Notebookcheck

ZTE Axon Mini Premium Smartphone Review

Michael Moser, Stefanie Voigt (translated by Liala Stieglitz), 03/15/2016

Pressure sensitive. ZTE's Axon Mini Premium Edition has a total of three methods for unlocking the screen: Force Touch, fingerprint reader and iris scanner - and that in the upper mid-range! The configuration is impressive and everyday performance is good. However, it has some shortcomings.

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For the original German review, see here.

The Chinese manufacturer ZTE expands its portfolio by a smaller alternative to its current ZTE Axon Elite flagship in the form of the Axon Mini Premium Edition. The generous configuration also meets this claim. For example, the Axon Mini features a fingerprint reader and voice recognition as biometric identification options. The performance base is also well-designed with Qualcomm Snapdragon 616 SoC alongside the integrated Adreno 405 graphics solution, 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of internal storage. The 5.2-inch pressure sensitive screen has a resolution of 1920x10980 pixels. The review sample is currently priced at around 300 Euros (~$333).

We use Samsung's Galaxy A3 (2016)Medion's Life X5020Huawei's P8 lite and OnePlus' X as comparison devices in this test.

ZTE Axon Mini Premium (Axon Series)
Graphics adapter
Memory
3072 MB 
Display
5.2 inch 16:9, 1920 x 1080 pixel, 3 touch points, capacitive, pressure sensitive, Super AMOLED, glossy: yes
Storage
32 GB eMMC Flash, 32 GB 
, 22.51 GB free
Connections
1 USB 2.0, Audio Connections: 3.5 mm jack, Card Reader: micro-SD max. 128 GB, 1 Fingerprint Reader, NFC, Brightness Sensor, Sensors: fingerprint authentication, iris scan, 3D Force Touch, accelerometer, proximity sensor, brightness sensor
Networking
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 4.0, Cat 4 LTE (700/800/900/1800/2100/2600 MHz); GSM/UMTS (850/900/1800/1900 MHz), WCDMA (900/2100 MHz), Dual SIM, GPS
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 7.9 x 143.5 x 70 ( = 0.31 x 5.65 x 2.76 in)
Battery
2800 mAh, Standby 2G (according to manufacturer): 24 h, Standby 3G (according to manufacturer): 24 h
Operating System
Android 5.1 Lollipop
Camera
Primary Camera: 8 MPix videos @ 720p
Secondary Camera: 13 MPix auto focus, dual LED flash, videos @ 1080p
Additional features
Speakers: mono speaker, Keyboard: virtual QWERTY keyboard, Keyboard Light: yes, modular power supply with USB cable, stereo headset, cover, quick start guide, Google package, AccuWeather, WPS Office, Perfect Piano, virus scanner, audio recorder, personal assistant, AliveShare, 24 Months Warranty, dual-SIM, form factor: nano-SIM (1x shared with micro-SD), fanless
Weight
140 g ( = 4.94 oz / 0.31 pounds), Power Supply: 56 g ( = 1.98 oz / 0.12 pounds)
Price
389 Euro
Note: The manufacturer may use components from different suppliers including display panels, drives or memory sticks with similar specifications.

 

Case

ZTE's Axon Mini Premium Edition is quite large and thick compared to OnePlus' X and Samsung's Galaxy A3 (2016), but is on par with the other rivals. The height of 7.9 millimeters (~0.3 in) in particular clearly towers over some opponents. However, the camera module is installed flush in the casing. Thanks to the lightly rounded rear, the 140 gram (~5 oz) smartphone scores in terms of haptics. The review sample features the color "Ion Gold", but it also available in "Chromium Silver". The latter has not yet found its way to Germany.

ZTE's Axon Mini Premium Edition stands out from its rather similarly designed rivals. It has many playful details like the triangle pattern that is found above and below the display, on the physical keys and between the rear-facing camera and flash, which is found in all ZTE's flagship models. The back looks quite elegant with a leatherette surface at the upper and lower edge. The aluminum casing gives a high-quality impression and relies on a unibody build. The stability is exemplary; the review sample coped with strong pressure without any visible or audible effects. The user cannot replace the non-removable battery. The combo slot for a nano SIM and micro-SD card, as well as the power button are on the right. The user will have to opt for either two SIM cards or a SIM and micro-SD card. The 2.5D display is Corning Gorilla Glass protected, which juts out over the bezel slightly.

Connectivity

ZTE's Axon Mini is based on a 64-bit enabled Qualcomm Snapdragon 616 MSM8939v2 mid-range octa-core SoC that clocks at up to 1.7 GHz and its integrated Adreno 405 graphics unit. A 3 GB LPDDR3 working memory supports the configuration. 32 GB (net: 22.51 GB) of storage that can be expanded by up to 128 GB via a micro-SD card is available. In this case, however, the dual-SIM feature cannot be used because the second SIM card and micro-SD card share one slot. Apps can be moved to the micro-SD card provided they support this.

