ZTE Axon 7 Mini Review
Voice calls sound OK on the ZTE Axon 7 Mini, though we did find a bit of a persistent low-level digital noise signal in the background. It's nothing worse than plenty of other phones, but may prove to be an issue for users particularly concerned with call fidelity.
A recent update that arrived while we were testing the Axon 7 Mini added support for VoLTE calls, though we were unable to put this mode through a proper test – though the potential is there for improved call sound quality.
Even without lots of power-hungry hardware, battery life comes up on the short side
The Axon 7 Mini packs a 2,705mAh non-removable battery – that's about 17 percent smaller than the Axon 7's. In our tests, that afforded us just over six hours of screen-on time with the phone in regular use. That's not tragic, but it is solidly on the lower side of what we from modern handsets, and is especially disappointing in light of the presence of the relatively power-efficient Snapdragon 617 chip – though something like a 625 would likely have done even better.
While using the phone, we often found ourselves topping-off the charge mid-way through the day, lest we risk pushing too low as the evening stretched on.
Recharge times are nice and speedy, with Quick Charge 3.0 support, and the including charging cable is a neat little addition: its USB Type-C end is reversible, just like you'd expect, but so is the standard A end, thanks to a little flexible flap with the plug's contacts. Getting it plugged in can take a little wiggling, but it's a small touch that we appreciate, all the same.
The Axon 7 Mini falls short of being the platonic ideal of a “mini” phone, one that takes a flagship, features intact, and gives us a handset with a smaller screen. Instead, it practically turns that approach on its head, barely decreasing size at all, and instead bringing us a phone that might be better called the Axon 7 Lite, dialing back on processing power and bells and whistles.
But that doesn't make the Axon 7 Mini a bad phone by any stretch, either. The phone really shines when it comes to audio performance, and if you're watching a lot of video or listening to plenty of music, you're likely to have a great time with the Axon 7 Mini – so long as you don't plan on watching many of those videos outside on bright, sunny days.
Really, pricing is going to make or break the Axon 7 Mini – it's clearly a phone that makes a number of sacrifices, and we'd like to think that we're saving a nice chunk of change through those compromises.
The problem there is that the phone costs $300 to the Axon 7's $400. Maybe that $100 difference means the world to you, but we're awfully tempted to pay the extra cash for the faster phone with more storage, a bigger, higher-res screen, and fancier camera hardware.
But there's a twist, in that discounts are already arriving for the Axon 7 Mini – like how Best Buy just started selling the phone for $250. At that price, it's quite a bit more attractive, and it really does feel like a phone that should demand a higher price tag. Keep your expectations in check, and you could be pretty happy with the Axon 7 Mini.