ZTE Axon 7 review: The brightest sound

GSMArena team, 26 October 2016.

Performance

The ZTE Axon 7 is powered by a Snapdragon 820 chipset, which is pretty much as good as a mobile chipset for Android gets these days and to find it in a device in this price range is rather amazing. As a result, the Axon 7 is capable of stepping up to the ring of the big 2016 flagships.

ZTE Axon 7 review

It only seems natural to pit the Axon 7 against the likes of the OnePlus 3, Huawei Honor 8 and even the big dogs from Samsung, LG and HTC.

We kick things off with GeekBench 4 and AnTuTu, which is a compound benchmark. Sadly for ZTE, it turns out that the Axon 7 isn't as feisty as the rest of the Snapdragon 820 crop. The gap in the results isn't worrying though, and we are inclined to think that poor software optimization is to blame.

In the CPU-based GeekBench tests, especially the multi-core one, the Axon 7 is left in the dust of the Galaxy S7 and the Kirin chip found in the Huawei Honor 8.

GeekBench 4 (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • Huawei Honor 8
    5447
  • Samsung Galaxy S7
    5245
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 4
    4456
  • Lenovo Moto Z Droid
    4130
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (Snapdragon)
    4128
  • OnePlus 3
    4045
  • ZTE Axon 7
    3990
  • LG V20
    3890
  • Xiaomi Redmi Pro
    3885

GeekBench 4 (single-core)

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy S7
    1854
  • Huawei Honor 8
    1720
  • OnePlus 3
    1719
  • ZTE Axon 7
    1702
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (Snapdragon)
    1696
  • Lenovo Moto Z Droid
    1694
  • LG V20
    1590
  • Xiaomi Redmi Pro
    1551
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 4
    1546

AnTuTu 6

Higher is better

  • HTC 10
    154031
  • Lenovo Moto Z Droid
    151619
  • OnePlus 3
    141764
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (Snapdragon)
    132849
  • Samsung Galaxy S7
    132084
  • ZTE Axon 7
    129926
  • LG V20
    101167
  • Huawei Honor 8
    94892
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 4
    85162
  • Alcatel IDOL 4S
    82744
  • Xiaomi Redmi Pro
    77442
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016)
    35134

Moving on to graphics, the Adreno 530 inside the Snapdragon 820 is a definite powerhouse by current standards. The QHD resolution of the Axon 7's 5.5" panel doesn't seem to be much of a hurdle for the GPU. Sadly, the slight, but notable, performance handicap we saw in the CPU department is present in GPU tests as well.

Our review unit didn't exhibit any signs of overheating during the tests, so the culprit is definitely not thermal throttling.

GFX 3.1 Manhattan (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Lenovo Moto Z Droid
    32
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (Snapdragon)
    32
  • ZTE Axon 7
    31
  • HTC 10
    31
  • OnePlus 3
    31
  • Samsung Galaxy S7
    28
  • Huawei Honor 8
    10
  • Xiaomi Redmi Pro
    9.5
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 4
    9.5
  • Alcatel IDOL 4S
    9.3
  • Huawei Mate S
    3

GFX 3.1 Manhattan (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • OnePlus 3
    30
  • Lenovo Moto Z Droid
    18
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (Snapdragon)
    16
  • ZTE Axon 7
    15
  • Samsung Galaxy S7
    15
  • HTC 10
    15
  • Huawei Honor 8
    11
  • Xiaomi Redmi Pro
    9.5
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 4
    9.4
  • Alcatel IDOL 4S
    5.1
  • Huawei Mate S
    3.4

GFX 3.1 Car scene (offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Lenovo Moto Z Droid
    19
  • OnePlus 3
    18
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (Snapdragon)
    18
  • HTC 10
    18
  • ZTE Axon 7
    15
  • Samsung Galaxy S7
    15
  • Huawei Honor 8
    6.3
  • Alcatel IDOL 4S
    5.6
  • Xiaomi Redmi Pro
    5.4
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 4
    5.4

GFX 3.1 Car scene (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • OnePlus 3
    18
  • ZTE Axon 7
    16
  • Lenovo Moto Z Droid
    12
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (Snapdragon)
    10
  • HTC 10
    9.9
  • Samsung Galaxy S7
    7.9
  • Huawei Honor 8
    6.9
  • Xiaomi Redmi Pro
    5.4
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 4
    5.4
  • Alcatel IDOL 4S
    3.4

Basemark OS II

Higher is better

  • Lenovo Moto Z Droid
    2698
  • OnePlus 3
    2677
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (Snapdragon)
    2045
  • Huawei Honor 8
    2029
  • Samsung Galaxy S7
    2004
  • HTC 10
    1965
  • ZTE Axon 7
    1889
  • Xiaomi Redmi Pro
    1648
  • Alcatel IDOL 4S
    1575
  • Huawei Mate S
    981

Basemark X

Higher is better

  • Lenovo Moto Z Droid
    36322
  • OnePlus 3
    32715
  • Samsung Galaxy S7
    32345
  • ZTE Axon 7
    32243
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (Snapdragon)
    32160
  • HTC 10
    28882
  • Huawei Honor 8
    16592
  • Alcatel IDOL 4S
    14651
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 4
    13666
  • Xiaomi Redmi Pro
    12190
  • Huawei Mate S
    5368
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016)
    5210

Basemark OS 2.0

Higher is better

  • Lenovo Moto Z Droid
    2690
  • OnePlus 3
    2365
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (Snapdragon)
    2352
  • ZTE Axon 7
    2346
  • Samsung Galaxy S7
    2128
  • Huawei Honor 8
    2099
  • HTC 10
    1839
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 4
    1728
  • Xiaomi Redmi Pro
    1696
  • Alcatel IDOL 4S
    1647
  • Huawei Mate S
    914

Basemark ES 3.1 / Metal

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy S7
    732
  • Lenovo Moto Z Droid
    648
  • OnePlus 3
    625
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (Snapdragon)
    624
  • ZTE Axon 7
    606
  • Huawei Honor 8
    345
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 4
    287
  • Alcatel IDOL 4S
    244

All in all, the performance offered by the Axon 7's hardware is spectacular, although not trailblazing. It's a well spec'd phone, which is let down by poor utilization of its resources. On a positive note, it's still plenty fast and responsive. You won't have any troubles or hiccups using the Axon 7, even under heavy loads.