ZTE Axon lineup has been really popular since these phones bring a lot of value to the table. I reviewed the original Axon phone 1.5 years ago and I was really impressed with it given its price tag of about $400. Right now you can get this phone for as low as $170 and I believe this is one of the best smartphones you can buy at the moment. Learn more in our full review.
ZTE Axon Review: VIDEO REVIEW
ZTE Axon 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|
|Storage||32GB (expandable via microSD card slot up to 200GB)|
ZTE Axon Review: UNBOXING
ZTE Axon Review: DESIGN and DISPLAY
The ZTE Axon was being advertised as the “First Hi-Fi smartphone in North America” 1.5 years ago. The sound via headphones is indeed very good, which has a very loud volume output, rich tones and a lot of depth. Even today, it is undoubtedly one of the best phones for music lovers out there
ZTE Axon Review: HARDWARE and PERFORMANCE
Even though the ZTE Axon was released quite a while, it still has great specs that include a Snapdragon 810 chip, 3GB of RAM and 32GB of expandable storage.
Graphically intensive tasks like gaming fly on the ZTE Axon and the graphics look stunning. Even today, I can say that this is a flagship-grade performance as didn’t have stutter or lag in any games I played.
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 Review: USER INTERFACE
The ZTE Axon runs MiFavor UI 3.2, which is company’s own take on the Android 5.0.2 Lollipop. Honestly, it is really frustrating that ZTE didn’t update this phone at least to Android 6.0.
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, kind of cartoonish looking icons and tons of customization 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. Also, you can customize the phone by changing transition effects, accent colors and so on.
Overall, I am very pleased with how the UI works even though it is based on the outdated Android 5.0. Most importantly, the phone is fast and responsive on the daily basis.
ZTE Axon: BENCHMARKS
ZTE Axon 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 or 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 you take 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 nice-looking images.
ZTE Axon Review: IMAGE QUALITY
If you consider that the ZTE Axon costs just $170, the image quality is one of the best in class.The daylight images look great as they have plenty of detail, colours look nice and pictures look sharp overall. Sometimes the dynamic range can be off, though.
The images taken indoors usually look good too but with a bit less lighting, a visible noise kicks in and the amount of detail goes down significantly, like on most of the phones.
As for the low-light shots, they look prety good for such a cheap phone.
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 get some really nice-looking images but it will not happen all the time. Sometimes some objects may look a bit artificial. Still, this is one of the best dual camera setups on any budget smartphone.
ZTE Axon Review: VIDEO QUALITY
ZTE Axon Review: CONCLUSIONS
So, there you have it, ZTE Axon after 1.5 years. Even today, the phone looks and feels premium and it has a wonderful display. Also, the chipset may be outdated but the phone still has enough processing power to handle almost anything you throw at it.
The user interface has tons of features and it runs fine but you will be probably stuck with the Android 5.0, which is a shame to ZTE. Even though the phone looks and feels premium, I’m not a huge fan of the fake leather top and bottom parts on the back.
These are minor shortcomings considering a low price of the phone. In fact, if you consider that the phone can take really good pictures, audio quality is top notch both from the loudspeaker and via the headset jack and you even have some extra features like the iris scanner, the ZTE Axon is easy buying recommendation for the price of about $170.