewing angles, and is great for consuming media content.
  • The size of the display. I don’t know if I *love* the size of the phone, but a 5.7″ display is pretty fun. It’s easy on the eyes. I find myself grabbing for the Boost Max over my Nexus 5 when I’m going to be doing some internet browsing or YouTube watching.

What has not impressed

I’m going to preface this not impressed section with a disclaimer in that these beefs I have with the Boost Max so far could matter to you very little. So be sure to read them in context.

  • The Boost Max is running Android 4.1.2. I don’t really understand why a brand new 2014 Android device would be running a version of Android released in October of 2012. However, for most everyday uses it doesn’t matter at all. The Boost Max is running a very stock version of Android 4.1.2 which is nice and light. This biggest thing you may miss out on are some new apps like Muzei that requires Android 4.2+. However, there are plenty of apps out there that are compatible with Android versions way older than 4.1.2. It’s really not a huge deal.
  • The Boost Mobile Network. The Boost Max has 4G LTE and therefore the capability to pull down some respectable data speeds. However, where I live in the outskirts of San Francisco the Sprint network that Boost Mobile uses is awful. Therefore, this beef is very area specific. If you’re considering the Boost Max or Boost Mobile in general, ask around the office or your friends to see how Sprint is working for them or check out the Cell Phone Coverage Map app by RootMetrics. My guess is that there are some areas out there where Sprint is killing it and Boost Mobile would be a killer deal.

So these are some of my first impressions of the Boost Max. I’ll have the device for another week or so and I’ll continue to put it through the paces. I’m using it as my personal device, so I’m sure I’ll continue to notice things I like and dislike about the device. If you have any questions or curiosities regarding the Boost Max, leave a comment below and I’ll be sure to answer you or include your question in my full review.

What are your thoughts on the Boost Max? Might you be interested in a budget phablet? Do you think there’s a market for it? Let us know!

Brooks is an engineer living in the Bay Area recently dislocated from the Great Northwest. He's an Android enthusiast who decided to start doing something (productive?) with his countless hours surfing the interwebz and addictive ROM flashing and began writing. He has a hot wife, is a father of two, an avid F1 fan, and enjoys watching sports when he can. His current devices include the Nexus 5 and 7 (2103) both running stock roms rooted and modded with Xposed Framework (but this is subject to change). You can follow Brooks on Twitter @Brooks_Barnard.

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