First Week with the Axon M

cpherecphere Indianapolis Indiana USAPosts: 7 ✭✭✭✭✭
edited November 10, 2017 2:00PM in Axon M

So I've been using the Axon M now for one week and thought I'd post my thoughts on it. I'll start with providing a brief understanding of why the M interested me and the phone that it replaced. I do a lot of writing/reviewing/editing of technical documentation and a larger screen becomes pretty important pretty quickly. It doesn't help that my fingers are not exactly small and thumb-lock is a serious concern as it takes a decent sized keyboard to keep me from hitting a lot of wrong characters.

About 4 years ago I purchased a Padfone X from AT&T - the ability to slide a pocket sized phone into a tablet and have all my apps and data available on a 9 inch screen was very attractive. The phone did very well for me (obviously, as I used it for over 4 years) and I've come to rely on the ability to essentially turn my smaller phone into a larger display at will. However, the Padfone was old and needed updating.

Enter the Axon M, the first phone to address portability and a larger display with a reasonable opportunity to actually be usable. After a week I think I made the right choice, although there definitely are some compromises and I agree with...well, pretty much everyone else that this phone is not going to be for everybody.

I'll start with the drawbacks, followed by advantages, and wrap up with general impressions and comments.

First, and probably the most serious long-term annoyance is the lack of display balance between the two screens. There is no provision in settings to adjust brightness for individual screens, and the second screen consistently displays a little darker than the primary screen. This gets a bit annoying when reading documents across both screens. Mind you there is no functional issue but I do find it distracting.

Next up is the Quick Launch button... Will someone please find a way to just disable this? After a week of using the M I have mostly trained myself to not hold the phone so that the Quick Launch button gets accidently long pressed, but it does still occasionally happen. It's probably worse for me as I'm left handed and normally hold the M in my right hand - where one of my fingers just naturally wants to land right on top of the button.

Which brings me to AT&T. I like AT&T, have been with them since before smart phones existed, BUT... DirectTV? Really?? Positioning this phone as a media device seems crazy stupid to me, after using it to be seriously productive (see the advantages section below). TV Mode was one of the first settings I disabled. I really think AT&T missed the mark here and it feels more like a self-serving decision than one made with the interest of the device in mind.

Advantages I've encountered:

The phone is very portable, especially when compared to the Padfone/Padstation combination where I had to lug around a tablet as well as a phone. The ability to drop the M in my pocket and go, knowing that I can fold out the additional display to get some serious work done is really nice. Overall the phone is about as big as I'd want to fit into my pocket and is actually easier to hold when open. Although the unfolded screen size is smaller than the Padstation and does have the bezel strip in the middle, these compromises are indeed offset by the added portability.

The two screens work very well together in both Extended and Dual modes, and I find myself working almost exclusively in Extended mode. ZTE limited screen rotation under specific situations, and I think this was a good decision. The limits encourage better and more easy handling of the phone, so you don't end up with awkward grips or dangling the M by its second screen. With both screens in Extended mode I'm able to see enough of technical diagrams to understand what's going on, and the ability to view a previous version alongside the current document version in Dual mode makes quick work of spotting changes. Even with the smaller screen space than the Padstation I think I may end up being even more productive with the M.

The fingerprint scanner on the side and as part of the power button works very well and makes waking the phone very easy and convenient.

Overall handling the M has been smooth and easy.

Impressions and general comments:

Some size measurements, just because I like to see real measurements on devices and many of the measurements I've seen for the Axon M have focused on single screen only:

Both Screens Size/Body Ratio:
Screens Size:
Length (Height): 5.180"
Width: 4.470"
Diagonal: 6.80"
Screens Area (not removing bezels): 23.15"

Middle Bezel Space: 5.180" x 0.120"
Middle Bezel Area: 0.622" (2.69% of total screens area)
Total Usable Screens Space: 22.53"

Phone Size:
Length (Height): 5.935"
Width: 5.435"

Ratio (both screens, not removing middle bezels): 71.18%
Ratio (both screens, removing middle bezels): 69.27%

While measurements and calculations are approximate and rounded to two digits I did take care to measure with a dial caliper, so they should be reasonably close. All measurements are in inches.

It is worth noting that the middle bezel consumes less than 3% of the visual display area for both screens. While it would be great to not have any bezel I find it to again be a compromise offset by the portability provided.

I think it's a fair statement that scratching will happen, but with Gorilla Glass 5 and a Mohs hardness of ~6 this really shouldn't be any more of a concern than it is with a single exposed screen. Speaking of having front and back facing screens surprisingly enough I've seen very little fingerprinting so far.

Power management is good, but as expected running both screens as I do the battery is not likely to see me through a long day of heavy use. Mind you it very easily could do an average day of average use - but that's not what I bought this phone to do. As I said I did expect this and before ordering the M I purchased a pair of Anker 5000mah external battery packs. The external battery is smaller than the phone, very easy to travel with, and provides more than a full charge. I've gotten into the habit of plugging the phone into a pack anytime it gets around 60% and is convenient to do so. The battery pack is small and light enough to hold with the phone if necessary but I've not needed to do that as so far the M hasn't dropped below 45%. This has proven to be a good working solution to provide long-term lasting power to the phone.

Overall I like the Axon M and feel that I made a good choice. This phone may very well last long enough for me to get comfortable with the idea of moving to a folding display, although that's probably a lot to ask.


  • wings4anniewings4annie United StatesPosts: 1,471 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭✭

    I agree @cphere very well written and very informative.
    Thanks for your insight.

  • jasonejasone United StatesPosts: 2,118 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭✭

    Thanks for the write up @cphere, the Axon M is definitely not for everyone and has it pros and cons like any device. I'm glad it works for you in your situation and that you shared with us how it's helpful for you.

    As far as DIRECTV NOW, AT&T is trying very hard to become a media company to challenge Comcast getting into providing cellular service. It kind of makes sense to push this device for being a TV in your pocket since it unfolds into a larger screen, and because you can watch on one screen while doing something else on the other. I use mine a lot for watching a video on the top screen while talking or browsing news on the second. Although, I am not using DIRECTV NOW for this.

    For disabling the quick launch button, I've come up with a little workaround. Take an app that you can disable, in my case I chose the ZTE bundled in calendar app as I have 0 use for it. Assign this to the long press on the quick launch button and then go into Apps and disable that app. Now when you long press nothing will launch. You can disable the double press for the camera but I use that all the time, so I wouldn't.

  • cpherecphere Indianapolis Indiana USAPosts: 7 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited November 11, 2017 10:07AM

    @jasone said:
    For disabling the quick launch button, I've come up with a little workaround.

    Great idea for a long press work around!

    You're right that Dual mode does make the Axon M a superior device for video and multi tasking. Clearly my bias for Extended mode is showing.

  • samsamhasamsamha United StatesPosts: 2,363 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭✭

    This is a great write up, kudos to you, @cphere .

    I love to see what kind of creative idea people are going to be using Axon M. I agree that the phone may not be for everyone but it is definitely a great idea to have a device that can really function as a regular phone but turn into a larger display when needed to or having two completely full size app open for multi-tasking. People really need to use it to get a sense if it is for them. I feel that for the first gen device, ZTE gets a lot of things right with the device.

    Glad to see that you are enjoying the Axon M.

  • hollaphollap United StatesPosts: 8,377 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭✭

    Nice writeup @cphere !

  • jasonscarterjasonscarter United StatesPosts: 1,963 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭✭

    Good writeup on the device. Reviews seem to be mixed. Either you like, it, or you don't. Which is about what I expected.

Sign In or Register to comment.