The Axon 7 is a cheap smartphone with 2016 flagship specs. Can it compete with the 2017 & 2018 flagships?
Affordable – The Axon 7 is seriously affordable. In Australia, you can find the Axon 7 at Officeworks Australia for $355 AUD.
Daydream VR Compatible – The Axon 7 enabled Daydream compatibility in its Android Nougat update. It is the cheapest smartphone to be officially supported.
3.5mm headphone jack – Do I really have to explain?
Dual Sim Card capability – Are you a frequent traveller or have a work number along with a personal number? The Axon 7 might be perfect for you since it supports dual sim.
Dual front facing speakers – We’ve seen this feature on HTC devices for years now but I have to say the Axon 7 speakers are loud and sounds crispy. It features 2 AKM audio chips. Oh, and did I mention it is Dolby Atmos enabled?
Fast charging – The Axon 7 features Qualcomm’s QuickCharge 3.0 technology which can quickly charge the phone when in a rush as the name implies.
Premium design – The design is premium looking and very sleek. ZTE teamed up with BMW subsidiary Designworks to design the exterior of the phone.
Great performance – The Axon 7 features a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 CPU which also are in 2016 flagships such as the US version of the S7 & S7 Edge paired with an Adreno 530 GPU and 4 GB of RAM.
Complimentary Accidental Cover Package – When you buy the Axon 7, you can have the peace of mind if you drop it, damage the ports, but keep in mind that the package doesn’t cover liquid damage!
Non-backlit keys – Personally, I didn’t really mind not having backlit keys. Although in the first few days of using the Axon 7 as a daily driver, I missed some of the buttons but after that I learnt the positioning of the buttons.
Weak low-light camera – The camera on the Axon 7 is awesome in daylight but when taking pictures with low-light, the picture will let too much light into the picture.
ZTE has certainly not disappointed me with the unboxing experience for the Axon 7. The Axon 7 logo is embossed in gold and a black ZTE logo is also embossed at the bottom of the lid. The box has a matte feel to it. Once you lift up the lid, you will be greeted by the Axon 7 itself. After lifting the “plate”, you will be greeted by a Quick Charging power brick, a USB-C cable, some documentation, a clear TPU case, a micro USB cable to USB-C adapter, a rose gold sim ejection tool covered in a rubber suitable to put on your keys and a pair of earphones which are quite similar to Apple’s Earpods.
The Axon 7 features a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 CPU and 4GB of RAM. These specs match the US Versions of the Samsung Galaxy S7 & S7 Edge, LG G5 & HTC 10. The Axon 7 comes with 64GB of internal storage which is enough for the average consumer but if you need more storage, there is a microSD Card expansion card slot which supports up to 256GB. The microSD Card expansion slot doubles up as a second SIM card slot which unfortunately means that you cannot have two sim cards and a microSD card in the phone at the same time.
The design of the Axon 7 is really nice thanks to its all-metal design. It looks and feels elegant. At the back, we can find a recessed fingerprint sensor and the camera. The fingerprint sensor is quick and accurate. I could easily find the fingerprint sensor no matter how I held the phone. The antenna lines match the phone colour scheme which I like.
The Axon 7’s 2560 x 1440 display is simply awesome! It is a 5.5″ Quad HD AMOLED with a very high pixel density of 538 PPI. From my observations, image is sharp, colours are vibrant. The display quality is quite surprising for a phone at this price. Personally, I didn’t think the Axon 7 was slippery but friends & family thought it was.
The Axon 7’s 3250mAH battery is pretty average for smartphones. With the battery, I could get a whole day of moderate usage. Qualcomm’s QuickCharge 3.0 technology enables the Axon 7 to get 50% of charge in thirty minutes and a full charge in an hour and a half.
A selling point of the Axon 7 was that it was the cheapest smartphone on the market to officially support Google Daydream. When I got the Axon 7, I played titles such as Ace Fishing and Fantastic Beasts and I was surprised there was no to very little lag. I could see the screen reasonable clear thanks to the awesome 2K display. I was honestly expecting a bit of lag here and there with a phone at that price point but was pleasantly surprised by how smooth the experience was. One con is that the phone gets a bit hot after around 10-20 minutes.
The Axon 7 is equipped with a 20MP 4k OIS rear camera with an f/1.8 aperture and an 8MP 1080p front facing camera with a f/2.2 aperture. The Axon 7 is also capable of 240fps slow-mo in 720p. With these specs, I was expecting awesome low-light performance but I was let down a bit. I turned down the brightness of the photo by tapping and sliding to the negatives. This solution worked fine for me.
The Axon 7 packs a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 with two cores clocked at 2.15GHz and the other two clocked at 1.6GHz. It also packs an Adreno 530 GPU and 4GB of RAM. The performance on the Axon 7 is really good. For a phone at this price point, I can certainly say I am not disappointed. Multitasking and gaming was very smooth with no sign of lag.
The speakers on the Axon 7 alone would make me believe it was as expensive as the big boys such as the Samsung Galaxy S8. Watching video is awesome with front facing speakers. The Axon 7 features an AKM’s Advanced Audio DSP CODEC (AK4961) and Premium Audio DAC (AK4490EN) to provide hi-fi sound. The technology enables the Axon 7 to become a professional level PCM recorder. These chipsets enables great sound while using the speakers / earpiece or using the headphone jack. The Axon 7 also have Dolby Atmos technology built in.