ZTE Axon Mini review
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.
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.