- Eric M. Zeman , Phone Scoop
An unlocked, premium Android smartphone with good looks and killer specs.
- Beautiful display
- Excellent audio quality
- Fast performance
- Premium build
- Uninspiring camera quality
- No microSD slot
- Plastic ends don't match color of metal frame
ZTE has put out several entry level handsets without making any huge splashes, but they hope their first "flagship" phone – the Axon Pro – will attract more attention. Experts believe it will do just that thanks to its competitive prices, powerful specs and a premium design.
Unlike many other mid-tier phones, the Axon Pro flaunts and all aluminum frame and comes in three different colors: blue, gold and silver. While the metal gives the phone a higher class look, it also made it much more slippery for reviewers to hold on to. While much of the phone is metal, ZTE still used plastic on the rear top and bottom case. Unfortunately, experts immediately noticed the change of material, especially since the pieces didn't color match with the trim. At 6 x 2.9 x 0.37 it veers on the larger side and is also a bit heavier than its competitors at 6.1 ounces. Despite this, experts found the Axon Pro comfortable to hold and use one-handed even with the 5.5-inch display.
Speaking of displays, the Axon Pro offers quad HD (2560 x 1440 pixels). It isn't just sharp, though. Reviewers also praise it for being colorful and accurate albeit slightly over saturated. With that said, they truly enjoyed viewing it with Android Headlines stating, "The display is so good, that I can hardly put the phone down." In addition, experts had no issue viewing the phone in different lighting situations from low to bright, though they add the adaptive brightness did make the screen too dark indoors. It is also the first phone to employ Corning's antimicrobial Gorilla Glass. While they didn't test out the antimicrobial claim, experts did like that it was much easier to wipe away smudges and fingerprints.
ZTE didn't skimp out when it came to internal hardware as evidenced by the 2GHz octo-core processor and 4GB of RAM. Experts were able to zip through the navigation and easily multi-task without any hiccups or crashes even when using more processor heavy tasks like video editing or 3D gaming. The 3000mAh battery keeps the phone humming along and lasted critics a full day without recharge. Thanks to quick charging, they were able to get the batteries to 50% in just 30 minutes. The one area they weren't too happy with was the limited internal storage option of 32GB without microSD support.
Perhaps the feature that least impressed experts was the camera. It actually has two cameras on the rear: a 2MP shooter to capture exposure and depth and a 13MP one to actually take the pictures. When combined together reviewers were able to churn out some decently exposed shots that were good enough for Facebook and Instagram. When they looked closer they noticed some distortion. This became even more evident when they took low light images and they describe the overall low-light quality as "muddy" and "drab".
But it isn't the camera or specs that are the selling point of the Axon Pro. It's the audio. Together with JBL and Dolby, ZTE brought HiFi audio to the device. Unfortunately, it only works through the headphone jack, but even the audio quality from the front speaker managed to impress reviewers with its clear notes and full bass.
Despite the excellent offerings of the Axon Pro, reviewers ultimately had a hard time recommending it. Toms Guide states, "Those who want an awesome multimedia experience will really like the Axon Pro's unbeatable display-and-audio combo, but there are better options for your money." CNET adds, "…the ZTE Axon Pro is an excellent device…unfortunately, ZTE isn't alone in offering consumers a premium unlocked device for competitive prices."
Reviews (7.5/10 Avg. rating)
A race to the middle
Middle of the road, middle of the pack
I just can’t tell who it’s for. It’s loaded with high-end specs that would appeal to enthusiasts, but it’s not as aggressively priced nor as nicely designed as the OnePlus 2, which has similar hardware. It doesn’t have the cool customizability or great software features of the Moto X Style, which also undercuts it in price. And it can’t compete with the cameras and design of the Galaxy S6 or LG G4. It sits in this weird middle area in terms of price and functionality without really standing out in any way. A year or two ago, ZTE could have played this gam... Full review
A fine phone, but it's not the best phone for the money
ZTE hopes consumers would rather spend $449 on the Axon Pro than $649 (or higher) for handsets like the One M9, G4, or Galaxy S6. In this case, the price point accurately reflects the value you're getting. The Axon Pro is a good high-end smartphone, but it only offers about three-quarters of the performance you can get from today's better-known flagship phones.
Certainly some people will find the Axon Pro's design appealing, but I think it could be cleaner and better assembled. The screen is excellent, battery life is quite good (and beats some of today's most expensive phones,) cal... Full review
A commanding multimedia smartphone at a more-affordable-than-usual price
Aggressively priced for a high-end, flagship phone
So, is it worth it to pick up the ZTE Axon Pro over some of the aforementioned devices? Naturally, that’s tough because there are still opportunities to advance its performance in the areas of its camera and battery life. If you’re looking for the savings in a high-end, flagship phone, you’ll certainly get it here with the Axon Pro – whereas devices like the iPhone 6 and Galaxy S6 will still cost you at least $650. This is just the beginning, as the Axon Pro is meant to be the bridge device in getting ZTE’s name into the minds of consumers. So far, it strikes a... Full review
A powerhouse that punches above its weight
I've got to hand it to ZTE: The Axon is the sort of powerful, budget-friendly phone I never thought the company would, or could, make. It's got gobs of power. It's mostly well-built. The camera isn't half-bad. And that tantalizing $450 price tag currently represents the floor -- the least amount of money you could spend on a phone as well-specced as this. So why won't I buy one? First, the software isn't as polished as it should be. Secondly, I need memory. I need room for files and photos and tracks and videos, and the widespread availability of cloud storage just doesn't cut it for me. Th... Full review
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