ZTE announced earlier today that it will launch its brand new Falcon 4G Mobile Hotspot on T-Mobile starting Friday, February 12. While the market for dedicated Mobile Hotspot’s is declining as a result of every Android smartphone having the feature on board, there are some people who need to connect multiple devices when they’re on the road — so they plumb for a standalone LTE tethering unit.
The Falcon’s optimal attraction is by far its ability to pair with up to ten devices simultaneously, whilst providing equal Internet speeds to each of them. Its 2,000mAh rechargeable non-removable battery will also see you through a good 4-to-5 hours worth of constant use, while a standard mid-range smartphone would only provide around 3-hours worth of LTE tethering before dropping down to the 25% battery mark.
“We understand consumers are always on the go. From the comfort of their own home to the office to activities outside, the need for reliable, secure WiFi access never changes,” writes Lixin Cheng, chairman and CEO of ZTE USA.
As previously mentioned, the Falcon will be up for grabs on February 12th exclusively from T-Mobile. It will be listed on the carrier’s online portal, in addition to being stocked in a variety of its nationwide bricks-and-mortar stores. The little square box carries a price tag of $79.99 and requires a T-Mobile hotspot plan to function. 2GB of super-fast 4G data will set you back $20/mo, while 18GB will cost you $80/mo.
To see the device in all of its glory, be sure to take a look through the gallery below. If you’d like to find out a little more about the Falcon and all of its technical specifications, you can sift through the press release at the bottom of this page.
ZTE Falcon 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot Lands at T-Mobile at a Hot Price Beginning February 12
The new ZTE Falcon hotspot delivers worry free Wi-Fi at 4G LTE speeds while on-the-go
Richardson, Texas – February 3, 2016 — ZTE USA, the fourth largest smartphone supplier in the U.S. and second largest in the no-contract market*, today announced the availability of the ZTE Falcon 4G LTE mobile hotspot at T-Mobile. The compact and lightweight mobile hotspot provides fast, secure internet access for up to 10 WiFi devices wherever T-Mobile’s network can take you. The ZTE Falcon is available online at http://www.t-mobile.com and at select T-Mobile retail locations for just $79.99 MSRP beginning February 12.
“We understand consumers are always on the go. From the comfort of their own home to the office to activities outside, the need for reliable, secure WiFi access never changes,” said Lixin Cheng, chairman and CEO of ZTE USA. “Users can depend on the ZTE Falcon’s solid performance and long-lasting battery to connect them to people, information, or services online easily, whenever they want.”
Worry-free, secure, and portable nationwide WiFi access
- When you don’t want to rely on your smartphone or drain its battery, the ZTE Falcon can connect you to WiFi for hours thanks to its long-lasting 2000mAh battery
- Optimized for T-Mobile’s network, the ZTE Falcon delivers expanded WiFi range and better signal quality for up to 10 devices
- You won’t have to rely on slow or unsecure public WiFi thanks to T-Mobile’s fast 4G LTE nationwide network and WiFi Calling capabilities can now be taken almost anywhere you may go**
- Measuring in at 105x60x16 millimeters in size and 110 grams in weight, the ZTE Falcon is ultra-portable for those on the go
The ZTE Falcon is durable and affordable. Matched with T-Mobile’s affordable data plans the hotspot offers flexible and budget-friendly pricing options.
*Strategy Analytics, Q3 2015
**Capable device required; coverage not available in some areas
Come comment on this article: ZTE will launch its new Falcon 4G Mobile Hotspot through T-Mobile on Friday, February 12
Apple fans will soon have a new “innovation” to crow about according to new reports coming out of China. Sources are reporting that Apple has requested their largest camera supplier, Largan Technology, to provide dual-lens camera samples. Reportedly Apple is asking other camera manufacturers in Japan and China to also provide dual-lens camera samples. The dual-lens setup is believed to be targeted at a version of the next-generation iPhone Plus. Android fans will quickly recognize that use of dual-lens cameras was pushed heavily by HTC in the past and more recently companies like Lenovo, ZTE and Huawei are adopting the technology.
The report from DigiTimes is not the first hint that Apple is looking at dual-lens technology. The news coming from upstream component manufacturers comes on the heels of a report from investment analyst Ming-Chi Kuo with KGI Securities outlining potential plans by Apple to include a dual-lens camera in the iPhone 7 Plus. Kuo suggested Apple may produce two variants of the iPhone 7 Plus, one with a dual-lens camera and one that uses their traditional iSight camera.
