Introduction


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 Last, but most certainly not least, the stock Android experience has been replaced by a complete re-skin with lots of new features, named MiFavor UI.

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

Design

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

ZTE Axon Mini

Dimensions

5.65 x 2.76 x 0.31 inches

143.5 x 70 x 7.9 mm

Weight

4.94 oz (140 g)

ZTE Axon Pro

ZTE Axon Pro

Dimensions

6.06 x 2.95 x 0.37 inches

154 x 75 x 9.3 mm

Weight

6.10 oz (173 g)

OnePlus X

OnePlus X

Dimensions

5.51 x 2.72 x 0.27 inches

140 x 69 x 6.9 mm

Weight

4.87 oz (138 g)

HTC One A9

HTC One A9

Dimensions

5.74 x 2.79 x 0.29 inches

145.75 x 70.8 x 7.26 mm

Weight

5.04 oz (143 g)

ZTE Axon Mini

ZTE Axon Mini

Dimensions

5.65 x 2.76 x 0.31 inches

143.5 x 70 x 7.9 mm

Weight

4.94 oz (140 g)

ZTE Axon Pro

ZTE Axon Pro

Dimensions

6.06 x 2.95 x 0.37 inches

154 x 75 x 9.3 mm

Weight

6.10 oz (173 g)

OnePlus X

OnePlus X

Dimensions

5.51 x 2.72 x 0.27 inches

140 x 69 x 6.9 mm

Weight

4.87 oz (138 g)

HTC One A9

HTC One A9

Dimensions

5.74 x 2.79 x 0.29 inches

145.75 x 70.8 x 7.26 mm

Weight

5.04 oz (143 g)

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



Display

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.


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18 Comments

2. abdoualgeria

Posts: 928; Member since: Jul 27, 2015

Orange is the new black

3. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3951; Member since: Oct 03, 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/

5. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

www.mobiflip.de/zte-axon-mini-premium-edition/ they also give its good phone :-/

16. joey_sfb

Posts: 6794; Member since: Mar 29, 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.

17. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3951; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

lol true.

6. der_damo

Posts: 213; Member since: Sep 16, 2014

It just got axe'd - no pun intended.

7. Odeira

Posts: 300; Member since: Jun 29, 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!

9. jellmoo

Posts: 2654; Member since: Oct 31, 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.

11. Planterz

Posts: 2120; Member since: Apr 30, 2012

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

12. shaxs

Posts: 1; Member since: Jan 15, 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.

13. alexvv

Posts: 165; Member since: Oct 16, 2013

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

14. SonyOwner unregistered

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

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

Axon Mini
  • Display 5.2" 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Camera 13 MP / 8 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 616, Octa-core, 1500 MHz
  • Storage 32 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 2800 mAh(18h talk time)

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