The ZTE Axon 7 was released last year and quickly became a big hit with Android fans. With a great list of specifications and more than fair price tag, the Axon 7 was a strong candidate for the title of “best affordable flagship of 2016”.
And obviously, many customers were hoping for a successor to the Axon 7 this year, but until now details on the matter have been scarce. Well, this week the Chinese company finally confirmed on Twitter that it will indeed launch a successor of the “incredibly successful” Axon 7.
Hi, Andrew. There will certainly be a follow on to the incredibly successful Axon 7.
— ZTE USA (@zteusa) November 1, 2017
No exact time frame was provided for the release, so fans were left pondering another dilemma: will the next-gen Axon (we’ll call it Axon 8, although the phone might end up being released under a totally different name) launch this year or in 2018?
We tend to believe ZTE won’t launch a second flagship in 2017. The company recently released the experimental Axon M foldable smartphone, so ZTE will probably focus on promoting this device for the time being.
But while we’re waiting for the Axon 8 to make an appearance in the wild, we can play a little guessing game and try to imagine how the Axon 7 successor will be like when it arrives:
Last year’s Axon 7 already features a great design. Like its predecessors, the Axon 7 comes featuring a full metal unibody construction with dual front-facing speakers on the front, housed under a distinctive grill pattern.
And even if it was built before the whole bezel-less frenzy started, the Axon 7 packs ultra-thin side bezels and relatively thin speaker grills above and below it.
Even so, in 2018, ZTE could quite possible adhere to the new smartphone design trend like most Android OEMs are doing these days and give the Axon 8 the “truly” bezel-less + 18:9 aspect ratio makeover. But that would mean the speakers on top would have to be eliminated.
According to a recent listing coming out of TENAA, this scenario seems quite unlikely. Judging by the documents, the Axon 8 (spotted as model number A2018) will look very much like the Axon 7 does. The front at least appears to be virtually unchanged, complete a 5.5-inch OLED panel with WQHD (2560 x 1440 resolution), stereo speakers and three on-screen touch-sensitive navigation buttons. However, the upcoming phone appears to be slightly thinner (151.7 x 75 x 7.7mm) and lighter (170 grams) than its predecessor, but not by a lot. the Axon 7’s measurements are 151.7 x 75 x 7.9 mm / 175 grams.
The Axon M released this year includes a Snapdragon 821 processor, while the Axon 7 took advantage of a Snapdragon 820. So obviously, we expect the Axon 8 to make the transition to the next class of high-end Qualcomm processors and include a Snapdragon 835 chipset.
On top of that, ZTE might throw in extra RAM and storage versions next year. The Chinese device maker sold the phone in the US in two configurations – the standard with 4GB of RAM + 64GB storage and a limited edition one with 6GB of RAM + 128GB of storage. So in 2018, ZTE could offer the next-gen Axon 7 with a new 8GB of RAM + 256GB storage configuration, as well as make the 6GB of RAM + 128GB storage variant more widely available.
Obviously, we expect ZTE’s upcoming flagship to include dual-camera setup, like most premium devices launching today. This speculation is confirmed by the TENAA listing which reveals the Axon 8 could come boasting a dual camera setup comprised of a 20-megapixel sensor + a secondary 12-megapixel one. In contrast, the ZTE Axon 7 relied on a single 20-megapixel sensor.
Improved audio experience?
What made the Axon 7 special among smartphones? It’s obvious focus on audio experience. With its dual front-facing speakers with Hi-Fi audio chipsets and Dolby Atmos surround features, the phone offered one of the best audio experience around. And next year, we hope that ZTE will continue on the same path with the Axon 8.
Adding water resistance to the Axon 8 could help ZTE attract OnePlus fans to its flagship. As you probably known, the OnePlus 5 does not offer IP65/68 certification, but if the Axon 8 would include such a feat, it would certainly boost its appeal.