ZTE Axon 7 first impressions


zte axon 7 review

ZTE have been kind enough to send me their brand spanking new ZTE Axon 7 to test, but as it’s still early days here are my first impressions.

ZTE’s Axon brand have sent me their Axon 7 flagship to test, and over the past few days I’ve been getting to grips with the new golden phone. The full review is still a ways off, but to get you all going here are my first impressions.

The Axon 7 arrived with me on Saturday afternoon and it just so happened that my brother and family friends were at me home at the same time. Upon opening the Axon 7 there was a lot of praise flung around.

zte axon 7 review

Everyone who held the phone commented on how well it is made, how nice the machining was, how incredible audio is and the vibrancy of the screen. They weren’t wrong either as I fully agree with all their praise.

zte axon 7 review

Sure the Axon 7 isn’t the most unique looking handset and from the front it looks a hell of a lot like a flagship HTC device due to the dual front facing speakers. The rear of the Axon 7 reminds me of a mix between a Meizu and a Huawei, which sounds like a mish mash of styles, but it works and looks a whole lot better than then fake leather on older Axon phones.

zte axon 7 review

Like other flagship devices, Axon have opted for a 5.5-inch AMOLED display protected by a 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass 4 panel. As I had been using a OnePlus 3 before the Axon arrived, the difference in screen quality was obvious and the ZTE is simply more vibrant and more enjoyable to look at.

zte axon 7 review

Above the display is a 8 mega-pixel camera and RGB notification light, below are 3 none back-lit navigation buttons and at the very top and bottom of the phone are HIFI speakers which can benefit from Dolby Atmos surround sound if you wish to turn the feature on.

zte axon 7 review

The whole body of the Axon 7 is made of metal with a slightly brushed finish on the front and anodised finish to the rear. My version of the phone is the Ion Gold model but a Quartz Gray version will also go on sale.

zte axon 7 review

The back of the Axon 7 is where you will find a 20 mega-pixel dual OIS rear camera, dual LED flash and fingerprint scanner. The fingerprint scanner is a decent piece of kit, better than the the OP3, but not as fast or accurate as any Vivo that has launched to date.

zte axon 7 review

As for the camera, well it has the ability to take fantastic photos, and the camera app is really feature packed, but there seems to be an issue with focus and often a decent photo can be impaired due to blurred details.

I’m hoping this issue will be fixed and I also hope that the issue I had with the set up wizard will be rectified too. Setting up the Axon 7 from my settings on the OP3 was a hassle and I had to begin again with a factory reset, but then the set up wizard constantly crashed after each step forcing the phone to either restart of simply freeze. I finally did get the phone up and running and so far the issue hasn’t appeared again.

zte axon 7 review

Being a flagship the Axon 7 has 4GB RAM, Snapdragon 820, 3250mAh battery, and 64GB memory. Performance has been quite good, but I do feel a little lag here and there compared to the OnePlus 3.

I intend to post a few photos samples, and a comparison with the OP3 later this week so watch out for this. If you have any questions about the ZTE Axon 7 let me know in the comments below.

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58 Comments

  1. balcobomber25
    August 8, 2016

    I am waiting your review on it Andi, I also am waiting for the Gray color.

    • MaxPower
      August 8, 2016

      I’m buying it

  2. Vas
    August 8, 2016

    Hi Andi, Would Gizchina Shop sell Zte Axon 7? I’m looking at 6gb spec.

  3. Nam Dang
    August 8, 2016

    I am waiting for Xiaomi Mi Max review.
    Remember the hands-on and the promised video/review 2 1/2 months ago?

  4. xi7
    August 8, 2016

    ultra mega spectacular super ugly black border

    • Sere83
      August 8, 2016

      yeah not feeling it either

  5. Sere83
    August 8, 2016

    Glad I saved money and went with oneplus 3, seems like a good phone the ZTE but from what i’ve read the software is lacking as is the fprint sensor and the camera is better on oneplus. Also get improved performance due to lower res display. Don’t care about 2K display or front facing speakers.

    • PhoneFix
      August 11, 2016

      omg one plus is bad .. u will encounter problems wit it soon..

  6. balcobomber25
    August 8, 2016

    I am waiting your review on it Andi, I also am waiting for the Gray color.

    • MaxPower
      August 8, 2016

      I’m buying it

  7. Ionut Johnny
    August 8, 2016

    The true flagship killer, alongside oneplus 3 who is cheaper.
    If Xiaomi don’t release Mi Note 2 this month I may go for ZTE Axon 7, Oneplus 3 or 7 edge, that I can find it with 400 £.

