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ZTE Max Duo LTE Z963VL Review

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ZTE Max Duo LTE Z963VL Review

James Shisiah

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What We Love

  • 1.5GHz Octa-core processor
  • Stunning front and back cameras.
  • Large 6-inch fully HD display
  • High-speed internet connectivity with 4G LTE
  • Extended battery life
  • Large capacity internal storage of 16GB
  • Plenty runtime memory (2GB RAM)

Overview

ZTE Max Duo Z963VL is one of the most powerful phones from ZTE. Though falling in the mid-tier price range, the ZTE Max Duo Z963VL boasts features and specifications found in high-end gadgets. Starting off, it has a fully HD 6-inch display which prompts one to classify it under phablets. It has an Octa-core processor, while most devices in this price range have quad-core or dual-core processors - this means the ZTE Max Duo Z963VL can compete favorably in performance even with phones in the high-end tier.

It comes with very decent cameras, ample storage space, and runtime memory; what am trying to say is that you will love this phone. One thing to note is the ZTE Max Duo Z963VL is a CDMA phone meaning it activates on the Verizon network, so be sure to check that you have Verizon cell towers/coverage in your home area before making the order. There's the ZTE Max Duo Z962BL which is the GSM variant that works with the AT&T cell towers, all other features remaining the same. I welcome you to discover some of the cool features of the ZTE Max Duo Z963VL as we go along in this review.

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Unboxing

The ZTE Max Duo Z963VL is a prepaid smartphone available from the Straight Talk website. In the box, you will find the gadget, SIM card tool, activation card, wall adapter, Type C USB cable, services guide and a quick start guide. The initial setup phase is pretty straightforward, so I will go straight to the design.

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Design

The exterior look on the ZTE Max Duo Z963VL is very premium. First, you will notice the large 5-inch display which blends in nicely into the edges. The device has a very thin bezel around the screen meaning you have all the 6-inch to yourself. The device is slightly rounded on the corners giving the ZTE Max Duo Z963VL a nice outlook.

Going on to a tour of the frame; we have the power button and volume rockers along the right edge, while the left edge holds the nano-SIM/microSD card tray which you can remove using the SIM tool found in the box. The top edge has the headphone jack. The bottom edge has your mic, a type-c microUSB charging port as well as the phone's hands-free speaker.

The upper part of the screen holds the proximity/ambient light sensor, front-facing camera, and the earpiece. The bottom just below the display we have the cryptic navigation buttons. Now, these are not the floating navigation buttons as you would expect in an Android 5.1 Lollipop device but they have a blue background light which shows up nice on the gadget. The arrangement is such that we have the back button on the left, the home key at the center and the recent apps button on the right.

The back cover is textured making it feel nice in the palm. It's also home to the ZTE Max Duo's dual lens camera - probably one of the most impressive features on this mid-level device. There's also a LED flash between the two lenses. Also, worth mentioning is that the back cover is fixed, so you won't be removing and checking what's under the cover. That very much sums up our tour of the exterior layout, so we are going straight to the features.

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Camera

One of the selling points on the ZTE Max Duo Z963VL is the camera. The front camera is 5MP. The back camera is a dual-lens, giving you 13MP+2MP. ZTE takes their reputation seriously when it comes to camera and am pretty sure they outdid themselves with the ZTE Max Duo Z963VL. It is highly unlikely to find a dual lens camera on a mid-tier device, so yeah, I found this impressive.

Now going into the camera features, the phone shoots much brighter photos than I have ever seen in a mid-level device. The camera captures videos at 1080p which is a default setting for most high-end gadgets.

Some features that I enjoyed on the camera are the burst shot, in which you touch and hold the capture button, and the camera takes a barrage of photos until you release it. The camera has a list of modes you can choose to change the appearance of photos, just to mention a few; mono, comic, fisheye, sepia, lomo, cool, warm and mirror.

The settings in manual mode allow you to change the shutter speed, ISO level, hue level, exposure, and white balance which are just typical features in most phone cameras. While in the settings of the camera you can also choose to turn off/on the flash. As mentioned earlier in Design, the camera does have a LED flash which I found to be very bright, so shooting in the dark is no problem.

