ZTE Axon 7 With Google Daydream VR Support Ships July 27th For $399

Sometimes it feels like the premium smartphone market is largely a two-horse race between Apple and Samsung. It's actually a bit more crowded than that, and one of the more interesting options is ZTE's forthcoming Axon 7 handset, a high-end smartphone supporting Google's Daydream VR platform and costing just $399.

ZTE is another Chinese brand looking to expand its smartphone empire to the U.S. with a strategy of undercutting established players in the premium sector. It's a strategy that worked for Huawei, which caught the attention of Google and scored a contract to build the company's Nexus 6P handsets, and also Xiaomi, which routinely pumps out high-end phones at a fraction of what many flagships cost (albeit Xiaomi doesn't have much of a presence in the U.S.).

ZTE Axon 7

The Axon 7 has the potential to shake things up. Following its launch in China last May, the Axon 7 is now available to pre-order in the U.S., and it brings with it a collection of specs that belie its $399 price tag. More specifically, it touts a 5.5-inch AMOLED Quad HD (2560x1440; 538 PPI) display protected by Gorilla Glass 4, Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of internal storage + microSD card slot, 8MP front-facing camera, 20MP rear-camera with dual image stabilization, USB Type C port, and various other odds and ends.

That's about on par with popular flagships from established players like Apple, Samsung, HTC, and LG, only the Axon 7 costs less. It also boasts an aluminum unibody chassis designed in collaboration with BMW's Designworks subsidiary. That latter bit doesn't really make it stand out from the crowd of premium handsets, but it's able to stand with the competition—the Axon 7 doesn't look like a cheap knockoff.

Not only could the Axon 7 be a big deal for ZTE, it could also help bring attention to Daydream, Google's Android-powered VR platform for Android Nougat. Daydream is a more advanced replacement for Google Cardboard that encompasses both hardware and software, and it will only work with phones that have a specific set of components and sensors.

You can pre-order the Axon 7 direct from ZTE now in Ion Gold (starts shipping July 27) and Quartz Gray (starts shipping August 17).
Tags:  zte, axon 7