    • illystor
      August 9, 2016

      Honestly, I would take OP3 over the LG G5 in a heartbeat. Same for Axon 7. If you could however find a second hand but otherwise good condition 7 Edge for that price (or new even, if you’re some sort of Wizard) then I would probably say that. Depends what you’re looking for. Axon 7 is probably the best media consumption device out of the bunch, but most reviews tend to favour OP3 over it on camera a little.

      • Ionut Johnny
        August 9, 2016

        I am looking for one of the best camera phones.

        • illystor
          August 9, 2016

          Then of what you listed, OP3 or, if you can get your hands on one at that price, the S7 Edge

        • MinusPlusDivide
          August 10, 2016

          Best camera phone in my opinion as this moment
          – Samsung Galaxy S7 + Note 7 easy for f1.7 all around auto low light if the bright picture is what you like but front camera that also f1.7 blow out picture too often. Its video is not bad too.
          – Huawei P9 best for rear camera and front camera is not bad either. I really like the warm tone of P9 rear camera which I think come from Leica software. However, their video is not good.
          – OPPO F1 Plus , vivo X7 Plus = best phone still selfie camera (equal). However, Huawei P9 Plus has front facing auto focus camera which is good too. All these three phones are not good video either.
          – HTC 10 for vlog style selfie. (selfie video log) because OIS on front camera.
          – LG V10, Huawei Mate 8 and all Sony Flagship range (because Sony is known for better phone video for many years and still is) for rear camera video shooting. They have better mic on the phone which is a must for video. However, Samsung Galaxy flagship range is also good and the iPhone is good too.

          However, if you chase for the best phone camera then I think you should move on to the real camera. Anything that is 1 inch sensor compact like Canon G9X which is cheap, can charge through usb port and powerbank and very compact enough to take with almost everywhere or entry m43 camera that emphasize selfie but still take good regular photo like Panasonic GF7,8. You will see it simply blow every phone camera with no trouble and take good video too. I personally have LG G2 for 3 years and it is sure a good phone camera but 2 months ago I got Canon G7X and then I don’t have to worry about my next phone camera anymore. I can look to other phone aspect like audio, display.

          • Ionut Johnny
            August 10, 2016

            Thanks for the good info’s. I might take on your advice with the camera. In terms of Display, audio, other aspects what phone would you recommend?
            How is the oneplus 3, ZTE Axon 7 or maybe Zenfone Deluxe 3 and nonchinsese S7 Edge or LG G5?

  8. Guest
    August 8, 2016

    Hi Andi, Would Gizchina Shop sell Zte Axon 7? I’m looking at 6gb spec.

  9. Nam Dang
    August 8, 2016

    I am waiting for Xiaomi Mi Max review.
    Remember the hands-on and the promised video/review 2 1/2 months ago?

  10. OS2User
    August 8, 2016

    This would make a fine phone for the US, being one of the few affordable ones supporting pretty much all needed standards and bands, but skimping on the FM-radio is a big no-no. So, sorry ZTE, you have to do better next time, but keep those reversible speakers. Those are a great idea!

  11. August 8, 2016

    Keep in mind that this phone weighs like it’s got two speakers (close to 200g if I recall), so if you’re used to 140g phones you will definitely notice a difference.

  12. xi7
    August 8, 2016

    ultra mega spectacular super ugly black border

    • Sere83
      August 8, 2016

      yeah not feeling it either

  13. Sere83
    August 8, 2016

    Glad I saved money and went with oneplus 3, seems like a good phone the ZTE but from what i’ve read the software is lacking and the camera is better on oneplus. Ive also heard conflicting reports of the fprint scanner, with a few reviews saying its lacking compared to OP3. Don’t care about 2K display or front facing speakers, not feeling the borders either. Be interested to see comparison though.

  14. deeeeeezy
    August 8, 2016

    glad to hear so far so good. I’ve pre-ordered the grey one myself in the US, will be nice to finally have a phone with working 4G and a warranty!
    A plus as well, on the ZTE forums apparently they will announce this week that the bootloaders can be unlocked for the Axon 7, so hopefully this phone becomes popular and aftermarket support will be good. At least for the US model. Hoping they will fix the camera, again from the forums it sounds like they’re working on it but who knows.

