Hands On with the ZTE Axon 7 Mini
ZTE Axon 7 Mini
ZTE aimed a shrink-ray at the Axon 7 and created the Axon 7 Mini. This smaller, more hand-friendly phone is nearly as powerful as its larger predecessor. Here are our first impressions of the Axon 7 Mini.
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The Axon 7 Mini is, as the name implies, a smaller version of the ZTE flagship Axon 7. From a distance, you might think they are the same phone. Up close, it's more apparent that the Mini is indeed a bit smaller.
The Mini features a unibody aluminum chassis that comes in silver and gold. Both finishes are attractive, though I think I prefer the silver model. The chassis is rounded along the edges and features an attractive chamfer where the chassis frame meets the curved glass.
With a 5.2-inch screen, the Mini is what might qualify as "average" as far as size goes. There's no doubt it is narrower and shorter than the Axon 7, but it is also much lighter. It's significantly easier to hold and use than the larger Axon 7. It should appeal to those who have smaller hands or prefer smaller phones (though, to be clear, it is not small.) The smooth chassis makes it a little slippery.
The fit and finish are excellent. The seams are tight and smooth all the way around, and the metal and glass are top notch. I don't feel like the quality is any less than the larger Axon 7 — and that's a really good thing.
ZTE kept bezels to a minimum. ZTE used "2.5D" glass, which is curved where it meets the side edges of the chassis. This helps keep the seam nice and smooth along the sides. The Mini drops the capacitive buttons of the larger model and adopts on-screen controls. This is fine and makes sense.
The screen itself is nice. At 5.2 inches and 1080p full HD, it has a high-enough pixel density to satisfy. I found it to be plenty bright and colorful.
I'm really glad ZTE kept the stereo speakers. Interestingly, ZTE says it was able to combine the DAC and amplifier into a single chip for this phone. This improves performance and efficiency and makes for a crazy loud set of speakers. (Seriously, they are loud!)
The dual-purpose SIM/memory card tray near the top of the left edge. The tray holds both cards.
The screen lock button and volume toggle are on the right edge. They have chamfers to match the aluminum chassis. The screen lock button is the lower of these two, just above the phone's waistline. It's a bit small and the profile could be a bit better, but action and feedback are very good. The larger volume toggle is easier to find. The profile is about the same. You'll find the headphone jack on the top edge and the USB Type-C port on the bottom.
The camera, flash, and fingerprint reader are lined up on the rear surface. The camera module is a bit more flush with the rear surface than that of the larger Axon 7. The two-tone flash is below the camera module and the fingerprint sensor is below that. The reader is easy to find with your forefinger when holding the phone.
Thanks to the unibody design, the battery is sealed up tight; there is no access to the battery.
The Mini runs Android 6 Marshmallow with ZTE's user interface on top. The UI isn't great, but can be easily replaced with a third-party launcher if you want. The UI ran smoothly thanks to the Snapdragon 617 processor and 3 GB of RAM.
ZTE says the phone will be sold online in October for about $300 (unlocked). That's a really good deal for this level of hardware.
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Nearly as Powerful????????????????
Oh, and after having the ZTE Axon 7, I hope the Mini actually has a mic that works. That's one of the Axon 7 issues among others....weak radios come to mind as well.