AT&T GoPhone – ZTE Maven 4G No-Contract Phone Review

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ZTE Maven Prepaid GoPhone at AT&T

Last month, ZTE launched the ZTE Maven and available to AT&T customers.  The Maven is being marketed as an affordable, but high tech, handheld device that offers a ton of features for those looking for a great deal on a new mobile device.  ZTE is the fourth largest phone manufacturer in the U.S. but the second largest in the “no-contract” market.  For folks that are looking for the ability to outright pay for their new cell phone, this handset might be ideal if you don’t want to finance or make monthly payments.

Priced at $59.99 with no annual contract, the ZTE Maven is available at AT&T’s retail stores or online.  The phone can be activated on AT&T’s postpaid or GoPhone prepaid services.


The 4G LTE compatible ZTE Maven is equipped with a 4.5-inch screen which has a resolution of 854×480 pixels and 5MP rear shooting camera that can record 720p video as well as a VGA front facing camera.  All of this is powered by a Qualcomm 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor with 8GB of internal storage (that you can expand to 32GB via the microSD card), 1GB of RAM running on Android 5.1 Lollipop.  The handset even has a battery that is rated at 2,100mAh which should give you a talk time of up to 10 hours.


The Maven is designed for casual users who don’t want to spend a fortune, but yet want many of the features of top-of-the-line mobile devices.  The ZTE Maven measures in at 5.3 x 2.6 x 0.39 inches which makes it approximately the same size as the older-generation iPhone.  For $59.99, we really can’t complain about how think the phone is.  In reality, the phone feels solid in your hands and we expect to see tons of functionality in the Android 5.1 operating system.  The Maven also supports Bluetooth 4.0 and Wireless-802.11 b/g/n.


The ZTE Maven comes in basic Black with dark Grey backing.  No fancy color schemes for this model!  AT&T packages the Maven in an AT&T “GoPhone” branded box with a USB wall charger, a charging cable, User Guide, Phone & Feature guide.  Even though, cell phones are almost self-explanatory and very easy to setup, AT&T still encourages new Maven owners to head over to for a multimedia introduction to the Maven or for any sort of general help.

ZTE Maven

On the front of the phone, besides the 4.5-inch screen, the Maven has a multi-color LED indicator light that will alert the user to a variety of phone behaviors such as charging status, missed calls, Bluetooth connectivity, etc.  Next to the LED, the ZTE Maven’s speaker can be found.  When the phone uses the speakerphone option, the speaker on the back takes over as per usual on many mobile devices.  Next to the mail speaker, there is a ‘rear-facing’ camera. As far as we can tell, the ZTE Maven only comes in this basic black color version.  Because the Maven is an AT&T exclusive, the ZTE website doesn’t even have a landing page for the Maven, so from what we can tell at this time, the Maven only comes in black.

ZTE Maven

On the bottom of the phone, there are three ‘soft buttons’: “Back”, “Home”, and “Task Manager”.  The Maven’s microphone is actually on the bottom of the unit.  On top, you will find the stereo headphone jack as well as the power button.  Over on the back you will find the main camera and flash.

ZTE Maven

There is nothing really fancy holding the back cover on to the Maven.  The device is water resistant, but not waterproof and you can gain access to the battery and SIM with a fingernail.  With the cover removed, you can see where the SIM and memory card reside for the ZTE Maven. The 2,100mAh battery accounts for more than half of the Maven’s cargo under the cover.


As this is an Android-OS device, setup of the ZTE Maven was very simple.  The phone asks you for your Google account and with it starts syncing your e-mail, calendar, and apps just like every other Android-based mobile device.

Let’s move along to the next page and look at the ZTE Maven benchmarks!

ZTE Maven Benchmarks

ZTE Maven Benchmark

We ran a number of benchmarks to test the general speed of the ZTE Maven: 3DMark, Vellamo Mobile Benchmark, Antutu Benchmark, Geekbench 3, GFXBench GL Benchmark, and Lightmark.  For many of the benchmarks, the Maven scores at, or near, the bottom of every test we subjected the device to.  The results of the benchmarks didn’t exactly make us jump for joy, but it did help us to understand where this mobile phone fits relative to all other devices on the market that can double as personal computers with a tremendous amount of horsepower.  Of course the more the horsepower, the more you pay a price in battery life and with your pocketbook.  Even though the Maven didn’t really give us stellar benchmarking results, we were satisfied that the device could actually get through all of our benchmarks without crashing or locking up.  For a mobile phone that is priced under $60 the results were more than adequate enough for us.


