ZTE has unveiled its ambitions to make it big in the extremely competitive U.S. smartphone market when it took the wraps off the Axon Phone.
Touting high-end specs and ZTE's version of premium design, the Axon Phone is an Android smartphone that is designed for U.S. consumers who want the top-end features but do not want to pay for the high prices that the most popular smartphone sellers demand for their devices.
As a Chinese brand, ZTE has yet to establish a reputable name for itself stateside, although it prides itself for being the fourth-biggest seller of mobile phones in the U.S., which primarily consist of low-end to mid-range devices.
With the newly revealed Axon Phone, however, it's clear ZTE wants to make a shiny, new name for itself, but the big question is whether the Axon Phone can actually stand up to its strongest competitors.
The 5.5-inch Axon Phone touts a Quad HD display made by Sharp with a resolution of 1,440 x 2,560, which is the same resolution that can be found on the Galaxy S6 and the G4. Notably, however, the Samsung flagship also sports Samsung's AMOLED display, which offers deeper blacks and more vivid colors, but that's not saying a regular LCD display isn't good enough. The Axon Phone's display is also as big as that on the G4, but the Galaxy S6 has a smaller 5.1-inch display that other users might prefer.
Under the hood, the Axon Phone runs a Snapdragon 810 processor made by Qualcomm and 4 GB of RAM, though it remains to be seen if ZTE has addressed the chipset's thermal management issues present in other handsets running the first version. At least on paper, the Axon Phone is more powerful than the G4, which has a slightly older Snapdragon 808 and 3 GB of RAM. Meanwhile, the Galaxy S6 runs on Samsung's homegrown Exynos 7420 processor and 3 GB of RAM as well.
Storage-wise, the Axon Phone offers a so-so 32 GB but without a microSD slot for expansion. The G4 also offers 32 GB, but it can be expanded via a microSD card to up to 128 GB, while the Galaxy S6 offers options in 32 GB, 64 GB and 128 GB, with higher prices for the bigger models, of course. The Axon Phone also appears to have a winning battery, with 3,000 mAh of juice packed into the device, the same battery on the G4 and even bigger than the 2,550 mAh batter on the Galaxy S6.
The camera could also prove to be quite a selling point. While the Galaxy S6 and G4 both have 16 MP rear cameras, the Axon Phone has a smaller camera touting dual lenses, one 13 MP and the other 2 MP. Dual-lens cameras, similar to that found on the HTC One M8, is touted for their ability to refocus the image after it has been taken. The Axon Phone is also capable of shooting at f/1.8 aperture and recording 4K videos, while both the Galaxy S6 and G4 can only record videos up to 2,160p. On the front is an 8 MP camera similar to that found in the G4 and bigger than the 5 MP front-facing shooter on the Galaxy S6.
On the aesthetics, it looks as if ZTE has a different take on premium design, which is not surprising, considering the phone's beauty will always be in the eye of the beholder. With dimensions of 154 x 75 x 9.3 mm, the Axon Phone is not as sleek and slim as the iPhone-like, all-metal Galaxy S6 and leather-clad G4, which come in at 6.8 mm and 6.3 mm in thickness respectively. It touts a metallic body, although it's not a unibody, and grills at the bottom of the phone and comes in pthalo blue (a kind of deep blue), gold and silver.
ZTE is also touting the Axon Phone's "excellent sound quality," delivered by its high-fidelity sound chip, though of course the claim still has to be put to the real-world test. ZTE also says this will allow the phone's dual microphones to pick up any voice from within a 20-foot range, which makes it ideal for recording. Like the G4, it also supports fast charging but not wireless charging, which can be done on the Galaxy S6.
Out of the box, the Axon Phone runs on Android 5.1.1 Lollipop, with ZTE's custom UI on top. ZTE promises quick updates for the Axon Phone, possibly making it a good alternative to Google's Nexus devices which usually get the latest Android updates first.
Currently, the Axon Phone is only compatible with a GSM/LTE network, so ZTE has effectively shut out the market for Verizon and Sprint customers, although AT&T and T-Mobile users can still check out the Axon Phone.
For only $449.98, customers can order an unlocked version of the Axon Phone from the ZTE website, Amazon, eBay and Newegg starting July 27. That is way below the starting price for both the Galaxy S6 and G4, which are offered at more than $550.
Check out the comparison table below for a quick look at how the Axon Phone stands up to the competition.
|ZTE Axon Phone||Samsung Galaxy S6||LG G4|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 810||Samsung Exynos 7420||Qualcomm Snapdragon 808|
|Memory||4 GB||3 GB||3 GB|
|Storage||32 GB, non-expandable||32 GB, 64 GB, 128 GB||32 GB, expandable to 1218 GB via microSD|
|Dimensions||154 x 75 x 9.3 mm||143.4 x 70.5 x 6.8 mm||148.9 x 76.1 x 6.3 mm|
|Display||5.5-inch Sharp TFT Quad HD touchscreen (1,440 x 2,560)||5.1-inch Super AMOLED capacitive Quad HD touchscreen (1,440 x 2,560)||5.5-inch IPS LCD Quad HD touchscreen (1,440 x 2,560)|
|Main Camera||13 MP/2 MP dual lens with f/1.8 aperture and 4K video recording||16 MP with Quad HD video recording||16 MP with Quad HD video recording|
|Secondary Camera||8 MP||5 MP||8 MP|
|Battery||3,000 mAh non-removable battery with fast charging||2,550 mAh non-removable battery with wireless charging||3,000 mAh removable battery with fast charging|
|Design||Metallic Body with Grills on Lower Body||Metallic Unibody||Leather-Clad Body|