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ZTE Axon Mini Review 1 Year Later – A Great Option for just $140?

by Linus 3

ZTE is definitely one of the most respectable Chinese smartphone makers since our reviews have already proven that the company is capable of producing some high-quality products. The ZTE Axon mini was released more than a year ago and it used to cost $300. Now you can grab it for just $150 but you can find a $10 off coupon code at the end of the article. Find out if the ZTE Axon mini is still a decent phone for the price in our full review.

Thanks to Gearbest for sending ZTE Axon Mini for a review.

ZTE Axon Mini Review: VIDEO

ZTE Axon Mini: UNBOXING

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The ZTE Axon Mini comes in a premium looking packaging where all the items are packed neatly. Inside of it you can find the charging plug, USB cable, a pair of earphones, which actually sound pretty good; SIM ejector PIN, some documentation and a hard plastic case.

ZTE Axon Mini: SPECS

Display5.2″ 1080p Amoled (Full-HD)
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 616, 64-bit, octa-core (up to 1.5GHz)
RAM3GB
Camera8MP Front/13MP Back
ConnectivityBluetooth, 3G, 4G, GPS, WIFI, GSM,EDGE, GPRS, UMTS, HSPA, HSPA+, dual-SIM:

Card1:FDD-LTE:B1/3/7/8/12/17/20 TDD-LTE:B38/40/41 WCDMA:B2/5/8 GSM:B2/3/5/8 CDMA:BC0

Card2:GSM:B2/3/5/8

Battery2.800 mAh (non-removable)
Dimensions143.5 x 70 x 7.9 mm (5.65 x 2.76 x 0.31 in) / 140g
OSMiFavor 3.2.0 (based on Android 5.1.1)
Storage32GB (expandable via microSD card slot up to 128GB)

ZTE Axon Mini: DESIGN

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As far as the design, we are looking at a really premium and well-crafted handset. It is made almost entirely of metal except for those top and bottom parts on the back, which are made of plastic.

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The front top and bottom parts may give you an impression that the Axon Mini sports a dual stereo speakers setup. However, the top part is dedicated only for the earpiece, a usual set of sensors, notification LED light and 8MP selfie snapper. The bottom is the place where you can find a front firing speaker along with the main mic. The speaker quality is really good considering the price of the phone.

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It may look that the Axon mini has a dual camera setup but it actually has just a one 13MP shooter with dual-LED flash.

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Underneath the camera, there is a fingerprint scanner, which is easy to setup, accurate and it unlocks the phone straight from the standby mode.IMG_5826

On the top, there is a headset jack and on the bottom – a regular micro USB charging port. On the right, we have a power key and a dual SIM card and the microSD card slot for storage expansion. On the left, there is a just a volume rocker.

Overall, the build quality is top-notch and I love an all-metal design of the phone. The Axon mini definitely feels great in the hand and I really appreciate the fact that it is easily manageable with one hand due to its 5.2″ display.

ZTE Axon Mini: DISPLAY

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As far as display, we have a 5.2” 1080p Amoled panel, which is just gorgeous to look at. Honestly, it almost looks like an LCD display as it has all the good aspects like colour accuracy, brightness of liquid crystal displays but adds a little bit of punchiness and saturation, which is typical to Amoled panels.

ZTE Axon Mini Review: UI

The Axon mini comes with the MiFlavor UI, which is built on top of the outdated Android 5.1. It is a bit frustrating that the ZTE didn’t update this phone to Android 6.0.

As usual to the Chinese skins, the MiFlavor has quite a few customisation options, gesture controls and a lot of little tweaks and extra features, which work pretty well but it depends on your habits if you will actually use them.

For example, the Axon mini has the iris scanner but I’m not sure if this feature is actually needed since it uses the front-facing camera to scan your eyes, not the dedicated sensor. That means that this feature works well in daylight but not so great in lower-lit situations.

All in all, the UI runs fast and fluid but again, you have to live with the Android 5.1 for now but the good news is that the phone should receive the update to the Android 6.0 pretty soon.

ZTE Axon Mini Review: BENCHMARKS

ZTE Axon Mini Review: HARDWARE and PERFORMANCE

ZTE Axon Mini comes with an octa-core Snapdragon 616 chip with the maximum clock speeds of 1.5GHz, 3GB of RAM and 32GB of expandable storage. The chipset may be showing its age but it can still handle a lot of stuff.

