ZTE Axon M review

Smartphone? Tablet? Why not both?

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With most phones, the line that divides what to like and dislike about a phone is usually clearly defined. But ZTE’s Axon M makes things complicated. The things done right by the company’s dual-screened phone have me over the moon and frankly, pretty excited about the future of foldable device. Consider me surprised that today’s technology, not some far-off magical engineering techniques, could whip up such a novel smartphone experience, even if it doesn’t get a lot right.

At $725, the Axon M sits in the same price bracket as many popular smartphones that offer far better raw performance, battery life and camera results. And while its two-screened gimmick will make it stick out for some looking for novelty over refinement, it’s so, so easy to find a phone for that price that doesn’t slack on power or screen quality. That, and between Android Nougat’s split-window feature and Android Oreo’s picture-in-picture mode, multitasking on single-screened Android phones isn’t all that bad anymore.

Who's this for?

The ZTE Axon M is for someone who chugs video and gaming content, which its two screens lend to perfectly. Whether if you’re watching alone or with a friend, this phone lets you do more at once, empowering you with the freedom to enjoy something together, or use two different apps at once in full-screen mode. No other phone lets you do that.

If you’re a constant traveler or are someone who’s constantly digging into documents or taking notes, two screens are far better than one for never missing a beat, and never getting bored during your travels.

Should you buy it?

The novelty is strong with the ZTE Axon M and thankfully, its hardware gimmick is executed just well enough to push it into “recommended” territory for those who need to entertain or be entertained more than one mere screen can provide. 

For everyone else, it’s hard to overlook the vast amount of single-screened smartphones that undercut it in price and practical design. Not just that, I found it oddly tough to find justifiable reasons to use a second screen in practice, given that I’m so deep into my ways of getting around with just one screen. At the end of the day, your mileage will vary with this concept. 

ZTE gets props for not releasing just another homogenous, clean-looking smartphone. And if you have the cash and are tied to AT&T, it’s the best dual-screened phone out there. But that’s not saying all that much at the moment. 

Cameron Faulkner

Cameron is a writer at The Verge, focused on reviews, deals coverage, and news. He wrote for magazines and websites such as The Verge, TechRadar, Practical Photoshop, Polygon, Eater and Al Bawaba.