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ZTE Axon 7 review: The brightest sound

Introduction

ZTE is back in the cheap and cheerful flagship race with the Axon 7. The company has its aim set up high, and we can’t help but see the OnePlus 3 as a locked target.

The thing is, the Axon 7 has a potential to aim for the stars of the show – the Galaxy S7 and iPhone 7. Not an easy job by any stretch of the imagination, but ZTE has managed to bring almost every conceivable high-end smartphone feature in the book in a bill that fits nearly all budgets. And who doesn’t love that?

ZTE Axon 7 review

The result is nothing short of amazing – both visually and internally. On the exterior, there’s the aluminum unibody design with a slim profile and narrow bezels. Taking a tour of the inside reveals a very fast chipset, ample battery, and a promising camera setup.

You’d think that this didn’t go well by ZTE’s accountants, but somehow it all added up to a price that’s half what the industry’s Goliaths go for.

Here’s a short list of what else the ZTE Axon 7 packs.

Key features
5.5″ AMOLED display of 2560×1440 pixels resolution, 538ppi (Corning Gorilla Glass 4)
Full metal unibody design with stereo speakers (Dolby Atmos)
Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 chipset, quad-core Kryo CPU; Adreno 530 GPU
4GB of RAM, 64GB storage
Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow with MiFavor UI 4.0
20MP camera with a LED flash, f/1.8 aperture, OIS, PDAF+ contrast detection; 4K video recording
8MP front-facing camera with f/2.2 aperture, 1080p video
3,250mAh Li-Po battery with Quick Charge 3.0 (50% in 30 minutes)
Hybrid DualSIM/microSD card slot (up to 128GB)
Cat. 7 LTE (300/150Mbps); dual-band Wi-Fi b/g/n/ac, Wi-Fi hotspot, Wi-Fi Direct; Bluetooth 4.2 LE; NFC; GPS/GLONASS; USB Type-C
Available in Ion Gold, Quartz Gray
Main disadvantages
Non-removable battery
Hybrid DualSIM/microSD card slot limits options on the dual-SIM model
Lacks water-resistance
No backlight on the front-facing buttons
No FM Radio

It’s hard to spot any major compromises here. It’s quite obvious that the ZTE Axon 7 targets people who listen to lots of music and watch videos regularly. Especially judging by the front-facing stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos enhancement which are rare to come by.

The Snapdragon 820 is mighty quick and while there are phones with 6GB of RAM, the Axon 7’s 4GB are quite enough, too.

We all agree that everything looks dandy on the surface, right? Right. But what we’re going to explore now is whether the ZTE has managed to give the Axon 7 that X-factor, which would make it from an excellent offering to a must-have device.