ZTE Axon Fingerprint Model Review: A Superb Phone

by Linus 19

ZTE, one of the largest smartphone makers on the planet, needs no further introduction when it comes to the smartphone game. We usually talk about the ZTE’s sub-brand Nubia and its smartphones but this time around we are looking at the just announced ZTE Axon Chinese model, meaning that it has a fingerprint scanner and some other minor differences than the international variant.

We wanted to say thanks for GIZTOP.com for sending the ZTE Axon for a review.

ZTE Axon Fingerprint Model Review: VIDEO

ZTE Axon Fingerprint Model Review: SPECS

Display 5.5″ 1080p, Corning Gorilla Glass 3 with the antimicrobial coating
Processor Snapdragon 810, 2.5GHz, octa-core, 64-bit
Camera 8MP Front/13MP and 2MP (duo camera setup) back
Connectivity Bluetooth, 3G, 4G, GPS, WIFI, NFC, GSM,EDGE, GPRS, UMTS, HSPA, HSPA+
Battery 3.000 mAh (non-removable)
Dimensions 154.5 x 75.3 x 9.7 mm/ 168g
OS Android 5.0.2
Storage 32GB (expandable via microSD card slot up to 200GB)

ZTE Axon Fingerprint Model Review: UNBOXING


Usually I don’t really care about the packaging but this one is worth looking at as this Chinese version of the Axon phone comes in a really premium looking box.
All the items are packed in a plastic box and I have to say that ZTE has made a real flagship-grade presentation here as everything is packed very nicely and neatly.
The contents include the the pair of high-quality earphones, which are not made by JBL as on the international model, USB cable, power plug, instruction manuals and the SIM ejector pin, which has a nice little carrying case.
Overall, the presentation looks nothing but premium.

ZTE Axon Fingerprint Model Review: DESIGN and DISPLAY

The ZTE Axon is a really beautiful phone that comes with a 5.5″ 1080p display (the international and the “Lux” models have the 2k panels).
It doesn’t matter that the panel is “only” 1080P but it is very sharp, vivid, has great viewing angles and good sunlight visibility. Overall, it is a very high-quality display and it is one of the best out there even if you compare it with any flagship device. In addition, it has a Corning Gorilla Glass 3 with the antimicrobial coating. I could not check if the antimicrobial feature really works but what I can say that it is much easier to clean the screen than other Gorilla Glass 3 glasses I’ve tested.
On the top side there is what may look like a speaker grill but it turns out that it is just a design element. Inside of it you can find just an earpiece, which is located on the right side.
Underneath the earpiece there is an 8MP front facing snapper with wide angle lens and the proximity sensor.
On the bottom side there are 3 capacitive keys, which also have a backlight (although they are pretty much invisible outdoors).
Also, the home button serves as a notification LED, which is an implementation that comes from the ZTE’s Nubia line of smartphones. A great thing is that the capacitive keys are customisable (you can switch the menu and back buttons).
Underneath the capacitive buttons you can find another grill but only the right side is where the actual speaker can be found.
The back plate is made of champagne gold aluminium material but the top and bottom parts are made of plastic. These parts sport a somewhat leather-like finish (well, it is plastic) with some fake stitching. Nevertheless, the top and bottom parts don’t look cheap by any means and I really like the look and feel of them.
If we get a closer look to the top side, we can find a lot of things going on here. It all starts with the eye-catching duo camera setup. Yes, I know, we’ve heard about this before. Still, ZTE thinks it is a great idea and they implemented a 13MP Sony sensor with OIS, f/1.8 aperture and a single tone dual LED flash.
To make the above mentioned specs sound even more appealing, there is a dedicated 2MP camera sensor, which collects depth information and it is mainly used for the bokeh shots and focus adjustments after taking the picture.
Just below the duo camera setup you can find a fingerprint scanner. Well, we’ve seen a lot of Chinese phones with this type of security option coming out lately and you may wonder how the one found on the ZTE’s flagship performs in real life.
First of all, some people may say that the placement is terrible since you have to reach the sensor on its back. However, I think differently. Since the phone has a huge footprint, it is actually more convenient as you don’t lose the grip of the phone and you are not taking a risk of dropping it.
Secondly, you may wonder how the finger print scanner actually works. After using the device for quite a while, I can say that it is one of the best fingerprint security implementations on the market. It is super fast, very accurate and reads your fingerprints even if they are a bit smudgy. It is on par with the iPhone 6, Galaxy S6 and any other top of the line device.
You may think that the fingerprint security is not a big deal since there are plenty of cheap phones, which have it. However, I can clearly see the difference in a cheap scanner and the premium scanner as the former one is lagging behind in terms of speed and accuracy.
On the bottom side there is just the ZTE logo with some certification info.
Here is the right side of the device and you can find two nano SIM card slots, which both support global-LTE networks (although I suggest you checking the bands with your local carrier). A really awesome thing is that the second slot also doubles as a microSD card slot, which can take cards up to 200GB. Please note that only the Chinese version (for some mysterious reason) of the phone has the storage expansion option.
Underneath the SIM card tray you can find a very clicky and responsive volume rocker.
On the right side there is a conveniently placed power on/off switch.
On the top there is a headset jack along with a noise-cancelling mic.
On the bottom you can find a micro USB port and the main mic.
Overall, I really like this phone as far the overall design package goes. It is definitely a looker, it has a superb build quality and it feels like you are holding a flagship-grade device in your hand. Finally, a one-hand operation may be a bit difficult but it is still possible.

