ZTE's latest premier smartphone, the Axon 7, will be headed to the United States and other countries in the future after launching in China on May 26. The handset, which is built with an aluminum chassis and exterior, will be priced below $500 and will work on all major U.S. carriers, according to ZTE.
The Axon 7 handset features a 5.5-inch AMOLED Wide Quad HD (WQHD) touch-screen display with 2,560-by-1,440 resolution (538ppi), a Corning Gorilla Glass 4 display cover and a 2.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 MSM8996 processor with an integrated Qualcomm Adreno 530 GPU.
The smartphone comes with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of onboard storage or with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of onboard storage. Both models also include a microSD slot that holds memory cards up to 128GB for expanded storage.
The Axon 7 also includes a 20-megapixel rear-facing camera that uses a Samsung ISO-cell sensor, an F1.8 sapphire lens, Optical Image Stabilization, Electronic Image Stabilization, Phase Detection Auto Focus and dual LED flash. The camera features a Super Auto mode that includes Night Shot, Auto HDR and Automatic Scene Optimization capabilities, as well as additional manual, beauty selfie, refocus, slow motion, live photo, multi-exposure and long-exposure settings.
The main camera captures video as well in 4K Ultra HD at 30 frames per second (fps), full HD 1080p at 30 fps or at 720p HD at 30 fps. It also captures video in slow motion mode in 720p at 240 fps or in 480p at 300 fps. A front-facing 8-megapixel camera is featured for selfies.
The ZTE Axon 7 is a dual SIM phone that will operate on GSM, CDMA and UMTS networks, including the major mobile carriers in the U.S. The phone will be compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile in the U.S. to start, with Sprint and Verizon capabilities coming "possibly later in the year," according to ZTE.
Also featured in the phone is a rear-mounted fingerprint reader for user authentication and security, dual AKM HiFi audio chipsets, Dolby Atmos surround sound and dual front-facing speakers for excellent audio quality, and a 3,140mAh, nonremovable battery that promises up to 16 hours of talk time, about 360 of standby time and quick-charging capabilities.
In addition to LTE connectivity, the handset includes 802.11 b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.2, near-field communication (NFC) and mobile hotspot capabilities.
The phone runs on the Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow operating system and is 5.97 inches long, 2.95 inches wide and 0.34 inches thick, and it weighs 6.52 ounces. It will be available in Ion Gold and Quartz Gray colors.
Support for Google's Daydream mobile virtual reality platform is also included in the Axon 7, as well as overall exterior design input from a collaboration with BMW Group's Designworks design team.
No date has been announced for when the phone will be available in the U.S., nor has a firm price been unveiled. When it does go on sale in the U.S., it will be available through outlets including ZTEusa.com, Amazon, Best Buy, B&H, eBay and Newegg. Customer support will be provided to U.S. customers through a U.S.-based call center. The Axon 7 will come with a two-year Axon Passport 2.0 warranty and protection plan that also covers drops, dings and broken display screens.
Also launched in China with the debut of the Axon 7 is the ZTE VR headset, which allows a user to place his or her Axon 7 handset in the headset to turn it into a virtual reality viewer.
ZTE was the fourth-largest selling brand in the U.S. in the first quarter of 2016, according to Strategy Analytics, behind Apple, Samsung and LG.
In April, ZTE was forced to replace three senior executives in a move aimed at regaining the trust of U.S. government officials after ZTE allegedly shipped American technology goods to Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions against Iran, according to an earlier eWEEK story. The moves by the Chinese smartphone and networking equipment company came about a month after ZTE was hit by export restrictions by the U.S. government in March as punishment for allegedly making deals to ship needed parts from U.S. technology companies to Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions that bar such sales, according to an earlier eWEEK story.
ZTE has been shipping its smartphones and other products to the United States for years, including the ZTE ZMAX2 through AT&T in September 2015 and the ZTE Warp Elite in August 2015 through Boost Mobile.