Today we’re taking a look at the Axon phone. This thing kind of came out of nowhere: a top-spec flagship smartphone from a company you may or may not have heard of… ZTE. So what’s this Axon Pro all about? Well, let’s go ahead and find out…
The packaging here is pretty simple. We have a white box and a small window to peek at the phone with a shiny AXON logo on the front and ZTE branding on the sides. Lifting the lid will reveal the Axon phone and the included accessories. First up, we have a small packet that contains a single quick start guide to get you going and underneath that you’ll find a Micro USB cable and a power brick that will work with the Axon’s Quick Charge capabilities and some premium looking JBL headphones.
Taking a look at the phone itself, we have a pretty sweet design here with an aluminum casing and the AXON branding in the center. At the top you’ll find a dual camera layout that looks very familiar. The bottom camera packs a 13-megapixel back side illuminated CMOS sensor that’s capable of shooting up to 4K video. The top is a 2-megapixel shooter that allows for some refocusing effects within the Camera app that will give your images greater depth of field, or at least it makes it look that way. There’s also a dual-LED flash as well which works great to light up a dark environment. Speaking of cameras, there’s also an 8-megapixel shooter around the front side.
Check out our ZTE Axon unboxing & mini review video below:
So far pictures seem to be pretty good. In a nutshell, it performed exactly as I expected. Though its lack of optical image stabilization may be a deal breaker for some people. Colors seem to be accurate and the camera’s f1.8 aperture holds up alright in low light conditions, but I’ll save my full thoughts on this camera for the review and be sure to hit that thumbs up button if you’d like to see it.
The AXON packs a 5.5 QHD display with 534 PPI covered by Gorilla Glass 3. Above and below the display you’ll find some grilles, but only the bottom one is home to a front facing speaker. The top grille is there to house the earpiece and look cool.
On the bottom end, there are some capacitive navigation buttons. The center circle will act as a home button with a short press, or access to Google Now with a long press. If you swipe up from the center button, you’ll be taken to an interesting widget screen that provides access to music, favorite contacts, fitness tracking, and recent news.
The two buttons on each side of the circle are actually hidden until activated by touch, but feature no recognizable icons, just small dots. These buttons are used for the recent apps and back buttons, but since they aren’t labeled, you can swap them via the Settings app. As you’d expect the sides are home to a lock button and volume rocker, but there’s also another small button that works as a camera shutter within the app.
In case you were curious about specs, the AXON is packing some heat. Inside we have a Snapdragon 810 processor clocked at 2.0 GHz, 4GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage with about 24GB available for use, a 3,000 mAh battery, and in case you were wondering there’s no Micro SD card expansion.
It also comes along with Android 5.1.1 Lollipop. A lightly skinned Lollipop which definitely made me happy. No cluttered and skinned UI as we’ve seen with a lot of other devices in this spec range recently. Software seems quick and fluid out of the box so far as well. If you were curious about Geekbench scores, the AXON churned out a single core score of 907 and a mutli-core score of 3669.
As for first impressions, this phone feels solid in the hand. The build quality seems on point, software is nice, and for what you get here it seems to be priced competitively. ZTE’s AXON comes in at $450 unlocked and off-contract. It seems like this high-spec with a mid range price space in mobile is getting pretty crowded, but which one will you pick? Stay tuned for future coverage on the Axon Pro and be sure to check out our video above for a closer look.