Budget Android company ZTE is launching what has to be its craziest-looking smartphone ever, the Axon M. The M looks like someone took a Nintendo DS, removed the controls, and stuck two big smartphone screens on each side.
The Axon M is a whopping 12.1mm thick. A hinge runs along the long side of the phone, and it opens up, just like a Nintendo DS. On each side of the phone, you get a 5.2-inch, 1080p TFT LCD. Open the whole thing up, and when combined the screens sort of become a 6.75-inch, 8:9 aspect ratio, 1920x2160 display. I say "sort of" because of course there's a big seam down the middle.
The device ships with Android 7.1 Nougat, and Android's split-screen capabilities let it do some interesting things with the two screens. "Dual Mode" is basically split screen, with each app taking up a 1920x1080 screen. "Extended mode" merges the screen into a single, giant display. "Mirror mode" will duplicate the same content on both screens for some reason, and "traditional" seems like it will turn off the extra screen for a normal smartphone experience.
The SoC is a 2.15GHz Snapdragon 821, which was Qualcomm's best chip of 2016. You get 4GB of RAM, 64 GB of storage, a 3180 mAh battery, and a single 20MP camera. You also get some nice extras, like a 3.5mm headphone jack, dual speakers, and a microSD slot.
There's only one camera, but this is a dual-screened phone, and when it's closed, there's a screen on both sides. If you want a "front" camera, point the camera at you and use the camera below the screen. If you want a rear camera, point the camera at something and use the screen on the other side of the phone. The hinge only goes 180 degrees, so you can't "close" the smartphone such that both screens are protected.
This is not the first foldable smartphone we've seen, and it certainly won't be the last. Samsung has been rumored to be working on a foldable "Galaxy X" smartphone for some time. Samsung's version would supposedly use a single flexible OLED panel, which would bend and flex as users opened the phone.
AT&T will be exclusively selling the ZTE Axon M in the US next month, and the device will eventually be available in China, Europe, and Japan. There's no full MSRP available yet, but you can get it for $27.17 a month for 30 months through AT&T's "Next" payment plan, which works out to $725.