Although dual-lens cameras have their fans, many Android manufacturers have found consumers were not enamored with the technology and it tends to fall flat as a unique selling point. That may not be as big a problem for Apple which has a very effective marketing regime regardless of how innovative a particular feature may be.
Come comment on this article: Apple focusing on yet another Android “innovation”
Starting today, Cricket Wireless now has the full featured ZTE Grand X 3 available for just $129.99. The Grand X 3 was just announced at CES 2016 and it comes loaded with features for customers who demand more for their dollar. Budget phones used to mean serious trade-offs in performance and features, but no longer with devices like the Grand X 3.
The ZTE Grand X 3 prepaid smartphone offers:
- 5.5″ HD display with Corning Gorilla Glass for added protection
- Quad-core processing power and fast 4G LTE speed
- 8 MP rear camera with flash and HD video recording, 2 MP front camera for selfies
- Dolby Audio provides high-quality surround sound for music, movies and games
- Long lasting 3,080 mAh battery
- Type-C connector for easy charging
- Android 5.1 (Lollipop)
The ZTE Grand X 3 comes with USB Type-C which is the fully reversible plug found on the latest Nexus devices. Battery life should also be something this phone is good at with a large 3080mAh battery.
Cricket Wireless offers full prepaid cellular plans and it owned by AT&T. That means Cricket Wireless uses the same network as AT&T and offers more coverage than T-Mobile and Sprint. Plans start at just $35 per month with all taxes and fees built into the cost – there are no hidden fees. The advertised price is exactly what you pay.
Cricket Wireless – press release
|Form Factor||Candy Bar|
|OS||Android 5.1.1 (Lollipop)|
|Features||4x zoom and LED flash|
|CPU||1.3 GHz quad-core Qualcomm MSM8909|
|Talk Time*||Up to 13.5 hours|
|Standby Time*||Up to 343 hours|
|Internal||2 GB RAM + 16 GB ROM|
|Expandable||microSDHC support up to 64 GB|
|Frequencies||LTE 2, 4, 5, 12 – GSM/GPRS/EDGE 850/900/1800/1900 – UMTS/HSPA/HSPA+ 850/1900/2100|
|USB||Type-C with Texas Instruments™ Rapid Solution|
|Sound Technology||Dolby Audio™|
|Hearing Aid Compliance||M4/T3|
|Text Telephone (TTY) Compatibility||Yes|
The post The new ZTE Grand X 3 is now available through Cricket Wireless for $129.99 appeared first on AndroidGuys.
The ZTE Grand X3 was first announced earlier this month at CES 2016, where we had the opportunity to go hands-on with the device. At the time we knew it was destined for Cricket, and now it has arrived both in-store and online for $129.99.
As the low price tag would suggest, this is very much an entry level handset, as further evidenced by the Snapdragon 210 processor that powers the Grand X3. While the processor is less impressive than we’d like to see, the phone does have some positives including 2GB RAM and a sizable 3080mAh battery that should provide pretty solid battery life.
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Other specs include a 5.5-inch 720p display, 16GB storage with microSD, and Android 5.1 Lollipop. The Grand X3 also stands out as being one of the few Android devices with a Type-C USB port, and about the only one at this price range as far as we are aware.
The Grand X3 certainly won’t impress anyone, but it’s really not too bad for the price. Even better, if you’re a new Cricket customer that is porting a line from a competitor you can get your hands on the phone for just $79.99.
What do you think of the phone? Worth the money, or is the weak processor too much of a deal breaker?
Next – best cheap phones
ZTE may have only announced the Grand X 3 earlier this month at CES 2016, but the smartphone is now available at Cricket Wireless.
Those that already have an account with Cricket Wireless will have to pay the full retail price of $130, while new customers will be able to get the smartphone for just $80.
The Grand X 3 has a 5.5-inch 720p display, a Snapdragon 210 processor, 2GB of RAM, and 16GB of internal storage. It also has a microSD slot, an 8-megapixel rear camera, a 2-megapixel front camera and a removable 3080mAh battery.
The smartphone will be exclusive to Cricket Wireless.
For those not interested in the Grand X 3, ZTE brought a slightly more impressive smartphone to Cricket Wireless earlier this month. Dubbed the Grand X Max+, it’s sports a 6-inch display, a powerful Snapdragon 400 processor, a 13-megapixel rear camera, and a larger 3,200mAh battery. You can pick it up for $200 off-contract.
