Review: ZTE Axon 7

Last year, I gave the ZTE Axon the award for the Best Smartphone Of 2015. Here’s the reason why: 

Let me boil all of that down to just the facts. ZTE has a fast phone that has the best audio that I’ve ever heard in a phone, a camera that works in all conditions, and a battery that not only lasts the whole day and then some, but charges quickly as well. It’s a phone that will have Samsung and Apple looking over their shoulder, and you smiling all the way to the bank because it won’t cost you an arm and a leg.

Now, it’s one thing to get to the top of the mountain. But it’s difficult to stay there. Given how competitive the smartphone market is, that’s doubly true. So ZTE’s latest effort has to be one that keeps them out front. To that end, they have brought the Axon 7 to market and it comes to the table with the following specs:

  • Android 6 with MiFavor 4.0 skin
  • 2.15 GHz Quad-core processor
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 64GB internal storage
  • microSD card slot / Dual SIM slot
  • 20MP rear-facing camera 
  • 8MP front-facing camera
  • 32-bit HiFi Dolby ATMOS audio with dual front-facing speakers
  • 5.5″ AMOLED display with Gorilla Glass 
  • Android Marshmallow 6.0.1 with MiFavor 4.0 skin
  • LTE
  • 20 MP rear camera
  • 8 MP front camera
  • 802.11 ac WiFi
  • Bluetooth 4.2

In terms of the design of the phone, it looks cool. There’s a USB-C connector on the bottom, a slot for the two SIM cards and micro SD card on the left, power and volume on the right, and a fingerprint sensor on the back. It has a very cool looking full-metal unibody with a premium-feeling silky matte finish which felt great in my hand. Though it is on the heavy side. The screen is very sharp and is readable in every lighting condition but bright light. One note is that the screen does NOT attract fingerprints. You’ll really like that. It felt fast during my testing. Nothing I tossed at it made it bog down. Now, I’m not a big fan of skins, but the MiFavor 4.0 skin isn’t bad and doesn’t feel like it gets in your way. But if it does annoy you, you can turn it off easily enough. Though I don’t think you’ll bother to do so.

ZTE did up its game in a number of areas. First is the fact that the Axon 7 is an unlocked dual SIM phone which also has the ability to pop a microSD slot. The former makes this phone a great phone to travel with as you can pop a local SIM card into the phone and save on roaming charges. The latter addresses the lack of expandability in the original Axon. There is a catch though. You can use two SIM cards (a micro SIM and a nano SIM) or you can use a nano SIM and a micro SD card. If you rely on having memory beyond what comes with the phone, that might be a problem for you. Another area they’ve upped their game is the 5.5″ display which is viewable in every condition that I tested it in, including bright sunlight. Sound is another area where things have improved. The Axon 7 comes with 32-bit HiFi mobile audio with Dolby ATMOS and dual front-facing speakers. To be frank, they crush the effort that ZTE made in the original Axon. That’s no small feat as the Axon was exceptional when it came to sound, and I was skeptical going into this review as to if ZTE could actually do better on that front. But it did and If you’re an audiophile, you will love the Axon 7 as the sound quality is absolutely stunning. 

The biggest change is the rear camera. Gone is the dual camera setup from the Axon and replacing it is a 20 MP camera on the back and an 8 MP front-facing camera. Video capabilities include 4K recording. I tested it by taking shots of the 2017 Mazda6 that I am reviewing this week and I will be using it next week to take photos of the Mazda3 that I will be reviewing and I will be using it on a short getaway to Kingston Ontario. I did further testing at Pearson Airport in Toronto. Here’s some of the still shots that I got during my testing:

IMG_20161025_140447.jpg

IMG_20161025_132831.jpg

The only issue that I had when taking photos is that sometimes the autofocus would not work properly. But other than that, all the photos were sharp and clear.

Now here’s a couple of videos that I shot in 4K resolution. Please set the videos to full screen and 4K resolution:

While there is wind noise, it did a good job of capturing good quality audio and video.

When it comes to the battery, I got almost two days of charge which is excellent. It also has the ability to deliver a full charge in about 90 minutes via the USB-C port which is handy as well. You can find the Axon 7 for $519.99 CDN which undercuts the competition from Samsung and Apple. One plus is the fact that it comes with a bumper style case and great quality headphones as part of the deal. Excellent! The bottom line? It’s a great second effort at a flagship smartphone from ZTE. The addition of dual SIM capability as well taking what was already good audio and making it better is going to get it a lot of looks. It should be on your shopping list if you’re in the market for a flagship level smartphone at a bargain basement price as it does a lot for the money that you’ll pay for it. 

 

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4 Responses to “Review: ZTE Axon 7”

  1. Hello, I’m in Toronto and would like to ask for a favour. I’m currently split between the Axon 7 and LGV20 since they have strong headphone amps for a phone but I read about the 7 having lower cellular and wifi reception. Since I’m using wind, it would be a bad combination if it’s true. The V20 is double the price though and doesn’t have a AMOLED display.

    If you have time, could you check the signal strength of the 7 on wind? If you could not get a hold of a friend’s wind Sim card, I would really appreciate if we could meet up somewhere to test. I’m also very interested to see how the Axon 7 handles high impedance headphones like my Sennheiser HD800 with a nominal impedance of 336ohms at 1kHz. Bring some well recorded/mastered music to listen to, they’re quite spectacular.

  2. […] were two smartphones that stood out for me this year. The Asus ZenFone 3 and the ZTE Axon 7. Both of them deserve a place on your shopping list as they are great phones that have the […]

  3. […] for movies, music, and games. Quite simply, it is the first phone I’ve reviewed since the ZTE Axon 7 that has such outstanding audio quality. Another area where this phone is outstanding is battery […]

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