Replace: The ZTE Axon 7 remains to be considered one of our favourite smartphones, although it is over a yr outdated. The excellent news is it is even cheaper, now runs Android 7.0 Nougat and is being examined with an Android 8.0 Oreo beta. You even have the selection of the marginally smaller ZTE Axon 7 Mini.
And that final truth explains the complicated title of this successor to ZTE Axon Pro (ZTE Axon Elite within the UK); ZTE has skipped proper over the Axon 2 via Axon 6 between 2015 and 2016. It’s going to get much more complicated when the ZTE Axon 9 arrives in 2018 when there was no ZTE Axon eight.
The Chinese language phone-maker is ambitiously making an attempt to compete with the best phones made within the US and South Korea, a lot in order that it designed the telephone exterior of China – in the US.
What we find yourself with is an Android Nougat smartphone with a refined metallic design, rich-looking Quad HD show, booming front-facing audio system, and a load of software program customizations of the sort usually present in a dearer handset.
That is not all. ZTE touted the Axon 7 as the primary telephone appropriate with Google Daydream VR, which is technically true – we simply needed to wait a couple of months for Android Nougat after it debuted on the Google Pixel and Google Pixel XL. You, the possible new purchaser, haven’t got to attend in any respect now. It is VR-ready at the moment.
The ZTE Axon 7 would not outclass Samsung’s top-of-the-line digicam within the Samsung Galaxy S7, or the elegantly curved look of the Galaxy S7 Edge – nevertheless it does come actually, actually shut for the worth. It stays an important worth.
It is not fairly cheap sufficient to make it onto our best cheap phones record, nevertheless it did – for a very long time – rank on TechSwitch’s up to date best phones record. It was the primary ZTE telephone on this record. Let’s break down why that’s.
Launch date and worth
The ZTE Axon 7 launch date was July 27, 2016 within the US, it got here to the UK and the remainder of Europe in September, and at last launched in Australia in late November. You simply will not discover it in all places, together with in US provider shops.
It’s a must to purchase this telephone unlocked on Amazon or one other retailer and pay full worth. It will not be offered at US carriers like AT&T, T-Cellular, Verizon or Dash and also you should not count on worth subsidies.
Whereas it technically has sufficient bands to help all US telephone networks, it solely formally works with AT&T and T-Cellular nanoSIM playing cards proper now. Verizon and Dash compatibility is feasible with some limitations and workarounds, which might not be for everybody. That stated, the entire antennas are inside – this is not only a GSM telephone.
The excellent news right here is that if it really works together with your provider, the ZTE Axon 7 is accessible at a gorgeous worth. It launched at $399 (£359, AU$699) for the 64GB model, nevertheless it’s now under $199 on eBay once in a while. Higher but, you will not must take care of a pesky two-year (or any) contract or provider app bloatware for that worth.
There’s additionally a 128GB ZTE Axon 7, which incorporates the corporate’s personal tackle a 3D Contact show, an always-on display screen and 6GB of RAM – which makes it technically quicker than the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge.
All of this contrasted with the launch costs of the 32GB Samsung Galaxy S7 unlocked at $669 (£569, AU$1,148) and the 32GB iPhone 7 at $649 (£599, AU$1,079); observe that each of those telephones have smaller screens and half the inner cupboard space.
The ZTE Axon 7 feels just like the grown-up model of final yr’s ZTE Axon Professional due to its all-metal design, and it is significantly much less chunky. It appears and feels able to compete with Samsung, LG and Apple.
You may maintain it in a single hand, however with palm-stretching dimensions of 151.8mm x 75mm x 7.8mm and a slippery aluminum design, you will end up struggling to succeed in for the corners with out utilizing two fingers.
Handily, there’s an ultra-thin silicone case included within the field, together with normal earbuds and a USB-C-to-micro USB adapter. The clear case makes the telephone grippable with out severely detracting from the fashionable metallic design or matte gold coloration.
What ZTE has performed properly on the entrance of the Axon 7 is maximize the true property for its 5.5-inch 2K show, with a nearly edge-to-edge display screen and an general minimalist look.
The entrance of the telephone can also be dwelling to awesome-sounding twin front-facing audio system, a small front-facing digicam, and three out-of-the-way capacitive buttons.
These always-present but refined buttons are an enchancment over ZTE’s authentic on-screen buttons, which vanished to allow the show to go ‘full display screen’ in sure eventualities (often proper if you needed to hit the again button).
The small capacitive buttons are additionally a greater use of house than going to the opposite excessive; the Moto Z , for instance, makes room for a larger-than-necessary chin that features a Moto emblem, a fingerprint sensor and on-screen buttons, with the outcome that there is an excessive amount of backside bezel and never sufficient display screen.
Our solely grievance is that we want these tiny buttons lit up for simpler night-time use – your mind should alter to memorizing their location.
You will not discover a fingerprint-sensing dwelling button taking over house on the entrance right here. As a substitute, the biometric sensor is elegantly embossed on the again.
It is easy to succeed in the fingerprint sensor on a telephone of this measurement (simpler than we discovered it to be on the taller Nexus 6P), and the one on the Axon 7 is simply as quick and correct as these on competing top-end handsets (ZTE makes use of the identical Swedish sensor provider, Fingerprint Playing cards, as different main manufacturers).
ZTE has additionally resisted the temptation to stamp its emblem on the entrance of the machine, favoring the again for splashing its title, which creates a cleaner look throughout.
In the mean time Ion Gold is the one coloration possibility for the ZTE Axon 7, and the included earbuds have an identical gold trim. The corporate plans so as to add a Quartz Silver coloration, too, however this is not out there at launch.
The ZTE Axon 7’s show is 5.5 inches, with a 2560 x 1440p quad HD decision. It is the identical decision as final yr’s Axon, however the necessary distinction right here is that it is an AMOLED show as a substitute of an LCD.
That will not look like an enormous deal at first, however the colours actually pop on this display screen, and the Axon 7 additionally has improved battery life on account of the change.
The Quad HD show shines brightly (even outside) as soon as it is on, however ZTE hasn’t gone so far as to incorporate an always-on display screen on the Axon 7 with 4GB of RAM, as we now have seen with the Samsung Galaxy S7 and LG G5.
We have discovered that ZTE is saving this show function (together with its model of Power Contact) for the souped-up 6GB of RAM model of the telephone – as talked about, this extra highly effective telephone hasn’t present, its always-lit face simply but.
The Axon 7 display screen is basically being set as much as not solely look good on the telephone, however to help VR. Actually, that is the one cause to make shows of this measurement go from 1080p to Quad HD in our opinion – when it is that near your face, then the upper decision issues.
Not surprisingly there’s an ‘cheap’ (although no worth has been introduced but) ZTE VR headset coming. It is one other Samsung Gear VR clone, just like the Huawei VR headset, nevertheless it’s been future-proofed for Google Daydream.
It additionally would not harm that ZTE has put collectively a pleasant collection of wallpaper that actually lets the lock display screen present what the show is able to – it is scrollable and randomized by default.
We actually cannot perceive why phone-makers cease in need of presenting a vibrant set of default wallpapers if you first boot up a handset’s 2K show (learn: the LG G5’s sickly inexperienced gradient). ZTE sells itself higher from the get-go.
A smaller, however nonetheless noteworthy show improve comes within the type of Gorilla Glass four, somewhat than Gorilla Glass three. It is not fairly as sturdy as Gorilla Glass 5, or shatter-resistant just like the , however you will admire it if (admit it: when) you drop your new telephone.