ZTE Axon Max hands-on
The naming scheme of ZTE’s Axon Mini may have raised some eyebrows at the CES 2016, as it denoted a handset with a 5.2" display, but there is no doubt that the ZTE Axon Max that we are previewing here deserves its "max" moniker. For now, the 6" phablet is present at Chinese carriers, but given ZTE's push for a pronounced US presence with the Axon line, it might pop up on this side of the pond in some shape or form, too, so let's grab this biggie, and check it out.
Тhe ZTE Axon Max is trying a bit too hard to induce a premium feeling when you look at it, with a metal exterior and fake stitched leather bands at both ends. Leaving apart the dubious aesthetics of this chassis design choice, it doesn't really feel all that premium in the hand, thanks tot he rough finish and cold, slippery metal grasp. The metal body is relatively slim, but with a 6-inch panel, there is no way this phone can be called compact by any stretch of the imagination - it is a giant flat slab that is almost impossible to handle with one hand, or carry comfortably around in your pocket.
The 6-inch LCD display has a 1080p Full HD resolution, and does the job fine, with wide viewing angles and colors that don't see, to be out of whack. It's a bit reflective under the show floor lights though, so we hope that it can push the brightness high enough to be visible well outside under a bright sunlight.
Processor, memory, and interface
The octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 CPU that the smartphone is powered by won't leave you longing for much more speed at first read, and the Axon Max is well-equipped on the memory side, too, with 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of expandable storage, as well as a microSD card support. We were running around the interface with ease, encountering no animation stuttering or slowdowns. The Axon Max has the typical for Chinese phones homescreen-based interface without an app drawer, though if it lands in the US, that might change, like with other Axons before it.
ZTE didn't mince megapixels when it comes to the Axon Max's shooters. The front camera of the phone is a 13 MP one, while a 16 MP camera sits on the back alongside a fingerprint scanner. The standard feature set is on board, and the camera interface is pretty simplified and easy to change shooting modes or apply effects with.
If you are in the market for a big-screen phone that won't break the bank, the ZTE Axon Max delivers, as it offers all the features we mentioned above, as well as a dual SIM support and a generous 4150 mAh battery, for about $450. We still don't know if ZTE is planning to release it in other markets than China, though, but given its track record with the Axon line in the US, it just might.