Update (02/16): ZTE has released an official statement regarding its Axon 7 Android 8.0 Oreo US beta which addresses the switch from the OEM’s MiFavor UI to “near-stock Android”.

“At ZTE, we listen to our consumers, and one of their requests was to get Android O on the Axon 7, and we are excited to make it happen,” said Jeff Yee, ZTE’s vice president of product marketing and strategy. He goes on to reference the feedback from the Z-Community forums, while the press release notes that the switch to near-stock Android was heavily influenced by consumer requests.

As for the update itself, ZTE provided a list of the changes and improvements that will come to the Axon 7 with the OS upgrade:

  • Improved battery life
  • View two apps at once through picture-in-picture (PiP) mode
  • Google Play Protect, which scans over 50 billion apps per day to ensure your device is safe
  • Notification dots to quickly see what’s new
  • Faster boot speed when powering on the device
  • Android Instant apps, allowing users to get into apps without having to install
  • Minimized background activity in the applications used least
  • Autofill, which, with user permission, remembers logins to important apps

Original story (02/14): ZTE has announced an Android 8.0 Oreo beta program for Axon 7 users in the US. The Chinese OEM confirmed that it was testing Oreo internally just a few weeks ago, but it now wants a limited number of users to help out ahead of a public release.

A Z-Community moderator confirmed the beta in a forum post earlier today. The post calls on Axon 7 users with a US model (A2017U) on the latest build (B35) to apply for the program, noting that due to limited space, the first wave of beta testers will be chosen based on their “familiarity with Android”.

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While there isn’t an exact timeframe given for the beta, the post does confirm that ZTE will be testing in phases. If you’re interested in apply, be sure to head here and fill in the details in the linked Google Form.

The Axon 7 originally launched way back in the middle of 2016 running Android Marshmallow and later Nougat.

There were initially some question marks over whether the Axon 7 would be skipped over for the next major OS upgrade, especially following the release of the experimental Axon M and then reports that direct successor, now known as the Axon 9, was in the works.

Thankfully for fans of the cult classic device, ZTE confirmed late last year that it would bring Oreo to the ‘flagship killer’. The update is also expected to deliver a “pure” Android experience thanks to a new UI dubbed “Stock+”.

While Axon 7 users may have to wait until at least April for a public build of Android 8.0 Oreo, the beta announcement is at least a step in the right direction. Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments.