The "1-Minute" Review
VerdictIf having dual screens is important, the Axon M is one of the best -- and only -- options available. However, it requires compromising both battery life and portability to achieve it. That trade might not work for everyone.
- Innovative dual-display design
- Dolby Atmos
- Generous storage and microSD support
- Decent camera
- An all-day battery in single-screen mode
- Limited availability
- Low battery life in the dual-screen mode
- Confusing camera arrangement
- Lack of accessories
- Fiddly fingerprint scanner
While still not a household name, ZTE has proven it is possible to make a high-end phone with mid-tier prices. With their latest release, they’re diving into uncharted territory.
We usually start by describing a phone’s design. But in this summary, we must start with screens...
The Axon M sports two 5.2-inch 1080p LCD panels. There is a screen on the front and the back. An aluminum hinge in the middle makes it possible to use the phone in a tablet-like mode or stand it up like a tent.
The panels are both bright and reasonably accurate when it comes to colors. Gorilla Glass 5 coatings on both screens also meant that reviewers had no problems with scratches and scuffs when tossing the phone in their pocket or bag.
That said, the design has its downsides…
The phone is both thick and heavy. Many reviewers likened it to holding a deck of cards. Also, since there are screens on both side of the phone, finding a compatible case is next to impossible.
Lastly, while you can unfold the phone and span content across both screens, this creates a 10.4-inch square display, not a larger rectangle display. So for most content, you’re almost getting more black bars than added space.
The phone uses a 2.15Ghz quad-core Snapdragon 821 with 4GB of RAM. Reviewers had no problem launching two apps or a game and a movie at the same time using each display. The processor had no problem keeping up, and the experience remained fluid -- even when reviewers pushed the phone to its limits.
You’ll find a generous 64GB of internal storage for your favorite apps, games, and media. Support for microSD cards up to 256GB means you can expand anytime.
Software changes are minimal, with a few extra buttons and settings to account for the dual displays. Otherwise, you’re greeted with a stock Android 7.1.2 interface and features. ZTE planned support for Android 8.0 -- however, exact dates are unavailable.
The camera was a major point of contention among reviewers. The phone sports a single 20MP rear camera. There is no dedicated front lens. If you want to use video chat or take selfies, you’ll need to be sure you’re facing the correct display and use the software to trigger the camera.
Reviewers found this approach clunky and confusing.
However, once they got the camera running the way they wanted, they captured decent pictures. Low-light performance is only so-so, but still acceptable for quick snaps or social sharing images.
With two screens, the 3180mAh battery has quite a range of run times. In single display mode, reviewers had no trouble hitting a full day on a single charge. With both displays running resource-intensive apps, the battery died in roughly 2 hours.
Charging speed was decent, with a full charge taking around 1.5 hours. However, if you’re planning on using the dual display features often, you’ll want to keep a charger nearby.
Reviews on the phone are mixed overall -- mostly revolving around the design. This isn’t a slim, trim, flagship device. And if you don’t have an interest in dual displays, there are cheaper single screen options with similar specs.
TechRadar summed up opinions well, saying, “The Axon M is obviously a niche device, and to that niche it delivers something special in a surprisingly polished manner.” Gear Diary was less positive with their verdict, stating, “... as a proof of concept, the ZTE Axon M is fascinating, but it’s too small and too limited by the lack of third-party software to truly be a daily driver.”
What the Critics Are Saying...
- Mike Wobker, Notebookcheck
Considering the system performance, the Axon M from ZTE is nothing special. But with the second display which can be unfolded, it becomes a real alternative for those to whom the conventional smartphone displays are too small and tablets or notebooks too big.
- Carly Z, Gear Diary
Basically, as a proof of concept, the ZTE Axon M is fascinating, but it’s too small and too limited by the lack of third-party software to truly be a daily driver. I am excited for what ZTE could do with it in the future though!
- Jason Million, G Style Magazine
I think it has potential but I’d like to see maybe if ZTE can do it without the glaring fold in the middle, utilize more screen real estate and also not make the glass so glossy.
- Erik Slaven, Talk Android
I’ve had more fun with the Axon M than any other smartphone in 2017. The novelty of the second screen wore off a little, but I continued to find myself trying to find a reason to flip it open. It was just too cool working both simultaneously. It’s also the ultimate party trick with frien...
- Cameron Faulkner, TechRadar
Foldable phones are the future, but ZTE’s present-day take on the concept is here, bringing along some clever functionality to extend your work and play to a second screen.
Prices (Where to Buy)
We've got you covered! Download a free PDF copy of the ZTE Axon M user manual here.
ZTE backs up the Axon M with a 1 Year parts & labour warranty.
If your Axon M has problems and is still within its warranty period, you could contact ZTE support or the retailer you purchased the phone from. You'll find ZTE's contact information here. If your phone is off warranty and needs repair for a physical problem such as a broken screen or bad battery, you should visit an authorized service centre or a local phone repair shop. You can also connect with others in The Informr Community Forum to find and share answers to questions.
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Manuals / User Guides
- ZTE Axon M Manual (PDF)
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