• ZTE announced that the Axon 7’s successor will be called the ZTE Axon 9.
  • The jump in numbers may have to do with how the Axon 8 branding sounds in Chinese.
  • The Axon 9 is expected to launch sometime later in 2018.

The ZTE Axon 7 launched in mid-2016, and since then many fans of that affordable flagship smartphone have been waiting for its true successor. Today, ZTE confirmed such a phone was in the works, but that it would be branded as the Axon 9, rather than the Axon 8.

The news comes from (via Pocketnow), which reported on the China launch of ZTE’s recent foldable phone, the Axon M. Company CEO Lixin Cheng confirmed the name of the Axon 7 competitor during the press event in China.

Why skip over the name “Axon 8?” There’s speculation that it all has to do with language. Specifically, the Axon name translates to “Sky machine” when spoken in Chinese, but Pocketnow says that if someone using that language says, “Sky machine 8”, it would include a homophone that would translate into “mess-up” in that language.

If that is indeed the reason for using Axon 9 instead of Axon 8, it would not be the first time that an issue with the Chinese language caused a smartphone to get a new name. OnePlus decided to bypass the OnePlus 4 name for its successor to the OnePlus 3, beacause “four” is linked with death in China’s culture.

In November, ZTE confirmed that the Axon 7 is no longer being manufactured, but also stated that a successor for that phone will be released at some point. Now it’s just a matter of time before ZTE launches the Axon 9, which is expected to happen sometime in 2018.