ZTE Axon Fingerprint Model Review: USER INTERFACE

The ZTE Axon runs MiFavor UI 3.2, which is company’s own take on the Android 5.0.2 Lollipop. The user interface has preserved the aesthetics of the stock Android but ZTE added quite a lot of its own by offering some extra features, nicely looking icons and tons of customisation options. As usual to the Chinese phones, there is no app drawer and all the apps sit on the home screens.

ZTE added some functionality with the gesture controls and various interesting apps like a Karaoke. However, some of these apps are designed for the Chinese users as we have a Chinese version as a review unit.

The system ROM takes a hefty amount of 7.5GB. Fortunately enough, the device comes with the microSD card slot.


The ZTE Axon comes with the iris scanner! The company did not really advertise it but this may be a neat feature for some. It was quite interesting to test it out since I have recently reviewed a much cheaper Umi Iron phone, which has the same feature.

The setup was really easy as I just needed to scan my eyes a few times. How does it work? It actually works pretty good. I was able to unlock the phone using a retina security option most of the times and I believe this is one of the better iris scanner implementations I’ve used.


Overall, I am very pleased with how the UI works. It is fast, fluid and very responsive. Also, it has lots of customisation options and some neat features but it is not overblown with gimmicky functionality, which we would never use.

ZTE Axon Fingerprint Model Review: BENCHMARKS

ZTE Axon Fingerprint Model Review: PERFORMANCE



Graphically intensive tasks like gaming (tested with Asphalt 8 and Mortal Combat X) just fly on the ZTE Axon and the graphics look stunning. A flagship-grade performance.

Snapdragon 810 = Overheating? No, not this time. The device gets warm a bit but it does not heat up to uncomfortable levels even after extended periods of gaming. It may feel a bit warmer than usual due to a natural heat dispersion on metal surfaces, though.

ZTE Axon Fingerprint Model Review: MULTIMEDIA

The ZTE Axon is being advertised as the “First Hi-Fi smartphone in North America”. It may be true but we have already seen a lot of phones carrying Hi-Fi audio chips.

The sound via headphones is indeed very good, which has a very loud volume output, rich tones and a lot of depth. It is undoubtedly one of the best music phones out there.

IMG_20150809_095727The sound via loudspeaker, which is located on the bottom right of the device is also very good. It is loud and has a lot of depth and bass for a tiny speaker. Also, the placement on the front side of the device is the best you can possibly think of. A dual stereo speakers would have been nice but hey, you are getting a really good speaker.

