Axon 7: De­cent Specs, Needs More Grunt

SmartHouse - - CONTENTS - Writ­ten by Fer­gus Hal­l­i­day

Billed an ‘af­ford­able flag­ship’, the Axon 7 ticks all the right boxes when it comes to fea­tures – at least on the sur­face.

Lav­ish pre­sen­ta­tion? Check.

2.15GHz Quad core CPU with 4GB LPDDR4 RAM? Check.

20MP main cam­era with F/1.8 Aper­ture? Why stop there, add in sup­port for Dolby At­mos and Dolby Digital Plus sur­round sound au­dio while you’re at it.

If you’re a glut­ton for the tech­ni­cal, there’s a lot to like. The Axon 7’s full-metal frame is burst­ing at the seams with tech­ni­cal po­ten­tial but fails to re­ally lever­age that into an ex­pe­ri­ence that’s any bet­ter than most of its com­peti­tors.

On pa­per, it’s as solid as things come. Un­for­tu­nately, given the string of great de­vices that have hit the shelves in the last few months (Mo­torola’s Moto Z, LG’s V20 and Google’s Pixel) it’s dif­fi­cult to shake the sense that what ZTE are of­fer­ing here is a lit­tle bit be­hind the times – even if the specs do hold up to scru­tiny.

Sim­ply put, it’s lack­ing a clear iden­tity or defin­ing fea­ture. It’s got the full-metal body of a HTC with­out the de­signer flour­ish. It’s got a whop­per rear cam­era but none of the ad­vanced lens or sen­sor tech­nolo­gies to make the most of it. It’s pack­ing the per­for­mance of a Samsung but none of the added func­tion­al­ity. Even the Dolby At­mos side of the equa­tion gets close but it can’t quite seal the deal.

What all is said and done, you’re pay­ing a lit­tle bit more (com­pared to Al­ca­tel, Huawei or Oppo) for for a flag­ship An­droid ex­pe­ri­ence that’s kind-of for­get­table. While it might be a lit­tle bit un­fair to pull up the Axon 7 and pit it against the best the bud­get phones on the mar­ket, it’s hard not to. If ZTE are go­ing to go around hold­ing The Axon 7 up as an af­ford­able flag­ship – you can’t help but ask what the catch is.

It’s also a pretty heavy phone. In terms of the dis­play, the 2K AMOLED screen per­forms fairly well. It’s clear to look at and coated in 4th gen­er­a­tion Go­rilla Glass. It feels com­fort­able to hold, even if that weight­i­ness might make it a tight fit for your pocket from time to time.

Pack­aged with the hand­set is a set of brasslined white head­phones which do have a nice style to them. Un­for­tu­nately, they’re a lit­tle less en­joy­able to wear. We found them quite un­com­fort­able.

In terms of the Axon 7’s bat­tery life, it per­forms mod­er­ately well. It’s not ex­actly go­ing to win awards but I could usu­ally make it through a work day with­out need­ing to recharge un­til the evening. It’s worth not­ing that the Axon 7 does use USB-C, how­ever, and comes with the usual pros and cons.

De­spite these short­com­ings, it’s hard to be too picky about the Axon 7’s cam­era. It de­liv­ers some pretty de­cent re­sults and there’s a lot of room for cus­tomiza­tion. You can shoot 4K-qual­ity video footage, tog­gle fil­ters, shoot panora­mas and even go man­ual from within the ded­i­cated cam­era ap­pli­ca­tion.

While the ZTE web­site says their lat­est hand­set sup­ports Google’s Day­dream VR, the ab­sence of a soft­ware up­date that brings Nougat to the Axon 7 does ren­der that fea­ture a bit of a moot point – at least for now.


When all is said and done, the ZTE Axon 7 is a fairly in­of­fen­sive phone that’s si­mul­ta­ne­ously (and oddly) dif­fi­cult to rec­om­mend. Tech­ni­cally, it hits a lot of the right marks but at the same time it’s all a lit­tle flavour­less. If you’re look­ing to save money and are happy with stock-stan­dard An­droid, ZTE may have what you’re look­ing for. Other­wise, it feels safe to say you can do bet­ter.


The Axon 7 is on sale now for $699 and is avail­able in two colours: ‘Ion Gold’ and ‘Quartz Grey’.

The Axon 7 Mini is also on sale now for $498 in ‘Ion Gold’ and ‘Plat­inum Grey’. Both can be pur­chased ex­clu­sively from JB Hi-Fi.

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