TORONTO – ZTE Corporation might not be the biggest player in the smartphone space, but that won’t stop it from trying to make waves.
Since entering Canada in 2008, the company has crept up to the number 4 position in North America (behind Samsung, Apple and LG) with relatively little presence, focusing primarily on the budget device niche.
This week, the Shenzen, China-based company is ready to go mainstream, although it’s not abandoning its low-cost vision quite yet.
At a conference downtown Toronto Tuesday, the vendor brought both English and Chinese-language media together for the Canadian launch of Axon, the company’s next flagship smartphone.
It’s one that has a few unique features that help it stand apart from the rest.
The Axon has not one, but two rear cameras, capable of 4K video, with a maximum of f/1.0, and is able to autofocus in milliseconds and reach a shutter speed of up to 1/90,000 of a second. What may be the camera’s killer app, however, is the fact that, thanks to the dual rear cameras and some software magic, the device is able to capture images that can be refocused post-capture.
It accomplishes this by taking a single photo, which a user is then able to edit by touching on the focal point. The original is kept on the device in case the user wants to try again.
According to a ZTE rep, this is produced mostly through software, and is more reminiscent of simulated as opposed to full-blown HDR effects found on most modern smartphones. With my limited hands-on time, it reminded us of a poor man’s Lytro camera, but was still pretty cool.
ZTE says that all these camera functions should lead to fewer missed moments. To drive the point home, the device even comes with a dedicated camera button.
ZTE claims that this is the first North American smartphone with Hi-Fi sound, something that has been missing from existing smartphones.
To back up its claim, it has included two dedicated audio chipsets. This is meant to boost both the in-ear sound quality, as well as the quality of your recordings when it works in tandem with noise reduction, dual microphones, auto level controllers and long-distance voice pickup.
We were unfortunately not able to try these features, but it’s certainly interesting to see ZTE try to set itself apart in this area, one where other manufacturers have generally maintained the status quo.
The Axon comes with a little bit more than what you might expect from a $400 off-contract device, although it’s nice to see a manufacturer continue to cater to the budget market since vendors like Google have begun courting the premium buyer.
|Audio||Hi-Fi Audio Chipset||AKM 4961|
|Microphone||2-microphone noise suppression with Hi-Fi Recording|
|Battery||3000 mAh||Quick-charge 2.0|
|Optimized for Rogers/FIDO LTE networks
USM/HSPA 850/1700/1900/2100 MHz
GSM/EDGE 850/900/1800/1900 MHz
CA Band 4 + Band 17/12
LTE (Cat 4)
|Dimensions (HxWxD)||154.69 x 75.24 x 9.7mm (6.09″ x 2.96″ x 0.38″)|
|Display||5.5″ IPS LCD|
|Resolution: 1920×1080 Full HD
Antimicrobial Corning Gorilla Glass
|OS/Platform||Android 5.1.1 (Lollipop)|
|Memory||2 GB RAM, 32 GB ROM|
|Materials||Metal back cover (aluminum)|
|Photo & Video||Rear-Facing Camera
|Dual lens 13MP + 2MP, Dual LED Flash
4K UHD resolution
8MP, 88 degree wide-angle
1080p Full HD resolution
4K UHD resolution (25 FPS)
1080p FHD (30 FPS)
720p HD (120 FPS)
|Processor||2.3 GHz Quad-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801|
|SIM Card||Nano (4FF)|
|Weight||170 g (6.0 oz)|
In Canada, the device is available from Fido for $0 on a two-year Smart or Max plan, or $100 on a two-year standard plan.