Anyone plan on picking up either of these smartphones from Cricket?
Come comment on this article: ZTE’s Grand X 3 makes its way to Cricket Wireless
From all of us here at Android Authority, we hope you’re having a wonderful time with your friends and family this holiday season. We can’t wait to show you what’s coming down the pipeline, as we gear up for CES 2016! Yes, that’s right, CES is just around the corner, and of course, the Android Authority team will be on the show floor, bringing you the best Android-related content around.
Before we head to CES, though, we thought we’d bring you a quick roundup of the best videos we released this week. We’ve published our full reviews of the Google Pixel C, ZTE Axon Mini Premium Edition and OPPO R7s, rounded up some of the best Android apps and games of 2015, and even had time to help figure out who actually makes the best SoC. It’s been a busy week and we have a lot to cover here, so let’s jump right in – here are the Android-related videos you don’t want to miss this week.
Google Pixel C review
Google’s Pixel C tablet is a beautiful, powerful, confusing machine. Can it really be used to do more than a “normal” Android tablet? Is it worth the high price point? Lanh walks us through everything you need to know about the Google Pixel C.
ZTE Axon Mini Premium Edition review
The ZTE Axon Mini was already a great phone, and now the company has put out another iteration with a pressure-sensitive display. Despite some processor and fingerprint sensor woes, how does this device fare against the competition? Gary finds out in our full review of the ZTE Axon Mini Premium Edition.
OPPO R7s review
OPPO’s new R7s is a great mid-range offering with a larger display, larger battery, and even looks a little better than past devices from the company. Is there anything you should know before buying one for yourself, though? Don’t miss Krystal’s full review of the OPPO R7s.
The best apps and games you should definitely check out
10 best Android apps released in 2015
As we near the end of 2015, it’s time to take a long, hard look at the Android apps that made the biggest impact this year. Joe has done a great job at rounding up the 10 best Android applications released in 2015. Don’t miss the full post linked below, and be sure to check out the video overview above.
10 best Android games released in 2015
There have been tons of great games released on Android this year, so we thought it was important to round up some of the best ones. Which games make the top of the list? Find out more in Joe’s full overview of the 10 best Android games released in 2015.
Android Apps Weekly
Star Wars: The Force Awakens pre-orders, huge Google Play Store sale – you don’t want to miss the latest episode of Joe’s Android Apps Weekly show!
Who makes the best SoC?
We recently published an in-depth comparison of the leading SoCs from Qualcomm, Samsung, MediaTek and Huawei, but we didn’t include Intel. Since there seems to be a good amount of interest to see how Intel compares to these SoCs, we thought it would be a good idea to add the latest from Intel into our comparison. If you’re interested, you don’t want to miss Gary’s full comparison of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810, the Samsung Exynos 7420 and the Intel Atom Z3580.
Happy holidays to you!
Last but not least, we wanted to wish you all happy holidays! We really appreciate every one of our readers and watchers, and we can’t wait to start the new year off with a bang as we head to CES!
As the year draws to a close, ZTE is launching its latest Axon flagship device – the Axon Max – in China. ZTE is also launching its Global VIP passport service, which will provide after sales assistance to Chinese globe-trotting Axon users.
The ZTE Axon Max features a 6-inch full-HD AMOLED display, an octa-core Snapdragon 617 SoC with Adreno 405 GPU, 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of internal storage. On the imaging front, the handset is equipped with a 16-megapixel primary camera with phase detection autofocus and an f/1.9 aperture. It also sports a 13-megapixel selfie camera with f/2.2 aperture.
The post ZTE launches Axon Max with 6-inch FHD display and USB Type C in China appeared first on AndroidGuys.
The ZTE Axon Max is a new 6-inch phone that’s headed to China. The device was unveiled this past week and will make its way to China Telecom sooner rather than later.
The ZTE Axon Max features a 6-inch display with a full-HD resolution of 1080 x 1920 pixels. Powering the device is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 processor backed with 3GB of RAM. As for the device’s cameras, this one includes a 16MP snapper on the rear side and a 13MP shooter on the front for taking selfies and video chats. 32GB of internal storage is onboard as well as a beefy 4,140mAh battery sealed at the back. Other key specs include LTE connectivity, a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner, Quick Charge 2.0, and dual SIM support. The device’s design is another standout feature which looks to be all metal.
