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ZTE is a company well known for their affordable smartphones but their offers are not limited only to this because ZTE Axon 7 became available on some markets not long ago and we could easily call it a smartphone of the highest range, although its price doesn’t go beyond $500. Taking a look at the specs shows us that it is not inferior to the most popular smartphones in terms of any component.

High performance, detailed display, promising camera and amazing design – these are all things that stand out at first glance before any tests are conducted. Which, however, are the strong sides of Axon 7 and are there any drawbacks in this impressive package?

You can find current information about the price of ZTE Axon 7 here: http://amzn.to/2qe9Y3b

Contents


Official video

Design and construction

The ZTE Axon 7 design stands out with a stylish metal construction and all its corners and edges are rounded so the grip is absolutely comfortable and the device literally fits in your palm. What’s more, this creates a feeling of an even thinner profile with a thickness of only 7.9 mm. The weight is also within the normal for a 5.5-inch smartphone – 175 grams. Additionally, the rear part is smooth and relatively fingerprint-proof. What you should be careful about is not dropping the smartphone as the surface is slightly slippery. There is no doubt, however, that as soon as you get your hands on the ZTE Axon 7 you will realize that you are holding a high-end device.

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The stereo speakers are placed in the front part, below and above the screen, and they are separated from it with two black stripes. The proximity and ambient light sensors, as well as the LED flashlight, are located in the upper part, while the three Android sensor buttons without an LED backlight are in the bottom part. They are marked in a slightly different way than the classic one and you will probably need some time to stop confusing the multitask button with the back button. Additionally, the front 8 MP camera is located in the area of the upper speaker. At the back of the smartphone, we can see the common combination of a main camera (slightly bulged), LED flashlight, in this case, dual, as well as a fingerprint sensor. Below you will only find different product labels and inscriptions.

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On the right side, you will find the volume controls and the Power button right below them. On the left, you can observe two nanoSIM slots, as the second one shares its position with the available microSD slot. At the bottom, you will see the main built-in microphone, as well as the USB Type-C port for charging and data transfer. At the top, there is a second microphone for eliminating background noise as well as a headphone jack.

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Display and sound

Axon 7’s display has a diagonal of 5.5 inches which is not very comfortable when operating with one hand but you will be able to take advantage of the big work area. It will feature a high enough level of details because the resolution of the screen is 2560 х 1440 pixels or in other words a pixel density of 538ppi. The AMOLED matrix takes care of the contrasty and saturated colors. This combination will make you stare at the display for a long time or at least when you have your first encounter with the device. A 2.5D glass provides more refined appearance and additional sturdiness, which is also taken care of by the Gorilla Glass 4 protection. ZTE have tried to compensate for the large display size with thin side bezels and this is more than welcome.

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Settings

In the display menu, you will find the standard settings including several additional features such as the option of tracking your steps or choose when the LED indicator turns on. The settings for color saturation as well as the color temperature are also here.

Sound

The sound quality is often a neglected component which rarely stands out with remarkable values. ZTE Axon 7 is definitely not such a case because two front stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos are available and they impressed us with their output and quality.

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Specs sheet

Operating system Android v6.0.1 (Marshmallow)
CPU Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 MSM8996 (2-core, 2.150GHz Kryo & 2-core, 1.60GHz, Kryo)
RAM 4GB
Internal storage 64GB
GPU Adreno 530
Display 5.5-inch AMOLED capacitive multitouch screen with Corning Gorilla Glass 4 and resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels
Connectivity Bluetooth v4.2, A2DP, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/ac, GPS
Cameras 20MP OIS, with autofocus and double LED flashlight (rear), 8MP (front)
Features
  • smartphone with two SIM cards (Nano-SIM, dual stand-by)
  • microSD memory card slot, supporting up to 256GB (SIM 2 slot is used)
  • USB v3.0, Type-C 1.0 reversible connector
  • built-in speaker
  • 3.5 mm audio jack with Dolby Atmos audio
  • camera with geotagging, touch focus, face detection, HDR, panorama
  • fingerprint sensor
  • accelerometer
  • proximity sensor
Battery 3250 mAh
Dimensions 75 x 151.7 x 7.9 mm
Weight 175 grams

