ZTE’s Axon M Has Two Screens and Folds Up

ZTE today is announcing the new Axon M smartphone which is radically different than what you’ve likely seen on the market. I say this because this device has two screens, and not the same way the LG V20 did. It sports a primary 5.2-inch 1080p panel, and on the back sits another screen with the same factors. The two displays are connected via a hinge which lets you view each screen at the same time.

As you can see, there’s various different ways to view the screens. One was is in Dual Mode which gives you a 6.75-inch canvas of screen realstate to work with. While you view Twitter on the left, you can scroll through your apps on the right. If you’re watching a football game on either, you can use the second panel to order a pizza. ZTE says they’re using Android’s built-in split screen multitasking technology to power this experience so it should be pretty reliable.

You can also use each display as a single panel with Extended Mode to watch that football game on a bigger screen. Mirror Mode lets you put the phone in a tent mode and mirrors everything from the main display onto the second to let friends view what you’re watching or doing. Finally, Traditional Mode gives you a straight-up smartphone experience by utilizing one of the display panels.

For internals, ZTE is including last year’s Snapdragon 821 processor, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, Android 7.1.2 Nougat, Bluetooth 4.2, dual stereo speakers, and a headphone jack with hi-fi audio output. There’s also a 3180mAh battery inside which takes a couple of hours to fully charge from 0 percent. Additionally, ZTE is packing a 20MP camera on the back of the device which works as both the front and rear cameras. It features phase detection autofocus, an f/1.8 aperture, and 4K 30FPS video capture.

The ZTE Axon M looks like a straight-up gimmick to me. Kyocera tried this same design and functionlaity back in 2011 and ultimately failed. Whether ZTE will sell 5 or 5 million of these remains to be determined, but my money’s on the former since I’m not entirely sure how big the market is for a phone that turns into a tablet.

If you need to be convinced this phone’s a good idea, read ZTE CEO Lixin Cheng’s quote below.

“The ZTE Axon M is the beginning of a significant movement of smartphone capabilities, and ZTE is leading the way,” said Lixin Cheng, CEO of ZTE Mobile Devices. “The mobile technology ecosystem and consumer habits have evolved over the past several years, but the smartphone experience has only slightly varied throughout that time until today, with the introduction of the Axon M.  Consumers need and expect more from their current smartphone and we are proud to collaborate with carriers around the world and AT&T in the U.S. to transform their mobile experience.”

The Axon M will launch next month exclusively on AT&T here in the US for $24.17/month for 30 months. If you do the math, that’s $725 which is quite a lump sum for a smartphone with last year’s processor. Obviously, you’re paying for that second screen and not entirely the internals, but that’s still a lot of money when you can pick up an LG V30 or Samsung Galaxy S8 for around the same price. But hey, I guess the Android enthusiasts who want more from their smartphone will pick it up regardless.