As of late, seems that $400 has become the sweet spot for many of these so-called premium mid-range smartphones we’ve seen come to market over the last couple of months. Devices like the Moto Z Play Droid, Honor 8, and Alcatel Idol 4s are all in and around that price range, but they forget that there’s a high-end, high spec’d smartphone available at the same cost – the ZTE Axon 7. Call it the best bang for the buck, thanks to how it’s fashioned with a Quad-HD screen, Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 chip, and an incredible 20MP camera.

Read Next: Best ZTE phones you can get right now

Even though it seems as though there wouldn’t be anymore surprises for the rest of the year out of ZTE’s camp, the company decided to introduce its latest, premium made smartphone during IFA. As its name implies, the ZTE Axon 7 mini bears many of the unmistakable design characteristics of ZTE’s prized stallion, but in a more compact and hand-friendly chassis. This translates to a phone that’s more manageable to hold and operate with one hand – whereas with its bigger sized sibling, it’s a handful to say the least.
ZTE Axon 7 mini 10
The overall design of the phone doesn’t change much from its bigger brother, but that’s not a bad thing, as it still looks very premium with its all-metal construction. The only distinguishable change we can see relates to the surfaces that cover the speakers, which now have this textured print instead of the smoother finish from before. Beyond that, this “mini” definitely lives up to its name, just because it perfectly replicates the premium design without much compromise – albeit, it’s more compact in size.

Taking a quick a peek around the handset, it still features the same fingerprint sensor on its back, a USB Type-C connector, and those phenomenal sounding dual front-firing speakers. ZTE tells us that they’ve been able to crank up the power by just a smidgen, thanks to how they engineered the audio processor for the tighter spacing of the phone, while still producing the same theater-like sound from before. And believe us, this thing isn’t messing around with its audio quality!

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Due to its “mini” stature, the screen here shrinks down to 5.2-inches, in comparison to the ZTE Axon 7’s slightly larger 5.5-inch AMOLED panel. The resolution, too, goes from Quad-HD down to 1080p here with the mini. Now, some people might complain about this switch, but in all fairness, it’s still quite detailed when looking from a normal distance. In fact, those without the untrained eye won’t even notice much of a difference – more so when it continues to exhibit stellar qualities, such as its punchy color tones and wide viewing angles.

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Another area where we see a change is in the hardware that’s under the hood, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 chip with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage. All three indicate a reduction of sorts, but in our quick hands on time, the ZTE Axon 7 mini produces nearly the same responsiveness with superficial operations – so think opening up apps and navigating around the UI. Naturally, the true telling will come down to how it handles gaming, which seems to be what separates the good from the greats.

 ZTE Axon 7 MiniZTE Axon 7
Display5.2-inch AMOLED display with 1920 x 1080 resolution
5.5-inch AMOLED display with 2560 x 1440 resolution
ProcessorOcta-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 617Quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820
GPUAdreno 405Adreno 530
MicroSDYes, up to 128GB (uses SIM 2 slot)Yes, up to 128GB (uses SIM 2 slot)
CamerasRear: 16MP with f/1.9 aperture, autofocus, EIS, PDAF, sapphire lens, dual-LED (Single tone) flash
Front: 8MP with f/2.2 aperture
Rear: 20MP with f/1.8 aperture, autofocus, OIS, EIS, PDAF, sapphire lens, dual-LED (dual tone) flash
Front: 8MP with f/2.2 aperture
SIMDual SIM (Nano-SIM, dual stand-by)Dual SIM (Nano-SIM, dual stand-by)
NetworksGSM / CDMA / HSPA / LTE
2G: GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900(*CDMA 800) - SIM 1 & SIM 2
3G: HSDPA 850 / 900 /1700/ 1900 / 2100
4G LTE band: B1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/17/20/38/41/40
Speed: HSPA, LTE Cat6 300/50 Mbps
2G: GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 (*CDMA 800 / 1900) - SIM 1 & SIM 2
3G: HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100
4G LTE band: B2/B4/B5/B12/B13/B17/B7/B3/B1/B20/B29/B30/B25/B26/B41
Speed: HSPA, LTE Cat6 300/50 Mbps
Sound3.5mm headphone jack
Active noise cancellation with dedicated Dual mic
Dolby Atmos
Audio chipset: AKM 4962 (Hi-Fi sound playback and recording)
3.5mm headphone jack
Active noise cancellation with dedicated Dual mic
Dolby Atmos
Audio chipset: AKM 4961 + 4490 (Dedicated DAC and ADC for Hi-Fi sound playback and recording)
ConnectivityWi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, single-band, WiFi Direct, hotspot
Bluetooth v4.1, A2DP
USB v2.0, Type-C 1.0 reversible connector
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/ac, dual-band, WiFi Direct, hotspot
Bluetooth v4.2, A2DP
GPS with A-GPS, GLONASS/ BDS (region dependent)
USB v3.0, Type-C 1.0 reversible connector
Fingerprint sensorYesYes
SoftwareAndroid 6.0.1 MarshmallowAndroid 6.0.1 Marshmallow
BatteryNon-removable Li-Ion 2705mAh
Fast battery charging: 46% in 30 min (Quick Charge 2.0)
Non-removable Li-Ion 3250mAh
Fast battery charging: 83% in 30 min (Quick Charge 3.0)
Dimensions and weight147.5 x 71 x 7.8mm
151.7 x 75 x 7.9mm
ColorsIon Gold, Platinum GreyIon Gold, Quartz Grey

Speaking of the interface, it’s identical to what’s already available to the ZTE Axon 7, so there’s not much to say about it. Right now, it’s still at Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow, which is expected and all, but we know you’re curious about the next iteration. With that, however, it purely boils down to a matter of time. Who knows when exactly, but we certainly hope it won’t be too long now.

The need to scale back with the processor and screen resolution is a practice amongst many “mini” phones, just like this one here, but that continues to extend to the camera as well. Sure, it’s not as imposing as the 21MP snapper in its bigger sized sibling, but the 16MP rear camera here is still at a healthy count. It’s accompanied with an f/1.9 aperture lens, EIS, phase detection auto-focus, sapphire lens, and a dual-LED flash. The only thing omitted this time around is OIS, so it might not be as steady. Despite that, we’re curious to see how the new camera setup handles. The megapixel count isn’t too bad in our opinion, but let’s hope that other aspects of its quality isn’t sacrificed in the process.

ZTE Axon 7 mini 4

Arguably the biggest draw for the ZTE Axon 7 was its price, something that still continues to blow the competition out of the water. Moving onto the ZTE Axon 7 mini, though, it’s going to be sold at the retail price of €299 when it launches in some European markets at the end September. That roughly converts to $333, which seems alright for a phone of this caliber, especially when other comparably spec’d phones are at $400, but it would’ve been more alluring if it comes out to be sub $300 when it comes here to the US. Maybe it will? If so, it’s bound to be a contender in that mid-range market.

What do you think of the Axon 7 Mini? Let us know your thoughts in the comments, and be sure to stay tuned for more great coverage from IFA and beyond.

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