News: T-Mobile & ZTE Add New Entries in the Budget Phone Race

T-Mobile & ZTE Add New Entries in the Budget Phone Race

The battle of the budget phone is well and truly underway, as both T-Mobile and ZTE have launched affordable new devices simultaneously.

This week, ZTE's Max XL and T-Mobile's Coolpad Defiant were released for those of us with a limited budget. While not quite as budget-friendly as burner phones like the $14.78 Alcatel sold at Walmart, these phone pack a decent punch at a low price point, and there's a growing market for such devices.

Gadget Hacks editor Dallas Thomas says that budget smartphones are really blowing up the market these days, due to their functionality being almost on par with more expensive models:

Budget-friendly phones, like the Moto G5 Plus or OnePlus 3T, are catching up to their flagship counterparts in terms of sheer power. These days, frugal smartphone buyers can get 90% of the functionality from a flagship-tier phone at less than 50% of the cost, and there's a huge appeal in that.

— Dallas Thomas (Gadget Hacks Editor)


The Max XL features a 6-inch Full HD display and Android Nougat 7.1 for just $129.99. It even incorporates a fingerprint sensor. ZTE is claiming this bad boy is also great for streaming videos and playing games, and though its 2GB of RAM doesn't quite stack up to current Android flagships, it's the same amount of memory you'd get in a $600+ iPhone 7.

The ZTE Max XL. Image by Amelia Holowaty Krales/The Verge

What we will say is that consumers are definitely getting value for their money, judging by the specs. It's certainly a step up from the burner, considering ZTE's model has the following features:

  • Rear fingerprint sensor
  • 1.4 GHz Qualcomm octa-core processor
  • 2 GB of RAM
  • 16 GB of storage, expandable up to 128 GB
  • 3,990 mAh battery
  • 13-megapixel rear-facing camera
  • 5-megapixel front-facing camera
  • Headphone jack
  • USB-C

T-Mobile Coolpad Defiant

Meanwhile, T-Mobile isn't about to get left behind in the budget battle. Although its Coolpad Defiant is not going to defy consumer expectations (it is what it is, people!), it's still a decent handset in terms of getting a bang for your buck.

The Coolpad Defiant. Image by Luis D/Phone Arena

The Defiant runs Android 7.0 Nougat and has a 1.4 GHz quad-core processor. Though its exact launch price is still unknown, its spec sheet includes:

  • Adreno 308 GPU
  • 1 GB of RAM
  • 8 GB of internal storage
  • 5-inch 854×480 screen
  • 5-megapixel rear-facing camera
  • 2-megapixel front-facing camera
  • 2,450 mAh battery

If T-Mobile CEO John Legere thinks it will sell, then who are we to doubt? He certainly seems to know what he's doing.

Neither device is the Lamborgini of smartphones, but budget devices like the Max XL and the Coolpad Defiant are a bit like binge watching Keeping Up with the Kardashians: sometimes you just need something cheap and sufficient.

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Cover image via T-Mobile

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