The front camera has one feature that impressed me which also comes in handy when taking selfies. The 'smile to capture' feature - when turned on, the camera automatically takes photos when it detects a smile. This being a considerably large device hence a hassle touching the capture button, this feature comes in very handy. You may also capture photos by pressing the volume up button while the camera app is open. Personally, I liked the cameras on the ZTE Max Duo Z963VL, and I can totally recommend to anyone looking for a large display phone that's very affordable with a stunning camera.

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Display

The ZTE Max Duo Z963VL comes with an impressive 6-inch fully high definition display. The screen is very bright. Items on the display, photos, and videos are very crisp, and it totally impressed me. A screen resolution of 1080 by 1920 is what you get on the ZTE Max Duo Z963VL.

In terms of visibility, the ZTE Max Duo Z963VL performed really well. While outdoors, the phone has an ambient light sensor that adjusts the brightness of the screen to adapt to the light situation so seeing items on the screen won't be a problem. The screen also has Gorilla Glass technology for enhanced durability. If you are looking for a phablet with a large and bright display that you can use for reading (pdf files fit very well on the ZTE Max Duo Z963VL), take notes, watch movies or just browse the internet and stream videos, then you will love this affordably priced ZTE Max Duo Z963VL.

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Battery

Battery life on the ZTE Max Duo Z963VL is another thing you will like. As you would expect a large display phone to drain a battery faster, the ZTE Max Duo Z963VL will surprise you with how it's able to withstand long hours of use. The battery capacity is 3500mAh which gives you a talk time of up to 20 hours and a standby time of up to 10 days. For a 6-inch device, this is impressive, ZTE totally matched the Max Duo Z963VL screen size to the battery capacity.

With this phone fully charged, you are getting a full day of normal usage without finding a charging outlet thanks to the power optimization implemented in the phone. Gaming and video streaming or just heavy internet use drains battery life faster, and the ZTE Max Duo Z963VL will give about 5 hours on such intensive operations. The battery supports fast charging which is really nice.

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Storage

With a phone this large, you would definitely love to have more storage onboard. ZTE clearly understands this fact, so they packed 16GB of internal storage on the ZTE Max Duo Z963VL. This is the kind of storage capacity you don't expect to find on mid-tier devices because most have about 8GB with only 4GB usage. In addition to the plenty internal storage, the ZTE Max Duo Z963VL supports an external microSD card with a capacity of up to 64GB. So, yes, you can have all your apps, videos and pictures stored on this device because 16GB +64GB is a considerably large storage space.

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Performance

Whether you are a power user or an average user, you will love the performance of the ZTE Max Duo Z963VL. The device is snappy enough for everyday tasks, in fact, it handled all the operations I put it through. Let's find out why. The gadget is powered by a Qualcomm 1.5GHz Octa-core processor paired with 2GB of RAM. This is double the resources found on most phones within this range. What you enjoy is fast processing, better multitasking, and great user experience.

ZTE Max Duo Z963VL ships with Android 5.1 Lollipop which supports most apps on Google Playstore. With plenty of RAM, the animations show up smoothly with no lag at all. I realized exceedingly fast app launch speeds, and the device is very responsive.

Multitasking is way better on the ZTE Max Duo Z963VL. With an Octa-core processor onboard, you can have so many apps running in the background, and you won't notice any freezing. Switching between recently launched apps is easier and faster using the Recent Apps Navigation Key.

One other thing I liked is the internet speed on the ZTE Max Duo Z963VL. This being a 4G LTE device and then an Octa-core processor, web services are incredibly fast. I tested this with YouTube, and there was no noticeable buffering. Live Google Maps navigation is enjoyable because location data populates real fast, and then the display is big enough showing the smallest details when you zoom in.

Other typical features it comes with include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1, Proximity/Ambient Light sensor, accelerometer and compass sensor. Overall, the ZTE is a decent performer and will get you through all of your daily tasks.

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Specifications

  • 4G LTE/Wi-Fi/CDMA
  • 6-inch Touch Screen
  • Android: 5.1 Lollipop
  • 1.5 GHz Octa-Core Processor
  • Camera: Dual lenses back camera (13MP+2MP) and 5MP front camera
  • Battery capacity: 3400mAh. Talk time up to 20 hours. Standby up to 10 days
  • Internal Memory: 16GB. Expandable with external microSD card of up to 64GB.
  • RAM: 2GB
  • Dimensions: 6.5''(Height) x 3.3''(Width) x 0.36''(Depth) inches
  • Bluetooth 4.1 Wireless Technology
  • A-GPS/GPS Capabilities.