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ZTE Expands Unlocked Axon-Phone Selection

ZTE expanded the selection of unlocked smartphones in its flagship Axon series to capture a greater share of an growing unlocked-phone market.

The company contends unlocked-phone sales in the U.S. will grow more than 43 percent in 2016 and will constitute 16 percent of the total U.S. smartphone market by 2020.

The Axon models will also get a lift from the rise of equipment installment plans from carriers, who are dropping phone subsidies, said Lixin Cheng, chairman/CEO of ZTE USA. “As carriers replace smartphone subsidies with equipment installment plans, we are faced with true [phone] costs 

that make us re-evaluate what we are paying for in our smartphones,” he explained. “Axon is able to deliver premium features consumers are used to in flagship phones, but at an affordable price.”

LTE-equipped Axon phones are sold direct by ZTE and through such online retailers as Amazon, eBay, and for use on the AT&T and T-Mobile networks and with MVNO providers that use those networks.

The first Axon phone, the 32GB Axon Pro, was launched in July and has been repriced to $399 to make room for a 64GB Pro at $449. Both models deliver the same levels of performance and features. Also new is the opening-price 32GB Axon at $329. It looks like the other two and features the same size and weight but comes with less RAM and processing power and with a 5.5-inch Full HD display instead of a 5.5-inch WQHD 2560 by 1440 display.

All three feature Android 5.1.1 operating system, 13-megapixel dual-lens main camera with 30 fps 4K video capture, and high-resolution audio decoding and playback. For audio, the phones use a 192kHz/24-bit DAC and separate 192/24 ADC made by home-audio DAC maker AKM Semiconductor.

Key features on the 32GB and 64GB Axon Pro models include 4GB RAM, 2GHz 64-bit octacore processor, HD Voice, VolTE, Cat 6 LTE download speeds, U.S. and foreign LTE bands.

The Axon steps down to a 2GHz quad-core processor, 2GB RAM, slower Cat 4 LTE download speeds, and a Full HD display. It also lacks HD Voice but offers VoLTE.