As promised, ZTE is launching the Axon 7 Mini in the US... and it might just hit the sweet spot if you're more interested in price than raw performance. The 5.2-inch Android phone ("mini" is clearly a relative term) is now available for pre-order at just under $300, or a full hundred bucks less than the full-size Axon 7. The first orders should ship around October 27th. To recap, you're still getting the Axon 7's stereo speakers (with Dolby Atmos support), dual SIM slots and an 8-megapixel front camera. The cost-cutting mainly comes through the 1080p screen, a modest Snapdragon 617 processor, a less-crisp 16MP camera, and reductions to both memory (3GB) and storage (32GB) -- it's really a mid-tier phone with some premium perks.
As such, it's a tough call as to whether or not you pick the Axon 7 Mini over its rivals. The Moto G4 Plus starts at a lower $250 price and touts a bigger screen, but lacks the audio prowess and won't feel as high-end as its ZTE counterpart. And a lower-end version of ASUS' ZenFone 3 can pack more processing power and similar cameras for a comparable price, if you're willing to shop around. ZTE's main advantage may simply be its industrial design -- it's hard to find a sub-$300 phone in the US that doesn't make significant compromises in material choices or sound quality.