Battery

The battery is rated at 3250mAh, which looks good on paper, but we shouldn’t forget that the 5.5-inch QHD display will certainly require serious energy consumption. Once again, we are using the five well-known tests which include –  a phone call, Wi-Fi and 3G surfing, video watching and 3D gaming. We compare the achieved results to other rivals of Axon 7 with the following preliminary settings – brightness of 120 cd/m2, turned on Wi-Fi module and turned off Bluetooth, GPS, and 3G (with the exception of the 3G browsing test).

In this test the screen doesn’t affect the battery life, since the proximity sensor turns it off during phone calls.

Smartphones Results (min.) Result
difference
Price
ZTE Axon 7 3250 mAh, 5.5-inch, AMOLED, ZTE Axon 7 quick review – a high-end smartphone at a reasonable price 1154 0 % Check price
Motorola Moto Z Play 3510 mAh, 5.5-inch, Super AMOLED, Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 1392 20.62 % Check price
Meizu Pro 6 2560 mAh, 5.2-inch, Super AMOLED, Mediatek MT6797T Helio X25 723 – 37.35 % Check price
Huawei P9 3000 mAh, 5.2-inch, IPS-NEO, HiSilicon Kirin 955 1107 – 4.07 % Check price
Samsung Galaxy S7 3000 mAh, 5.1-inch, Super AMOLED, Samsung Exynos 8 Octa (8890) 1366 18.37 % Check price
LG Nexus 5X 2700 mAh, 5.2-inch, IPS, Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 (MSM8992) 990 – 14.21 % Check price

We run our Web surfing test with a custom-made script, which browses through 70 popular web pages.

Smartphones Results (min.) Result
difference
Price
ZTE Axon 7 3250 mAh, 5.5-inch, AMOLED, ZTE Axon 7 quick review – a high-end smartphone at a reasonable price 550 0 % Check price
Motorola Moto Z Play 3510 mAh, 5.5-inch, Super AMOLED, Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 1171 112.91 % Check price
Meizu Pro 6 2560 mAh, 5.2-inch, Super AMOLED, Mediatek MT6797T Helio X25 523 – 4.91 % Check price
Huawei P9 3000 mAh, 5.2-inch, IPS-NEO, HiSilicon Kirin 955 679 23.45 % Check price
Samsung Galaxy S7 3000 mAh, 5.1-inch, Super AMOLED, Samsung Exynos 8 Octa (8890) 691 25.64 % Check price
LG Nexus 5X 2700 mAh, 5.2-inch, IPS, Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 (MSM8992) 441 – 19.82 % Check price

This test uses the same custom-made script, but we use 3G connection instead of Wi-Fi.

Smartphones Results (min.) Result
difference
Price
ZTE Axon 7 3250 mAh, 5.5-inch, AMOLED, ZTE Axon 7 quick review – a high-end smartphone at a reasonable price 453 0 % Check price
Motorola Moto Z Play 3510 mAh, 5.5-inch, Super AMOLED, Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 828 82.78 % Check price
Meizu Pro 6 2560 mAh, 5.2-inch, Super AMOLED, Mediatek MT6797T Helio X25 0 % Check price
Huawei P9 3000 mAh, 5.2-inch, IPS-NEO, HiSilicon Kirin 955 562 24.06 % Check price
Samsung Galaxy S7 3000 mAh, 5.1-inch, Super AMOLED, Samsung Exynos 8 Octa (8890) 500 10.38 % Check price
LG Nexus 5X 2700 mAh, 5.2-inch, IPS, Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 (MSM8992) 362 – 20.09 % Check price

For this test we use a looping 720p movie.

