Chinese phone maker ZTE is known to launch smartphones in all price ranges, and most of them are regular phones. However, the new Axon M launched by ZTE is no ordinary phone, it has two full-sized screens attached together with a hinge. This has taken flip or foldable phones to another level altogether.
Just when there was a growing argument that smartphone makers are not being innovative enough, this is truly something noticeable. The Axon M is an ordinary Android smartphone on the software front, but it makes use of two 5.2-inch Full HD displays to provide a much larger usable screen area, almost like a tablet.
Both the screens can be used in multiple ways. They can combine together to form a single display and stretch the user interface on both of them, like you would use in a tablet. Else, you can also run two separate apps altogether on the two screens. ZTE claims that at least the “Top 100” apps on Google’s Play Store will be able to run on the phone without any complications.
ZTE uses Android’s native ‘split-screen’ feature to allow two different apps to run on separate screens. For the stretched mode where both the screens act as one, the phone will run the tablet version of the app. This is of course only possible if the particular app has a tablet version, which not all apps do. You can also watch two different videos on each screen and toggle the sound between them on the fly.
Since the screens are connected with a hinge, you can use the phone in many ways. One is of course the full-fledged both screens open manner which is how it is intended to be used. Another would be to tent it upside down so the two screens face opposite sides and two people can view the same (or different) content simultaneously. Lastly, you can just use a single screen and fold the other screen to the back. You will need to be careful while taking this approach as the rear side of the phone has a screen too even though both of them are protected with Corning Gorilla Glass 5.
Looking at the general specifications, the phone seems quite power-packed in this regard. It comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 chipset, packs in 4GB of RAM and houses a 20-megapixel camera. The Axon M has a 3,180mAh battery pack which ZTE claims can manage to run a full day even with both screens. However, as one would expect from a phone of this form-factor, the thickness is 12.1mm. In comparison, the iPhone 8 has a thickness of 7.5mm.
Although this same concept was tried by Kyocera back in 2011, it obviously had its own shortcomings and wasn’t continued for long. However, ZTE argues that this format has the ability to be successful now as the processors have become more powerful than ever. Even the software has got more capabilities including Android’s split-screen feature which makes everything more convenient for such a phone.
For now, the ZTE Axon M will be in partnership with AT&T in the US and Docomo in Japan. It will most probably be made available before the year ends. As for the pricing, there isn’t an official announcement from the brand yet but the phone will be priced like a premium flagship smartphone.
Even though the Axon M won’t be a mainstream phone, it is good to see innovation happening in the smartphone space.