The installed interfaces, such as the 3.5 mm jack and micro-USB 2.0 port, are standard fare. There are now better alternatives, especially in the USB port category with the faster USB 3.0 standard and USB-C port. USB OTG for connecting USB peripherals is also supported. In addition, NFC and Android Beam for data sharing between two Android devices are present.

Android 5.1.1 Lollipop
Android 5.1.1 Lollipop

Software

ZTE's Axon Mini relies on Android 5.1.1 Lollipop operating system. The user interface, MiFavor UI 3.2.0, has been modified significantly. An app drawer is not present. The apps simply appear on the home screen. However, creating folders is possible when required. In addition to the standard Android navigation buttons, there are various options for customizing the desktop design and background pictures, colors or animation for changing the home screens. ZTE has also adapted the familiar screenshot feature of pressing the power button and volume simultaneously. The screenshot can be edited or highlighted and captioned directly before saving it. Thus, extra apps are unnecessary. An update to Android 6 operating system has not yet been announced.

ZTE has preloaded some proprietary tools like backup, ActiveShare or Mi Assistant as well as AccuWeather and WPS Office and the Google standard apps ex-factory. More information about the manufacturer's apps can be found in the detailed review of the ZTE Axon Elite. The overall system always ran stably in the test. As with its larger sibling from the Axon lineup, the Axon Mini also offers various unlocking options. The fingerprint reader on the back did a very good job and was reliable and fast. The smartphone can also be unlocked via voice input, which worked decently, but is slightly awkward in everyday use. Furthermore, unlocking via Sky Eye iris scanner is possible. However, this is very inconvenient and not always reliable.

The smartphone can also be kept unlocked via On-Body Detection, Trusted Devices (via NFC or Bluetooth) or Trusted Places. Users who prefer conventional code inputting will be pleased with the more complex input patterns, thanks to Force Touch. Numbers, special characters and letters can be combined with varying pressure in the so-called 3D passwords. Force Touch can also be used as shortcuts for apps. For example, strong pressure opens various options in compatible apps. "Perfect Piano" renders tones louder when higher pressure is applied. Finally, strong pressure triggers fast-forward in the video app.

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GPS Test outdoors
GPS Test outdoors
GPS Test indoors
GPS Test indoors

Communication & GPS

The Axon Mini supports HSDPA+ (download max.: 42.2 Mbit/s; upload max.: 5.76 Mbit/s) and LTE Cat 4 (download max.: 150 Mbit/s; upload max.: 50 Mbit/s). The review sample also covers a wide frequency range in all data connections, which always enables a good reception within Europe. Overall, the reception quality in the rural German O2 network was good in the test. The Axon Mini provides all important standards with Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac in both the 2.4 and 5 GHz networks. The signal to the Telecom hybrid router at a distance of approximately 10 meters (33 ft) and through four walls was good; pages opened sufficiently fast. Bluetooth 4.0 and NFC cover near-field data sharing.

The Axon Mini uses A-GPS and GLONASS for localization. Tracking was very fast and accurate indoors in the test with the GPS Test app; connecting to satellites outdoors was even more accurate.

Telephone & Call Quality

The phone app and dual-SIM functionality are implemented well in the system. The first provides all the important features with call logs, contacts and favorite lists. It is also possible to zoom the keypad slightly when necessary. Various settings like call priorities and data transfer are available for both SIM cards.

We made a few test calls to check the microphone and speaker. The contact reported an impeccable understandability with a slight base noise, and that "s" has a slight hissing sound. We also noticed this quality to the same extent. The installed speaker does a good hands-free job. However, the sound soon becomes tinny at higher volumes.

Cameras & Multimedia

The front-facing camera in ZTE's Axon Mini has a resolution of 8 megapixels (3264x1836 pixels). The beautify option covers the photo with a five-level soft-focus, and thus hides the model's minor skin blemishes. Triggering via smile detection is present for selfies. The lens records videos at 720p. The image quality is acceptable with its vivid color reproduction, even though the sharpness is never entirely satisfying. Its low-light performance suffers under heavy image noise that increases exponentially the darker the light gets. The "screen flash" is not strong enough to brighten up the object in the dark, and does not help much in the dim light.

The primary camera on the back of the handset has an auto focus and a dual LED flash, and releases very quickly. It has a resolution of 13 megapixels (4092x3072 pixels). As well as the automatic mode, the review sample offers various settings such as manual, HDR, panorama and interval shootings. Photos can be stored directly on the micro-SD card. The camera records videos in Full HD. Some deficiencies of ZTE's Axon Mini are evident in image quality in the photo comparison. The overall brightness of the photos is considerably lower and the sharpness is somewhat lacking, particularly when objects are not sufficiently illuminated. Besides that, a light bluish haze is noticed in the pictures. However, this can be balanced somewhat in the manual mode. The low light performance is acceptable, although the image noise increases quite noticeably.

