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Hands-on ZTE Axon 7 Mini review: an Ax to jam with

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ZTE has presented the Axon 7 Mini at IFA 2016. This compact version of its latest flagship may not be a revolution, but it has a few tricks up its sleeve. Notably, some impressive audio chops. Find out all our thoughts on this handset in our hands-on Axon 7 Mini review.

ZTE Axon 7 Mini: All deals

ZTE Axon 7 Mini release date and price

The ZTE Axon 7 Mini will launch in September in some markets but a US release date is yet to be confirmed. The device will launch at an attractive 299 euros, which converts to roughly $330. 

ZTE Axon 7 Mini design and build quality

ZTE's Axon Mini 7 makes use of an aluminum unibody with a curved rear (inspired by sports cars, says Axon), making it ergonomic and easy to handle. The device makes use of a 5.2-inch display, slightly smaller than the standard version, which makes it easy to hold and operate with one hand.

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The rear of the ZTE Axon 7 Mini. / © NextPit

On the front of the Axon 7 Mini you'll see a speaker at the top and bottom of the device, in a style reminiscent of HTC's past models, and on the rear is a fingerprint scanner below a circular camera sensor.

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The ZTE Axon 7 Mini isn't tiny, but it's still easy to use in one hand. / © NextPit

It's a slim, thin handset which looks and feels good at the $330 price point.

ZTE Axon 7 Mini display

The Axon Mini 7 display comes in at 5.2 inches. It's strange to consider a smartphone of this size to be a "mini" variant, but then again smartphones are massive nowadays aren't they?

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The Axon Mini 7 makes use of a Full-HD display. / © NextPit

The Axon Mini 7 makes use of a Full-HD AMOLED display. Though the IFA grounds aren't exactly an ideal place to assess screen quality, the display appeared to be bright and have suitable viewing angles.

ZTE Axon 7 Mini software

Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow is found under a layer ZTE's own software on the Axon 7 Mini. As this Chinese phone is designed for the international market, you'll find the Google apps range pre-installed, in addition to the Play Store.

As usual with mobile ZTE, there's no application drawer and, despite some preinstalled applications being present (such as a music player, audio recorder and email manager), the amount is not egregious.

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Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow comes on the Axon 7 Mini. / © NextPit

ZTE Axon 7 Mini performance

One of the areas that ZTE has had to make a sacrifice in the Mini edition of the Axon 7 is the processor. Instead of a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 chipset, it houses a less powerful Snapdragon 817. It also comes with 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of internal storage space.

These numbers are nonetheless pleasing on a 299-euro phone, but we'll need to spend more time with it to judge this properly.

ZTE Axon 7 Mini audio

The sound produced by the Axon 7 Mini is the star of the show. The stereo speakers are still fairly rare on phones, particularly those that cost less than $330. But this isn't the only thing the Axon 7 Mini has to offer in this regard.

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Collaboration with Dolby is one of the great successes of this phone. / © NextPit

The audio experience can be further optimized with software contributed by Dolby, and the device also employs an intelligent audio recognition feature which raises the overall output volume without creating distortion. 

Despite being surrounded by people at the noisy event, the sound of Axon 7 Mini was a surprise. The maximum volume seemed loud and without any noticeable distortion. I'm looking forward to testing it further; it's promising.

ZTE Axon 7 Mini camera

Unlike the speakers, what little I saw of the camera left me underwhelmed. The rear sensor provides a maximum resolution of 16 megapixels with an f / 1.9 aperture lens and phase detection autofocus. The front camera makes use of an 8-megapixel camera with f / 2.2 aperture.

The numbers don't look bad on paper, but photos taken seemed to be a clear step behind that of any major flagship (although this is to be expected).

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The brightness control is easily accessed in the camera software. / © NextPit

The camera software includes a curious 'Live' mode, which acts essentially the same as the Live Photo option in iPhones, recording a few seconds of video when you take a picture. There is also a manual mode and filter presets making the software about on par with most Chinese smartphones.

ZTE Axon 7 Mini battery

The ZTE Axon 7 Mini arrives with a 2705 mAh capacity battery which supports quick-charging, but I didn't get to put this through its paces at the event.

ZTE Axon 7 Mini technical specifications

Early Verdict

The ZTE Axon 7 Mini is filling a gap in the market as a relatively low-cost handset which provides superior sound quality. If you want these two features, the Axon 7 Mini could be for you.

It's not a smartphone that's going to win any awards for originality, however, and it's unlikely to satisfy those who either want the best performance for their money. But in terms of audio quality, it could be up there with the best. 

  Editor's choice Best smart home control center Best price-performance ratio Best sound Best sound supplement Best display
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Sergio Colado

Sergio Colado

Born in Valencia, Spain, Sergio defines himself as a huge fan of tech and video games. Since the arrival of Android, he found in this operating system the best tool to do what he was best at: wasting time in front of a screen. Among his passions are sci-fi, cycling and eating between meals.

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  • Wakfu 26
    Wakfu Oct 5, 2016 Link to comment

    Price breaker from ZTE.

  • 1
    Nitin Kumar Sep 5, 2016 Link to comment

    Hey Sergio, I really wish this Beautiful device had a Snapdragon 817 (I know it doesn't exist but if it had then would have been slightly less powerful then Flagship SD 820). But sadly a 617 is what we get here.
    In my Opinion a SD 650/652 would have been the most reasonable choice seeing the price difference between Axon 7 mini & its Elder Brother.