wFrom the looks of it, there is no stopping Samsung. Their Galaxy S7 has been such a great success, and so has every other Galaxy S handset in the past. Can a manufacturer like ZTE really compete with such a giant? Maybe not in sales, but they are trying to hit the flagships with the new Axon 7.

Today we are putting the ZTE Axon 7 right up against the Samsung Galaxy S7. Which one deserves to live in your pocket? More importantly, which is more worthy of your hard-earned cash? Let’s find out!

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Design and build quality

These smartphones look completely different. The ZTE Axon 7 goes for the unibody, full metal approach. It looks really nice and feels quite substantial in the hand. There is no doubt this was a significant upgrade over last year’s design; we definitely like the way it looks and feels.

On the other hand, the Samsung Galaxy S7 also goes for a premium edge (see what I did there?). It might not feel as solid as ZTE’s smartphone, but it’s glass and metal combination make for a very nice look and feel. At the same time, the Galaxy S7 is much easier to handle with one hand.

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Something we should note is that the Samsung Galaxy S7 is one of the very few flagship devices to feature a water resistant body. This may very well give Sammy’s handset an advantage, depending on your lifestyle.

Display

Taking a quick look at the screens we can find both are amazing here. These smartphones have AMOLED screens, with the only main difference being their sizes.

There’s a 5.1-inch panel in the Samsung Galaxy S7, versus the much larger 5.5-inch screen in the ZTE Axon 7. Both have a QHD (2560×1440) resolution. They are exceptionally vibrant, detailed and sport great viewing angles. It’s hard to say which one is better, as they are nearly identical. The ZTE’s phone screen does come from Samsung, after all.

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Software

Software is a bit of a gamble here, as these phones sport such different UI skins. It just depends on your preference. With the Galaxy S7 you will have TouchWiz, of course. You may like it or not, but no one can deny it has an ample set of features.

Whereas Samsung took the approach of customising almost all the Android interface, ZTE have adopted a more stock-like experience on the Axon 7. Unlike previous Axon devices which featured a heavily customised interface, the Axon 7 UI is clean, sharp and only features a small amount of customisation.

Both interfaces are full of functionality and which smartphone you pick will really depend on which interface appeals to you more. Whichever you pick, you’re definitely getting a premium experience either way.

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Hardware

The ZTE Axon 7 runs pretty fast as it is powered by the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 chipset, which is backed by teh Adreno 530 GPU with 4 GB of RAM. This is just the standard version however, as a premium version comes equipped with a whopping 6GB of RAM, which makes the Axon 7 one of the first smartphones to offer 6GB RAM!

The Galaxy S7 has a couple versions; one with the Snapdragon 820 and another with the Samsung Exynos 8890 Octa processor. Both Samsung versions also come with 4 GB of RAM and the GPU depends on which processing package you get; the Snapdragon version comes with an Adreno 530 GPU while the Exynos variant sports a Mali GPU.

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The Axon 7 comes with either 64GB or 128GB storage – with the latter offering 6GB RAM – and both can be expanded by up to 128GB using a microSD card. In comparison, the Galaxy S7 offers 32GB or 64GB storage; both of these can be expanded using a microSD but the 64GB variant is scarcely available.

Like any flagship, both handsets come with fingerprint sensors, with the Axon 7 sporting it on the back and the Galaxy S7 offering it on the front beneath the display. The Axon 7 also comes with a pressure sensitive display, which is only available on the premium version (with 6GB RAM / 128GB storage) of the handset.

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The Axon 7 is equipped with Doby Atmos surround sound features, while the Galaxy S7 has an average speaker but does offer water and dust resistance. Both handsets have large batteries, with the Axon 7 offering a 3,140 mAh battery while the Galaxy S7 battery is slightly smaller at 3,000 mAh. Both handsets also support fast charging so if you do run low, they can be topped up pretty quickly.

These handsets are equally fast and responsive, so it’s pretty hard to say which one will be better in the long run. Whichever you pick, you can expect a premium experience that is worthy of a flagship name and price tag.

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Camera

By now, Samsung has built up a reputation for being one of the best when it comes to smartphone camera quality. This time around they are using a 12 MP camera with an f/1.7 aperture, along with dual pixel technology which provides super fast autofocus. It’s fast, takes sharp images and does very well in low light.

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The ZTE Axon 7 carries a 20 MP sensor with an f/1.8 aperture lens. It also has OIS, face detection, auto-focus and ZTE also claims it will perform well in darker environments. We can’t say which one has a better camera yet, but we are very curious to run our tests so stay tuned for more on which of these cameras is actually the best.

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Conclusion

The Samsung Galaxy S7 is the phone to beat this year. It is rich in features and performs very well, as well as being quite unique. It has all the bells and whistles, like wireless charging, water resistance and even a heart rate monitor.

With that said, we also know the ZTE Axon 7 shouldn’t be ignored. It will probably come in at a lower price point and is still an amazing handset. Not to mention it is unlocked and will have support for all 4 major carriers here in the USA.

Want to learn more? Stay tuned to Android Authority for more coverage on the ZTE Axon 7, as well as the Samsung Galaxy S7. For now, hit the comments and let us know which phone you prefer!

John Velasco
Storyteller, ongoing health nut, persistent complainer of running, & religious flosser.