The 3D games work well but you have to make sure that any power saving features are off. The graphics look nice although not that spectacular like on flagship phones. I encountered with just a few skipped frames but nothing major. Finally, the phone doesn’t have any overheating issues.

ZTE Axon Mini Review: MULTIMEDIA

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As far as multimedia consumption goes, the Axon mini is just fantastic. The front firing speaker is loud and it has quite a lot of depth in its sound. Also, listening to music via earphones is just a blast. The integrated Hi-Fi audio chips really make a difference if you love high-quality sound with lots of depth and rich tones.

ZTE Axon Mini Review: CAMERA

As far as the camera app, it is fast, responsive and easy to use. It has a few shooting modes to select but the settings menu works only in the portrait mode for some reason.

The 13MP camera can produce some nice and sharp looking images but it is inconsistent.

The positive side is that you will usually get a good looking image, which has accurate colours, decent dynamic range and contrast. If you are not lucky, you may take some daylight images with softer focus and not that impressive level of detail.

When it comes to the low light shots, some of them are pretty good but again, the camera is inconsistent as some of the images have a huge amount of noise and the level of detail is pretty low.

8MP selfie shooter is pretty good and it will definitely do the trick for social media needs.

The phone can shoot videos at the max. resolution of 1080p. The most impressive thing is… the quality of sound recording. Other than that, the level of detail is decent but the auto-exposure is too aggressive as it is jumping like crazy. Also, the footage looks shaky despite the fact that I tried to hold my hands as steady as possible. See a video review for the video sample.

All in all, the Axon mini has a good camera but it has some shortcomings like most of the cheap phones.

ZTE Axon Mini Review: CONNECTIVITY

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The signal reception has been excellent and the call quality of the Axon phone is good. Also, other connectivity options like Wifi, Bluetooth, GPS work absolutely fine.

ZTE Axon Mini Review: BATTERY LIFE

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The 2800mAh non-removable battery performs very well both in terms of active usage and standby. I could constantly get over 4.5 hours of screen-on time using max. auto-brightness setting, browsing the web, checking emails and social media, taking pictures and so on.

ZTE Axon Mini Review: CONCLUSIONS

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So, there you have, the ZTE Axon Mini after 1 year. I have to tell you that there is a lot to love about this phone for the price of just $140. A great design and all-aluminum body makes it look like an expensive handset.

Also, the Axon mini is very compact considering today’s standards as it has 5.2” display, which is just brilliant to look at.

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Also, the phone has a great battery life, a microSD card slot, good performance, fast and accurate fingerprint scanner and a high-quality sound.

While the camera can take some nice-looking pictures, it is not always reliable, especially when it comes to the low-light photography or video recording.IMG_5772

The biggest frustration is that the phone still runs on the Android 5.1 but there are some news that the Andoid 6.0 update is just around the corner, which is a great move by the ZTE, considering the fact that the phone is more than 1 year old.

At the end of the day, the ZTE Axon mini may not be the most powerful device even in this price range and it has a few shortcomings you have to consider but it is still quite a solid offering for such a low price.

The Gizmochina readers get a special discount with the Coupon: AXGB that lets you buy the ZTE Axon mini for $139.99 (limited 150 Pieces for this price!  Valid to Dec 31)

Phones at GearBest 13% OFF Coupon: GBMBP

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  • R2D2

    Great job Linus,
    Interesting phone for the price might buy one, still cant decide on the pptv king for €99.

    Ps. Please Do a review of some upcoming notebooks. Havent seen you do one yet. I like the chuwi lapbook with it small bezels. But the z8300 chip makes me think twice of buying. Your touhgts?

  • Much better than any Elephone at that price, bought the device for a friend 6 months back, works great.
    You just can’t AMOLED and front facing speakers for just 140$.

  • I can’t believe the battery life on this phone is very good although it’s a nice looking phone and not as bulky as the newer Axon 7 Mini. The price is reasonable – $140 but a better value buy for me is the Lenovo Zuk Z2 – the 5 inch one with the 3500 mAh battery and Sd820 for only $199 or a bit less with some retailers.

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