Design & Display
The obvious design choice lies in the foldable nature of the Axon M, and from a glance it almost looks like the original Nintendo DS. Instead of the screens being inside of the fold though, they’re on the outer shell. Unfolding the device reveals dual 5.2-inch IPS panels at Full HD resolution. Using both screens together as one in the extended mode yields an effective 6.75-inch tablet-like surface, which we will cover more later
Before we get into the experience of using a dual screen phone, let’s get the rest of the specifications out of the way. Unfortunately for a phone that is expected to pull double time, the specs sheet reads like a single screen device from last year.
The Snapdragon 821 is here with 4 GB of RAM, expandable storage beyond the included 64 GB, and a 3,180 mAh battery. While we have plenty of releases this year that surpass even the 6 GB of RAM threshold and rock the Snapdragon 835, ZTE somewhat shoots itself in the foot for not trying to put the absolute best specifications in their unique Axon M.
As far as the battery life is concerned, using the phone in a closed configuration and using only one screen yielded about 4 hours of screen on time, which is typical for a normal phone.
On a few occasions I tried to use the phone almost always with both screens activated, either in the extended or dual mode, and the battery life was pretty much cut in half, with my SoT dropping down to about 2.5 hours. I was tickled by how much sense that made – with two screens on one battery, this is basically what we expected.
In recent years, smartphones have effectively replaced point-and-shoot cameras, and many have even outperformed them. For many of us, these portable computers have even become our main camera, making photo quality a priority when picking a …
The camera is made up of one unit that is found above the main display, and is a 20 MP shooter that lacks a number of enhancements we could argue are necessary for high end smartphone photography – starting with optical stabilization.
The app does have a few different modes including somewhat robust manual controls, which is nice. Unfortunately, it’s a bit of a pain to have to flip the phone around every single time to do rear or front facing photos. It is a novel idea to take advantage of either screen for the one powerful shooter – and I do like using the dedicated button as a shutter release – but the results just don’t stack up.
The rest of the phone is pretty standard fare – a headphone jack is included here, and the onboard speaker is powered by Dolby Atmos. It is a single firing unit, though, and it performs just well enough to share content that you might be mirroring across both displays.
Multitasking is a focus for the Axon M, and not just for media – even though that might be the best use case. Having YouTube on one side while drafting emails on the other became a common app pair, and putting the entire phone in either portrait or landscape was possible. There are a couple of tradeoffs – in landscape mode, the media looks much better; in portrait mode, typing is immensely easier especially when swipe typing.