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!

  • Chuck Jones

    OMG! Quad AMOLED!!!
    The price is what I’m waiting for, it HAS to be under $400!!
    I wish all the tech writers would give ZTE and Axon a fair chance, last years Axon Pro was given very little favorable reviews, even though it was an outstanding phone.

    The 6gb model has to be a real Flagship Killer of 2016!

    • Brian Obillo

      CNET reported it’s gonna be $450 unlocked when it finally gets released to the rest of the world.

      • Chuck Jones

        If the Axon 7 comes with the JBL headset, for $450, then that phone is the ONLY way to go.
        I wonder what the 6gb 128gb price will be.

        • Marc Perrusquia

          I read $639. I’m guessing that’s just an estimate. I’d say $500-$600. Seems like it’s worth every penny.

    • Elena

      $399

    • Bonedatt

      Well you got your wish as it is under $400.

  • Insertnamehere

    I hope it comes to UK.

  • rarinrob

    Looks interesting. I’m in the UK though, so I guess it won’t be coming here.

    • 1213 1213

      It’ll be coming to mainland Europe to its possible. And I think you can use European phones just fine in the uk anyway.

  • Daniel Martinez Colmenares

    Hoping coming very quickly to US and above 500$ and I will take a hard decicsion between Mi5, Oneplus 3 and this one

    • Chuck Jones

      Why would you hope it goes for ABOVE $500, that’s ludicrous!
      There is no hard decision when it come to the Oneplus 3, the specs. are already out for it. The only missing factor is the price of the Oneplus 3, and anything above $300 is too much. Anything from Oneplus is a disaster, look at their crappy OS!

      The Axon 7 crushes the Oneplus 3 with it’s specs., and if it has the same price as last years Axon Pro, it’s really the only choice to make.
      With the TWO(2) year no questions asked warranty, ZTE Axon 7 wins hands down!!

      • Daniel Martinez Colmenares

        Sorry I’m not a English speaker, I use a incorrect word. Of course I want less than a 500$. You didn’t say anything about the Mi5, could you give you opinion about it
        And the OnePlus, I think the OS couldn’t be the best one but i can install CyanogenMod.

        • Chuck Jones

          you really think Oneplus would give away proprietary drivers so that CM can be used? They didn’t with the Oneplus two.
          Wouldn’t it be a LOT better to begin with a proper OS, than that crappy Oxygen?
          Could not care less about the MI5, no LTE support in the U.S.
          The new Axon 7 has support for ALL the carriers in the US.

    • Arman

      Not Mi5, but yes between the other 2 its very close..

      • Daniel Martinez Colmenares

        Why you didn’t choose the Mi5?

        • Arman

          The camera is mediocre on Mi5 from all the reviews and comparisons I have seen. Even if Axon 7 camera is not as good as S7 I will pass, but that’s a personal preference. you might not care about camera.

    • MrcheGuev

      Well to me in UE it’s in balance between this one and the mi5 premium 128gigabytes…Help ^^

      • androwin

        Mi5 isn’t that ‘xiaomi”?!! Then no microsd card for you if you go with their devices.

        Microsd is still needed even if you have 128GB of free internal storage because the fact that you can simply put the card in pc/laptop and backup/restore at light speed.

        Mi5 doesn’t support as much LTE bands as Axon 7.

        Mi5 support USB at speed only ‘2.0’ while Axon 7 will support superspeed USB ‘3.0’.

        ZTE is the real winner.

        • MrcheGuev

          Yeah you convince me on some points you shown but i had a xiaomi mi4 for almost a year and i have to say that the quality of it and the miui was really pleasant and à good thing to me…However if this ZTE product is sell under 500$ and not too expensive to import to France i’ll go for it ? ! But the ZTE UI is kinda scaring me ,i don’t have any feedback of it….If some Axon users are on this website i hope they can help me a bit and get me some infos about it(i am really fond of the miui one, just behind Android stock) ! Plus if the sell price is locked at 400$ for the 4gb/64go version it’s like 360€ for me ? great deal in fact even for the lowest version of it ^^

    • Roy

      Best speakers here!

    • guest

      Is Mi5 compatible with U.S. networks?

