Atmos Boosts ZTE Audio

ZTE’s new smartphone, the Axon 7, will be a premium model with a focus on audio quality – although the display will still be a high-end AMOLED device.

The Axon 7 is a 5.5″ smartphone with 2560 x 1440 resolution. As audio is the key specification, ZTE chose Chinese pianist Lang Lang as its brand ambassador for the handset. “Not only does the AXON 7 mirror Lang Lang’s urban and sophisticated style,” said CEO of ZTE Mobile Devices Adam Zeng, “we’ve also designed the smartphone especially for music and audio lovers. We’ve consulted music professors, and set up a dedicated sound design lab to achieve the best sound possible.”

ZTE built in a dual speaker arrangement, with sound coming from two dedicated audio chips from AKM (the AK4961 and AK4490). Dolby Atmos surround sound is also built in. These features do not only apply to music playback, but all sound coming from the phone, such as map navigation. The phone can pick up voices from 8m away.

For the chassis, ZTE turned to Designworks – a subsidiary of BMW Group. Designworks was taken on to enhance user interaction, and was behind the placing of the fingerprint sensor on the rear of the device.

The camera was another area of optimisation. ZTE says that the camera function is ‘similar to an SLR professional-quality camera’. The 20MP rear unit (using a sensor from Samsung) uses dual image stabilisation and ‘advanced’ auto focus, scene selection and white balance. The front camera is 8MP.

To go with the Axon 7, ZTE also launched a VR headset called the ZTE VR. The phone is used as the display in this device. It is one of the first VR products to support Google’s new Daydream platform (Google Sets Specs for New VR Platform).

Available now, the Axon 7 comes in three models: Basic, Standard and Premium. The Basic model has 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage; the Standard and Premium models up this to 6GB of RAM (a smartphone first) and 128GB. The Premium model also has a pressure-sensitive display.

All three variants of the phone have a 3,250mAh battery and utilise Quick Charge 3.0. They run Android 6.0 (with ZTE’s MiFavor 4.0 skin) on a Snapdragon 820 chipset (2.15GHz).

ZTE is selling the phone now. Prices start at CNY2,400 ($365) (Basic), rising to CNY2,740 ($415) (Standard) and CNY3,400 ($515) (Premium). The ZTE VR headset costs CNY430 ($65). All prices are ex VAT. ZTE hopes to launch the Axon 7 in other markets soon.