Needs light

The Axon Mini’s 13 MP main camera produces grainy shots with accurate, albeit slightly washed-out colors most of the time. Looking at a 100% crop of a picture taken with the phone reveals a lot of sharp-looking noise. The camera also struggles quite a bit when there is the slightest hint of dynamics in a scene. Try to get a shot that contains both sunlit objects and natural shadows, and you will get burned highlights to the point that the objects become invisible, or very dark shadows. So, an even lighting is required whenever you are trying to take a photo. As a result of all of this, the pictures often end up being overly dark, bland, or lifeless.

The phone’s HDR mode is capable of making dynamic shots better. Sometimes, it will look fake or filterish (samples 10 HDR and 22 HDR), while at other times it will end up looking just right against all odds (samples 8 HDR, 12 HDR, 16 HDR). It’s a bit slow to process a photo and it can produce some blurry images, so steady hands are required!

During nighttime, however, it seems nothing can be done to battle the blurs. When the surroundings get dark, the camera struggles with maintaining focus, while long shutter speeds result in messy photos.

An elaborate Manual mode is available, offering controls for shutter speed, ISO, fine-tuning the white balance, and exposure compensation. In terms of options available, it’s on-par with the best Manual modes out there, and we like the fact that the camera reacts instantly to us manipulating the sliders — we’ve seen some more expensive devices show a delay when we try to set the manual focus, for example. The only beef we have with this mode is that its settings are a bit tough to access, requiring a precise tap on a small button, and then the fact that the sliders take up more than half of the viewfinder.

There’s also a Panorama mode, which takes 360-degree panoramas with pretty good stitching, but some visible blurring; a document-shooting mode, capable of straightening our shots of papers and whiteboards, which you’ve done at an angle; and your run-of-the-mill filters and beauty modes.

The selfie camera is an 8 MP snapper and produces ok-ish images. There is a lot of grain to be seen when zoomed and, when the lighting is unfavorable, digital noise is easily seen. You won’t be taking the perfect selfie with this one, but for the most part – the details are good enough for a selfie enthusiast’s social media sharing needs.

Clips taken with the Axon Mini’s camera suffer from the same issues with high-contrast scenes that the pictures do. That aside, the videos are nicely detailed, show accurate, lively colors, and the continuous autofocus works great – it’s quick and on point.

Taking a pic Lower is better Taking an HDR pic (sec) Lower is better CamSpeed score Higher is better CamSpeed score with flash Higher is better
ZTE Axon Mini 3
ZTE Axon Pro 2.4
No data
OnePlus X 2
HTC One A9 3.1
No data


The AMOLED screen on the Axon Mini lends itself well for picture and clip viewing. It’s nicely detailed, shows contrasts well, and has the capability to overblow and oversaturate colors, if that’s what you desire. We had no trouble doing our daily YouTube channel surfing with it.

The Axon Mini’s loudspeaker is not particularly deep or clean, but manages to produce a somewhat passable sound picture. It will rarely distort at loud volumes. It's also a bit weak.

Headphones output power (Volts) Higher is better
ZTE Axon Mini 0.27
ZTE Axon Pro 0.583
OnePlus X 0.44
HTC One A9 0.928
Loudspeaker loudness (dB) Higher is better
ZTE Axon Mini 69
ZTE Axon Pro 80.3
OnePlus X 73
HTC One A9 72.3



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.

5. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014 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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