ZTE may be known here as makers of low-end smartphones, but today it is emphatically changing that with the launch of the Axon Elite, its premium flagship smartphone powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 810. Not only that, this is also the first smartphone in Malaysia to feature three biometric security screenings: fingerprint, voice and iris.
The Axon Elite marks ZTE’s push into the premium smartphone segment, after its well-received Nubia line that emphasises design. In the US, ZTE released a higher-end version known only as the Axon, featuring a 2K display and 4GB of RAM alongside the Snapdragon 810. However, for the Malaysian market, the variant here is similar to the ZTE Axon released in the Chinese market.
ZTE’s Axon Elite model for Malaysia is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 octa-core chipset with 3GB of RAM, and features 32GB of internal storage with support for up to 128GB microSD cards. The display is a 5.5-inch Full HD IPS display with 2.5D curved glass, protected by Corning Gorilla Glass with an antimicrobial layer – a world first, according to ZTE. Besides that, the Axon Elite sports a 13MP Sony IMX 214 rear camera sensor, which includes a 2MP secondary sensor – presumably for measuring depth, while the front camera is an 8MP sensor. There’s also space for an AKM 4961 Hi-Fi audio chipset. Finally, there’s a 3,000mAh non-removable battery that supports Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0.
Being a smartphone made in China, the Axon Elite also features dual-SIM support, with both SIMs supporting 4G LTE (both TDD and FDD-LTE). However, one of the SIM slots is a hybrid slot, which is also a microSD card slot. This means you’ll either use two SIMs or one SIM with a microSD card.
The Axon Elite was designed by US-based design company Teague, which is best known for designing the Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft. Staying in the aerospace industry, the Axon Elite is also made from aluminium alloy, a material frequently used in aircraft due to its light weight and high tensile strength. The internal design also features a unique heatsink built around the Snapdragon 810, which has faced some overheating issues on several smartphones this year.
Besides that, ZTE is especially confident in the imaging capabilities of the Axon Blade. The secondary 2MP sensor allows the device to capture additional depth information, which lets the Axon Elite to feature several unique modes. One prominent feature is Bokeh, which lets the camera simulate aperture settings of up to f/1.0 to create incredibly shallow depth of field. Besides that, another unique addition is Multi Exposure, which is perhaps the first time introduced to a smartphone. This feature lets users “merge” two images into a single frame, creating a unique piece of art or a confusing mix of colours and shapes (depending on what images you choose, of course). Finally, there are also the usual Manual, Sport, Panorama, Slow Motion and Interval shooting modes.
What’s very unique about this device, however, is in the three biometric scanning options built into the phone. There’s a square fingerprint scanner at the back, while the front camera has an iris recognition tech which it debuted in the Grand S3 smartphone back at MWC 2015 – basically, it verifies the user based on “the vein patterns in the human eye”. Also, the device can be set to listen for key words to unlock the phone.
This Android 5.0.2-running smartphone, featuring ZTE’s own Mi Favor UI 3.2, will be available in Ion Gold, and will arrive in stores from mid-October this year. ZTE also plans to open 200 physical outlets in Malaysia, as well as an online store for better consumer convenience.
The ZTE Axon Elite will be priced at RM1,999 including GST. Also launched at the event is the mid-range ZTE Nubia Z9 mini (RM1,239), ZTE Blade V6 (RM839) and the ZTE Blade A610 (RM639). All prices quoted are inclusive of GST.