You might have memories of ZTE as a cheap mobile brand, making throwaway phones you'd give to your aunt just for texts and phone calls. But two new phones from ZTE want to take on the best of Samsung and Apple and China's own Huawei. The Axon 7 is compatible with Google's Daydream VR, has "professional quality audio" chips inside as well as — weirdly — support for Dolby Atmos.
If the Axon 7's design reminds you of anything, we're feeling a bit of inspiration from the unibody metal HTC 10 and the Huawei Mate 8. There's clearly nothing wrong with that, though: the 5.5-inch Axon 7 and its smaller 5.2-inch Axon 7 Mini sibling look pretty nice.
It's great to see another phone supporting Google Daydream, alongside Motorola's Moto Z and the original Pixel family; ZTE's Axon 7 gets it as part of its Android 7.0 software update. We're a bit iffy on this, though: ZTE says that Dolby Atmos support, for "a complete theatre-like experience in the palm of your hand", is built in. Funny, that, because Atmos is a home theatre surround sound speaker tech that uses upward-firing speakers to simulate overhead sound effects. The Axon 7 has two speakers that point directly towards the viewer's face. Take this particular spec inclusion with a sizeable grain of salt.
The Axon 7 gets the lion's share of the spec sheet love: you get a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 quad-core CPU with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, internal battery is 3250mAh with Quick Charge 3.0, its 5.5-inch display is a 2560x1440pixel AMOLED one and the rear camera is 20 megapixels with OIS. On the smaller Axon 7 Mini specs are pared back somewhat to a midrange Snapdragon 617 octa-core, 1080p AMOLED display and 16-megapixel rear camera sensor. Both phones have 8-megapixel front-facing cameras and space for a dual SIM or optional microSD storage of up to 128GB.
Both the Axon 7 and Axon 7 Mini are out in Australia now. The Axon 7 in Ion Gold and Quartz Grey will set you back $699 from JB Hi-Fi, while the smaller Axon 7 Mini in Ion Gold and Platinum Grey is a little bit more affordable at $498 also at JB. [ZTE]