Smartphones Results (min.) Result
difference
Price
ZTE Axon 7 3250 mAh, 5.5-inch, AMOLED, ZTE Axon 7 quick review – a high-end smartphone at a reasonable price 691 0 % Check price
Motorola Moto Z Play 3510 mAh, 5.5-inch, Super AMOLED, Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 911 31.84 % Check price
Meizu Pro 6 2560 mAh, 5.2-inch, Super AMOLED, Mediatek MT6797T Helio X25 539 – 22 % Check price
Huawei P9 3000 mAh, 5.2-inch, IPS-NEO, HiSilicon Kirin 955 587 – 15.05 % Check price
Samsung Galaxy S7 3000 mAh, 5.1-inch, Super AMOLED, Samsung Exynos 8 Octa (8890) 998 44.43 % Check price
LG Nexus 5X 2700 mAh, 5.2-inch, IPS, Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 (MSM8992) 609 – 11.87 % Check price

In order to simulate 3D gaming, we use Epic Citadel cycles at High Quality setting.

Smartphones Results (min.) Result
difference
Price
ZTE Axon 7 3250 mAh, 5.5-inch, AMOLED, ZTE Axon 7 quick review – a high-end smartphone at a reasonable price 290 0 % Check price
Motorola Moto Z Play 3510 mAh, 5.5-inch, Super AMOLED, Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 606 108.97 % Check price
Meizu Pro 6 2560 mAh, 5.2-inch, Super AMOLED, Mediatek MT6797T Helio X25 238 – 17.93 % Check price
Huawei P9 3000 mAh, 5.2-inch, IPS-NEO, HiSilicon Kirin 955 288 – 0.69 % Check price
Samsung Galaxy S7 3000 mAh, 5.1-inch, Super AMOLED, Samsung Exynos 8 Octa (8890) 395 36.21 % Check price
LG Nexus 5X 2700 mAh, 5.2-inch, IPS, Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 (MSM8992) 230 – 20.69 % Check price

Modes

In the settings menu, you will find two modes for limiting energy consumption and increasing battery life between charges. The first one regulates the performance of the mobile chip according to the usage, while the second one is considerably more efficient but it also requires more sacrifices. When it is activated, the image will turn into grayscale, the brightness will decrease, the functions with higher energy consumption such as Bluetooth, GPS, mobile data will turn off. You can select this mode to turn on automatically when the charge drops down to 15% or choose a time range in which the mode will be active, for example, while you are sleeping.

Software

Axon 7 works with Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow OS and you can find more information about it in its review. In this case, it is complemented by a ZTE  multifunctional MiFavor user interface. In addition to software features, it also brings many visual changes in the look of the menus as well as the icons. You will not be able to find an internal menu as all applications are sorted in the pages of the home screen. They, of course, can be arranged in separate folders. The drop-down menu is a bit richer in features and shortcuts and when pressing on the blank field you will open a menu that gives you additional options such as selection of a wallpaper, icons layout, slideshow, access to widgets and others.

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Applications

Along with the standard Google application package, ZTE have made sure to provide an additional set of useful applications. It includes WPS Office for opening and creating Word, Excel, PowerPoint and pdf documents, AccuWeather for a weather forecast, WeShare for convenient data transfer from one phone to another such as when changing your phone, user manuals, file manager etc. You will also find a folder called Toolkit which includes a torch, compass, ruler, calculator, sound meter, transporter, and others.

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Settings menu

The settings menu is divided into two pages. The first one includes some more frequently used settings, while the other – all available.

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Themes & wallpapers

In this submenu, you will find five different themes which will change the layout of the home screen, settings menu, and the icons. You have the option to change the background of the home as well as lock screen.

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Mi-Pop

This is a virtual button that can be positioned on the both sides of the display along the entire length. It grants you a quick access to certain options and shortcuts. For example, pressing this button may take a screenshot, preview active applications, mute the sound, open the drop-down menu, restart, go back etc.