Front-facing camera with flash
Front-facing camera with flash
Primary camera with flash
Primary camera with flash
Primary camera low light
Primary camera low light

Image Comparison

Choose a scene and navigate within the first image. One click changes the position on touchscreens. One click on the zoomed-in image opens the original in a new window. The first image shows the scaled photograph of the test device.

Scene 1Scene 2Scene 3
Screenshot of ColorChecker colors. Original colors are displayed in the lower half of each patch.
Screenshot of ColorChecker colors. Original colors are displayed in the lower half of each patch.

We examined the color accuracy, using ColorChecker Passport that was photographed as full-screen as possible under controlled light conditions. A minor oversaturation of colors becomes visible; particularly the reproduction of white, the grayscale levels and black are slightly discolored. The other colors are not always exact, but they still look natural.

We assess the sharpness with a test chart that is also photographed in artificial light as full-screen as possible. The image sharpness in the center is compelling. However, it decreases significantly toward the edges and in the entire lower third. More image aberrations become obvious in fonts and color gradients.

Accessories

ZTE's Axon Mini Premium Edition comes with a SIM tool, quick start guide and warranty card as well as a 1.5-A power supply and USB data cable. The manufacturer has also included a white stereo headset and transparent plastic case in the handset's box. Not many manufacturers include the latter.

Warranty

A 24-month warranty period is included for the smartphone; the accessories and battery are covered for only 6 months.

Input Devices & Handling

The optional TouchPal X keyboard is set by default in ZTE's Axon Mini Premium. It offers various settings and additional features such as swype inputting and word suggestions. However, the standard Android keyboard or another alternative from the Play Store can also be enabled.

The capacitive touchscreen detects every input up into the edges instantly. Force Touch also responds quickly and with decent vibration feedback, and precisely implements different levels of force. Furthermore, the gliding properties of the screen's surface are good. The volume rocker and power button offer a clear pressure point and are fitted accurately in the casing.

Display

Subpixel photo under microscope
Subpixel photo under microscope

The Super AMOLED screen in ZTE's Axon Mini Premium Edition measures at 5.2 inches. Its resolution of 1920x1080 pixels is category standard, and equates to a high pixel density of 424 PPI.

The panel's average brightness of 205.4 cd/m² is relatively low. OnePlus' X offers a considerably higher brightness in the same screen design. However, the maximum brightness climbs to an impressive 433 cd/m² when distributing bright and dark areas evenly (APL 50); it is as high as 579 cd/m² when the brightness sensor is enabled. ZTE's Axon Mini Premium Edition clearly outshines all rivals with that. On the other hand, the opponents distribute the brightness slightly more homogeneously than the review sample's 87%. The screen scores again with a black level of 0 cd/m² and an infinitely high contrast. Subjectively, the colors look rich, and black contents give a saturated and very vivid impression.

190
cd/m²
202
cd/m²
218
cd/m²
194
cd/m²
207
cd/m²
218
cd/m²
197
cd/m²
206
cd/m²
217
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 218 cd/m² Average: 205.4 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 87 %
Center on Battery: 207 cd/m²
Contrast: ∞:1 (Black: 0 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 10.97 | 0.4-29.43 Ø6.3
ΔE Greyscale 6.21 | 0.64-98 Ø6.5
Gamma: 1.62
ZTE Axon Mini Premium
Adreno 405, 616 MSM8939v2, 32 GB eMMC Flash
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
Mali-T720 MP2, 7578, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Medion Life X5020
Adreno 405, 615 MSM8939, 32 GB eMMC Flash
OnePlus X
Adreno 330, 801 MSM8974AA, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Huawei P8 lite
Mali-450 MP4, Kirin 620, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Screen
69%
71%
24%
43%
Brightness middle
207
386
86%
503
143%
312
51%
365
76%
Brightness
205
394
92%
481
135%
314
53%
353
72%
Brightness Distribution
87
88
1%
87
0%
91
5%
93
7%
Black Level *
0.72
0.42
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
10.97
1.11
90%
4.02
63%
6.28
43%
5.2
53%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
6.21
1.34
78%
5.44
12%
8.24
-33%
5.85
6%
Gamma
1.62 136%
2.12 104%
2.19 100%
2.12 104%
2.17 101%
CCT
7179 91%
6441 101%
7636 85%
8145 80%
7252 90%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 max. *
3.35
8.45
Contrast
699
869
Color Space (Percent of sRGB)
94.5388
91.25
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)
70.86

* ... smaller is better

We use a photospectrometer and the professional CalMAN software for a more accurate evaluation of the screen. The average DeltaE of 10.97 in ColorChecker is relatively high, the same as the grayscale levels with 6.21 (ideal value: less than 3). The gamma of 1.62 is too low, and the color temperature of 7179 slightly too high. Then again, the color reproduction is quite good with acceptably low aberrations. A minor bluish tint is visible in the grayscale level gradient due to the high color temperature. Generally, not many severe deficiencies that will be noticed in real world use.

