ZTE Axon 7 review

The Axon 7 wants to be your Samsung Galaxy S7 and iPhone 7 replacement

ZTE Axon 7 review
ZTE Axon 7 review

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We liked the old ZTE Axon Pro two years ago, but gave it 3.5 stars out of 5 because there was room for improvement, even with its cheaper price. ZTE listened to many of our complaints with the ZTE Axon 7. What a difference one year can make for a company few people have ever heard of outside of China.

ZTE Axon 7 review

We liked

Our first reaction was "This is a $400 (AU$699, about £300) phone?" Yes, we do talk like that here, with pricing conversions memorized on command. It pushes out the original Axon's plastic caps at the top and bottom in favor of an all-metal unibody design. Its sleek and elegant in your hand, even if it still takes two to operate the phone. We also complained last year about the lack of expandable storage. The ZTE Axon 7 not only includes a microSD card slot, it turns into a dual SIM slot if you're not using it for its primary function.

Axon 7 is a big step up for audiophiles with Hi-Fi and front-facing speakers that sound much better than the iPhone and Androids with a single speaker grill on the back or at the bottom. Sights and sounds are definitely are definitely a highlight of this phone. Its clean front design focuses on the 5.5-inch display and speakers, while the fingerprint sensor is wisely moved to the back.

ZTE Axon 7

We disliked

The Axon 7 isn't for everyone, specifically if it's not available on your network. Launching in the US first, it's limited to AT&T and T-Mobile, even though it has the right antennas for Verizon and Sprint. This is an expensive phone upfront, so know if it works for your carrier before paying for it through Amazon.

Finally, be aware of these two final cautions: as nice as it looks, it's slippery without using the included case, and, as great as the daytime photos look, it can't compare to the low light prowess of recent Samsung phones.

ZTE Axon 7

Final verdict

The ZTE Axon 7 is a beautiful phone at any price. It just happens to also be one of the most affordable top-tier mobile phones that we've ever recommended. It has a minimalist design that places emphasis on the contrast rich, 5.5-inch AMOLED screen, flanked by powerful dual front-facing speakers.

Inside, it has the specs that match almost every new Android on sale in 2016, a slightly bigger battery than the average and a generous 64GB of internal storage coupled with a microSD card.

If you don't care about the very best low light camera in the world, buy this phone, save your money and take a vacation. This one is dual SIM compatible, perfect for traveling overseas.

Matt Swider