Amazon Review by Dhornbeck
100 people found the following review helpful
Beautiful build, excellent speakers, but the performance is choppy and the battery isn't great.
Note: I purchased my ZTE Axon 7 Mini on Best Buy because they were the only place that you could buy the gold version.
As a YouTube reviewer, Ive had the opportunity to use and review many of the latest and greatest smartphones of 2016, as well as many budget and mid-tier phones (all of which I have bought and purchased at full price). I would put the ZTE Axon 7 somewhere between budget and mid-tier based on the price alone. In this review I want to answer the question, is the ZTE Axon 7 Mini the best phone you can buy for $300, or should you consider spending a little more or a little less and get nearly an equal or better experience. My short answer to this question is no, the Axon 7 Mini is not the best phone for the price, but it is still a phone very worthy of your purchase. Ive been using the phone for 10 days now (I got it on release day), and here are my thoughts so far:
Performance: 4/5 - This is the second phone Ive purchased this year with the Snapdragon 617 processor. The first one was the Moto G4 Plus. The Axon 7 Mini is a decent performer, but you will experience some minor lag from time to time, and if you are used to a high end phone, this may bug you. In comparison, I definitely felt that with the exact same processor the G4 Plus didnt have the same issue. Im pretty convinced that the MiFavor UI that ZTE uses on the Axon 7 Mini is to blame for the slowdown, but I have no empirical evidence. The occasional slowness is certainly not a deal breaker by any means, but just be aware that it will be there.
Battery Life: 3.5/5 - The Axon 7 Mini will struggle to get you through a day, and that is partially due to ZTE electing to put a smallish battery in the Axon 7 Mini (2705 mAh). Again, I think that the UI is partially to blame here, but the battery size is also a culprit. The good news is that the Axon 7 Mini is a Qualcomm 2.0 fast charging phone, so you can get a full charge in right around 90 minutes, and you can get to 50% in about 30 minutes. Personally I am a very heavy user of my phone, and I generally keep all of my antennas on and working non-stop, but I always had to give the phone a quick charge in the evening after work to get through a full day. In general I could get just over 3 hours of screen on time, which isnt great.
Camera: 4/5 - Once again, the Axon 7 Mini is decent here, but will not wow you in any way. The camera is good, but does not compete with the quality or quickness of cameras on the high end phones like the S7, LG V20, or the iPhone 7. In truth we shouldnt expect it to either. The 16mp camera on the Mini takes good pictures in good lighting, but the slowness will be evident here. In less than optimal lighting the picture quality will be grainy and lack detail. Like its big brother (the Axon 7), the Mini tends to favor night mode and HDR mode even when the picture you are taking isnt all that dark, which is partially to blame for the shutter delay on occasion. The front facing camera tends to overexpose and I definitely dont recommend the beauty mode. Neither camera is great, but again, they arent terrible either.
Software: 3.5/5 - The MiFavor UI doesnt add a ton of bloat to Android 6.0, which in my opinion is a good thing, but it does add some useful and other not so useful additions to Android Marshmallow. For a detailed look at the software please check out my video.
Hardware: 4.9/5 - The hardware is definitely a high point for the Axon 7 Mini, and is probably its biggest selling point outside of the price. The build quality is phenomenal, the fingerprint sensor works 95% of the time, and the speakers are just as good as the ones on the Axon 7, which is to say that they are the best speakers on a smartphone that I am aware of. In addition to these things, for me the size of the phone is a very comfortable size to hold in my hand and keep in my pocket. This has a 5.2 Full HD Amoled screen, and in my opinion this is a good sweet spot. For me the biggest selling point of this phone is easily the hardware!
Conclusion: Is this the best phone you can get at this price point, no, but it is still a good phone. For my money I would say go ahead and spend the extra $100 and get the Axon 7 or the OnePlus 3, and if you dont want to spend that much, then I would say get the Moto G4 Plus. I still think the G4 Plus is my favorite mid-tier phone for 2016. With that said, there is a lot going for the Axon 7 Mini, and if you want a smaller phone with good overall performance and a beautiful build, then I would say the Axon 7 Mini is a buy for you.
If you have any questions about this phone or any of the other phones mentioned in this review please dont hesitate to contact me through the email address in my reviewer profile.