The first time I laid my eyes on the ZTE Axon 7, I was in awe. The Axon 7 is a beautiful all metal curved edge flagship and it feels really solid. It feels really good in my hands, so holding it feels like holding your significant other. Okay, that’s a little bit too much but you get my point.
I had the Axon 7 for a whole month to test and review. So I had an ample time to push the Axon 7 to its limit. I had heavy graphic games installed (not Pokemon Go) so that I can really know how good the processing power working with the GPU is like. But after all that, the one feature that literally blow me away was the built-in Dolby Atmos sound system paired with dual Hi-Fi front speakers. More about this later.
First, let me introduce to you my current favourite flagship Android phone, the ZTE Axon 7.
And here are the specifications.
|SoC:||Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 Quad-core (2 x 2.15GHz Kryo & 2 x 1.6GHz Kryo)|
|Memory:||64GB internal space, 4GB RAM; up to 256GB MicroSD (uses SIM2 slot)|
|Display:||5.5″ AMOLED capacitive touchscreen, 1440 x 2560 pixels (538ppi density), Corning Gorilla Glass 4 protection|
|OS:||Android Marshmallow 6.0.1 with MiFavor UI 4.0|
|Main Camera:||20 MP, f/1.8, phase detection autofocus, OIS, dual-LED (dual tone) flash with 2160p@30fps, 1080p@30/60fps, 720p@240fps video recording.|
|Secondary Camera:||8 MP, f/2.2, 1080p|
|Sound:||Dual Hi-Fi front speakers with Dolby Atmos surround sound.|
To some of you, the Axon 7 may look just like any other Android smartphones. It has a rounded edge design and 2.5D curve sided Gorilla Glass 4 screen. The two hi-fi speakers at the front are very prominent and loud. Really loud. Those who enjoy watching movies on their phone would definitely LOVE this phone.
Since we’re in the subject of speakers, I shall comment about the sound on the Axon 7. One word, superb!
The sample HD video that comes with the Axon 7 really pushed the sound quality as how it should sound, in full cinematic Dolby Atmos experience. It like having a mini cinema in the palm of your hands. The sound it produced is simply superb. I never again want to watch any movie or music videos on any other handheld devices anymore. The vocal is clear, the bass is punchy and the surround is, well…all around. I don’t know how it managed to “throw” the sound behind and all around you, it just did. The Axon 7 is currently the best in video and sound quality combined. Nuff said.
Now let’s check out the exterior design of the ZTE Axon 7. Like I said earlier, the most prominent part of the Axon 7 is the dual front speakers. It is large and takes up the whole top and bottom space at the front. And just a tiny space to accommodate the front camera at the top. The 5.5″ screen sits right in the center in between the two speakers. ZTE managed to make a really beautiful clean finish at the front.
While the front focuses on the speakers, the back is equally well designed. The main camera sits right in the top half center of the back panel, with the dual tone LED flash below it and the fingerprint sensor right under the flash. Everything is well aligned in the center. No matter if you’re a right handed or left handed phone user, you can easily reach the fingerprint sensor. More on the main camera and some sample photos later.
The sides of the phone is simple and minimal. Volume control and power buttons are on the right side of the phone while the SIM/MicroSD slot is on the left side. At the top, you’ll the headphone jack (at least it came with one) and the USB type-C is at the bottom. The two tiny holes you see at the top and bottom are the microphones for calls and video capture.
The overall look and design of the ZTE Axon 7 is clean and simple. The rounded edges makes it nice to hold and it doesn’t slip off your hands easily. It feels solid and premium like it should. Perhaps that is why I fell in love with it at first look. Well, that’s my opinion.
Moving on to the internal section of the Axon 7. Performance wise, the ZTE Axon 7 does not disappoint. With the Snapdragon 820 as the heart of this device and together with 4GB of RAM, it becomes a multimedia beast. I had to bring in “multimedia” in this because the true identity of the Axon 7 is basically a cinema in your hands. And a powerful at that. Don’t believe me? Take a look at the Antutu 3D Benchmark result below.
You’ll be thinking like, how come a ZTE phone can outperform some of the other flagship smartphones out there, especially the Galaxy S7 Edge. The only ones that it loses out to is are the OnePlus 3 and iPhone 7 (not in the result). Believe me, I was shocked too. I was expecting it to be somewhere at the bottom of top 10 (or same as the average Axon 7 score at number 10). But hitting the second spot? Wow! I’m amazed.
Of course when I did the benchmark, I don’t have any other apps installed in the Axon 7 other than the Antutu itself. That helps with the scoring too I guess. And the 3D graphic rendering from Antutu was extremely smooth to me. I would confess that I’ve never seen Antutu 3D graphic being rendered that smooth. So I would give it a 5-star for graphics performance.
Playing games on this device is flawless. Coupled with the awesome 3D rendering is the lifelike high definition surround sound by Dolby Atmos made the Axon 7 a device of choice for realistic gaming experience.
Bottom line is, I really love the overall performance.
