No other brand has impressed me as much as ZTE. The sleek, sturdily built Axon series is known for quality and amazing sound, making it one of the top tier products on the market. It really is one of my favourite brands and I legitimately get excited when the newest versions of their smart devices come in, even if I don’t always get to review them. So, when I was offered the chance to review the ZTE Axon 7 Mini, I jumped at the opportunity. In terms of price, functionality and aesthetic, you will be hard pressed to find a better Android smart phone.

Right off the bat, it’s obvious to see the Axon 7 Mini is made from quality materials. Weighing in at 153 grams, this device feels sturdy and has a metallic backing.  Aesthetically, it looks pretty strong, and it comes in less eccentric colours like ion gold 9 (not yet available in Canada), and platinum grey to prove it isn’t here to mess around.  We got a grey unit to review, and it looks strong and professional. Along the back is a finger print reader right below the camera. Flipping over the Axon 7 Mini, you’ll see the two booming speakers (we will get to those) on top and below the 5.2” AMOLED capacitive touchscreen. The display is only capable of 1920x1080 resolution meaning it’s a little weaker than other models they’ve released that can run 4K, but with a screen size like that; it’s not really something anyone will notice.

ZTE Axeon Mini (Smartphone) Review

Running on Android OS, v6.0.1 (Marshmallow), with a Qualcomm MSM8952 Snapdragon 617 chipset, Octa-core (4x1.5 GHz Cortex-A53 & 4x1.2 GHz Cortex-A53) CPU, an Adreno 405 GPU, 3GB RAM plus 32GB ROM, the Axon 7 Mini runs pretty much any app with ease. It’s not a complete beast of a phone, but it will get the job done with little to no trouble. Adding to that, the Axon 7 Mini also allows for up to 128GB of external storage, which is always a nice feature. To ensure your apps can run as long as possible ZTE added a non-removable Li-Ion 2705 mAh battery to the Axon Mini 7. It actually lasts surprisingly long. It won’t take you through a whole day on a single charge, especially if you’re like me and both your work and social life revolve around a device, but it can recharge in no time, making it pretty convenient.

The camera isn’t bad either.  The 16 MP camera allows for 16 MP, f/1.9, and phase detection autofocus, dual-LED flash. It features Geo-tagging, touch focus, face detection, panorama, HDR and also allows for 1080p at 30fps, or 720p at 120fps video. In lowlight situations, the camera struggles, but pretty much every picture you take will be pretty good or on par with other devices in its price range.

While that’s impressive, everyone knows that ZTE has one thing over its competition with its sound output capabilities, and the Axon 7 Mini has the best in the industry at the moment. Featuring Dolby Atmos, the dual speakers provide booming, immersive sound that I did not expect from a device of that size. Seriously, it can get loud, and the use of dual speakers does give a pseudo surround sound feeling when you watch videos or play games. Users are even able to adjust the sound settings for the task they’re using. The three settings are for video, gaming and music, each of which highlights different attributes of the sound system to best compliment the device’s use.  If there was one issue I found, it was that the bass wasn’t as present as I’d like considering how crisp everything else sounds, but that’s a minor gripe considering this is still a smartphone.

Sound recording is rather impressive as well. The AKM 4962 Hi Fi Recording Processor and suppression mic ensures that in any given circumstance users can record audio. In my profession where on the spot interviews are common, it’s nice to know that I can pull out my phone and get pretty high end audio recordings right from my device. It can take into account the distance of the users as they move around or even walk away.

I honestly haven’t been this impressed with a smart device since the Samsung Note 7—until they started catching on fire. The ZTE Axon 7 Mini is the real deal, balancing price point, functionality and design for one of the best options on the market. I could gush about this device forever, but at the end of the day, if you’re looking for a new smart phone, the ZTE Axon 7 Mini should be on your radar.