ZTE announces the Axon M, an AT&T exclusive folding phone

ZTE has announced the Axon M, a folding phone with dual 1080p displays. There have been a couple of leaks in the past month or two, but now it’s official. The Axon M isn’t quite the vision of the future we expected from Westworld, but it has some decent specifications to support its unusual design.

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SoC 2.15GHz Snapdragon 821
Display(s) Dual 5.2″ 1920×1080 “TFT LCD” w/Gorilla Glass 5
Battery 3180mAh, Quick Charge 3.0
RAM 4GB
Storage 64GB emmc v5.1
Connectivity Bluetooth 4.2, 2.4/5GHz 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi
Rear camera 20MP f/1.8, 4K@30FPS, 1080P@30FPS, 720p@240fps
Front camera None (rear camera can be used for both)
Software Android 7.1.2 Nougat
Dimensions 150.8 x 71.6 x 12.1 mm (5.93 x 2.82 x 0.48 inches)
Price $24.17 x 30 months ($725.10)

On paper, it doesn’t sound too bad. The 821 isn’t Qualcomm’s latest chipset, it is about a year old at this point, but it’s still performant. In this case, it should be more than powerful enough to drive the dual 1080p displays.

Of course, they’re the star of ZTE’s folding show. They’re both 5.2″ displays, which works out to a high 426 PPI. There’s still a gap between the two screens, so it’s (literally) not quite seamless. Even so, the narrow bezels and hinge allow them to get somewhat close.

Watch the video review here

ZTE is advertising the Axon M as having four separate “modes,” Dual Mode, Extended Mode, Mirror Mode, and Traditional Mode. The descriptions for each aren’t too complete, but it sounds like Dual Mode uses Android’s multi-window support, so you could feasibly have a separate application open on each screen. Extended Mode lets you span both displays, Mirror Mode places the same content on both screens, and Traditional Mode uses just one screen.

When folded, it is a bit asymmetrical as the hinge is exposed on one side. Durability could also be a potential concern since both the front and back of the device are screens. At least the Gorilla Glass 5 and aluminum unibody construction might ease some of those concerns, though.

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Since it’s only being sold through AT&T in the US, the only price ZTE has announced is a $24.17 monthly payment over a 30 months with AT&T Next. Availability is set for sometime in “the next month.” Customers in China, Europe, and Japan will also be able to pick one up.

ZTE’s Axon M is an exciting experiment, but we’ll have to see if the dual-screen functionality is of genuine utility.

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