LIVE FROM AXON M LAUNCH, BROOKLYN: ZTE looked to shake up the smartphone market by debuting the Axon M, a foldable dual-screen device the company’s CEO claimed enables smoother multitasking and opens the door on an entirely new category of smartphones.

Axon M features dual 5.2-inch LCD glass displays – one on either side of the handset – which can be folded out to offer either one large screen or two side-by-side. Four viewing modes are available: Extended for additional screen space in a single app; Dual to run an app on each screen; Mirror mode to share your screen with a friend when gaming, for instance; and Traditional, where users can fold up the device and use it like a regular single-screen smartphone.

“The ZTE Axon M is the beginning of a significant movement of smartphone capabilities, and ZTE is leading the way,” ZTE Mobile CEO Lixin Cheng (pictured) said in a statement.

Internal highlights of the device include a Snapdragon 821 processor, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage (expandable via memory card to 256GB). The phone will launch with Android N, but Cheng said ZTE will be releasing an Android O update for the Axon M.

Axon M comes with a single 20MP camera. However, due to the folding nature of the phone, users have to change screens when switching between selfie and regular mode. More in the video below.

Partnering with AT&T
ZTE partnered with AT&T on an exclusive US launch just in time for the holiday (Q4) sales season. The device will roll out in November priced $24.17 with a 30-month contract, or around $725 retail.

AT&T executives billed the Axon M as the perfect device to complement the operator’s DirecTV and DirecTV Now offerings.

“Our customers continue to demand more from their mobile entertainment experience. Pairing DirecTV with the dual-screen capabilities of the ZTE Axon M will deliver a new and transformative way to enjoy the entertainment they want on the network they need,” AT&T’s SVP of device and network services marketing Kevin Petersen said in a statement.

According to Linda Sui, Strategy Analytics’ director of wireless smartphone strategies, the collaboration is particularly notable because it is the first time ZTE is targeting AT&T’s postpaid market.

The Axon M will also be launching in China and Japan before heading to Europe in the first quarter of 2018.

Sui told Mobile World Live the Axon M is a good way for ZTE to differentiate itself from competitors including Samsung and Huawei.

She added she believes the Axon M is an “innovative product”, but said it appears to be a “temporary solution,” technologically speaking.

“It’s not a real single foldable display, it’s just two displays folded and put together,” Sui noted: “ZTE itself, I don’t think they have a super power where they can lead the way and make the whole industry shift in this direction, but I think it’s a good try.”