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ZTE Axon Mini review

ZTE Axon Mini

Posted: , by Paul K.



ZTE Axon Mini review


Last year’s ZTE Axon and Axon Pro were a delightful surprise – nicely spec’d out smartphones with vanilla Android on board all at very competitive price points. A couple of months ago, the company launched the Axon Mini. Not to be mistaken with a miniature version of the Axon Pro, this handset sits somewhere in the upper-midrange smartphone sector, with a middle-of-the-road processor and exotic features such as a fingerprint scanner and Force Touch screen. Last, but most certainly not least, the stock Android experience has been replaced by a complete re-skin with lots of new features, named MiFavor UI.

ZTE Axon Mini review
ZTE Axon Mini review
ZTE Axon Mini review
ZTE Axon Mini review
The Axon Mini isn't sold in the US, and most probably won't be. It's meant for the Asian markets, but daring tech lovers can still buy and import it from 3rd party websites. Prices vary, generally hovering around the $400 mark, but mind you, that's before shipping and tax. So, let’s see if what this smartphone has in stock is worth the trouble!

In the box:
  • ZTE Axon Mini
  • microUSB data cable
  • Wall charger
  • In-ear headphones
  • Plastic back cover
  • Quick start guide
  • SIM ejector tool


Smaller, but still shiny

The ZTE Axon Mini certainly doesn’t look or feel like anything short of a well-made smartphone. Its back is covered in metal, save for a couple of faux leather strips nested at the top and bottom the panel, giving it a distinct touch. On the front, the display’s glass has more of an “island” look to it, as it doesn’t stretch to the very ends of the phone, but rounds off and stops just before the top and bottom bezels. In these spots, the uncovered metal body is engraved with symmetrical speaker grilles, bearing the Axon signature triangular patterns. These are not front-firing stereo speakers — the bottom grille holds a single driver, while the top one is reserved for the earpiece.

In terms of weight and ergonomics, we certainly like how the Axon Mini handles. Its power button is nested on the right, above the phone’s center and our fingers had no trouble finding it in any situation. The volume rocker is not hard to reach and operate, thanks to the handset’s rather compact size, but we found it to be a bit too high for our liking. The power and volume buttons all have a reassuring click to them, but an annoying wobble, too.

ZTE Axon Mini
5.65 x 2.76 x 0.31 inches
143.5 x 70 x 7.9 mm
4.94 oz (140 g)

ZTE Axon Mini

ZTE Axon Pro
6.06 x 2.95 x 0.37 inches
154 x 75 x 9.3 mm
6.10 oz (173 g)

ZTE Axon Pro

OnePlus X
5.51 x 2.72 x 0.27 inches
140 x 69 x 6.9 mm
4.87 oz (138 g)

OnePlus X

HTC One A9
5.74 x 2.79 x 0.29 inches
145.75 x 70.8 x 7.26 mm
5.04 oz (143 g)

HTC One A9

To see the phones in real size or compare them with other models, visit our Visual Phone Size Comparison page.


A subdued AMOLED panel

The Axon Mini sports a 5.2-inch AMOLED display with a 1080 x 1920 pixel resolution. This gives it a pretty sharp picture with a pixel density of 424 PPI. ZTE did a great job at subduing the oversaturation and punchiness that the AMOLED panels are known for. The display’s settings hold three color modes, named “Natural”, “Colorful”, and “Gorgeous”. They are basically three stages of color saturation, starting from a tame one to full-on vivid and overblown.

The screen’s greens and reds are noticeably not on point and its color temperature measures at 8,108 K. That’s quite far off from the reference value of 6,500 K, and we did perceive the display as noticeably cold, sucking the life out of some colors.

The viewing angles are excellent, with minimum color distortion present when we look at the screen from the sides. Its maximum brightness measures at 343 nits, which doesn’t sound great on paper, but we had no issue operating the smartphone on a sunny day. The minimum it would go to is 5 nits, which is OK, but not great for nighttime usage.

