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Get a 6-inch ZTE Max XL phone for $99.99

This fab phablet includes a fingerprint reader and expansion slot. And you can get a decent service plan for as little as $30 per month. Plus: Two bonus deals not to be missed!

CNET's Cheapskate scours the web for great deals on PCs, phones, gadgets and much more. Questions about the Cheapskate blog? Find the answers on our FAQ page. And find more great buys on the CNET Deals page.

You'll need a big pocket for the ZTE Max XL, but not a deep one.

Josh Miller/CNET

You can keep your $700 phones, Apple and Samsung. I mean, seriously, why would I pay that much when I can get a full-featured handset for a fraction of the price?

Case in point: Boost Mobile has the ZTE Max XL 6-inch smartphone for $99.99 shipped. Last I checked, Apple and Samsung didn't even have a 6-inch model.

Of course, it's too bad about the Max XL's slow processor, limited storage, low-resolution display and outdated Android.

Gotcha! Those are shortcomings you'd expect from a $100 phone, but they're not in evidence here. The Max XL runs a 1.4GHz octa-core processor, comes with 16GB of expandable storage and squeezes 1,920 x 1,080 pixels into that big screen. Plus, it runs Android 7.1.1 Nougat.

Those are just the basics. The phone includes a fingerprint sensor and 3,990mAh battery, and it supports Sprint's new LTE Plus network (where available).

Speaking of Sprint, Boost is one of its MVNOs, and currently the only U.S. carrier of this phone. So although service is available without a contract, for now you'll have to get that service through Boost. (Plans start at $30/month with auto-pay, a price that includes unlimited everything and 2GB of 4G LTE data.)

Ideal for everyone? Certainly not. Amazing deal on a big phone with few compromises? Definitely. (Read Lynn La's hands-on preview to learn more.) But here's one question I wasn't able to get answered prior to posting this deal: Is the phone unlocked? If not, can it be, and can it then be taken to another carrier? (I did find at least one tool that promises to unlock it for free, but have no idea if it works and is legit.)

Your thoughts?

Bonus deal: You probably don't give much thought to your email signature. But what's better: An easily forgettable "Sent from my phone" message or an attractive, attention-getting signature that can drive people to your website, Facebook page or the like?

The latter, natch. That's why I've long been a fan of Wisestamp, an excellent tool for creating custom email signatures.

There's a free version, which is definitely worth checking out, but it limits you to one signature and puts a Wisestamp ad at the bottom. The price of going Pro (which gives you unlimited ad-free signatures, among other benefits) is normally $6 per month, or $72 annually.


Wisestamp's editor makes signature-building very easy.

Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

That's why this deal rocks: AppSumo is offering a lifetime subscription to Wisestamp Pro for $29. Two things I particularly love about this: the user-friendly dashboard for creating signatures and the support for not only desktop and webmail clients (Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, etc.), but also iPhone. (Unfortunately, Android doesn't currently support Rich Text Format signatures, therefore Wisestamp doesn't support Android.)

I'm a big fan of this tool. Big, big fan.

Bonus deal No. 2: Outdoor drones are all well and good when you want to take aerial selfies and the like, but what if you just want to fly around the house for fun and pet-terrorizing? (I kid, I kid...)

The four must-have features for such a drone: a remote control, blade guards, altitude hold and headless mode. Done, done, done and done: Tmart has the BoldClash Bwhoop B-03 drone for $17.59 shipped. It's available in your choice of blue or orange, though with fewer than 100 of each in stock -- so they may not last long.

This little flyer is super-fun around the house, and a steal at $17.59 out the door


I bought one of these a few weeks ago to see if it satisfied my requirements. It did -- and it's a blast to fly. I bounced it off walls and ceilings and it came back for more. And the auto take-off/landing button makes it easy for novices to get started.

There's no camera, here, but who needs one for flying around indoors? Also, the battery is good for only about 6-7 minutes of flight time -- but that's to be expected. You can get half a dozen extras for about the price of the drone itself.

My one complaint: When you switch to headless mode, the remote beeps loudly and incessantly -- to the point where I use it only if I need to bring the drone back to me so I can re-orient it. That gripe aside, this is a ridiculously good deal on a fun, kid-friendly indoor flyer.