ZTE Axon M’s dual screen foldable smartphone will make you do a double take (Hands-on)


With ZTE’s AXON M, you can watch videos on one display and scroll through your Twitter feed on the other.

ZTE has a new Axon phone to show off, and while it’s not a follow up to last year’s Axon flagship, it is pretty much one of the coolest devices we’ve encountered so far in 2017. That is because the new Axon M is a foldable dual screen phone. Because two screens are better than one! At least thats the concept behind the Axon M.

The ZTE Axon M houses two 5.2″ display

ZTE did research and learned that most folks do prefer larger screen phones, but that they top out at 6” when the phone stops becoming pocket friendly. Their solution is to provide users with not one, but two 5.2” screens in the Axon M. Each display is a 1080P TFT FHQ Gorilla Glass display with 426 PPI.

With the ZTE Axon M, the second screen is able fold out to a 180 degree angle, so the device can be used flat or in a laptop-like mode. And that’s where the possibilities roll in – and oh, there are so, so many, for this form factor.

Mirror mode is useful for two people watching movies on either side, or playing a game like Battleship.

Extended mode takes a single application and extends it across 2 screens. For example, that means double the real estate for your Facebook News feed.

Dual (multitasking) Mode

Dual (multitasking) mode lets you run a different application on each screen – so you can have your email opened on one display while viewing your calendar on the other. It’s pretty much a multitasker’s dream, and so much better than having just a split screen window mode on a single smartphone display. A simple 3 finger swipe moves an application over to the opposite display.

Mirror Mode

Under the hood, the ZTE Axon M is powered by an 821 Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and 4GB of RAM, and it comes running Android Nougat (7.1.2). The rear-facing camera sports a 20MP sensor with dual image stabilization, and a dual LED flash, and it can record 4k video at 30fps. Its aluminum full metal unibody weighs 230 grams, and it comes with a micro-SD card slot for expansion. The Axon M even includes a 3.5mm audio jack along with an AKM 4962 HiFi main chipset for HiFi listening and recording.

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One thing is for sure – the ZTE Axon M is one of the most exciting and unique mobile devices we’ve seen in a while. Personally, it brought me back to my fond memories of using a Sidekick. Of course, it remains to be seen how many folks will gravitate to this kind of form factor, but from what we can tell, ZTE has done a great job with the first gen Axon M.

The ZTE Axon M will be available from  AT&T. We’ll update this story once we have pricing and availability.

Update: The ZTE Axon M is an AT&T exclusive in the U.S. and it will retail for about $725, or 30 $24.99 payments. It will be available for the holidays and will also come with a generous 2 year warranty.

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7 comments… add one
  • Lynn Lopez October 18, 2017, 9:58 am

    Wow, I am very excited to see this! I hope Samsung and Apple jump on some variation of this. The one complaint I can make is that the phone seems rather thick when not folded and you want to use it as an actual phone. Plus when it is closed it seems thick for a pocket. The ultimate goal would be to have two very thin sides so that when folded take up no more room than the thickest Apple or Samsung today.

    • Helena Stone October 18, 2017, 2:10 pm

      It is thicker and heavier than your typical smartphone. But it’s still pretty pocket friendly. So it’s a trade off – you have to be willing to have that extra bulk in your pocket in exchange for that extra screen.

  • P51D007 October 18, 2017, 11:53 am

    The “only” real problem I see with this, if I read other reports, is that this will be an exclusive to at&t…or at least locked to at&t.
    I remember when the Dell Streak 5 came out. I jumped and got one directly from Dell instead of waiting for at&t to get them. At the time, 3.5″ screens were the norm. I wanted a LARGER screen. I never saw them in the at&t stores (probably because they were so tied to Apple). Never heard them advertised. They died a slow death, but were pretty good for what I used them for.
    I’m afraid, if true these are exclusive to at&t, the same thing will happen. When you walk into a carrier store, it’s as if you stumbled into an Apple/Samsung store. You might find a few odd ball, LOW END phones, but it’s pretty much Apple/Samsung.
    At least someone was willing to step up to the plate and come up with something DIFFERENT. I would have preferred having the screens close in on each other, but that would have created a need for another screen for notifications.
    Kudos to ZTE for thinking a little more outside the box.

    • Helena Stone October 18, 2017, 2:11 pm

      I hope that there will be unlocked version available too!

  • Julie Strietelmeier October 18, 2017, 3:53 pm

    Is the hinge floppy, or can it lock to create a “tablet”? If it can lock, I foresee that devices like this one will finally be the death of dedicated tablets.

  • SNi October 19, 2017, 1:31 pm

    Looks almost exactly like the NEC Medias W N-05E from late 2013/early 2014… See: http://www.ph2dot1.com/2014/02/more-nec-medias-w-n05-e.html

    • JG October 23, 2017, 9:27 pm

      I miss my old N-05E. It was so much fun, and after a while your brain really does filter out the gap between the screens (aka ‘bevel’). It bricked itself after a while, still have it in a drawer somewhere…

      Hope ZTE have brought the concept up to date in this iteration. Reducing or eliminating the bevel would be a start.

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