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Fingerprint

In addition to unlocking the smartphone, which by the way seems to be fast and effortless, the fingerprint sensor will do a good job taking photos, answering a call or launching a certain application. You can register up to five fingerprints and each of them opens a certain application.

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Voice unlock

Here you can record a voice password which can afterward be used to unlock the device.

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Gestures and motions

In this submenu you will find several more familiar but useful features. For example, double-tapping the screen will wake up the device, while a three-finger pinch will take a screenshot. If you open any of your contacts, just by lifting the smartphone to your ear you can dial it automatically. On the same principle, you can also receive calls without having to touch the screen. Moreover, you can activate the pocket mode which will always increase the vibration and sound to the maximum unless you have turned the silent mode on. You can silence an incoming call or alarm when you turn the smartphone over towards the surface or turn the flashlight on by shaking.

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Arrangement of the navigation keys

The navigation keys for going back and reviewing the most recently used applications have the same designation so to avoid confusing them you have the opportunity to choose which side they should take – left or right to the Home button.

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Performance

Axon 7 works with Snapdragon 820 which is the leading mobile chip of Qualcomm at least until Snapdragon 835 appears on the scene. It is a 64-bit mobile chip which is manufactured through a 14nm technological process. According to the manufacturer, the CPU performance is twice as high as that provided by Snapdragon 810. Here we can find four Kryo cores – two of them working at a clock speed of up to 2.15GHz and the other two up to 1.6GHz. There is also an improvement in the available GPU which now is Adreno 530 and brings 40% improvement in the graphics performance in comparison to Adreno 430. Snapdragon can also take pride in the support of LTE Cat 12/13 which provides a download speed of up to 600 Mbps and upload speed of up to 150Mbps. This is a 33% improvement compared to Snapdragon 810. The chip specs are complemented by Bluetooth 4.1, Wi-Fi 802.11ac 2×2 MU-MIMO, support of screens with 4K resolution, up to 25MP cameras and 4K video recording. Here you can also find Quick Charge™ 3.0 for fast and WiPower for wireless charging. The RAM is 4GB while the internal storage is 64GB and a microSD slot is also available.

You can find more information about the capabilities of Snapdragon 820 in Qualcomm’s official website: https://www.qualcomm.com/products/snapdragon/processors/820.

CPU

Geekbench 3.0 is Primate Labs cross-platform processor benchmark which simulates real-world scenarios and gives a combined score, based on the results of integer, floating point and memory performance.

Smartphones Results Result
difference
Price
ZTE Axon 7 ZTE Axon 7 quick review – a high-end smartphone at a reasonable price 4GB RAM 4033 0 % Check price
Motorola Moto Z Play Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 (8-core, Cortex-A53, 3GB RAM 4143 2.73 % Check price
Meizu Pro 6 Mediatek MT6797T Helio X25 (2-core, Cortex-A72, 2.5 GHz), 4GB RAM 5209 29.16 % Check price
Huawei P9 HiSilicon Kirin 955 (4-core, Cortex-A72, 2.5 GHz), 3/4GB RAM 5968 47.98 % Check price
Samsung Galaxy S7 Samsung Exynos 8 Octa (8890) (4-core, Exynos M1, 2.6 GHz), 4GB RAM 5391 33.67 % Check price
LG Nexus 5X Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 (MSM8992) (2-core, Cortex-A57, 2.0 GHz), 2GB RAM 2519 – 37.54 % Check price

Metal 3 is the latest version of Vellamo’s CPU benchmark.

Smartphones Results Result
difference
Price
ZTE Axon 7 ZTE Axon 7 quick review – a high-end smartphone at a reasonable price 4GB RAM 3592 0 % Check price
Motorola Moto Z Play Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 (8-core, Cortex-A53, 3GB RAM 1542 – 57.07 % Check price
Meizu Pro 6 Mediatek MT6797T Helio X25 (2-core, Cortex-A72, 2.5 GHz), 4GB RAM 3184 – 11.36 % Check price
Huawei P9 HiSilicon Kirin 955 (4-core, Cortex-A72, 2.5 GHz), 3/4GB RAM 3103 – 13.61 % Check price
Samsung Galaxy S7 Samsung Exynos 8 Octa (8890) (4-core, Exynos M1, 2.6 GHz), 4GB RAM 3472 – 3.34 % Check price
LG Nexus 5X Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 (MSM8992) (2-core, Cortex-A57, 2.0 GHz), 2GB RAM 2126 – 40.81 % Check price

Vellamo 2 Metal measures the CPU subsystem performance of mobile processors.

