back to article ZTE Axon 7: A surprise flagship contender

Few people would have placed ZTE as being in the flagship Android race this year in Europe, but its Axon 7 makes it a surprising and strong contender. You'll know the script by now: buy a Chinese manufactured Android, get top-of-the-range features, and save £100-150 over a big brand HTC, Samsung or Sony flagship. Or even more …

  1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

    Little to dislike.. except for the non removable battery

    No removable battery, no sale.

    Presumably this is running Marshmallow with few additional apps.

    Doesn't mention if the phone is waterproof - presumably not.

    What's the support position on this phone - how long will it include Android releases for?

    What are the company's record in supplying open source details of their hardware?

    What is the availability of third party ROMs for prior generations of phone when the manufacturer becomes bored and decides you should waste a few hundred quid on their new shiny, when the last generation is still perfectly fine.

    The lack of a removable battery really is a huge pain in the neck. External battery packs are unwieldy and need to be connected for hours to recharge the phone. I'm going to be taking a dremel to my Android physical keyboard phone, as the last one (had a removable battery) was just too slow, and the slightly newer one (2012 is the last pkb phone, other than BB Priv) doesn't have a removable battery. I love practically everything about the phone, other than that..

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Little to dislike.. except for the non removable battery

      Just because there is no removable battery it doesn't mean the battery is hard to replace.

      The OnePlus 3 doesn't have a removable battery but it is easy to replace the battery if you need to. It's not soldered in and has only one clip to remove it.

      I don't think easily swapping out batteries is necessary these days. Portable batteries are generally much cheaper than having a spare for your phone and less of a ball ache to charge.

      Having no back panel on your phone also makes the device more durable and less prone to moisture damage.

      I had a Note 3 (recently upgraded to OnePlus 3). Initially I thought the inability to swap batteries was a deal breaker until I actually applied some thought. I never replaced the battery on it (had it from launch) and always carry a power bank in my rucksack that holds 24000mAh...I've never had a situation where a spare battery has been necessary. Ever. I'm a heavy user as well I'll easily drain a phone in 4 hours. My 24000mAh power bank gets me through 3 days on average. No sweat.

      The OnePlus 3 with identical usage takes me about 8 hours to drain and my power bank can drag a week out of it.

      If the battery wearing out is your concern just avoid plugging the phone in for a charge until it reaches 5-10% remaining.

      Most batteries wear out because of overcharging.

      Don't be one of these dimwits that leaves their phone on charge for 9 hours overnight either.

      Basically, none swappable battery is a crap argument. If you know what you're doing and look after your battery it shouldn't be a problem.

      No SD slot is somewhat valid but it should be pointed out that newer phones aren't missing SD slots out of cheapness. It's because of how UFS works. SD cards tank the overall performance of the phone. Not good if the nerds want epic benchmark results.

      As yet only Samsung has nailed how to use SD cards with UFS internal storage (probably because its their tech).

      This is why they allow sd cards again on the s7.

      1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

        Re: Little to dislike.. except for the non removable battery

        I'm quite surprised you don't find having to carry around a phone with a power bank attached to it anything less than a colossal pain in the arse. I've gone from a battery that can be removed and replaced in less than ten seconds, to a power bank, and I hate it. A clip to remove a battery is an acceptable alternative.

        Powerbanks weigh more than batteries, they tend to fail faster than batteries, and they're unwieldy. I don't want to carry a rucksack all the time. Replacement batteries, and an external charger, are extremely convenient. A standard pair of trousers or a small coat pocket can hold enough batteries for several days charge.

        1. handle

          "a battery that can be removed and replaced in less than ten seconds"

          Except that's not the whole story, is it? To change the battery requires the phone to be rebooted; to connect it to an external battery, assuming it wasn't completely flat, results in no loss of service.

          1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

            Re: "a battery that can be removed and replaced in less than ten seconds"

            Yes - you're looking at downtime of a minute or so, in addition to ten seconds to swap the battery. Once done it's fine for several hours.

            The alternative is connecting a power bank (roughly the same amount of time as changing a battery), no loss of service, but having to hang the powerbank off the phone for a number of hours whilst the damn thing recharges.

            To me, having a small amount of downtime is a trade off worth making.

