Why it matters to you
There’s broad consensus that last year’s Axon 7 is a good, if not great, smartphone. ZTE’s “flagship killer” packs incredible speakers, a fantastic camera, and a long-lasting battery for about half the cost of an iPhone 7. Now, it seems that the sequel — the Axon 8 — might be just around the corner.
It’s early, but we’re beginning to hear rumblings about the ZTE Axon 8’s hardware — and how much it might cost. Here’s everything we know so far.
Much about ZTE’s upcoming Axon 8 remains shrouded in mystery, but we know a little about its specifications. That’s thanks to leaked documents from TENNA, China’s governing electronics agency.
The materials show an Axon 8 that looks quite a bit like the Axon 7 — and virtually unchanged from the front. The stereo speakers are present and accounted for, as are the three touch-sensitive navigation buttons beneath the screen.
Specs and screen
It’s the same story on the inside, if the leaked specifications are anything to go by. The Axon 8 purportedly has a 5.5-inch OLED screen with a WQHD (2,560 x 1,440 pixels) resolution and a 2.15 GHz Snapdragon 820 or 821 processor. Under the hood is 4GB of RAM and up to 256GB of storage (expandable via MicroSD slot), and a 3,230mAh battery.
That’s on par with the Axon 7, which sported a 5.5-inch AMOLED WQHD (2,560 x 1,440 pixels) screen, a quad-core Snapdragon 820 processor, 4GB of RAM, up to 128GB of internal storage (and a MicroSD slot), and a 3,250mAh battery. The Axon 8 appears to be slightly thinner (151.7 x 75 x 7.7mm) and lighter (170 grams) than its predecessor, but not by much — they’re almost identical.
Where the two models appear to diverge are the cameras. Unlike the Axon 7, which had a single 20-megapixel rear camera, the Axon 8 has dual 20-megapixel shooters.
That’s great news for image quality — especially if the Axon 8 adopts ZTE’s Blade V8 Pro’s camera tech. It lets you adjust the bokeh — or focus of foreground subjects — in post, and capture high-quality monochrome images.
If history is any guide, the Axon 8 will likely run ZTE’s MiFlavor software, a proprietary layer on top of Android. It packs features like My Voice, an app that ties custom voice commands to actions like unlocking the phone and adding contacts, and gesture controls that let you switch on the phone by flicking it twice, for example, and mute incoming calls by flipping it over.
Price and release date
It’s too early to tell where, when, and for how much the Axon 8 will eventually retail, but we can speculate.
In the U.S., the ZTE Axon 7 launched on July 27 for $400. Assuming the Axon 8 ships for about the same, it’ll come in hundreds of dollars less than the iPhone 7 and Samsung’s Galaxy S8.
The ZTE Axon 8’s TENNA certification suggests it might be sold in China, and that would be par for the course — the Axon 7 went on sale in China in October 2016.