ColorChecker
ColorChecker
Colorspace
Colorspace
Grayscale
Grayscale
Saturation Sweeps
Saturation Sweeps

Screen Flickering / PWM (Pulse-Width Modulation)

To dim the screen, some notebooks will simply cycle the backlight on and off in rapid succession - a method called Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) . This cycling frequency should ideally be undetectable to the human eye. If said frequency is too low, users with sensitive eyes may experience strain or headaches or even notice the flickering altogether.
Screen flickering / PWM detected 240 Hz

The display backlight flickers at 240 Hz (Likely utilizing PWM) .

The frequency of 240 Hz is relatively low, so sensitive users will likely notice flickering and experience eyestrain at the stated brightness setting and below.

In comparison: 52 % of all tested devices do not use PWM to dim the display. If PWM was detected, an average of 8773 (minimum: 43 - maximum: 142900) Hz was measured.

Our measurements show that the screen flickers slightly due to its relatively low frequency of 240 Hz - probably due to pulse width modulation (PWM). However, only sensitive users should notice that. The tester did not observe annoying flickering in routine use.

ZZTE's Axon Mini has a sufficiently high brightness for outdoor use with over 500 cd/m² when the brightness sensor is enabled. Only the glossy screen could thwart any such intentions.

The smartphone's viewing angles are stable. Only in extreme viewing angles minor brightness losses occur and the color temperature drops slightly. Colors do not invert due to the construction.

Performance

ZTE's Axon Mini Premium Edition uses Qualcomm's Snapdragon 616 MSM8939v2 octa-core SoC that clocks at up to 1.7 GHz and supports 64-bits. It can fall back on 3 GB of LPDDR3 RAM. The mid-range SoC always provides the smartphone with enough power to cope with routine tasks. It is no longer one of the fastest of its kind. The review sample can stand up to the latest Samsung Galaxy A3 (2016) quite well, and even outrun it in some tests, such as Linpack or Basemark OS II. The Axon Mini also fares quite well in the graphic tests such as 3DMark Ice Storm.

