Earlier this year when the mysterious Axon Phone was announced, it sparked a sensation-of-sorts as interested consumers tried to deduce how such an impressive “newcomer” could appear. As time passed, it became clear that ZTE was behind the device. Earlier today, the Chinese OEM held a media event to offer some insight into the new brand strategy it has in store: the Axon line is truly committed to producing premium devices aimed at the consummate connoisseur.
Adam Zeng, CEO of ZTE Mobile Devices, explained that “devices in our ZTE AXON product lines are designed entirely with consumers in mind and to be the nerve center of everything they do…Our high-end flagship strategy is now in full swing and we believe we have all of the ingredients to become a leading consumer electronics brand globally.”
The Axon Mini
While the tech-world is actively discussing the merits or lack-thereof for Apple’s 3D Touch, the AXON mini, first unveiled in July 2015, was actually the first smartphone announced to offer such technology, beating even Huawei’s Mate S. The device features a FHD 5.2-inch AMOLED 2.5D curved-edge screen, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 616 Octa-Core SoC with Adreno 405 GPU, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of on-board storage, a 13-megapixel rear camera and 8-megapixel front camera, and a 2800mAh battery. MicroSD support up to 128GB cards is included. Three color options will be available: Ion Gold, Chromium Silver and Rose Gold.
Perhaps even more impressive are the extended spec-related details, as they truly provide some unprecedented premium performance on such a small-sized product: The device will be just 3.5mm thin and 70mm wide, with bezels of 0.85mm. The rear camera has phase-detection auto focus (PDAF) which will allow users to focus on their subject in just 0.1 seconds. The front camera has a 5P aspherical lens. The device supports dual microphones with an AKM4961 Hi-Fi audio chipset that provides 32-bit High Fidelity audio and superior sound recording. The body is constructed from Boeing 787 aircraft-grade aluminum-titanium alloy.
The Axon (left) and Axon Mini (right).
Also highlighted is the device’s voice search functionality that “can be activated within 1.2 seconds…[and] comes with voice translation support for English, Chinese, Japanese and Korean, offering real-time voice translation.” The Mini supports fingerprint authentication as well as eye-scanning and voice-recognition for use with biometric security verification.
For those interested in basketball, there will be an NBA variant that features alternative design options and includes NBA-related images and services.
In China, the phone will be available from ZTE’s online store, from JD.com, and at major retailers. In the next few months, the device will also be released in Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, Russia, Japan, India, Australia, France, Germany, Turkey, Spain and Italy. Curiously no mention is given of the United States or Canada, perhaps suggesting that ZTE will announce the product at a separate event.
The Ion Gold and Chromium Silver models will retail for $379, however the Rose Gold variant will cost $399. Also mentioned, though no details were specified, is a “Mini Premium” which will land at $439. Given that the source specifically refers to the Mini NBA as such, it is unclear what this apparent third option will entail exactly.
Also unveiled in July 2015 was the Axon Watch which will go on sale in China starting October 27th from ZTE’s online store, MyZTE. The wearable features a 1.4-inch Gorilla Glass screen with sapphire coating. It features 512MB of RAM, 4GB of on-board storage, a 300mAh battery, and Bluetooth 4.1. As the product was developed in conjunction with Tencent, and thus supports Tencent OS rather than Android Wear. As such, both QQ and WeChat are integrated with the device.
No pricing was specified for the Axon Watch.
While the BusinessWire source report currently lacks details about the Axon Max, alternative sources have specified that it will contain a 6-inch QHD display, the Snapdragon 810 SoC, and feature 4GB of RAM. Based on the specs for both the standard Axon Phone and the Axon Mini, it can be assumed the Max will also include Hi-Fi audio along with the other bells and whistles.
No release date or pricing information was given, however it would make sense for ZTE to try and release the device within the next few months or else risk being ignored in favor of devices that will ship in 2016 with the Snapdragon 820 SoC.
With the pending release of the Axon Mini, ZTE stands at an almost unchallenged position for petite, rivaled to an extent only by Sony’s Xperia Z5 Compact. The phone has a solid price tag, some truly jaw-dropping specs, and retains the signature look of the Axon line. ZTE appears to be quite serious in its efforts to not only reshape the way in which the world-at-large perceives it, but to go toe-to-toe with even the top-tier titans of the mobile industry.
It will be very interesting to spend some hands-on time with with Axon Mini and see if it can live up to the impressive spec sheet ZTE has put forth. What about you? Interested? Leave us your thoughts below!