  15. Ionut Johnny
    August 8, 2016

    The true flagship killer, alongside oneplus 3 who is cheaper.
    If Xiaomi don’t release Mi Note 2 this month I may go for ZTE Axon 7, Oneplus 3 or 7 edge, that I can find it with 400 £, even LG G5 for 329 £.
    What do you think guys?

    • illystor
      August 9, 2016

      Honestly, I would take OP3 over the LG G5 in a heartbeat. Same for Axon 7. If you could however find a second hand but otherwise good condition 7 Edge for that price (or new even, if you’re some sort of Wizard) then I would probably say that. Depends what you’re looking for. Axon 7 is probably the best media consumption device out of the bunch, but most reviews tend to favour OP3 over it on camera a little.

    • Ionut Johnny
      August 9, 2016

      I am looking for one of the best camera phones.

    • illystor
      August 9, 2016

      Then of what you listed, OP3 or, if you can get your hands on one at that price, the S7 Edge

    • Guest
      August 10, 2016

      Best camera phone in my opinion as this moment
      – Samsung Galaxy S7 + Note 7 easy for f1.7 all around auto low light if the bright picture is what you like but front camera that also f1.7 blow out picture too often. Its video is not bad too.
      – Huawei P9 best for rear camera and front camera is not bad either. I really like the warm tone of P9 rear camera which I think come from Leica software. However, their video is not good.
      – OPPO F1 Plus , vivo X7 Plus = best phone still selfie camera (equal). However, Huawei P9 Plus has front facing auto focus camera which is good too. All these three phones are not good video either.
      – HTC 10 for vlog style selfie. (selfie video log) because OIS on front camera.
      – LG V10, Huawei Mate 8 and all Sony Flagship range (because Sony is known for better phone video for many years and still is) for rear camera video shooting. They have better mic on the phone which is a must for video. However, Samsung Galaxy flagship range is also good and the iPhone is good too.

      However, if you chase for the best phone camera then I think you should move on to the real camera. Anything that is 1 inch sensor compact like Canon G9X which is cheap, can charge through usb port and powerbank and very compact enough to take with almost everywhere or entry m43 camera that emphasize selfie but still take good regular photo like Panasonic GF7,8. You will see it simply blow every phone camera with no trouble and take good video too. I personally have LG G2 for 3 years and it is sure a good phone camera but 2 months ago I got Canon G7X and then I don’t have to worry about my next phone camera anymore. I can look to other phone aspect like audio, display.

    • Ionut Johnny
      August 10, 2016

      Thanks for the good info’s. I might take on your advice with the camera. In terms of Display, audio, other aspects what phone would you recommend?
      How is the oneplus 3, ZTE Axon 7 or maybe Zenfone Deluxe 3 and nonchinsese S7 Edge or LG G5?

  16. Guest
    August 9, 2016

    This would make a fine phone for the US, being one of the few affordable ones supporting pretty much all needed standards and bands, but skimping on the FM-radio is a big no-no. So, sorry ZTE, you have to do better next time, but keep those reversible speakers. Those are a great idea!

  17. 10basetom
    August 9, 2016

    Here’s a pretty good comparison between USA OP3 and Axon 7 models by a senior XDA member:

    http://forum.xda-developers.com/axon-7/how-to/axon-7-usa-4gb-64gb-vs-oneplus-3-usa-t3429333

    Keep in mind that this phone weighs like it’s got two speakers (185g), so if you’re used to handling 140g phones you will definitely notice a difference.

  18. deeeeeezy
    August 9, 2016

    glad to hear so far so good. I’ve pre-ordered the grey one myself in the US, will be nice to finally have a phone with working 4G and a warranty!
    A plus as well, on the ZTE forums apparently they will announce this week that the bootloaders can be unlocked for the Axon 7, so hopefully this phone becomes popular and aftermarket support will be good. At least for the US model. Hoping they will fix the camera, again from the forums it sounds like they’re working on it but who knows.

  19. Smashmaster
    August 9, 2016

    Hi Andy,

    thanks for the first impression! I am looking forward to the review.

    What is your impression on the GPS? Could that be included in the review? And maybe some “screen on time” ?

    @the rest, I think this phone and OP3 are quite similar. I think one of the huge advantages with the Axon is that it is Daydream ready, the Google VR platform that is set to come this year.

