We’ve already gone hands-on with the newly-announced ZTE Axon, which has proven to be quite the mystery up until now. Featuring an all-metal build, premium front-facing speakers, minimalistic software and an affordable price point, this handset seems set to prove itself as a worthwhile contender in the United States. Specs and build quality aren’t everything, though – the ZTE Axon will have to go up against the best of the best in order to make a name for itself.
It’s not too often that we see smaller OEMs go head-to-head on the design front with major smartphone makers like Samsung, but that’s exactly what we’re witnessing today. Placing form over functionality, Samsung really ramped up its design language with the Galaxy S6, making it one of the most attractive smartphones on the market. With that said, the brand new ZTE Axon may give it a run for its money when it comes to design.
Although these are both extremely premium feeling devices, it’s easy to spot the differences between the two right away. The Axon features an industrial design language thanks to its sleek metal body and unique front-facing speaker grills. This device does its best to offer up a heavy-duty aesthetic without sacrificing its classy look and feel, which will translate well for those in search of the best of both worlds. While it doesn’t feature too many design elements that help it stand out from the crowd, the Axon Phone is still a really great looking device that will probably catch the eyes of many consumers out there.
At first glance, you might think this new ZTE device features two front-facing speakers, but unfortunately that’s not the case. Only the bottom section houses the speaker. With that said, sound quality on the Axon is much clearer than what the Galaxy S6 can produce with its bottom-facing speaker.
The S6 is one of the best-designed smartphones Samsung has ever produced, thanks to its aluminum frame that surrounds two panels of Gorilla Glass 4. There’s no mistaking that this is a Samsung device through and through, largely due to the tactile home button up front, which is flanked by capacitive recent apps and back buttons. In contrast, the Axon comes with capacitive buttons below the display.
Much like comparing the latest from Samsung with, say, the all-metal HTC One M9, your decision to go with either phone will depend a lot on which material you like better – metal or glass.
While both displays offer up an impressive Quad HD resolution, the Galaxy S6 may be for you if you’re looking for a more compact form factor. Featuring a 5.1-inch display with a pixel density of 577ppi, Samsung’s offering comes with a Super AMOLED panel that might entice more users with its vivid colors and great viewing angles.
But for those who are looking for a bigger display, the Axon Phone will do the trick with its 5.5-inch LCD panel. Even though this device’s 534ppi isn’t quite as high as the pixel density found on the S6, we’d still wager to say that the Axon Phone will be a great option for viewing videos and playing games.
On the other hand, one-handed usability is already proving to be a small issue with the Axon, so be sure to keep that in mind if you’re looking to purchase this handset.
When it comes to under the hood specifications, Samsung’s S6 really impressed us thanks to its in-house Exynos 7420 processor backed by 3GB of RAM. Performance has been absolutely fantastic with this device, especially when it comes to switching between apps, gaming and web browsing. On the other hand, the Axon Phone feels really fast as well. It comes with a Snapdragon 810 processor backed by a massive 4GB of RAM, along with the popular Adreno 430 GPU. Performance seems great so far, and the stock-like software experience is definitely a contributing factor to this.
Both devices feature non-removable batteries, and in Samsung’s case, this has proven to be quite the downfall. The S6 only features a 2550mAh cell, which has failed to impress us in our time with the handset. Obviously we’ll need to spend some time with the Axon to test battery life in full, but the larger 3000mAh unit has us feeling hopeful. If you’re looking to store some photos or videos on a microSD card, unfortunately you won’t get that feature with either device. The Galaxy S6 comes in either 32/64/128GB flavors to combat this, though the Axon is only available in a 32GB option. This will likely turn many users away from both of these devices.
Because of the Axon Phone’s metal chassis, wireless charging isn’t supported. However, if you’re looking for that added convenience, the S6 supports both PMA and Qi standards. Both devices support quick charging technology as well, which is a nice addition.
The Galaxy S6 boasts one of the best smartphone cameras on the market, thanks to its 16MP rear-facing shooter with optical image stabilization. It consistently produces clear, well-balanced images both indoors and out. The camera app is quick, simple and offers up tons of controls for those who like to tinker with each shot.
Taking a page out of HTC’s book, the Axon features a 13MP main sensor and 2MP secondary sensor on the back, which will allow for a much faster auto focus and the ability to refocus the shot after the fact. The camera is also capable of video recording in 4K and comes with twin microphones, along with some of the best in noise suppression technology to help eliminate background and wind noise when recording concert videos and voice calls. The device also packs a wide angle 8MP front-facing camera, which is great news for all of you selfie lovers out there.
The Axon’s camera interface is pretty simple, with most extra modes found just a swipe away. One of the most interesting features in the camera app is the ability to manually adjust the f-stop on the fly, from 8 all the way down to 1. This is most likely done on the software side of things, though we’ll have to wait and see once we get more time with the device.
The Axon has some stiff competition in the camera department, and we can’t wait to see how it fairs against the best from Samsung.
The Galaxy S6 runs Android 5.1 Lollipop with Samsung’s TouchWiz UI on top, and it’s actually very pleasant to use. Samsung toned down its software experience with the S6, which not only helps with the device’s performance, but also gives the user an all around better experience with the device. There are still a boatload of Samsung’s software features built in that many users might not be too fond of, but this new version of TouchWiz is still the best Samsung has ever put out.
In contrast, the Axon really couldn’t be any more different from the Samsung handset. It runs a near-stock build of Android 5.1.1 Lollipop with some light customizations from ZTE. It also has a handful of pre-installed applications, though nothing that will stray users away from the handset.
For those of you who are looking for a Google-like experience, you’ll definitely get that with the Axon. The software features a ton of Material Design enhancements, especially in the notification dropdown and the Overview screen. So far, the software experience has been speedy and easy to use, and will probably be a more attractive option for those looking for a simpler user interface.
Samsung Galaxy S6
4x 2.0GHz Cortex-A57
4x 1.5GHz Cortex-A53
4x 2.1GHz Cortex-A57
4x 1.5GHz Cortex-A53
dual rear (13MP, and 2MP)
PMA and Qi
154 x 75 x 9.3mm
143.4 x 70.5 x 6.8 mm
So there you have it, a quick first look at the ZTE Axon vs the Samsung Galaxy S6! These devices are both similar and completely different in some notable ways, and we can’t wait to pit these two handsets up against one another in a more detailed versus post in the weeks to come. What are your thoughts? Just based on this comparison, which device do you think will make its way into your pocket? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!