When using the ZTE Maven, we were able to easily get a full day’s use out of the mobile phone.  In fact, with normal usage (texting, checking e-mail, phone calls), the Maven’s battery lasted comfortably for more than 2 days.  Of course battery use will vary depending on the applications and individual use, but comparing using this device to our Samsung Galaxy S3 and S5, we felt that the Maven did a very good job of battery conservation and easily lasted longer than Galaxy S5 which we had to charge at the end of a typical day of use.

ZTE Maven Camera

Although the Maven’s camera wasn’t anything extraordinary, we were fairly happy with the results of using the 5MP rear facing camera. This is mainly because we didn’t really expect too much.  Under bright and natural lighting situations, the Maven produced some clear images of our subjects.  We were less satisfied when using the flash in lower-light situations or when the object was in motion.  Many times our subjects were over-exposed or had a too much white light when taking pictures.  You will see from our test shots in the gallery that there is a significant amount of graining and blur in many of the selected shots.  When we tried to capture a test subject that was in motion, this graining and blur were even more pronounced. The color reproduced from the camera was also an issue as images were a bit “flat”.  Applying a filter or other forms of post-processing could help, but we thought that native images could have been better.


On the positive side, we were actually surprised to see so many camera options at your disposal on the ZTE Maven.  Some of the exposure problems that we talked about above were minimized with using many of the Maven’s photo options.  The first thing you can do is switch to “Manual” mode versus the default “Auto”.  “Fun” mode let you pick from a number of different effects that you can shoot your subject with.  The ZTE Maven is ideally suited for a person who wants to capture the essence of the event and not one who is submitting their image to a museum or art show.


The Manual Mode gives you the option of viewing a grid to help frame your subjects. There is also a “White Balance” option that will allow you to have a bit more control of the look of your image.  You are even able to make adjustments on the ISO and Exposure.  For those photographers who want to control all aspects of their photos, this is a pretty impressive suite of options to have – especially for $60.

ZTE Maven Benchmark

Besides the CPU and GPU benchmarks we ran earlier, we also did a few network speed tests with the SpeedTest.Net application.  Since the ZTE Maven could only connect to our 802.11n wireless network and not the Wireless-AC network in our Legit Bunker, we didn’t really expect industry leading speeds over Wi-Fi.

The download speeds for the ZTE Maven maxed out around 26 Mbps which is about 25% of the speed of our Samsung Galaxy S5 (110 Mbps) while the upload speeds of around 10-11 Mbps, equal to that of the Galaxy S5.  During the course of our testing and Maven use, we never noticed any lag or drop issues when the Maven was connected over Wi-Fi.

When we turned off Wi-Fi and tested the LTE speeds (at various locations around the city), we found that the Maven’s speeds were consistent with that of our Samsung Galaxy phones as well as our Apple iPhone 6.

ZTE Maven Final Thoughts & Conclusions


The ZTE Maven is offered exclusively by AT&T as part of their GoPhone package.  The GoPhones are “pay-as-you-go” or “pre-pay” plans that start at $30 a month for unlimited talk and text data.  With one of AT&T Smartphone plans, you can then choose to purchase the ZTE Maven for $59.99.  The ZTE Maven is available from other retailers such as Best Buy as well. Of course if you are already on AT&T’s network, you might be able to take advantage of grabbing this phone and adding it to your current account. (Talk to AT&T’s customer service for more information!)

ZTE Maven Benchmark

Going into this review we had very low expectations for how the ZTE Maven would behave and if it would be a phone that we would be interested in.  After all, what do you really expect from a smartphone priced at under $60?  Surely, there will be limitations on the size, screen resolution, and battery life, right?  Well, the ZTE Maven exceeded our expectations in all of these areas.

Even though the ZTE Maven only has 1 MB of operable RAM for its processes, we never really had a poor experience using the Maven even with a bunch of apps open and using the phone to text and make calls.  The engineers have obviously optimized how the processor is working and were the Maven is able to prioritize certain applications not hindering the user’s experience using the device.




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