  • illregal

    ” Its predecessor offered one of the best audio experiences around, from both the speakers and when using good quality headphones” None of the predecessors had stereo speakers. Just faux grills. Does it actually have stereo speakers now, or are they still fake.

    • droidtomtom

      Good question. They did emphasize Dolby Atmos whatever that means. Headphones only?

      • Francis Phoon Chang Liang

        Headphones and dual front speaker u can look at pocketnow review if u think I am trying to bullshit

  • p1ayaa

    This phone is, what HTC M9 should have been!

    • Roy

      Agree

    • Chazz Matthews

      If only it had Qi wireless charging. It has everything else I want.

      • Alexander Vynogradov

        The full metal unibody blocks radio signals (that’s why the antenna lines are visible on the outside) and also blocks inductive energy used for wireless charging and you’d need to place the copper spiral (receiver) on the outside of the back plate.

        I would actually like to see the zte with a design which has a metal frame around the edges and a removable back plate like the style swap covers of some other smartphones.

        • Chazz Matthews

          HTC said they have ways around that, that they could have put in Qi wireless in the metal HTC 10 if they wanted. So ZTE could have also.

          Point is, I’m not buying a phone without Qi wireless charging.

    • Goran

      This phone is what htc 10 should have been.

    • Technobro

      This phone is perfect, is it not?

  • Testuda

    Wonder if it will be available in Canada ?

    • Arman

      I asked them on twitter and they confirmed its going to be available for Canada, the only question is the band support!

      • Testuda

        Fingers crossed for 1700 and 2100 MHz (3G)!

        • Arman

          Yeah that’s the real Question. It doesn’t list those bands on their website. Bands 4,17 for LTE

  • Ronald Sims

    Sleeper pick for flagship of 2016. Ranks up there with the P9 and the HTC 10 by a small margin.

    • Veteater

      This beats every other smartphone out there, including what will turn out to be this device’s biggest competitor, the HTC 10. Different prices by a large margin, but the HTC 10 has a lot in common with this. But this is better than the 10. This phone’s competition that will be closer to this phone’s price bracket will be the OP3 probably in the $300s, which will look kind of like a ZUK or Meizu compared to these devices, which is a good thing, it will be more developed friendly, and offer the same chipsets, and the Moto Z, which will probably be priced in this ballpark, and will offer up good competition with the modules alongside custom back covers in Moto maker, as well as almost-stock Android that feels better to operate than a nexus, because of the smart contextual functionality. June will be an exciting month for sure.

  • Da Fuq

    ZTC AxOne M7

  • King_Android

    See OPO, this is the real Flagship killer without all of the cheesy marketing and a low pricetag, oh wait this is a flagship with a low pricetag…

    • Alexander Vynogradov

      Low price tag unless you want to get the 128 Gb version, which will most likely cost 600+. After the OnePlus One this is the upgrade I’m strongly considering, since some of the flagships won’t come to Europe like the Moto Z Force with the shatter resistant screen which is only going to be sold in the US by Verizon.

  • Mister R

    Well, if the 6GB/128GB version is sold in the U.S. (before the note 6 comes out) then hands down this will be my next phone. If not, then I’ll wait on the Note 6. Kudos to ZTE for such a beautiful feature rich device.

    • Charles Sweeney

      Note 7

  • Krunal G

    Awesome mobile.!! looking to win giveaway from Androidauthority soon :)

  • Weisse Nymphe

    On,no, the Chinese version just has 3 FDD-LTE bands and 4 TDD-LTE bands :(. but the America version has 15(?) bands!

  • sannicks

    This is what a true flagship should offer. Amazing design, dual stereo speakers and great price.

    • David Martrano

      Just think, sony has the Xseries. Not one of those phones could hold a candle to the axon 7. And for a mere 400.00. Sony is selling their battery division. Might as well sell the smartphone division too! A little overpriced for what they offer!!

  • Mike

    Quad HD is overkill and unnecesarily drains the battery. Would prefer FHD with a lower price. Rest of spec is very good.

    • Veteater

      This is 2016, every top of the line handset has got a 2K screen. Maybe this argument would’ve been OK in mid-2015 at the latest, but not now. Got a problem with it? Get a OP3 in a couple of days, or a Moto Z Play (lower end Moto Z). Both should be competitively priced.

