A few weeks with the ZTE Axon 7 Mini

I’ve been using the latest handset from ZTE, the Axon 7 Mini for a few weeks now. It’s a mid-tier Android handset with a comfortable aluminum shell, a great 16 megapixel camera and true stereo surround sound from dual front facing speakers powered by Dolby Atmos.

This is the first handset from ZTE I’ve used, with only limited awareness of them through a few friends that have their devices. Apparently they are the #4 handset maker in North America that has been quietly making inroads in Canada.

The Axon 7 Mini is the little brother to their flagship Axon 7 device. The Mini sports a 5.2″ Super AMOLED screen with Gorilla Glass 4. The Mini has 3gb of RAM and a 32gb ROM and it’s sim card tray has a micro SD card slot for up to 128gb of additional memory.

The finish of the Axon 7 Mini is not unlike a MacBook – slightly grippy brushed aluminum that feels great in the hand with no sharp edges. Unlike many other Android handsets in this class, the Mini doesn’t feel cheap or plastic-y…it feels like a premium device from the other manufacturers. One nice thing that ZTE saw to include in the box is a clear protective TPU case…the thinking is that their device may not get the same level of case options in stores and this definitely is a welcome addition. It adds very little bulk to the handset and seems like it would help in case of a drop with a small lip around the front of the screen.

The mini has an 8MP front facing camera and a 16MP rear camera with a f1.9 aperture and dual LED flash. ZTE has their own camera app in place of the default Android app and it’s pretty decent with lots of manual options and auto modes. It adds some modes that you’d normally have to use a separate app for including a great time lapse mode, a super night mode for ultra low light images and a Magic Exposure mode that lets you capture long exposures like star trails, water flow and car trails.

The super night mode was particularly impressive but you’ll need a tripod or something to hold the device rock-steady.

Below the camera on the rear is a fingerprint scanner that works lightning fast to unlock the device.

The front facing camera has the ability to take selfies via the onscreen shutter button or by tapping the fingerprint scanner.

Here’s some images I took with the Axon Mini’s 16mp camera (click through for full sized):

The Mini has a USB-C charging port that can do a quick charge (2.0 version) to 50% in about 30 minutes and fully charged in 90. Included in the box is a USB-C to USB3 cable and a quick charge USB block.

Another thing that ZTE offers is the Axon Passport program. Owners get a 2 year warranty included with their phone that gives them free shipping both ways to deal with any issues and unlimited out of warranty repairs. I can’t think of any other company with that inclusive of a protection plan included with the handset, nor one that generous.

I’ve been very impressed with the Mini’s performance and especially it’s camera. A lot of great features in a clean Android (6.0) experience. I didn’t notice any lag while navigating around the Mini and all the apps I threw at it worked as expected. It’s always a nice surprise to see above average performance on a mid-range device.

The Axon 7 Mini is available now from Virgin Mobile in Canada for $0 on a 2 year term or $399 outright. Hopefully the Axon 7 Mini will become available from more carriers or available direct and unlocked to consumers like it’s bigger brother, the Axon 7.

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