Remember the Kyocera Echo from back in the day? The phone with that incredibly annoying hinge that attaches 2 screens together? Well, it’s back! At least the concept is, anyway. And it’s from ZTE this time.
The Chinese tech giant has made a dual screen foldable smartphone, and they’re calling it as the Axon M. The M as they say, stands for Multitasking, Multifunction etc.
So how is the phone anyway? One word, bold!
ZTE has not been afraid to launch this completely rebellious design into the market. In a world of slim, beautiful handsets, this phone is strikingly chunky and heavy. It has screens on both the sides which can be unfolded like opening a book, from behind.
There is gorilla glass 5 protection on both sides, which gives a little peace to the mind while settling it down. Because it’s a touchscreen on both sides, you’ll have to be a little gentle with this one.
There is only a single camera on the thing, which is interesting and smart at the same time. Since there are displays on both sides, you really don’t need a dedicated front camera.
In the camera interface, when you switch to the rear camera from the front or vice versa, it tells you to flip the phone! When you flip it, the backside screen turns on and acts as a viewfinder. That’s pretty awesome if you ask me.
Quality wise, the 20 mp sensor isn’t gonna blow your pants off by any means. The initial impressions of the image quality are pretty average. But that’s not the focus here anyway.
The phone is pretty thick, as mentioned earlier. It is about a full centimeter, maybe more. It’s a normal 5.1 inch 1080p LCD display until you flip open the second screen. Then you get this parallel LCD real estate to work with, and you can do 3 basic things with it.
Mirror mode, where you can play the same content on both the screens while folding your phone down like a tent. So two people can share a movie over coffee.
Extended mode, where you can extend the contents of one screen, across both the screens. This is helpful if you want to view your content on a larger display, but can’t find a tablet or a TV nearby.
Dual mode, where you can use the two displays as independent units and launch 2 different apps on them. This is essentially an advanced version of the split window function of Android 7.0+ devices. It looks pretty dope though.
You can use three finger gesture to extend the content of one screen over to the other. It is on pre-release software, so it doesn’t work as seamlessly as expected. But I’m sure software updates will fix all that stuff right up.
As gimmicky as this entire phone is, I kinda like it! The whole heavy metal block like feel in the hand, the robust hinge for the second screen, everything has a chunky, industrial feel to it. That’s sort of my thing!
The Kyocera Echo was a failure because the phone was an engineering disaster. The hinges were very difficult to manage and moreover, Android OS wasn’t Marie enough to fully use all that storage back then. I think now is the right time to do these fun little experiments, and ZTE thinks so too.
But do I recommend buying this if you’re lucky enough to be an AT&T customer? Not really. And yes, this phone is an AT&T exclusive, if you were wondering. And I don’t think you should buy it just yet!
The current market circumstances don’t seem in the favor of it, and besides, ZTE had to spend a lot of time making this phone. As a result, the hardware is already dated.
It is still a pretty capable phone, with a Snapdragon 821 CPU, 4 gigs of RAM, 64 GB storage and a 3180 mAh battery. It will be fine for a year, but I can’t guarantee it’s relevance for any time more than that. The SoC is already a year old.
At the price of 25 USD for 30 months on AT&T, I don’t think it’s a good idea to get one just yet. But if you’re someone like me who drools over every weird new phone out there, you can definitely consider one for yourself. Just be ready to deal with some minor gripes that might come along with that unconventional design language.