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Wait, there's a dual-screen folding phone that costs only $155?

Yep: The ZTE Axon M was $725 when it hit the market two years ago. Now it's a steal.

Rick Broida Senior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Rick Broida
2 min read

It has a hinge down the center, but the Axon M is still a pretty impressive dual-screen phone -- especially for $155.

Josh Miller/CNET

You thought Samsung was first to market with a folding dual-screen phone? Nope: That honor goes to the Kyocera Echo, which dates all the way back to 2011. Along the way, a handful of other manufacturers tried their hands at it, with varying degrees of success (mostly zero). However, about two years ago, ZTE unveiled the Axon M, without question one of the best efforts to date -- but saddled with AT&T-only availability and a $725 price tag.

Read more: Want a Galaxy Fold? Here's your chance to win one

Cheap things come to those who wait. While supplies last, RUSS Cellular via Amazon has the unlocked ZTE Axon M Z999 GSM Smartphone for $154.99. If that supply runs out, check eBay: I found at least one seller offering it for $149.99. (For the extra $5, I'd choose Amazon for the faster delivery and easier returns.) Note that CNET may get a share of revenue from the sale of the products featured on this page. Update: Way down on the product page is a note indicating this is a refurbished phone, not a new one. Therefore, I strongly recommend checking eBay in search of a new one, especially if you can get it for the same price (or less).

Because this is unlocked, it's no longer limited to AT&T. You can use it with T-Mobile as well, or just about any GSM-using carrier (such as Cricket or Metro).

Before we go any further, let's address the elephant in the room: The hinge that runs down the middle of the two screens. That's in stark contrast to the Galaxy Fold , which unfolds to create a single, seamless display (problematic though it may be). When you're doing "full-screen" things on the Axon M, you'll be looking at two screens with a black line running down the center.

Obviously that's no good for things like watching movies, browsing web pages and playing certain games. But it's just fine for other tasks, like keeping your calendar open on one screen and your inbox on the other.

You'll want to read CNET's ZTE Axon M review to learn more -- keeping in mind that it was written nearly two years ago, and therefore doesn't take into consideration the unlocking, the huge price drop or any subsequent OS updates.

Having not tried one myself, I can't say if this would really make for a good daily driver. Certainly it didn't make the cut for the best phones for 2019. But for $155, I'm mightily tempted to grab one just for novelty/experimentation/backup-phone purposes.

Your thoughts?

Watch this: ZTE Axon M is a quirky phone with double the display

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