The ZTE Axon Max will run Android 5.1 Lollipop straight out of the box, with Marshmallow possible for the future via a software update. However, ZTE has made no promises. The device will be available to purchase in China for 2,999 CNY or approximately $460 USD off contract. For all the remaining details and specifics, check out the official press release included down below.
ZTE Launches 6-Inch AXON MAX and Global VIP Passport Service for Chinese Users
BEIJING–(BUSINESS WIRE)–ZTE Mobile Devices today announced the launch of the newest and final model of its high-powered AXON flagship series, the AXON MAX. At the same time, the company has announced its special “Global VIP Passport” service catering to owners of its AXON phones. ZTE is now offering this high-end after-sales service to pair with its high-end phone series based on the continued focus on user insight that has driven the AXON line since inception.
The AXON MAX is designed for those who not only work hard, but play hard too. Its 6-inch, 2.5D Super AMOLED FHD screen and ultra-slim bezels deliver maximum value for visual entertainment. Users can also enjoy a top-of-the-line Hi-Fi audio playback and recording experience pumped out by an independent flagship audio chipset. Equipped with astoundingly powerful cameras—16 megapixels on the rear and 13 megapixels on the front—the AXON MAX is ready to capture any moment. The ultra large 4140mAh battery should power an entire day’s worth of business, fun, and more. For the cautious, the phone has five energy-saving modes, extending battery life up to 50%. It also supports Quick Charge 2.0, allowing rapid replenish from 0 to 60% in 30 minutes of charge time. For a mix of work or pleasure, the AXON MAX is a premium phablet for seizing the most of what the day has to offer. It is competitively priced at 2,799RMB.
ZTE’s new “Global VIP Passport” service includes a number of high-powered service items aimed at high-powered, globe-trotting AXON users embarking from China. Emergency assistance enjoyed by Global VIP Passport members include:
1. 24-hour online Chinese-language emergency consultation for 8 popular travel destinations initially
2. A secure repair service guaranteeing secure back-up and restoration of files, even if the phone cannot turn on
3. A business travel service offering customers preferential ZTE rates on flights worldwide
4. A subsidy on the purchase of a new ZTE phone should there be a problem with the original while traveling to any country
- For customers whose phones experience problems while traveling to the U.S., they are also provided a temporary back-up service
5. 1 RMB insurance covering damaged screens (50 days) and mobile bank accounts (3 months, insuring up to 50,000 RMB)
Adam Zeng, CEO of ZTE Mobile Devices, commented that “Our flagship series is the core of ZTE’s strategy. The AXON MAX may be the final building block of this bold line of devices, but it is really just the next step in what we believe will be a far-reaching dynasty of premium products with vision for what tomorrow’s users need.”
ZTE has put users at the heart of everything in order to develop the high-end and affordable premium products they truly need. The AXON flagship series is the direct result of this user-centric approach. Designed based on the expertise of partners and customer feedback, AXON leverages ZTE’s powerful technology to provide a more intuitive user experience. The high-end line of products represents the company’s vision of the future of mobile and its focus on core technologies aimed at more a more convenient user experience. The bodies of all of AXON models are made from Boeing 787 aircraft-grade aluminum-titanium alloy, and they feature Hi-Fi audio, stunning screens, powerful cameras with impressive focus time, and expandable memory. The devices can be unlocked with three different biometric authentication options – fingerprint, voice control, and eye-scan.
Come comment on this article: ZTE Axon Max goes official in China
ZTE launched its Axon flagship smartphone earlier this year. The device has a 5.5 inch display and a Snapdragon 810 processor. At the same time ZTE also mentioned that it had a “mini” version in the pipeline. Then back in October we got our first official details of the 5.2 inch Axon Mini. Now the phone is available to buy from AliExpress for $389.60. I got hold of one a few days ago and I have been testing it out, this is what I discovered.
The design of the ZTE Axon Mini Premium Edition is certainly striking. Not only do you get the Axon’s triangle moire design at the top and the bottom of the device, but the phone comes in gold or silver, quite different to the run-of-the-mill black or white. Like its bigger siblings, the Axon Mini was designed with help from Teague, the design house which worked on the design of the Xbox and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. There is also another connection to the 787 in that the chassis of the phone is made from Boeing 787 aviation standard aluminium titanium alloy.