Geekbench 3
64 Bit Multi-Core Score (sort by value)
ZTE Axon Mini Premium
2978 Points ∼8%
Medion Life X5020
2721 Points ∼7% -9%
Huawei P8 lite
2754 Points ∼7% -8%
64 Bit Single-Core Score (sort by value)
ZTE Axon Mini Premium
688 Points ∼14%
Medion Life X5020
693 Points ∼14% +1%
Huawei P8 lite
588 Points ∼12% -15%
3DMark
2560x1440 Sling Shot OpenGL ES 3.0 Physics (sort by value)
ZTE Axon Mini Premium
949 Points ∼23%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
916 Points ∼22% -3%
Medion Life X5020
934 Points ∼23% -2%
OnePlus X
1117 Points ∼27% +18%
2560x1440 Sling Shot OpenGL ES 3.0 Graphics (sort by value)
ZTE Axon Mini Premium
162 Points ∼2%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
235 Points ∼3% +45%
Medion Life X5020
76 Points ∼1% -53%
OnePlus X
643 Points ∼8% +297%
2560x1440 Sling Shot OpenGL ES 3.0 (sort by value)
ZTE Axon Mini Premium
199 Points ∼3%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
281 Points ∼4% +41%
Medion Life X5020
95 Points ∼1% -52%
OnePlus X
710 Points ∼11% +257%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Physics (sort by value)
ZTE Axon Mini Premium
8208 Points ∼10%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
11653 Points ∼15% +42%
Medion Life X5020
7253 Points ∼9% -12%
OnePlus X
17156 Points ∼22% +109%
Huawei P8 lite
8206 Points ∼10% 0%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Graphics Score (sort by value)
ZTE Axon Mini Premium
8288 Points ∼2%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
6522 Points ∼1% -21%
Medion Life X5020
8156 Points ∼2% -2%
OnePlus X
14541 Points ∼3% +75%
Huawei P8 lite
5167 Points ∼1% -38%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Score (sort by value)
ZTE Axon Mini Premium
8270 Points ∼4%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
7229 Points ∼3% -13%
Medion Life X5020
7936 Points ∼4% -4%
OnePlus X
15051 Points ∼7% +82%
Huawei P8 lite
5629 Points ∼3% -32%
1920x1080 Ice Storm Extreme Physics (sort by value)
ZTE Axon Mini Premium
8548 Points ∼11%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
10827 Points ∼14% +27%
Medion Life X5020
7242 Points ∼9% -15%
Huawei P8 lite
7399 Points ∼10% -13%
1920x1080 Ice Storm Extreme Graphics (sort by value)
ZTE Axon Mini Premium
5149 Points ∼1%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
3937 Points ∼1% -24%
Medion Life X5020
5125 Points ∼1% 0%
Huawei P8 lite
3676 Points ∼1% -29%
1920x1080 Ice Storm Extreme Score (sort by value)
ZTE Axon Mini Premium
5648 Points ∼3%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
4585 Points ∼2% -19%
Medion Life X5020
5481 Points ∼3% -3%
Huawei P8 lite
4138 Points ∼2% -27%
1280x720 Ice Storm Standard Physics (sort by value)
ZTE Axon Mini Premium
8511 Points ∼5%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
10659 Points ∼7% +25%
Medion Life X5020
7122 Points ∼5% -16%
Huawei P8 lite
7238 Points ∼5% -15%
1280x720 Ice Storm Standard Graphics (sort by value)
ZTE Axon Mini Premium
10176 Points ∼1%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
7644 Points ∼1% -25%
Medion Life X5020
10115 Points ∼1% -1%
Huawei P8 lite
5732 Points ∼1% -44%
1280x720 Ice Storm Standard Score (sort by value)
ZTE Axon Mini Premium
9752 Points ∼1%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
8156 Points ∼1% -16%
Medion Life X5020
9251 Points ∼1% -5%
Huawei P8 lite
6010 Points ∼1% -38%
GFXBench 3.0
off screen Manhattan Offscreen OGL (sort by value)
ZTE Axon Mini Premium
5.3 fps ∼0%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
4.1 fps ∼0% -23%
Medion Life X5020
5.3 fps ∼0% 0%
OnePlus X
8.6 fps ∼0% +62%
on screen Manhattan Onscreen OGL (sort by value)
ZTE Axon Mini Premium
6.1 fps ∼0%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
8.4 fps ∼0% +38%
Medion Life X5020
5.5 fps ∼0% -10%
OnePlus X
10 fps ∼0% +64%
GFXBench 3.1
off screen Manhattan ES 3.1 Offscreen (sort by value)
ZTE Axon Mini Premium
5.3 fps ∼0%
Medion Life X5020
5.2 fps ∼0% -2%
on screen Manhattan ES 3.1 Onscreen (sort by value)
ZTE Axon Mini Premium
6.1 fps ∼0%
Medion Life X5020
5.6 fps ∼0% -8%
Smartbench 2012
Gaming Index (sort by value)
ZTE Axon Mini Premium
3058 points ∼66%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
4368 points ∼95% +43%
Medion Life X5020
2614 points ∼57% -15%
OnePlus X
4069 points ∼88% +33%
Huawei P8 lite
3753 points ∼82% +23%
Productivity Index (sort by value)
ZTE Axon Mini Premium
4719 points ∼25%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
5706 points ∼30% +21%
Medion Life X5020
4518 points ∼24% -4%
OnePlus X
9286 points ∼49% +97%
Huawei P8 lite
2941 points ∼16% -38%
Linpack Android / IOS
Multi Thread (sort by value)
ZTE Axon Mini Premium
313.507 MFLOPS ∼11%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
239.951 MFLOPS ∼8% -23%
Medion Life X5020
267.725 MFLOPS ∼9% -15%
OnePlus X
634.085 MFLOPS ∼21% +102%
Single Thread (sort by value)
ZTE Axon Mini Premium
236.817 MFLOPS ∼23%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
90.438 MFLOPS ∼9% -62%
Medion Life X5020
225.966 MFLOPS ∼22% -5%
OnePlus X
425.55 MFLOPS ∼42% +80%
AnTuTu v6 - Total Score (sort by value)
ZTE Axon Mini Premium
35139 Points ∼14%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
35964 Points ∼14% +2%
OnePlus X
52463 Points ∼21% +49%
BaseMark OS II
Web (sort by value)
ZTE Axon Mini Premium
698 Points ∼34%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
756 Points ∼37% +8%
Medion Life X5020
676 Points ∼33% -3%
OnePlus X
843 Points ∼41% +21%
Huawei P8 lite
616 Points ∼30% -12%
Graphics (sort by value)
ZTE Axon Mini Premium
815 Points ∼3%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
415 Points ∼1% -49%
Medion Life X5020
755 Points ∼3% -7%
OnePlus X
1975 Points ∼7% +142%
Huawei P8 lite
303 Points ∼1% -63%
Memory (sort by value)
ZTE Axon Mini Premium
889 Points ∼14%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
443 Points ∼7% -50%
Medion Life X5020
973 Points ∼15% +9%
OnePlus X
662 Points ∼11% -26%
Huawei P8 lite
816 Points ∼13% -8%
System (sort by value)
ZTE Axon Mini Premium
1331 Points ∼8%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
1380 Points ∼8% +4%
Medion Life X5020
1423 Points ∼9% +7%
OnePlus X
2225 Points ∼14% +67%
Huawei P8 lite
1467 Points ∼9% +10%
Overall (sort by value)
ZTE Axon Mini Premium
906 Points ∼11%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
662 Points ∼8% -27%
Medion Life X5020
917 Points ∼11% +1%
OnePlus X
1252 Points ∼15% +38%
Huawei P8 lite
687 Points ∼8% -24%

