Stock Android is better than skinned Android

ZTE Axon 7 Review

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While most high-end phones cost well over $ 600, the ZTE Axon 7 puts amazing specs into a $ 400 phone - and the results are impressive.

It's essentially a competitor to the OnePlus 3, OnePlus 3 Review, OnePlus 3 Review, OnePlus One and OnePlus 2 have been difficult to get hold of, despite attracting low-priced reviews. This time things are different. Read More If you want a premium device without the premium price tag, the Axon 7 could be the phone for you.

Specifications

  • Price: Over $ 400 on Amazon
  • Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 820
  • R.A.M: 4 GB
  • Storage: 64 GB
  • Cameras: 20 MP directed backwards, 8 MP directed forward
  • Size: 151.7 mm x 75 mm x 7.9 mm (5.97 x 2.95 x 0.31 inches)
  • Weight: 175g (6.17oz)
  • Screen: 5.5 "Quad HD AMOLED (2560 x 1440 px)
  • Extension: microSD card slot up to 256 GB
  • Battery: 3,250 mAh
  • Operating system: MiFavor UI 4.0, based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow
  • Additional functions: Dual SIM support, microSD card support, fingerprint scanner, LED notification light

hardware

The ZTE Axon 7 rocks a metal unibody design and isn't bad in the hardware department. It feels sturdy and well built, and the curves help it fit smoothly in your hand.

On the front is the 5.5 "Quad HD AMOLED display which is absolutely gorgeous. AMOLEDs typically produce the darkest blacks and the most saturated colors, and this screen is no exception.

Below the screen there are three capacitive buttons - Back, Home, and Recent - although you can change the order in the settings.

The headphone jack is on the top, the volume rocker and power switch are on the right, the microSD / SIM card slot is on the left and the USB Type-C port is on the bottom. The Axon 7 does support two SIM cards, but only if you are not using expandable memory, as the second slot can only accommodate either a SIM card or a microSD card.

On the back of the device is the fingerprint scanner, just like on the Google Pixel. Google Pixel XL Review and Giveaway Google's first branded product delivers one of the best devices in the Android ecosystem: the 770 Pixel XL. The XL started off with specs similar to the $ 500 Nexus 6P, but is it worth $ 770? Continue reading . Unfortunately, this fingerprint scanner is relatively limited in that it can only unlock the device, take a photo, or answer a call. On the Pixel, the notification shade can be pulled down using the scanner. on the Honor 8 Huawei Honor 8 Review Huawei Honor 8 Review Read More

Just above the fingerprint scanner is the 20 megapixel camera, which takes really fantastic photos. The camera app has a built-in manual mode, can add custom watermarks to all of your photos, and has the ability to record slow-motion videos and time-lapse videos.

It even has optical image stabilization and a fast aperture of 1: 1.8.

The front-facing 8 MP camera is equally impressive. In standard selfie mode, there is a smaller copy of the screen in the top left under the camera, so when you look at the screen instead of the center of the screen, it looks like you are actually looking at the camera. It also has a beauty mode and the ability to snap photos as soon as you smile, and it does surprisingly well in low light.

You will also find two speakers on the front. This is something that all phones should have, but almost no current flagships do. HTC, once the leader in front speakers, also left them behind in their latest HTC 10 HTC Review 10 HTC Review There's little to complain about with the HTC 10 other than mediocre battery life and quiet speakers. But there is nothing to be happy about either. Continue reading . But the Axon 7's front speakers are loud, clear, and of good quality.

All in all, the ZTE Axon 7 is almost the pinnacle of smartphone design in my opinion. I'm personally a fan of software navigation buttons instead of capacitive buttons, and I prefer a fingerprint scanner on the front rather than the back - but these are subjective complaints. For the average consumer, this is extremely solid hardware.

software

Android Device Manufacturers Often Create Their Own Custom Software Skins Android Skins Explained: How Hardware Makers Change Stock Android? Android Skins Explained: How Hardware Makers Change Stock Android? Hardware manufacturers love to take Android and turn it into something entirely theirs, but is that a good thing or a bad thing? Check out these different Android skins and compare them. Read More On the Axon 7, ZTE calls this MiFavor UI 4.0, and it's a modified version of Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

Software like this may not look like Android at times, or it can add a number of cool features to it. With MiFavor UI, the changes are minimal, but actually pretty nice.

The standard launcher has an app drawer at the bottom and a Google search bar at the top. It feels a lot like Android, but some of the icons have been changed and a few apps have been added. The browser, gallery, and email apps are all from ZTE as Android now only uses Chrome, Google Photos, and Gmail.

You can still use Google's options if you want, but ZTE's apps are there and cannot be uninstalled, only disabled.

The notification shade looks very clean and simple, with the top row of quick settings always on top. This style looks very similar to Android Nougat 7.0, even though it's only Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

It's easy to edit the Quick Settings options (which the only thing you can do by enabling System UI Tuner on Stock Android How to Access Android 6.0's Covert System UI Tuner to Access Android 6.0's Hidden UI Tuner Systems If you have Android Marshmallow, you have access to a secret menu that allows you to change some parts of your notification panel (here's how to get there. Read More), and you can tap the eye icon in the lower left corner to hide certain notifications.

The settings menu has a slightly different aesthetic than it does on the Android device, as you can see above. One of the main problems with the Axon 7, noted in previous reviews, was that notifications were never visible on the lockscreen. Fortunately, running the latest version of the operating system, the Axon 7 now has a switch for that.

There are a whole lot of other settings to tweak too. Mi-POP gives you a tiny onscreen button to activate certain controls, you can use your voice to unlock the phone, and there are a few gestures and motion controls like double-click to wake up and three-finger pinch to take a screenshot. The frequently used Tab is also a big design change, but if you don't like it you can always go over all settings wipe .

Most of the changes here seem to be either useful or ignorable, meaning you get what feels like a very lightly skinned version of Android in stock - resulting in a smooth user experience.

ZTE hasn't made an official statement as to when the Axon 7 will switch to Android 7.0 Nougat, but it should come soon as they have a beta version running for it as early as December.

Performance and battery life

The Snapdragon 820 in this phone is the current industry standard for a fast processor and it won't disappoint. Gaming is a breeze, multitasking is fast, and with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, this phone isn't going to struggle anytime soon.

The battery life was also above average in my tests. The 3,250mAh battery almost always lasted me a full day (some intense Pokemon GO sessions 10 Pokemon Go Tips Every Beginner Must Know 10 Pokemon Go Tips Every Beginner Must Know Pokemon Go can be a little daunting, if only you We made a list of 10 things you need to know to be the best! Read More

With the USB Type-C connector What is USB Type-C? What is USB Type-C? Ah, the USB plug. It's as ubiquitous now as it is notorious that it can never be plugged in the first time. Read More

Thankfully, all of the global bands are here too, so it should work on any GSM carrier (in the US that's AT&T and T-Mobile).

Should you buy it?

To be completely honest, this is an amazing phone. I tried to find something wrong. Everything about it is best in its class, and it's cheaper than most other phones. I kept looking for the catch, but there doesn't seem to be any.

The ZTE Axon 7 is just a really great phone at a really great price.

Our verdict of the ZTE Axon 7 :
If you want the best Android phone out there without spending more than $ 500, the ZTE Axon 7 is the device for you