The phone has the “Mini” moniker because it is a smaller version of the 5.5 inch Axon, however I am sure some people will comment on its size. On the front of the device is its 5.2 inch Full HD display, along with the front facing camera and the triangle moire design for the earpiece and the front facing speaker at the bottom.
On the back of the phone is the camera and flash (separated by more triangles), the fingerprint reader and the ZTE logo. The back cover is non-removable and seems to be made of plastic. However it is painted using a metallic paint to try and make it match the metal on the front. At the top and bottom of the back cover is some stitched faux-leather, also sprayed with the same metallic paint.
Going around the phone, on the left is the volume rocker, while the power button and SIM tray are on the right. The micro USB port is on the bottom and the headphone jack on the top.
Overall the phone is easy to hold and it feels like a 5 inch phone in the hand. In fact, it is only 3.5mm taller than a OnePlus X, and actually shorter than the 5 inch HTC One M9. However, the spray painted back cover is very smooth and it might be considered slippery if you don’t grab the sides of the phone.
The 5.2 inch AMOLED display on the Axon Mini is crisp and vibrant. It has a contrast ratio of 5000:1 and a resolution of 1920 x 1080, which gives a pixel density of 423 PPI. The glass is said to be “2.5D’, however it is hard to see any curvature at the edge of the screen.
The display is everything you would expect from an AMOLED screen, deep blacks and bright colors. It has good color reproduction, great viewing angles and high levels of contrast when needed. Overall it is a pleasure to use.
The bigger 5.5 inch Axon uses a 2.0 GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810. For this smaller version ZTE has stuck with Qualcomm but this time opted for the Snapdragon 616. The 616 is also an octa-core processor but this time using eight ARM Cortex-A53 cores, the four fastest of which are clocked at 1.5GHz. On board the chip is also the Qualcomm Adreno 405 GPU, which supports OpenGL ES 3.1, and support for LPDDR3 memory. Talking of memory, the Axon Mini Premium Edition comes with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage, with the option of adding another 128GB via microSD card.
With 8 cores and a reasonable GPU you aren’t going to be pulling out your hair waiting for the phone to react.
We can look at performance in two ways, first what do the benchmarks tell us, second what are the perceived levels of performance. The latter is subjective, while the former is objective. Starting with how does the device feels, well it feels good. With 8 cores and a reasonable GPU you aren’t going to be pulling out your hair waiting for the phone to react. The UI is fast and responsive as is the multitasking, mainly due to the 3GB of RAM. What this shows is that all modern day processors are more than capable of giving a smooth overall experience, including the Snapdragon 616.
When I put the phone side by side with the OnePlus X and the Sony Xperia Z5 Compact, to test web browsing, the Axon mini performs well. For loading and rendering web pages it is basically the same as the OnePlus X and was only ever a second or two behind, if at all. The Z5 always finished displaying the pages first, in every test, a testament to the speed of the Snapdragon 820.
ZTE has added quite a bit of extra value with the pressure-sensitive display, the fingerprint reader and the high-end audio.
This pattern is repeated for GeekBench and CPU Prime Benchmark. The single-core test result for Geekbench was 709 and the multi-core was 2989. To put that into context the single-core score for the Huawei Mate S (Kirin 935) is 954 and 3915 for the multi-core test. Likewise the OnePlus X scores 921 and 2409 respectively.
For CPU Prime Benchmark the Axon Mini scored 10,858 compared to 11,963 for the 32-bit Snapdragon 801 powered OnePlus X and 16,084 for the Redmi Note 2.
One area where the Axon Mini seems to do well is in 3D gaming. The phone manages a score of 58.9 frames per second on Epic Citadel in High Performance mode and 57.6 fps in High Quality mode. It only starts to falter when moving to Ultra High Quality mode where it only manages 31.8 fps.
Although the Axon Mini is slower than phones like the OnePlus X, the Redmi Note 2 or the Huawei Mate S, it isn’t the slowest phone around. If we go to the other end of the budget spectrum, to the Moto G, we can see that the performance of the Axon Mini is actually quite good. The Moto G (3rd gen) scores 524 on Geekbench’s single-core test and 1579 on the multi-core test. Likewise the Moto G scores just 3246 on CPU Prime Benchmark, one third of the Axon Mini’s score.
I guess I would put it like this, the performance of the Axon Mini is perfectly adequate for a mid range phone, however given the price and the “Premium Edition” label, I wonder if really this device deserves a better processor.