    • droidtomtom

      VR headset (Daydreams) necessitates Quad HD AMOLED screen for both low persistence and high resolution.

    • 1213 1213

      That’s not really true. For amoled displays the higher resolution doesn’t kill the battery like it does for LCD. The galaxy s6 had a more efficient display than the galaxy s5 for example.

    • Chazz Matthews

      there’s tons of Chinese phones with 1080p. We want this: 1440p AMOLED.

  • Ray Fulton

    Hi guys this may not have anything to do with the article but where can I sell my Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 as it is completely bricked and has a bootloop?

  • Goran

    This is most refreshing phone and real flagship killer. Htc 10 seems incomplete compare this. Amoled, 64gb, sd 820, hi fi audio output, best stereo speakers in the world…..amazing. Unreal almost. Just the looks is so obviously chinese and gold colour a bit tacky. Camera just ok. But who cares, this is best offer in smartphone world. No phone can come close for the price.
    PS. Htc, Lg and Samsung should be ashamed….this phone is daydream vr ready. Their 700$ flagships aren’t.

  • Kariya

    Absolutely love that front panel design, not as much nonsense as its competitors. Relatively thin side-bezels, no stupid logo eating up space (I wish other OEMs would consider doing this as well), good-looking dual front-facing speakers, plus I’m the type who prefers software navigation buttons over hardware ones, so hooray!
    Should’ve been perfect if not for those black bars between the screen and both speaker grills, but I think I can forgive that one :)

  • 1213 1213

    Personally I prefer a home button to front speakers but overall the design is refreshingly different and looks great (although the black bands on the front aren’t doing any favours, I’d rather that part was metal too. The price is great too, apparently 64gb 4gb ram for 410 euros.

  • onnha

    I suspect that this will be in the $400-500 range with the 6gb ram/128gb storage. Does anyone know if it has an IR blaster and or a FM radio inside? I don’t get why with all the bells and whistles that manufacturers can put in phones why they no longer offer FM radio installed. Would be a real plus for me. And one other thing- the less BLOAT the better. Or at least an option to permanently delete apps. Not just disable them. Just my 2 cents worth. And no I don’t want it all- just if I’m spending my money on a phone it better have the features that are important.

  • fn noobee

    Fingerprint scanner, QHD AMOLED, Snapdragon 820 & 4GB RAM, Dual SIM, Band 12 support and CDMA/GSM networks support? O_o. Please tell me that the phone supports Google Fi SIM. I will buy this one and get rid of my LG G5 and my Nexus 5x. In fact, the next Nexus needs to have the same features if it wants to be able to compete with the new Axon. I had the ZTE Axon Pro and it was an awesome phone. The big boys should be shaking in their boots right now….

  • Chazz Matthews

    IF only it had Qi wireless.

  • IgorM

    ZTE Axon 7, RAM 4 GB – Micro SD 64 Gb – 2999¥ about 450$.
    ZTE Axon 7, RAM 6 GB – Micro SD 128 GB – 3999¥ about 600$.
    I already preorder the premium version, cause I live in China.

  • Jax Golden

    What is the price point?

  • Layfon Wolfstein

    I wonder what kind of storage it is using, UFS or eMMC?

    • James Bryant

      UFS

  • eddyyy

    the speakers ar not stereo ! one is earpiece one is loudspeaker MONO – not stereo

  • Toru

    Which type of DAC are include in Axon 7 ?? 32 bit or 24 bit ?? does its front facing speaker support 2 * 1.5 W, large-chamber (1cc) equipped with Dolby Atmos ??????

    such as Lenovo vibe X3 support 32 bit DAC and 2 * 1.5 W, large-chamber (1cc) front-facing speakers equipped with Dolby Atmos.

    And plz tell me which DAC is best for listening music through Headphone AK4490 DAC or ESS Sabre ES9018K2M DAC ???

  • This phone looks to be amazing for its price. I just wish it was a bit slimmer and maybe not as large cause phablets are difficult to use one handed, but other than that, this seems pretty much perfect.

