ZTE, today unveiled the Axon M at an event in the US. The foldable smartphone has a familiar but redefined design and is expected to change the way we use our phones.
Axon M Design
The Axon M reminds us of the Kyocera Echo, an android smartphone released in 2011 with foldable dual screens. You could also say it reminds you of a Nintendo DS without the buttons.
The Axon M is not as thick as any of the above mentioned devices and is certainly better looking. It has a metal frame and is thicker than your regular smartphone and heavier too at 230g. The dual screens are attached by a sort of hinge mechanism with one display attached to the body while the other can be folded to the back or extended outwards. The hinge actually works so well such that the phone will stand at virtually any angle when opened. You can also decide to lay it out flat completely.
ZTE Axon M Specs
The Axon M has two 5.2-inch displays, both covered with Gorilla Glass 5. Each has a FHD resolution with a 428ppi and an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 when laid out completely.
It is powered by the Snapdragon 821 mobile platform and packs 4GB of RAM. Built-in storage is 64GB but you can add an additional 256GB via a MicroSD card slot.
Because of the way the Axon M is designed, there is only one camera which can either be the front facing camera or the rear camera depending on how you hold it.
Launch the camera app when the phone is folded and it is in the selfie mode. Tap the icon to use it as the rear camera and you have to turn the phone to the second display which now displays the viewfinder. The camera is a 20MP F/1.8 sensor with image stabilization for pictures and videos and PDAF. There is a LED flash flanking it on the left.
The Axon M is an entertainment and productivity device and ZTE has added the features you need to enjoy media consumption. There are dual speakers and a dedicated HiFi audio chip. A 3.5mm audio jack sits at the top of the device and there is a USB-C port at the bottom for charging the 3180mAh battery. The device supports QC 3.0 for rapid refilling of the battery.
Sadly, the Axon M runs Android 7.1.2 out of the box.
Axon M Usage
The Axon M has two screens which means it should offer more productivity compared to a single screen device. ZTE says it can be used in three different modes and you can switch between the three modes using the virtual “Axon M” button which is positioned beside the familiar Android navigation buttons.
- Extended Mode – denoted by a large A, this is for more screen estate when using a single app. Open YouTube and you can watch videos on one screen and scroll through the comments on the other screen. Launch Facebook or an e-mail app and the second screen becomes a keyboard.
- Dual Mode – labelled AB, this is similar to regular split screen multitasking, but in this case each app occupies each of the displays. You can also run two instances of the same app on each screen. An example is firing up Google Docs and opening a slide, you can view the slide on screen and keep going through other files on the second screen. You will also be able to copy and paste from one document to the other. For entertainment, you can watch the new Black Panther trailer on YouTube on one screen and tweet about it on the other screen. There is also support for gestures – a three finger swipe will swap the positions of each app and a swipe across the bottom will extend the app from half-screen to full-screen.
- Mirror Mode – labelled AA, this mode duplicates what you are doing on one screen on the other. It is perfect for multiplayer games like chess or for watching a video with another person sitting across you while in tent mode.
ZTE Axon M Price and Availability
The Axon M will be available as an AT&T exclusive in the US starting next month for $24.17/ month. ZTE says it will also be available in Q1 2018 in Japan through Docomo, China through China Telecom and on JD.com, and also in Europe.
There will be an overseas replacement assistance program (excluding Japan) and owners will get a free 2-year warranty.