ZTE is keen to promote the audio qualities of the Axon Mini. The advertising bumpf boasts about the use of the Asahi Kasei Microdevices Corporation (AKM) AK4961, a high performance advanced audio CODEC for smartphones. It has a 32-bit 192kHz codec, for playing back your “studio quality” FLAC files, and promises low distortion and noise at -97dB THD+N and 127dB DNR.
But, here is the thing, it is generally accepted that anything over 20-bits, maximum 24-bits, is beyond what the human ear can distinguish. So while I salute ZTE’s efforts, you probably won’t hear the difference in the real world.
Having said that, I am not an audiophile. I tested out the Axon Mini using the supplied earbuds and listened to several bits of music that I know well, and honestly I couldn’t hear any difference between the ZTE device and other phones I had at hand (e.g. the OnePlus X and the Note 4). However, that could be because of the quality of the supplied earbuds.
The 2800 mAh battery provides a good battery life.
The phone comes with the normal suite of connectivity options including Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and GPS, however there is no support for NFC. In terms of cellular frequencies, the Axon Mini will work just about anywhere in the world on 2G GSM. For 3G the phone supports 850/900/1900/2100MHz, which means it should work in many places around the world including in the USA for AT&T and T-Mobile. However, if you need 4G LTE in the USA then this phone won’t support AT&T, Sprint or T-Mobile. For those in Europe and Asia you shouldn’t have any problems with 4G connectivity. As always, you should check with your carrier before buying.
The 2800 mAh battery provides a good battery life. It is good enough to provide a full day of use with around 4 hours of screen-on time, but that is the upper limit as far as screen-on time is concerned. Even on a day with heavy usage, that involved playing a lot of games and taking lots of pictures, the phone still managed 4 hours of screen-on time. With more casual usage, you will get about 30+ hours of standby, with the same 4 hour screen-on time.
There are two features that the Axon Mini sports that aren’t found on the regular Axon: a fingerprint reader and a pressure sensitive screen. The fingerprint reader is on the back of the phone just beneath the flash and can be used as a method for unlocking your phone. Overall the reader is good, but it can be prone to the occasional misread. Also it isn’t that fast, certainly not as fast as the Huawei Mate S or even the Galaxy Note 5. However, one nice feature is that you can wake the phone from sleep by just pressing your finger on the reader. That means you can pick up your phone and unlock it in one fell swoop without having to use your other hand.
Talking of unlocking your phone, because the Axon Mini Premium Edition has a pressure sensitive screen, ZTE have included the ability for your unlock PIN code to take into account not only which digits you tap in, but also if you use light or heavy pressure when you tap the digit. ZTE are calling it the 3D password. When you set the code you press either lightly or heavily on each of the four digits. To unlock the phone you need to tap the right digits and apply the right pressure. Thankfully there is only light or heavy press for this, otherwise I can imagine some very frustrated users trying to exactly duplicate the pressure used to enter the original PIN.
The pressure sensitive screen also has a few other uses like a hard press on an app icon will show shortcuts, or a hard press on the right/left in the gallery app moves to the next/previous image, and so on.
The Axon Mini comes with a 13MP rear-facing camera and a 8MP front-facing camera. I found the main camera to be surprisingly good. It is winter now where I am and we haven’t had a clear sky for several days, I kept waiting for the sun to come out so that I could shoot some photos in direct sunlight, but it never happened. So I took some pictures under a moody and cloudy sky and I was impressed with the results.
I also took some pictures in low-light and at night time. Although lots of noise does creep into the night time photos, I was pleased with how the photos came out. You need a steady hand for sure and like any camera, you can’t capture light that isn’t there. But with a bit of diligence the results are acceptable.
Having said all that, the camera isn’t world class. On the same night trip out, I also took photos with a Galaxy Note 4 and the Samsung device does much better in low-light.
The camera app is fairly comprehensive as it offers a manual mode as well as HDR, Panorama, and a Beauty mode. In manual mode you can set the exposure bracketing, the ISO level, the white balance, the shutter speed and also the focus. Overall the app is easy to use and doesn’t get in the way of your main objective, i.e. to take photos!
Here are some pictures so you can judge for yourself:
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The Axon Mini runs Android 5.1.1 Lollipop with MiFavor UI 3.2.0. The biggest difference between stock Android and MiFavor is that there is no apps draw. All installed apps appear on the home screen, like on the iPhone. The default UI skin for the Premium Edition is Axon Classic which provides the UI with a complimentary look and feel to phones physical design. The theme is dark and all the icons are made with silver and gold colorings.