Smartphones Results Result
difference
Price
ZTE Axon 7 ZTE Axon 7 quick review – a high-end smartphone at a reasonable price 4GB RAM 2340 0 % Check price
Motorola Moto Z Play Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 (8-core, Cortex-A53, 3GB RAM 821 – 64.91 % Check price
Meizu Pro 6 Mediatek MT6797T Helio X25 (2-core, Cortex-A72, 2.5 GHz), 4GB RAM 1121 – 52.09 % Check price
Huawei P9 HiSilicon Kirin 955 (4-core, Cortex-A72, 2.5 GHz), 3/4GB RAM 2132 – 8.89 % Check price
Samsung Galaxy S7 Samsung Exynos 8 Octa (8890) (4-core, Exynos M1, 2.6 GHz), 4GB RAM 2258 – 3.5 % Check price
LG Nexus 5X Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 (MSM8992) (2-core, Cortex-A57, 2.0 GHz), 2GB RAM 860 – 63.25 % Check price

GPU

The T-Rex 2.7 test is based on ES 2.0/GL 3.0 and includes highly detailed textures, materials, complex geometry, particles with animated textures and a post-process motion blur effect. The graphics pipeline also features planar reflections, specular highlights and soft-shadows.

Smartphones Results Result
difference
Price
ZTE Axon 7 ZTE Axon 7 quick review – a high-end smartphone at a reasonable price; ; 4GB RAM 91 0 % Check price
Motorola Moto Z Play Qualcomm Snapdragon 625; GPU: Adreno 506, ; 3GB RAM 23 – 74.73 % Check price
Meizu Pro 6 Mediatek MT6797T Helio X25; GPU: Mali-T880 MP4, ; 4GB RAM 39 – 57.14 % Check price
Huawei P9 HiSilicon Kirin 955; GPU: Mali-T880 MP4, ; 3/4GB RAM 38 – 58.24 % Check price
Samsung Galaxy S7 Samsung Exynos 8 Octa (8890); GPU: Mali-T880 MP12, ; 4GB RAM 83 – 8.79 % Check price
LG Nexus 5X Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 (MSM8992); GPU: Adreno 418, 0.6 GHz ; 2GB RAM 37 – 59.34 % Check price

The Manhattan 3.0 test is based on ES 3.0 / GL 4.1 and uses deferred rendering and multi-render target (MRT) for the geometry pass, diffuse and specular lightning. It also features complex effects such as depth shadow map, cloaking effect, post-process effects (bloom, depth of field), occlusion query and animated volumetric light shafts.

Smartphones Results Result
difference
Price
ZTE Axon 7 ZTE Axon 7 quick review – a high-end smartphone at a reasonable price; ; 4GB RAM 48 0 % Check price
Motorola Moto Z Play Qualcomm Snapdragon 625; GPU: Adreno 506, ; 3GB RAM 9.8 – 79.58 % Check price
Meizu Pro 6 Mediatek MT6797T Helio X25; GPU: Mali-T880 MP4, ; 4GB RAM 18 – 62.5 % Check price
Huawei P9 HiSilicon Kirin 955; GPU: Mali-T880 MP4, ; 3/4GB RAM 19 – 60.42 % Check price
Samsung Galaxy S7 Samsung Exynos 8 Octa (8890); GPU: Mali-T880 MP12, ; 4GB RAM 40 – 16.67 % Check price
LG Nexus 5X Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 (MSM8992); GPU: Adreno 418, 0.6 GHz ; 2GB RAM 16 – 66.67 % Check price

In this test, 3DMark’s Unlimited engine uses a fixed frame interval and renders exactly the same frames in every run on every device. The frames are rendered in 720p “offscreen” while the display is updated with small frame thumbnails every 100 frames to indicate progress.