Display measurements and quality

Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better Contrast Higher is better Color temperature (Kelvins) Gamma Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
ZTE Axon Mini 343
ZTE Axon Pro 466
OnePlus X 298
HTC One A9 345
View all

  • Options

posted on 15 Jan 2016, 03:56

2. abdoualgeria (Posts: 750; Member since: 27 Jul 2015)

Orange is the new black

posted on 15 Jan 2016, 04:21

3. Arch_Fiend (Posts: 3371; Member since: 03 Oct 2015)

Damn You Just Destroyed This Phone Pa LOL Was It Really That Bad?
And Over Here They Make It Sound Like An Ok Phone.http://www.androidauthority.com/zte-axon-mini-premium-edition-review-661189/

posted on 15 Jan 2016, 04:36

5. ibend (Posts: 6675; Member since: 30 Sep 2014)

they also give its good phone :-/

posted on 15 Jan 2016, 21:59

16. joey_sfb (Posts: 6600; Member since: 29 Mar 2012)

I was wondering who sponsored phones for PA to review. I don't think any manufacturers would be silly enough to send their phone to PA given PA reviewers track record.

posted on 15 Jan 2016, 22:07

17. Arch_Fiend (Posts: 3371; Member since: 03 Oct 2015)

lol true.

posted on 15 Jan 2016, 04:43 1

6. der_damo (Posts: 202; Member since: 16 Sep 2014)

It just got axe'd - no pun intended.

posted on 15 Jan 2016, 05:43

7. Odeira (Posts: 275; Member since: 29 Jun 2012)

My old Note 3 is STILL better than this thing. It's a failure in its own right. ZTE cloned the Force Touch technology with absolutely NONE of the fit and finish of the iPhone, and don't get me started with its interface and the horrible CPU, it's akin to having a 3 cylinder engine power an Audi R8, it's dumb!

posted on 15 Jan 2016, 07:20 9

9. jellmoo (Posts: 2035; Member since: 31 Oct 2011)

Decent screen, fair camera, a little laggy, pretty good battery life, not a fan of the UI... Yeah that sounds like 4.

Arbitrary scoring system is arbitrary.

posted on 15 Jan 2016, 11:55

11. Planterz (Posts: 2110; Member since: 30 Apr 2012)

Bands 12 and 17 for T-Mobile and AT&T, yet no bands 2 or 4? Dafuq?

posted on 15 Jan 2016, 12:59

12. shaxs (Posts: 1; Member since: 15 Jan 2016)

Wow what a HORRIBLE review. I imported the non-premium version (i.e. no force touch) and I liked it a lot. Im an enthusiast was coming from a G3. I only stopped using it because I got a free Galaxy S6 and the camera was sort of meh. He got that part right. Otherwise I found the screen to be nice, the size right, the audio quality good, the fingerprint sensor responsive (I like it better than the G6 fingerprint sensor), battery life great, and OS was good. The OS had some nice features but lacked a few things I missed in the LG interface. Also lack or root was sad for me. But no, I would rate this phone a 7.5 maybe an 8 for the price I paid at $299.99.

posted on 15 Jan 2016, 17:36

13. alexvv (Posts: 165; Member since: 16 Oct 2013)

You have lost every little bit of reliability you may have had. It's got worse.

posted on 15 Jan 2016, 18:35 1

14. SonyOwner (unregistered)

Because the reviewer is Paul K.
He know nothing :)

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ZTE Axon Mini

ZTE Axon Mini

OS: Android 5.1
view full specs
PhoneArena rating:
Display5.2 inches, 1080 x 1920 pixels (424 ppi) AMOLED
Camera13 megapixels
Qualcomm Snapdragon 616, Octa-core, 1500 MHz, ARM Cortex-A53 processor
Size5.65 x 2.76 x 0.31 inches
(143.5 x 70 x 7.9 mm)
4.94 oz  (140 g)
Battery2800 mAh, 18 hours talk time

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