ZTE Axon Mini review

Interface and functionality

MiFavor is a letdown

There’s no way around it – we really dislike the MiFavor interface, both in look and function. The interface offers 4 different icon packs right from the box, but we found the pictures to be bland and confusing, making it hard for us to quickly find the apps we are looking for. 3rd party app icons get put inside frames, styled accordingly to the current icon pack of choice. Said frames, however, come up with a random color, or covered in black and grey stripes. These change by themselves all the time for no apparent reason.

In terms of operation, the interface is laggy. There are a lot of unpleasant tear-ups, most prominent when unlocking the phone, and an ever-present delay in response to user input, which is most noticeable when typing on the keyboard. The phone’s fingerprint reader often takes quite a while to react. If the reading was wrong (and it often is), the user needs to lift their finger and place it again, often resulting in another awkwardly long wait time before we know whether the unlock attempt was successful or not.

The Axon Mini’s Force Touch works pretty similar to how 3D Touch on the iPhone 6s functions, at least in theory. Certain stock app icons will show a contextual menu when they are pressed on, the gallery will give you a larger view of a picture, and scrolling through fullscreen pictures or fast-forwarding through videos can be done by pressing on one of the display’s sides. There’s no Force Touch functionality inside the stock email app, however. As far as the actual usability of the feature – we have to say, it feels very unnatural, due to a combination of the aforementioned lag and the vibrational feedback the phone gives off when it registers a press. It just feels, pardon the pun, forced – as if we are battling with the device to squeeze out that contextual menu. One can certainly learn to use it, however, and we found it to be most useful when we want to start the camera app with a certain mode engaged (emergency selfie!).

Keeping up with modern trends, the MiFavor interface has a MiAssistant guard app, which gives the user control over app permissions, junk and antivirus scanners, and keeps rogue processes at bay. It’s a well-made piece of software, which actually has a working whitelist and we had no issue setting it up so that our chat notifications would always come on time, while unneeded apps’ processes would be decimated and not waste any precious battery.

There is also something to be said about the Axon Mini’s settings menu. It is divided in two tabs – “Common”, which houses the sub-menus that one is most often to look for on an Android handset, and “All”, which is home to most of the phone’s settings arranged in a rather garbled and confusing manner. We said “most” for a reason — for example, you can’t change the homescreen’s wallpaper from anywhere in Settings. This can only be changed from a context menu, which can be found next to the software navigation buttons when the user is viewing a home screen. The lock screen is changed in a similar manner – one needs to be looking at the actual lock screen, which has a pull-up menu from the bottom. Keeping in tone with the overall feel of the MiFavor UI, this is just irrational, and we have to admit – we had some trouble finding out how to change the pictures on the lockscreen.

The interface also features an abundance of unlocking methods – iris-scanning via the frontal camera, voice unlock, fingerprint sensor, and the usual PIN or password choices. The first two are the most clunky and unreliable – it just feels as if ZTE threw a lot of features in there, but perfected none.

System performance


The ZTE Axon Mini is equipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 616 SoC and 3 GB of RAM. Playing graphic-intensive games on the device can be accompanied by a frame-drop, so trimming out the extra details from the games’ settings, if possible, is often desirable. Commendably, the phone didn’t get hot when playing demanding games, such as Godfire or Hitman: Sniper, and were able to squeeze out solid and pleasureful play sessions with it as a gaming device.

The Axon Mini’s internal storage is 32 GB, with 24.5 GB actually available to the user. That’s more than enough storage for the non-demanding user, but if it runs out – there’s a microSD card slot for expansion of up to 128 extra GB.

AnTuTu Higher is better
ZTE Axon Mini 36300
ZTE Axon Pro 53535
OnePlus X 40173
HTC One A9 40632
Vellamo Metal Higher is better
ZTE Axon Mini 1199.66
ZTE Axon Pro 2136
OnePlus X 1542
HTC One A9 1078
Vellamo Browser Higher is better
ZTE Axon Mini 2268
ZTE Axon Pro 3533
OnePlus X 2661
HTC One A9 2331
Sunspider Lower is better
ZTE Axon Mini 1412.8
ZTE Axon Pro 1018.9
OnePlus X 1285.5
HTC One A9 1712
GFXBench T-Rex HD on-screen Higher is better
ZTE Axon Mini 15
ZTE Axon Pro 36
OnePlus X 23
HTC One A9 16
GFXBench Manhattan 3.1 on-screen Higher is better
ZTE Axon Mini 6.1
ZTE Axon Pro 15
OnePlus X 10
HTC One A9 6.6
Basemark OS II Higher is better
ZTE Axon Mini 888.33
ZTE Axon Pro 1351
OnePlus X 1185.66
HTC One A9 957
Geekbench 3 single-core Higher is better
ZTE Axon Mini 709.3
ZTE Axon Pro 761
OnePlus X 910.33
HTC One A9 738
Geekbench 3 multi-core Higher is better
ZTE Axon Mini 3122.6
ZTE Axon Pro 3204
OnePlus X 2415.33
HTC One A9 3063

Internet and connectivity


The Axon Mini supports high-speed 4G LTE over bands 1, 3, 7, 8, 12, 17, 20, some of which are covered by AT&T and T-Mobile, but only in limited regions.

The phone’s stock browser is not among the best, as it didn’t work well with heavy websites, but we encountered no issues working with Chrome. Using Google’s browser, the Axon Mini is a pretty stable and reliable Internet-browsing device. The screen’s crispness naturally lends itself well to text-heavy content, while the 5.2-inch display makes it easy to navigate big websites.

Other connectivity includes Bluetooth 4.0 and, naturally, Wi-Fi 802.11 b, g, n, n 5GHz, ac.


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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: 2620; 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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