  20. suunnittelija
    August 9, 2016

    Axon 7 is tempting, but I would avoid ZTE phones because of poor software support. ZTE released Axon Elite last year and promised it to get Marshmallow. There has been just one minor update and no word about Marshmallow for international release. I doubt that Axon 7 will get Android Nougat.

    • deeeeeezy
      August 9, 2016

      i have heard since the phone is to be Google Daydream compatible that they will have to update to at least Android N to fulfill this promise. But after that I’ll be hoping for the best…

  21. Smashmaster
    August 9, 2016

    Hi Andy,

    thanks for the first impression! I am looking forward to the review.

    What is your impression on the GPS? Could that be included in the review? And maybe some “screen on time” ?

    @the rest, I think this phone and OP3 are quite similar. I think one of the huge advantages with the Axon is that it is Daydream ready, the Google VR platform that is set to come this year.

  22. suunnittelija
    August 9, 2016

    Axon 7 is tempting, but I would avoid ZTE phones because of poor software support. ZTE released Axon Elite last year and promised it to get Marshmallow. There has been just one minor update and no word about Marshmallow for international release. I doubt that Axon 7 will get Android Nougat.

    • deeeeeezy
      August 9, 2016

      i have heard since the phone is to be Google Daydream compatible that they will have to update to at least Android N to fulfill this promise. But after that I’ll be hoping for the best…

  23. topgun
    August 9, 2016

    Ill be choosing this over the op3 purely for the SD support, big mistake by one plus, would love the zenfone 3 deluxe but that comes with a ridiculous price tag

    • Sere83
      August 9, 2016

      Meh not really, ive never needed more than 64GB. ZTE software experience wont touch oneplus

  24. topgun
    August 9, 2016

    Ill be choosing this over the op3 purely for the SD support, big mistake by one plus, would love the zenfone 3 deluxe but that comes with a ridiculous price tag

    • Sere83
      August 9, 2016

      Meh not really, ive never needed more than 64GB. ZTE software experience wont touch oneplus

  25. Wesley
    August 9, 2016

    Hi Andi. Any idea when the Asus Zenfone Deluxe will be released in Europe? Or maybe if the Gizchina shop will have it in stock soon?

  26. Sirus Valencia
    August 9, 2016

    It’s pretty popular in the US, great deal for $400 here!

    Based on early impressions here, it seems like the software needs some polishing, but otherwise it’s a good phone.

  27. Wesley
    August 9, 2016

    Hi Andi. Any idea when the Asus Zenfone Deluxe will be released in Europe? Or maybe if the Gizchina shop will have it in stock soon?

  28. Sirus Valencia
    August 10, 2016

    It’s pretty popular in the US, great deal for $400 here!

    Based on early impressions here, it seems like the software needs some polishing, but otherwise it’s a good phone.

  29. PhoneFix
    August 10, 2016

    First impressions? I heard about this phone like 1 year ago ?

    • Airyl
      August 11, 2016

      You’re thinking about the first Axon. The Axon 7 is new.

      • PhoneFix
        August 11, 2016

        Actually yeah there are like 8 older models 😀

  30. Guest
    August 10, 2016

    This comment was deleted.

    • Airyl
      August 11, 2016

      You’re thinking about the first Axon. The Axon 7 is new.

  31. ohad
    August 16, 2016

    Hi, i am lookig to buy a new phone with a good camera (in the note 4 level) and good preformans. Would you recomand the axon 7 or maybe the mi5 / op3?

  32. ohad
    August 16, 2016

    Hi, i am lookig to buy a new phone with a good camera (in the note 4 level) and good preformans. Would you recomand the axon 7 or maybe the mi5 / op3?

  33. Spookyleaf
    August 17, 2016

    Anyone know when this phone will be available in the UK? The wait is killing me. It’s the axon 7 or the oneplus 3. I like the front facing speakers and the Qualcomm quick charger support. Dash charging is awesome and all but it’s too proprietary. So the accessories cost too much and aren’t universally compatible with other android handsets.

  34. Spookyleaf
    August 18, 2016

    Anyone know when this phone will be available in the UK? The wait is killing me. It’s the axon 7 or the oneplus 3. I like the front facing speakers and the Qualcomm quick charger support. Dash charging is awesome and all but it’s too proprietary. So the accessories cost too much and aren’t universally compatible with other android handsets.

  35. Adam Irvine
    August 23, 2016

    I’ll stick with my OnePlus 3… 😉

  36. Adam Irvine
    August 23, 2016

    I’ll stick with my OnePlus 3… 😉