Legend

 
ZTE Axon Mini Premium Qualcomm Snapdragon 616 MSM8939v2, Qualcomm Adreno 405, 32 GB eMMC Flash
 
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016 Samsung Exynos 7578, ARM Mali-T720 MP2, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
Medion Life X5020 Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 MSM8939, Qualcomm Adreno 405, 32 GB eMMC Flash
 
OnePlus X Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 MSM8974AA, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
Huawei P8 lite HiSilicon Kirin 620, ARM Mali-450 MP4, 16 GB eMMC Flash

However, this looks different in the browser-based benchmarks. ZTE's preloaded browser loses some ground when compared with the rivals by Google. It is only the fastest handset in the test field in the SunSpider benchmark, and is midfield in Kraken. Nevertheless, we recommend using the considerably faster Google Chrome browser.

Sunspider - 1.0 Total Score (sort by value)
ZTE Axon Mini Premium
1298.9 ms * ∼32%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
1413 ms * ∼35% -9%
Medion Life X5020
1688.1 ms * ∼42% -30%
OnePlus X
1509.1 ms * ∼37% -16%
Huawei P8 lite
1985.6 ms * ∼49% -53%
Octane V2 - Total Score (sort by value)
ZTE Axon Mini Premium
3155 Points ∼6%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
3566 Points ∼7% +13%
Medion Life X5020
3253 Points ∼7% +3%
OnePlus X
4810 Points ∼10% +52%
Huawei P8 lite
2483 Points ∼5% -21%
Mozilla Kraken 1.1 - Total Score (sort by value)
ZTE Axon Mini Premium
12076.8 ms * ∼20%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
11796.2 ms * ∼20% +2%
Medion Life X5020
20190.1 ms * ∼34% -67%
OnePlus X
7264.1 ms * ∼12% +40%
Huawei P8 lite
15866 ms * ∼27% -31%
JetStream 1.1 - 1.1 Total Score (sort by value)
ZTE Axon Mini Premium
22.245 Points ∼7%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
22.1 Points ∼7% -1%
Medion Life X5020
22.892 Points ∼7% +3%
OnePlus X
28 Points ∼8% +26%

* ... smaller is better

Micro-SD reader's transfer rates
Micro-SD reader's transfer rates

The internal storage has a capacity of 32 GB (net: 22.51 GB), and is not really one of the fastest of its kind. Samsung's Galaxy A3 and OnePlus' X sometimes offer a lot more here.  Sequential rates of approximately 139 MB/s (read) is rather midfield. On the other hand, roughly 115 MB/s (write) is a top rate that outclasses all opponents. In return, the review sample has to accept losses in smaller 4 KB blocks, and just manages to place itself in front of Medion's Life X5020. We did not observe any prolonged waiting times in the practical test.

We also tested the micro-SD reader's transfer rates using our Toshiba Exceria SD-CX32UHSI reference card. The card clearly remains behind its potential (max. 85/50 MB/s read/write) with approximately 50 MB/s (seq. read) and 15 MB/s (seq. write). Therefore, it could take longer, particularly when copying larger files.

AndroBench 3-5
Random Write 4KB (sort by value)
ZTE Axon Mini Premium
9.56 MB/s ∼6%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
10.27 MB/s ∼6% +7%
Medion Life X5020
7.11 MB/s ∼4% -26%
OnePlus X
14.22 MB/s ∼9% +49%
Huawei P8 lite
8.32 MB/s ∼5% -13%
Random Read 4KB (sort by value)
ZTE Axon Mini Premium
13.96 MB/s ∼8%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
21.92 MB/s ∼13% +57%
Medion Life X5020
12.4 MB/s ∼7% -11%
OnePlus X
16.31 MB/s ∼9% +17%
Huawei P8 lite
18.46 MB/s ∼11% +32%
Sequential Write 256KB (sort by value)
ZTE Axon Mini Premium
114.78 MB/s ∼47%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
27.27 MB/s ∼11% -76%
Medion Life X5020
78.6 MB/s ∼32% -32%
OnePlus X
49.31 MB/s ∼20% -57%
Huawei P8 lite
52.79 MB/s ∼21% -54%
Sequential Read 256KB (sort by value)
ZTE Axon Mini Premium
139.31 MB/s ∼16%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
168.79 MB/s ∼19% +21%
Medion Life X5020
135.42 MB/s ∼15% -3%
OnePlus X
235.51 MB/s ∼26% +69%
Huawei P8 lite
139.48 MB/s ∼16% 0%

Games

Although the SoC-integrated Qualcomm Adreno 405 graphics solution is not the fastest GPU, it always provides enough power. Even sophisticated games like "Modern Combat 5" run smoothly, no need to mention more basic games like "Angry Birds 2". Control via position sensor and touchscreen functions impeccably. The Force Touch feature is also well-implemented as the preloaded game "Perfect Piano" demonstrates.

