ZTE announced the high-end Axon smartphone for the U.S. market in its latest push to establish itself as a strong player there. ZTE has sold smartphones before in the U.S., but none that were particularly compelling. The new high-end Axon is meant to help ZTE compete against the likes of Samsung, HTC, LG, Sony and even Apple.
The ZTE Axon has a Snapdragon 810 SoC that comes with dual-cluster CPU with Cortex-A53 and Cortex-A57 cores, with the latter clocked at 2.0 GHz. This is the same Snapdragon 810 v2.1 version that the OnePlus 2 will also have, and which is supposed to have solved the overheating issues.
It comes with a 5.5" Quad HD screen with Gorilla Glass 3 protection and 4 GB of RAM. The RAM is notable, as that makes the Axon one of the first smartphones launched this year to have 4 GB of RAM on board.) There's also 32 GB of storage, LTE support, and a 3,000 mAh battery that supports fast charging.
The device has two cameras on the back, one with a 13MP resolution and one 2MP, in order for them to take pictures with a "3D effect." The 13MP camera comes with a fast f/1.8 6-elements lens as well, ensuring the pictures are less blurry and can capture more light when in less than optimal conditions. The rear camera can also shoot 4K video at 30fps, as well as 720p slow-motion video at 120fps. The camera is accompanied by a dual-LED flash.
The phone also has an 8MP front camera, which is one of the highest front-facing camera resolutions on the market (it's basically as high as the iPhone 6's rear camera). Of course, resolution isn't everything, so it remains to be seen just how good it is in the real world, too.
Manufacturers that tend to make cheaper phones with "good specs" usually cut the price by using lower quality components. That's why you can see 8MP rear cameras on $100 smartphones that are nowhere near as good as a more expensive model that has a camera with the same resolution.
The Axon also comes with Hi-Fi audio, but it lacks a microSD card slot -- two trends an increasing number of OEMs seem to embrace lately.
The device will have Android 5.1.1 out of the box, along with ZTE's own customizations on top. It will ship in three different colors: Ion Gold, Chromium Silver and Phthalo Blue.
ZTE's phone will support AT&T, T-Mobile, MPCS, Cricket, Rogers, Bell and Telus, as well as most of the networks in Europe, Asia, Oceania and Latin America. The ZTE Axon will be available for pre-order at ZTE USA's website and its store on eBay, as well as Amazon (opens in new tab) and Newegg, for only $450 off-contract. It will start shipping to customers on August 3.