Other multimedia options like 1080p or 4k video playback work flawlessly.

ZTE Axon Fingerprint Model Review: CAMERA


The camera app is fast and responsive, and it has tons of controls, shooting modes and features. You may take pictures using the auto-mode and choose the “SLR mode” to take a full manual control of the camera. A neat feature is that you can play with the aperture number as well.

In addition, the “SLR mode” allows you to use the secondary 2MP camera sensor and change the focus point and level of it after taking the picture. I was actually really pleased with the results you can achieve with the extra camera sensor. Well, sometimes pictures may look a bit artificial but other times you can get some really professional looking images.

ZTE Axon Fingerprint Model Review: IMAGE QUALITY


The daylight images look great as they have plenty of details, colours look nice and pictures look sharp overall. Sometimes the dynamic range can be off, though. Keep in mind that all the images where shot at 10MP as it was  a default setting due to wide screen (16:9) ratio. If you want to take 13MP images, the ratio changes to the old-school 4:3.


The images taken indoors can sometimes can look good but with a bit less lighting a visible noise kicks in and the amount of details goes down significantly.


The night shots are just okay as I expected a bit more from this device considering a great specs sheet of the camera it carries. It may be a software related issue as noise levels could be lower. I tried to play with the aperture and set it to the lowest – f/1.0 to see if it works. The image quality may be a tad better but there is no major improvement here.


I tried to play with the bokeh effect using the “SLR mode” to see what the secondary 2MP camera sensor is capable of. What I can say is that you can achieve some professional looking images but it will not happen all the time. Sometimes some objects may look a bit artificially. Still, this is one of the better implementations of duo camera setup I’ve tested (HTC One M8).

ZTE Axon Fingerprint Model Review: VIDEO QUALITY

The 1080P footage looks quite good but I would love to see some more details in it. Also, the video could sharper overall if we compare it to some other top-shelf phones.

The 4K video looks sharper and has more details than the 1080p one. Overall, you may get some nice and sharp looking footage at the 4K resolution.

ZTE Axon Fingerprint Model Review: CONNECTIVITY


All the connectivity options like GPS, Bluetooth, Wifi and NFC work great. Also, the call quality is stellar as the earpiece is loud and the sound is very clear. Finally, the reception quality is very good on each of the nano SIM card slot.

ZTE Axon Fingerprint Model Review: BATTERY LIFE

The battery life on the ZTE Axon is good but not great. It will most likely get you through the day as you can get just below 4 hours of screen on-time if you consume a lot of multimedia, use a lot camera and play some games.
The screen-on times may increase up to 4.5 or even 5 hours if you are not doing a lot of demanding tasks.
If it happens so that you need to recharge your battery in the middle of the day, the Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 2.0 comes handy.

ZTE Axon Fingerprint Model Review: CONCLUSIONS


So there you have, the ZTE Axon smartphone. To be honest, I don’t have any major complaints about this device and I believe that ZTE nailed it this time considering the price tag of $449.99 via third-party resellers.

It all starts with a beautiful design and a great choice of premium materials, which include  metal, plastic and glass. No one will make a mistake this is a flagship quality smartphone.


Also, the device has a great display, fast and fluid UI and awesome overall performance.

In addition, the ZTE Axon has plenty of really nice features that work great like a fingerprint and retina scanners, tons of customisation options and the state of the art Hi-Fi audio experience, and much more.

The 13MP/2MP camera combo on the back works great in the daylight and its rich camera app allows you to play with lots of settings and shooting modes. The extra 2MP sensor not only looks nice on the back and makes other people think that the ZTE Axon is a killer camera phone, but also allows you to take some great looking images with the bokeh effect. However, the night shots could be better as a visible noise may ruin some images.



Finally, this is a great device that does not have any disadvantages that could be a deal breaker. For the price of $449.99 you are getting a phone that may not have the best battery life or the best low-light camera, but it is definitely a looker, performs great and will provide you with an amazing multimedia experience.

We are looking for writers. Interested? Fill out this google form.