"Angry Birds 2"
"Angry Birds 2"
"Modern Combat 5"
"Modern Combat 5"
"Perfect Piano"
"Perfect Piano"

Emissions

Temperature

The measured surface temperatures of maximum 26.7 °C (~80 °F) when ZTE's Axon Mini Premium is idling are definitely within an uncritical range. The handset does not even get lukewarm. The casing heats up to 39 °C (~102 °F) in some spots; an average of 36.7 °C (~98 °F) is reached on the smartphone's upper side and 36.2 °C (~97 °F) on the underside. Thus, the temperatures never reach an unpleasant level. We did not observe temperature-related throttling, even after over one hour of stress testing via the Stability Test app.

Max. Load
 38.7 °C
102 F
37 °C
99 F
34.7 °C
94 F
 
 38.9 °C
102 F
37.1 °C
99 F
34.7 °C
94 F
 
 39 °C
102 F
35.8 °C
96 F
34.7 °C
94 F
 
Maximum: 39 °C = 102 F
Average: 36.7 °C = 98 F
36.4 °C
98 F
37.1 °C
99 F
36.2 °C
97 F
36 °C
97 F
36.4 °C
98 F
37.1 °C
99 F
34.7 °C
94 F
35.8 °C
96 F
36.5 °C
98 F
Maximum: 37.1 °C = 99 F
Average: 36.2 °C = 97 F
Power Supply (max.)  29.7 °C = 85 F | Room Temperature 21.7 °C = 71 F | Voltcraft IR-260
(±) The average temperature for the upper side under maximal load is 36.7 °C / 98 F, compared to the average of 33.2 °C / 92 F for the devices in the class Smartphone.
(+) The maximum temperature on the upper side is 39 °C / 102 F, compared to the average of 35.8 °C / 96 F, ranging from 22.4 to 51.7 °C for the class Smartphone.
(+) The maximum temperature on the bottom side is 37.1 °C / 99 F, compared to the average of 34.3 °C / 94 F, ranging from 22 to 326 °C for the class Smartphone.
(+) In idle usage, the average temperature for the upper side is 26.4 °C / 80 F, compared to the device average of 33.2 °C / 92 F.

Speaker

Speaker evaluation: Pink Noise
Speaker evaluation: Pink Noise

The mono speaker on the front is situated below the display. Considering the small size, it produces a relatively decent sound and is also loud. However, real bass is non-existent; the sound is rather treble-heavy. The speaker clangs somewhat at higher volumes (about 80%). The sound is sufficient for occasional background music or a YouTube video.

An AK4961 Hi-Fi audio chipset by Asahi Kasei Microdevices Corporation (AKM) is installed in the Axon Mini. It features a 32-bit 192 kHz codec and adequately renders lossless FLAC files. However, we did not ascertain differences to other smartphones when using the supplied headset or a Philips Fidelio L1 Hi-Fi headphone. We quite liked the low-noise playback via the 3.5 mm jack.

Energy Management

Power Consumption

The power consumption of ZTE's Axon Mini Premium Edition is impressive in the category comparison - at least in idle mode. Only OnePlus' X requires less energy. This changes under load, and the review sample is only more frugal than Medion's Life X5020. The other opponents are satisfied with up to 48% less (OnePlus' X load max.), and even Samsung's Galaxy A3 (2016) is considerably less guzzling here. With 0.13 watts, the review sample consumes agreeably little power in standby; it does not consume power when turned off.

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0 / 0.13 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 0.64 / 0.85 / 0.88 Watt
Load midlight 4.27 / 6.19 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Gossen Metrahit Energy
ZTE Axon Mini Premium
Adreno 405, 616 MSM8939v2, 32 GB eMMC Flash
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
Mali-T720 MP2, 7578, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Medion Life X5020
Adreno 405, 615 MSM8939, 32 GB eMMC Flash
OnePlus X
Adreno 330, 801 MSM8974AA, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Huawei P8 lite
Mali-450 MP4, Kirin 620, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Power Consumption
-20%
-27%
10%
-92%
Idle Minimum *
0.64
0.96
-50%
0.7
-9%
0.6
6%
1.4
-119%
Idle Average *
0.85
1.39
-64%
1.2
-41%
0.91
-7%
2.3
-171%
Idle Maximum *
0.88
1.45
-65%
1.5
-70%
1.12
-27%
2.5
-184%
Load Average *
4.27
2.65
38%
4.7
-10%
3.04
29%
3.9
9%
Load Maximum *
6.19
3.51
43%
6.6
-7%
3.2
48%
6
3%