The Axon 7 comes with Android Marshmallow 6.0.1 right out of the box. However as soon as I boot up the device, a notification came out telling me that there was an update. So without hesitation, I installed the latest update. Probably some bug fixes because when I was using it after updating, I can’t find any obvious bug(s).
The UX, or rather launcher for the Axon 7 is known as MiFavor UI version 4.0. The look and feel of the OS is pretty straight forward. There is no app drawer, similar to those by Huawei, Meizu and Xiaomi. I understand that Google is also moving into that direction, abandoning the use of an app drawer. Some people like to have the app drawer feature (me included), others don’t. So this is probably something that most people won’t be bothered with at the moment.
To me, the interface is clean and simple. Scrolling through the homescreen is a breeze. I didn’t notice any lags or sluggishness. Executing an app is quite immediate. And all the useful features are placed neatly at the top drawer. The AMOLED display makes everything looks vibrant. So that’s a plus point. And the high density resolution made the text extremely clear and easy to read.
Overall user experience and interface looks good. Everything is kept on the minimal so that new users can easily find what they’re looking for. Works well with old folks too because the MiFavor enhancements made everything seemed so simple.
Camera and Photography
This is the subject that many of you are looking forward to. Am I right? Photography enthusiast would love to know how the ZTE Axon 7 shoots. So here’s what I think of it.
Let’s check out the basics first. The main rear camera is a 20-megapixel, f/1.8 aperture with phase detection and autofocus. It comes with Optical Image Stabilizer (OIS) and has dual-LED (dual tone) flash. It also capable of shooting 2160p @ 30fps, 1080p @ 30/60fps and 720p @ 240fps video recording. While the front camera is an 8-megapixel fixed focus shooter that is capable of shooting a 1080p HD video.
The camera app is simple. It comes with an Auto Mode and Manual Mode. In the Auto Mode, everything is being done automatically (duh!) while in the Manual Mode, it makes you feel more intelligent. Like I said before, those who love to fiddle with the settings, will use the Manual Mode most of the time. But if you’re lazy, Auto Mode works well too.
Within the native camera app, there are few other options to play with. With these options, you don’t need to install any third-party apps to enhance your photos. There is also an option to shoot a timelapse video or in slow-mo. Shooting at night or light trails? You can play with the long exposure function too.
For those who is into photography (like me), may have a love and hate relationship with the Axon 7. You will love the camera and you will hate to leave your DSLR at home. Having said that, I’m sure the fanboys of the two distinct famous brands would disagree with me. But I’ll let the photos be the judge instead.
And here we go. Below are some of the photos taken with the Axon 7 in different lighting conditions and settings.
(Click on the photos to enlarge)
Like the photos taken with the ZTE Axon 7? I love it all, especially the last one. I think, no, I feel that the camera on the Axon 7 is great. I know that those who has used the better (and more expensive) phones would not agree with me but hey, everyone has their own preferences right?
I have tons of other photos that I would love to share. I think I would write another post specifically on the Axon 7 camera functions only. More photos shall be shown in that post. I also have a few HD videos taken with the Axon 7, that too will be in the “Axon 7 Camera Review” post.
Before I forget, how about looking at a sample photo shot with the front camera? Selfie lovers behold…
Believe it or not if I tell you that I prefer the front facing camera video quality rather than the main rear camera. Videos taken with the front camera is very impressive. The 8-megapixel fixed focus front camera is capable of shooting a 1080p HD video that is stunning, to me at least. Sample of that video will be posted in the next Axon 7 Camera Review post.
What you get in the box won’t disappoint you as well.
As you can see, it comes with a USB type-C cable along with the power plug (pretty standard stuff here). You will also get a boxed up Dolby Atmos enhanced earphone which doubles up as a handsfree kit.
You will also get the tiny pin to poke through the tiny hole to open up the SIM slot and can be attached to your keychain. The white thingie next to it is the USB Type-C adapter which you can jab in your current Micro USB cable into it. Not forgetting, a clear silicone case is in the box too.
Actually, I have so much to say about the ZTE Axon 7. At first I wanted to do my first ever video review instead of typing long lines of sentences. But I guess that will have to wait.
So my conclusion of the stunning ZTE Axon 7 is this. It is a superb multimedia smartphone that will replace your TV and home theater system immediately. The surround sound produced by the dual front speakers are out of this world, thanks to the Dolby Atmos sound system.
Performance wise, it is outstanding. Hitting high scores on the Antutu 3D Benchmark is something good for ZTE. A stepping stone into becoming a real competitor in mobile devices.
Camera functions? Well, I even have to write a separate review for that. What I’ve shown here with the photo samples are just the tip of the iceberg. I have more stunning photos to show you along with videos. Selfie videos for Snapchat or Instagram Moments will be awesome too.
The one and only qualm that I have with the Axon 7 is that the Home, along with Back and Menu capacitive touch buttons are not lit up. So hitting the back button in the dark can be a little challenging. That’s all. Other than that, everything is ohsem (say it while singing the tune).
The ZTE Axon 7 can be purchased at the ZTE kiosk in Low Yat Plaza. RRP is RM1,999.