Smartphones Results Result
difference
Price
ZTE Axon 7 ZTE Axon 7 quick review – a high-end smartphone at a reasonable price; ; 4GB RAM 29475 0 % Check price
Motorola Moto Z Play Qualcomm Snapdragon 625; GPU: Adreno 506, ; 3GB RAM 13942 – 52.7 % Check price
Meizu Pro 6 Mediatek MT6797T Helio X25; GPU: Mali-T880 MP4, ; 4GB RAM 16447 – 44.2 % Check price
Huawei P9 HiSilicon Kirin 955; GPU: Mali-T880 MP4, ; 3/4GB RAM 19974 – 32.23 % Check price
Samsung Galaxy S7 Samsung Exynos 8 Octa (8890); GPU: Mali-T880 MP12, ; 4GB RAM 29162 – 1.06 % Check price
LG Nexus 5X Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 (MSM8992); GPU: Adreno 418, 0.6 GHz ; 2GB RAM 18744 – 36.41 % Check price

Temperatures and comfort

Axon 7 did an amazing job in our temperature test in which we usually measure the maximum degrees in three different areas on the back of the device. Before we do that, however, we put it through several hours of 3D gaming simulated with the help of the Epic Citadel application.The hottest point was in the camera area but it barely differed from the maximum values in the other two areas which means that the temperature spreads evenly and most importantly it doesn’t reach disturbing limits even after a continuous load.

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Camera

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The main camera of the smartphone is 20MP and it features a double LED flashlight, autofocus, 1.1µm pixel size, f/1.8 aperture and optical image stabilization. Several work modes will also catch your attention. This includes a multiple exposure that allows you to combine two or more photos, a magical exposure to create impressive photos of moving objects (the use of a tripod is recommended), as well as a super night mode in which you can adjust the shutter speed and thus allow the camera to take in more light and capture the best shot at low light. Here you will also find a panorama mode, as well as video recording modes for time-lapse and slow-motion videos. Anyway, in the camera settings menu, you can see an option for recording a 4K video at 30fps. Last but not least, a manual mode is also available, offering an opportunity to regulate the ISO, white balance, exposure, focus etc. The front camera is 8MP with a f/2.2 aperture and option for Full HD video recording.

Modes and settings

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Photos

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Video

Verdict

Top specs go hand in hand with top price and this is quite normal. But what if a company that is not at the top of the pyramid of the smartphone market offers a device which is not inferior to other high-end smartphones? ZTE have tried doing exactly this and have succeeded to a large extent. Their Axon 7 looks amazing and provides high-end features.

Furthermore, the extremely detailed 5.5-inch Super AMOLED display is complemented by two powerful front-facing stereo speakers. The performance is taken care of by a Snapdragon 820, while the benchmark results of the model even surpassed those of Samsung Galaxy S7 and this didn’t affect the external temperatures which remained low even at continuous load. Additionally, the various software features that the ZTE user interface offers make us truly appreciate this aspect of the smartphone specs. Mobile photography fans should also be pleased with the 20MP camera with a f/1.8 aperture which did a good job taking photos and it can also record 4K videos.

You can find current information about the price of ZTE Axon 7 here: http://amzn.to/2qe9Y3b

Pros

  • Sleek design with metal body and thin profile
  • 5.5-inch Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels
  • Powerful Dolby Atmos stereo sound
  • Android 6.0 Marshmallow and user interface with useful software features
  • High CPU and GPU performance provided by Snapdragon 820
  • Low external temperatures after load
  • 20MP (f/1.8) camera with option for 4K video recording

Cons

  • No backlight on the three sensor buttons

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