            1. tkoreaper

              Re: "a battery that can be removed and replaced in less than ten seconds"

              Oh boo hoo! Battery packs can be no bigger than the replaceable battery that you're crying for! Just look at those Mophie juice packs for the iphone. And recharge times are short thanks to those packs utilizing quick charge. Stop beating a dead horse.

    2. Phil Kingston

      Re: Little to dislike.. except for the non removable battery

      I've still yet (in 15 years of smartphone ownership) to feel the need for a removable battery. Nor have i ever seen anyone make use of the feature.

      I'm sure there are niche users who do use that feature though. But I can see why manufacturers prefer a smaller, easier to manufacture, better-looking device over a seldom-used feature.

      1. handle

        "Most batteries wear out because of overcharging."

        Can you point me to convincing evidence for this please? The phone contains circuitry that will prevent overcharging, so leaving the charger connected overnight does not mean you are a "dimwit".

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "Most batteries wear out because of overcharging."

          I've known cheap chargers and bad cables tobruin batteries.

    3. Ordinary Geek

      Re: Little to dislike.. except for the non removable battery

      What phone DOES have a removable battery anymore? Seriously, the only CURRENT one I can even think of is the LG G5. And if you don't like that device, then you're pretty stuck. Unless you restrict yourself to buying older phones (which would pretty much ALSO have to be from LG. I'm thinking the G4 & V10). Are you content with limiting yourself to one manufacturer like that? I agree that a removable battery would be ideal, but barely anyone is making phones with these anymore. Sooner or later, you're going to have to accept the current trend in manufacturing.

  2. Gomez Adams

    Why do smartphone reviewers spend so much time on the camera and so little on all the other features?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      because there's little to review overall, other than "better camera", "better fingerprint scanner", "better screen", "better battery performance", never mind, scrap that.

      There's nothing to inspire in the phones any more. They're just a f... phone, constantly in need of charging socket, with a tonne of useless features on top. And a price to match. Yawn.

      1. Triggerfish

        Agreed there's nothing much new in phpne, just about every review now seems to be how it looks like a slightly different design from someone elses, and whether it takes photos.

        I bought a model from last year, from what I can see I haven't missed out on much between last years top range model and this years apart from about £300 saving, (oh and my model is slightly thicker meaning more battery power), which went towards a decent camera.

      2. annodomini2

        It's all waiting for the folding screens, until then nothing much will change.

    2. Lamont Cranston

      Probably because the camera is a big deal for many buyers.

      You can take it as given that any modern smartphone will make calls and browse the web adequately, and whether or not it can eliminate the need to carry a camera is next on the list for a lot of buyers.

  3. simmondp

    Please review the things that differenciate....

    Does it;

    * Have NFC?

    * Have wireless charging?

    * Support all the UK 4G Bands?

    * Is is 4G or 4G+ (LTE-A or 4.5G)?

    * Does is have a full range of sensors?

    * Can it take Photosphere pictures?

    * Removable media (plus max ROM & RAM) [yes, this was covered]

    * Dual-SIM [yes, this was covered]

    Because I agree with the above comments; Camera/Screen etc. Yawn.... Battery maybe, but lets review "flagship" phones against the flagship features.

    1. Blackbird74


      GSMArena spec says it has some:

      1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Optional

        Handy link, thanks

  4. Len Goddard

    Back to basics

    I'd like to know what the quality of the phone calls is like.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'd like to know

    If it can run Crysis. For real.

  6. Kubla Cant

    A question of balance

    it's tall but well balanced

    What does this mean? Do you make a habit of standing your phone on end?

    To judge from what I've seen inside most smartphones, I'd be surprised if they don't all have a similar centre of gravity.

    1. handle

      Re: A question of balance

      Depends whether their hard disks contain helium or not.

  7. frank ly

    "... which I'll expect they'll get in an update."

    The only mention of 'update'. Will they be updated by ZTE or by anyone?

    1. entropyk48

      Re: "... which I'll expect they'll get in an update."

      I forget where, but a rollout function with ZTE and various reviewers or writers said comes with M only lightly skinned, with N in the works already. At least that was what was said by ZTE side of the table. I already registered an account with ZTE, plan to grab one when US version comes out. Same story said sometime in July, after UK and EU roll-out.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What happens in a year?

    How do these china-phones perform after a year or two?