* ... smaller is better

Battery Runtime

The high load consumption rates are reflected unfavorably in battery life - even though the 2800 mAh is the largest battery in the test field. Both the OnePlus X (2525 mAh) and the Samsung Galaxy A3 (2016) (2300 mAh) defeat it, particularly in full load and in the Wi-Fi browsing test using a brightness of 150 cd/m². Only the Samsung Galaxy A3 (2016) is more enduring when reading a text document. Axon Mini lasts almost 9 hours in the video loop with adapted brightness. Only the Medion Life X5020 (2600 mAh) and Samsung's handset have a slight lead here. The Huawei P8 lite (2200 mAh) clearly outruns our review sample in every test.

Nevertheless, the review sample has enough power for a prolonged trip. The Axon Mini will even get through a workday of mixed use and adapted brightness.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
17h 53min
NBC WiFi Websurfing Battery Test 1.3
6h 35min
Big Buck Bunny H.264 1080p
8h 57min
Load (maximum brightness)
4h 30min
ZTE Axon Mini Premium
Adreno 405, 616 MSM8939v2, 32 GB eMMC Flash
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
Mali-T720 MP2, 7578, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Medion Life X5020
Adreno 405, 615 MSM8939, 32 GB eMMC Flash
Huawei P8 lite
Mali-450 MP4, Kirin 620, 16 GB eMMC Flash
OnePlus X
Adreno 330, 801 MSM8974AA, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Battery Runtime
61%
-9%
-26%
13%
Reader / Idle
1073
1978
84%
871
-19%
715
-33%
968
-10%
H.264
537
863
61%
587
9%
369
-31%
514
-4%
WiFi v1.3
395
628
59%
359
-9%
351
-11%
549
39%
Load
270
376
39%
225
-17%
194
-28%
339
26%

Pros

+ very stiff casing
+ impeccable build
+ decent connectivity and generous accessories
+ dual-SIM
+ micro-SD slot
+ strong WiFi module
+ NFC & USB OTG
+ total of three biometric identification options
+ well functioning Force Touch
+ very bright, high-contrast & viewing angle stable screen
+ decent color reproduction
+ accurate touchscreen
+ low temperatures
+ decent battery life
+ few bloatware apps
+ fast software...

Cons

- ...that massively intrudes on stock Android
- bulky casing
- USB 2.0 only
- forced to choose either dual-SIM or micro-SD
- high load power consumption
- display uses PWM
- Bluetooth 4.0 only
- camera modules' poor performance
- no Miracast or MHL support
- non-removable battery

Verdict

In review: ZTE Axon Mini Premium Edition. Review sample courtesy of ZTE Germany.
In review: ZTE Axon Mini Premium Edition. Review sample courtesy of ZTE Germany.

ZTE's Axon Mini Premium Edition is the first mid-range smartphone with Force Touch, iris scanner and fingerprint reader. The casing's build is impeccable and very robust. The high-contrast and viewing angle stable screen shines very bright. Subjectively, the color reproduction is also pleasing. However, sensitive users could complain about PWM flickering. The touchscreen responds very accurately and quickly, and the Force Touch feature is thrilling. The rest of the configuration is also impressive. NFC and USB OTG are on board, even if the latter supports only USB 2.0 as a standard in this category. We would have welcomed the current USB Type-C version with USB 3.0 in a small flagship. Miracast and MHL are not present, either. On the other hand, we are pleased that ZTE includes a case for the Axon Mini. Just as pleasing: The stable, far-ranging Wi-Fi reception and fast software. The fact that users are forced to decide between dual-SIM or storage expansion via micro-SD disappointed us somewhat. Then again, the decent battery life despite the high power consumption and the casing's low temperatures are positive. The casing is not exactly compact, but it is pleasant to hold. The camera performance might offend photo enthusiasts, especially in low light. Although the performance is always high enough, we would have wished for a somewhat stronger SoC for a model from the flagship lineup.

The total package of ZTE's Axon Mini Premium Edition is attractive, especially with a street price of approximately 300 Euros (~$333), even though it has some shortcomings. The flagship idea was not finished consistently, and thus "only" a good mid-range smartphone is the outcome.

ZTE Axon Mini Premium - 03/09/2016 v5
Michael Moser

Chassis
84%
Keyboard
75 / 75 → 100%
Pointing Device
88%
Connectivity
48 / 60 → 80%
Weight
93%
Battery
90%
Display
76%
Games Performance
15 / 63 → 24%
Application Performance
31 / 70 → 44%
Temperature
91%
Noise
100%
Audio
55 / 91 → 60%
Camera
55%
Average
69%
81%
Smartphone - Weighted Average

Pricecompare

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > ZTE Axon Mini Premium Smartphone Review
Michael Moser, 2016-03-15 (Update: 2018-05-15)