ZTE is well known for their mid-range smartphones that are available at incredibly affordable price points. However, the company did make quite an impression in the high-end market last year with the Axon phone, a worthy flagship smartphone that found the perfect balance between specifications and price, resulting in it being significantly cheaper than the competition.

The Axon phone was followed by ElitePro, Mini iteration as well, that once again provided fantastic bang for your buck. ZTE is back again with their latest premium flagship, but does it continue to offer what made its predecessor so great? We find out, as we go hands on with the ZTE Axon 7!

Design

ZTE Axon 7-24

The ZTE Axon 7 retains the design language of previous Axon smartphones for the most part, and once again featuring a full metal unibody construction. The front of the phone remains the same, with dual front-facing speakers to be seen, housed under a distinctive grill pattern, which gives the device a unique design element.

The display dominates the front, and the ultra-thin bezels along the sides of the screen, and the relatively thin speaker grills above and below it, make for a relatively compact smartphone. This results in a smartphone that offers a handling experience that is better than what can be expected from a 5.5-inch device, and helping it is the rounded corners and tapered sides on the back, that help the device nestle comfortably in the palm of your hand. However, the smooth metal backing can be a touch slippery, and can take some getting used.

ZTE Axon 7-20

At the back is where the differences in design can be seen. For starters, the dual camera system is gone, but the look is still maintained, with a fingerprint sensor now taking the place where the second rear camera used to be. Also gone is the unique grill pattern that used to be found between the two cameras, with the dual LED flash now occupying this space.

The camera is slightly raised as well, which is kind of disappointing to see, given that the Axon 7 isn’t a particularly thin device. The buttons and ports are found at their usual places, with the volume rocker and and power button found on the right side, and a USB Type C port and headphone jack placed at the bottom and top of the phone respectively. Something that has not been retained is a dedicated camera shutter button.

ZTE Axon 7-2

The ZTE Axon 7 is a beautifully designed smartphone and features a premium build quality that can give any  current generation flagship a run for its money. If ZTE manages to maintain their aggressive pricing policy, the Axon 7 will definitely have a leg up over the competition, and that starts with the design.

Display

ZTE Axon 7-18

The ZTE Axon 7 comes with a 5.5-inch AMOLED display with a Quad HD resolution, resulting in a pixel density of 538 ppi. This is a Samsung-made AMOLED display, and the company’s display prowess shines through once again here. You get everything you’d expect from an AMOLED screen, including deep, inky blacks, and vibrant, saturated colors, along with high contrast, and good brightness and viewing angles. The Axon 7 will certainly allow for a great viewing experience, and is another big plus for this device.

Performance and hardware

ZTE Axon 7-12

The Axon 7 is a flagship smartphone, and as such, it’s not surprise that the device comes with the latest and greatest processing package currently available. Under the hood is a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor, clocked at 2.15 GHz, and backed by the Adreno 530 GPU and 4 GB of RAM.

Interestingly, this is just the “standard” version, with their being another iteration that comes with a whopping 6 GB of RAM, making the Axon 7 one of the first smartphones to offer this. The Snapdragon 820 has proven to be a fantastic processing package, as seen with the other flagship devices out there, and we can expect more of the same with the Axon 7.

ZTE Axon 7-17

64 GB and 128 GB are the built-in storage options that are available, with the latter coming with 6 GB of RAM. Expandable storage via microSD card, up to an additional 128 GB is also to be found, but this uses the secondary SIM slot, so users will have to make the choice between dual SIM capabilities and expandable storage.

ZTE Axon 7-7

Audio is once again a big focus for ZTE with the Axon line, with the Axon 7 featuring dual front-facing speakers with Hi-Fi audio chipsets, along with Dolby Atmos surround sound features. Its predecessor offered one of the best audio experiences around, from both the speakers and when using good quality headphones, and we can expect that to continue with the Axon 7.

ZTE Axon 7-11

The device comes with a fingerprint scanner on the back, placed to be within comfortable reach of your index finger, and should be as fast and accurate as expected. The Axon 7 also comes with a pressure sensitive touch panel, similar to Apple’s 3D Touch, called Force Touch, which will come only with the 6 GB RAM/128 GB storage version of the device.

ZTE Axon 7-5

On the battery front, the Axon 7 comes with a large 3,140 mAh battery, that should comfortably allow for at least a full day of use, but of course, more testing will be required before we can arrive at a conclusion. The device does come with a USB Type C port (USB 3.0) and support for Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0, which should get you back up and running in no time. ZTE claims that a charge for half an hour will give you 50% of the battery life back, with a full charge requiring around a 100 minutes.

Camera

ZTE Axon 7-33

The Axon 7 comes with a 20 MP rear shooter with a f/1.8 aperture, OIS and EIS, and phase detection auto focus, and should allow for good low-light photography, and is coupled with an 8 MP front-facing camera. The camera app comes with a slew of features and modes, including a manual mode, various selfie modes, slow motion capture, multi exposure and long exposure modes, and a Super Auto mode. Previous Axon smartphones featured impressive cameras, and we can’t wait to put this camera through its paces.

Software

ZTE Axon 7-15

On the software side of things, the Axon 7 is running the MiFavor UI 4.0 based on Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow. ZTE has had issues with bloated software experiences in the past, but that doesn’t seem to be the case with the Axon 7. What you get here is a mostly stock-like user interface, with ZTE keeping Google’s Material Design elements intact as well. There are a few useful features that have been added, and you also get a Themes engine if you are looking to completely change the look and feel of the UI.

Specifications

 ZTE Axon 7
Display5.5-inch AMOLED display
2560 x 1440 resolution, 538ppi
Gorilla Glass 4
Processor2.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820
GPUAdreno 530
RAM4/6GB
Storage64/128GB
MicroSDYes, up to 128GB
CamerasRear: 20MP Samsung ISOCELL sensor with sapphire lens, OIS, EIS, PDAF, f/1.8 aperture, dual LED flash
Front: 8MP
Dual SIMYes
SIM typeNano SIM
SIM 2 also supports microSD card expansion
USB TypeUSB Type-C
USB 3.0
ConnectivityBluetooth 4.2
NFC
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/ac 2.4 GHz/ 5 GHz
NetworksGSM/EDGE:B2/3/5/8
CDMA BC0/1/10
UMTS/HSPA: B2/B5/B4/B1/B8
LTE: B2/B4/B5/B12/B13/B17/B7/B3/B1/B20/B29/B30/B25/B26/B41
2CA: B2+B4,B2/4+B12,B2/4+B29, B2/4+B5, B41+B41, B25+B25
Fingerprint sensorYes
SoftwareAndroid 6.0.1 Marshmallow with MiFavor UI 4.0
BatteryNon-removable 3,140mAh battery
Quick Charge 3.0
Dimensions and weight151.8 x 75 x 7.9 mm
185 grams
ColorsIon Gold, Quartz Grey

Gallery

Conclusion at a glance

ZTE Axon 7-19

So there you have it for this quick look at the ZTE Axon 7! The Axon 7 does seem to check all the right boxes, and can prove to be a worthy competitor in the flagship space. A beautiful design, fantastic display, great audio experience, and what is expected to be a good camera as well add up to an amazing device.

If ZTE continues to be aggressive with their pricing like their previous devices, the Axon 7 could be an instant hit. Pricing information isn’t currently available, but the device will be launched in China on May 26, with other markets, including the US, to follow shortly thereafter.

What do you think of the Axon 7? Let us know your views in the comments below!