    Even a brand new OnePlus 3 with a massive 6GB RAM seems to perform on par but not really better than a flagship S7.

    As long as they are specced-to-jupiter and cheap at the moment, are these considered disposable now?

  9. Ubermik

    The reason for a removeable battery isnt so much for the ability to carry an extra one around already charged, but is because they can ONLY be a charged a certain amount of times before they fail, have a much lower capacity or the controller chip thinks its been charged a set amount and refuses to charge any more even though the batteries themselves might still be fine.

    With other phones you just buy a new one, change it, throw the old one away and carry on using your phone for a few more years. With a built in battery you end up throwing away a perfectly useable phone and buying a new one for hundreds of pounds rather than the 10 pounds or less for a new battery.

    As for the stereo seperation issue on small phones surely the answer would be obvious? Have the speakers firing out of each end of the phone (top and bottom technically). This instantly gives a wider soundstage but with the added advantage of not taking up any front real estate,

    So somebody could make a phone with a screen totally covering the front but that still has bigger areas inside the phone to develop a richer base by having the sound chambers behind the screen

    This could mean an almost borderless front, larger sound chambers for better base response and better stereo seperation, maybe even kicking the ends at a slight angle to give a forwards preference with viewed in landscape mode.

    it would admittedly make the phone slighly chunkier but if done with a curved rather than a flat back you wouldnt really notice the extra space that much plus it would make the phone more natural to hold

    So a phone could be made effectively thin and flat but with a sound chamber clipping over rear facing speakers which then directs the sound left and right (landscape mode) without adding any extra space on the front or any extra weight.The main body of the phone could still be made watertight too as it wouldnt matter if liquid got into the sound stage area. The phone could even have the option of being used without the sound enhancer if necessary with the addition of normal grilles over the two rear facing speakers for people who dont need the stereo seperation for films and TV or music but whom just want "sound"

    This design has always seemed so obvious that I am amazed nobody has tried it yet

    Heck the extra rear cover (sound expansion shield) would even act as extra protection for the phone as it would be easily removeable and replaceable and could even give the option of other rear shields too like larger batteries or other add ons, This could be accomplished with point contact pads rather than a plug socket arrangement to make it easier to avoid moisture ingress.

    It would certainly improve the stereo seperation, should give better base response and could potentially be a flexible way to add various functions to the phone like POE ethernet port and charging, extended WIFI, high capacity battery maybe even a slightly reduced sound port but with an added mini subwoofer to accentuate the sound even more into a minimalist 2.1 output and other things I wouldnt even think of. Perhaps even the ability to purchase hobby skins for electronics enthusiasts to build their own projects into them like a hand held mobile phone arduino type option for bespoke applications such as researchers or field engineers.Heck it could go full techie with giving companies the ability to create CCTV monitor shields so you can plug in CCTV cameras up a ladder to set them up, multimeter clip on and even an oscilloscope add on shield,

    Or more mainstream add ons like an SSD shield and for DIY laser measurement or plum line laser attachments and pipe, wire and power sub surface scanners, ethernet diagnostic scanners and a variety of other things for various trades like thermal camera shields or 3d filming shields etc etc. The list is only as short as a persons imagination and market demand

    A phone like that could be the BBC micro of the 21st century with very little change from the normal format and a bit of imagination

    This was an idea I had after seeing my first touch screen almost a decade ago and assuming this type of product would appear "soon", but I am STILL waiting lol DOH

    Its also about time someone made a bluetooth to landline plug in dongle so a mobile phone can work as your house phone when in vicinity giving you all of your contact details available regardless of whether youre using the house phone or your mobile line to make or recieve a call, I have been waiting for THAT product since bluetooth headsets first appeared as it seemed like the obvious next step.......also still waiting for THAT product too lol


    1. handle

      Controller chip refuses to charge it any more?

      What? Never heard that one before. Battery charge controllers are not like printer toner cartridge chips you know.

    2. tkoreaper

      What a bunch of nonsense... Batteries have made HUGE headway in lifetime and technology over the past decade. I haven't heard of batteries going bad in a long time... Come to think of it, the only batteries I've experienced go bad are the removable ones to begin with.

      Also, the cost to replace a battery in something like the S6 is only $45... and that's for an official battery. Batteries from 3rd party manufacturers would be even cheaper.

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