  • androwin

    It has 3250mAh battery.

  • shonangreg

    I think every review of of any phone that is being sold unlocked (non MediaTek phones) needs to include a mention of the manufacturer’s android update history. If you writers did this, this bottleneck could be worked out. CEO’s and investors and board members would ask how much it would cost to promise three years of android updates. I don’t think the cost is prohibitive. It is just uninformed consumers who are the missing element. You can inform us. Dare I say, it is your job.

    • David T

      Hit the nail on the head there; if it forces companies to stop pushing out dozens of variants and focus on the core then even better. Variety is nice but a burden when an OEM has to code for many.

      • Alexander Vynogradov

        Most prominent: Samsung…

  • nmatheis

    Still no word on release date?

  • chinna

    hello, do u have any information from ZTE weather it will be released in india and if so, when it will be available?

  • Marty

    Really wanting the 128GB version.

  • eric dona

    When is this phone will be available in US..the phone looks promising with its specs.. Ive been looking for a phone and almost bought the s7 edge but when i saw this phone.. damn who cares about the edge panel or the water proof if you have HiFi audio and front facing speakers.. with masive space and 6gb of ram..grrrr

    ZTE take my money.. i want your phone now LOL

  • Burak

    Does anyone know if there is only one regional version which supports LTE band 20 (800 Mhz) or will there be China/Europe/America model?

  • smilertoo

    I cant find any reviews that mention if it has FMradio.

  • Holy *beep*

    I didn’t even consider ZTE up to until this very moment and now they’re building a phone with exactly the specs I wish the HTC 10 would’ve delivered (and of course didn’t). For an unbelievable sweet price 8-D

  • Yuto Arrapato

    when the complete review?

  • Ivelin Ognyanov

    wow… it really does look awesome. :O

  • SuperFist

    This would have beat the OnePlus 3 in my eyes IF they had hardware navigation buttons. I cannot stand software navigation buttons which take away from screen real estate! I do like the front facing speakers and microSD card slot, but like I said, no hardware navi buttons makes me feel better about buying the OnePlus 3!

    • Chuck Jones

      You do realize that the Axon 7 DOES have capacitive buttons on the lower bezel, right?

  • Abdus-Samad Ali-Cassim

    What would be the better buy between the ZTE Axon 7 & Oneplus 3 ?

    • Chuck Jones

      Are you crazy? Has the heat and humidity gotten to you?
      You really have to be told?
      The Axon 7 crushes the pitiful OP3!

  • Chris Caldwell

    Does GMD Immersive app work on this phone?

  • Robert In South Florida

    I got mine for $399 (preorder) that was delivered last month. They also threw in a nice set of Monster N-Pulse headphones that they normally sell for $99 at no charge. I am very pleased with this phone and its features and find it is blazing fast with the 4GB RAM and Snapdragon chip. The only adjustment I needed to make was switching from left-handed to right (default) when I got it. It has worked perfectly for me no matter whether multitasking, using GPS or Bluetooth, phone calls are crystal clear, sound and display are excellent and I am very happy with my purchase. This was an amazing deal for the price paid and all of the things that shipped with it and a free 2 year warranty were just icing on the cake, I highly recommend this phone unless you can’t live without wireless charging but the quick charger it comes with almost makes that a moot point as an hour brings me back to 100% from 20% which is fine for my needs. I also have used the 20MP camera and video with no problems and the pictures were as good as my Samsung DV300F HD camera that I kept in my car instead of using my previous phone but no need after this purchase unless I need to use my tripod. Don’t let the unknown Axon name scare you, this phone is an iPhone killer and I won’t be looking back.

  • Gordo

    this is actually a pretty good fun however it’s got a lot of problems with the charging the original charger that comes with it is like a bogus piece of crap you can get at the swapmeet from a Mexican named Pablo for 399 so first thing go get one of those second when the display is kind of crap yeah the fingerprint sensor Works after you get it programmed but it takes a while. I don’t know if they go to the next update I don’t care I’m keeping with Motorola

  • Jo

    Love my Axon 7, has all the bells and whistles I need.

  • cdbin

    Does it have hardware buttons as well as soft? (menu & back) cannot seem to locate a solid clarification..