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ZTE's Axon 7 Mini prepares for budget battle (hands-on)

The mostly-metal Android phone drops its size and yes, specs, to compete at an even lower price than the full-size Axon 7.

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Jessica Dolcourt
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Jessica Dolcourt

Editorial Director / CNET Money, How-To & Performance Optimization

Jessica Dolcourt leads the CNET Money, How-To, and Performance teams. A California native who grew up in Silicon Valley, she's passionate about connecting people with the highest standard of advice to help them reach their goals.

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It's funny when you think anyone could refer to a phone with a 5.2-inch screen as "mini". But with the ZTE Axon 7 Mini and many other so-called diminutive devices, smallness is about cost and scaled-back hardware goods even more than it is about size.

On the outside, the all-metal 5.5-inch ZTE Axon 7 flagship and this mostly-metal 7 Mini look almost identical. Look closely and you spot a textured plastic material on the double speaker grilles.

Does this Axon 7 Mini look 'mini' to you?

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Inside, the Mini has been almost completely rebuilt. The ZTE-inflected Android software, fingerprint reader (with NFC support) and front-facing camera are the same. Everything else is scaled-back, from the main camera and processor (which won't support Google Daydream, unlike the Axon 7) to the phone's battery-charging speed, and yes, the battery capacity itself.

What you get in exchange is a really good-looking device in gold or grey, that will cost €249 when it comes to Europe and China this month (we don't have prices in RMB) and $300 when it comes to the US in October through direct-to-consumer channels. The price in Euros converts to about £215 and AU$370.

ZTE Axon 7ZTE Axon 7 Mini
Display size, resolution 5.5-inch; 2,560x1,440 pixels5.2-inch; 1,920x1,080 pixels
Pixel density 538ppi424ppi
Dimensions (Inches) 6x3x0.34 in5.8x2.8x0.31 in
Dimensions (Millimeters) 151.8x75x8.7 mm 147.5x71x7.8 mm
Weight (Ounces, Grams) 6.53 oz; 185 g5.4 oz; 153 g
Mobile software Android 6.0.1 MarshmallowAndroid 6.0.1 Marshmallow
Camera 20-megapixel16-megapixel
Front-facing camera 8-megapixel8-megapixel
Video capture 4K1,080p HD
Processor 2.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 8201.5GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 617
Storage 64GB, 128GB (varies by region)32GB
RAM 4GB, 6GB2GB
Expandable storage Up to 128GBUp to 128GB
Battery 3,000mAh (nonremovable)2,705mAh (nonremovable)
Fingerprint sensor Back coverBack cover
Connector USB-CUSB-C
Special features Dual-SIM optionDual-SIM option
Price off-contract (USD) $400$300
Price (GBP) Converts to £345Converts to £215 (from Euros)
Price (AUD) Converts to AU$605Converts to AU$369 (from Euros)