Tapping the on screen menu button (the three vertical dots) brings up the launcher customization panel. As well as the ability to alter the icon set, you can choose from a series of solid colored or abstract wallpapers, or download one from ZTE’s online library. There is a built-in slider to give your wallpapers a blurred look, plus you can also alter the desktop transition effects.
The other thing that is quite different on the MiFavor is the Settings page. It is completely different from other Android handsets, however it is still very easy to use. There are additional sections under the settings for Force Touch (i.e. the pressure sensitive screen), Sky Eye (an eye recognition authentication system), and for the Fingerprint reader.
The Quick Settings toggles have also been slightly tweaked, allowing users to rearrange the shortcuts to any order they find useful, and there are a lot more toggle options available as well, beyond what you find with stock Lollipop. One particular enhancement that appeals to my inner geek is the ability to add the connection speed to the status bar, next to the battery percentage. This tells you how fast you are sending or receiving data on Wi-Fi and on 3G/4G.
Along with a range of gestures (like three finger pinch to take a screenshot) and 7 different motions (like shake for flashlight), there is also a voice recognition service called My Voice. Unfortunately, it isn’t an always-on service, so you need to activate it by pressing and holding the home button (or via a Bluetooth headset). With My Voice you can set up a sound unlock password (i.e. a phrase to say to unlock your phone), use your voice to control music playback, and speak to answer/decline incoming calls.
|Display||5.2 Inch AMOLED, FHD 1920×1080, pressure sensitive.|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 616, 1.5GHz, Octa-core 64-bit ARM Cortex A53 Octa-core|
|GPU||Qualcomm Adreno 405 @550MHz|
|Storage||32GB, expandable up to 128GB with Micro SD that uses one of the SIM card slots.|
|Camera||13MP rear-facing camera, 8MP front-facing camera|
|Connectivity||Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n/ac|
|SIM Card||Dual SIM card, dual standby (2 x Nano SIM). Second SIM card slot only supports GSM or can be used to add a Micro SD card.|
|Software||Android 5.1 Lollipop|
|Dimensions||143.5 x 70 x 7.9mm, 132g.|
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The ZTE Axon Mini Premium Edition is available for $389.60 from Aliexpress. The phone comes with a 5.2-inch AMOLED 1080p pressure-sensitive display, an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 616 processor, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of on-board storage and microSD expansion up to 128GB. It also has a 13 megapixel rear camera, and dual microphones that are supported by an AKM4961 Hi-Fi audio chipset.
Overall the Axon Mini is an interesting device, ZTE has added quite a bit of extra value with the pressure-sensitive display, the fingerprint reader and the high-end audio. The 3GB of RAM is also good to see, as is 32GB of storage. The main thing I feel that lets down the phone is the processor, it isn’t a deal breaker, but having a better processor would seem more appropriate alongside all those extra features.
If you’re the proud owner of an Axon or Axon Pro, ZTE’s pair of 2015 flagship smartphones, then you’re slated for a pretty nice update. Although the spotlight feature to this update is the camera improvements, you’ll also be getting security patches from Google and better wireless connectivity.
The ZTE Axon got a new camera quick launch button that allows you to jump right into photography so you never miss a moment. The camera’s zoom feature has been improved, allowing for less deterioration of resolution when digitally zooming. The Google security patches are always a plus, especially with recent fears surrounding Stagefright and malware, and ZTE also threw in some Qualcomm-issued modem patches to boot. As icing on the cake, you now have the capability of using MetroPCS as an APN.
That’s for the vanilla model of the smartphone. The Axon Pro (both the 32GB and 64GB versions) get everything the vanilla model gets with a few added extras. T-Mobile’s WiFi Calling 2.0 will now be at your fingertips, allowing you to save precious minutes on your cell phone bill by using WiFi connections instead of cellular service, but what’s even more interesting (at least to me) is that the camera has received some adjustments that let it focus faster in low light. There also have been some improvements to the camera’s white balance.
These alterations serve to boost the aspect of the device that we were most disappointed with in our review (namely camera quality) and might even make the Axon a more desirable smartphone option overall. Are you an Axon owner? What are your thoughts regarding this latest update? How have you enjoyed your device so far? Let us know in the comments!
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