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ZTE Axon 7 Mini: Great Budget Phone, Not Actually That Mini

BERLIN — While I personally wouldn't call a phone with a 5.2-inch screen "mini," there's no doubt that ZTE's new Axon 7 mini captures almost everything we loved about its larger flagship sibling, but in a (very) slightly smaller package with a not insignificantly smaller price.

Size wise, the Axon 7 mini has almost exactly the same dimensions as the HTC 10. This makes the mini tag actually a bit misleading, because with an expected price around $300 and a US release scheduled for sometime in October, the Axon 7 mini is less of a handset for small phone fans and more like an all-around solid budget phone.

MORE: ZTE Axon 7 Review: Affordable Flagship Greatness

The original Axon 7 is on the left, the mini is on the right.

The original Axon 7 is on the left, the mini is on the right.

On the outside, it's like ZTE put the original 5.5-inch Axon 7 in a scanner, set it to 95 percent and hit the shrink button. The mini retains the Axon 7's attractive all-aluminum body, USB-C port, rear fingerprint sensor and colorful AMOLED screen. And the phone's booming dual front-facing speakers have actually gotten even better, thanks to Dolby Atmos audio processing.

Where the mini differs from the regular Axon 7 is on specs. To hit that $300 mark, ZTE had to make a few adjustments. So instead of the 2560 x 1440 QHD screen you get on the Axon 7, the mini's resolution tops out at full HD, and its 16-megapixel rear camera captures a bit less detail than the 20-MP sensor on the standard Axon 7.

Inside, the mini runs Android 6.0 and features a slightly slower Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 CPU and 3GB of RAM when compared to the Snapdragon 820 chip and 4GB of RAM you get on its big brother. As a result, while the Axon 7 is capable of supporting Google's high standards for its Daydream virtual reality platform, the mini won't take part.

The last change on the mini is its smaller 2,750 mAh battery, which could be one of those addition by subtraction situations. That's because while the regular Axon 7 has a 3,250 mAh battery, it has to power a larger, higher resolution screen and a more power hungry SoC. While we'll have to wait until we can get an Axon 7 mini in for review, if the mini can boast a runtime longer than the Axon 7's 7:57, that'll be a pretty big win.

So for people who want in on Google's upcoming VR platform, stick with the original Axon 7. But for everyone else, the mini is just as sleek and stylish, and offers an even better value than its already attractive big brother.