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.

Jessica Dolcourt

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
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)