ZTE Axon M: One phone, two screens? Watch Movies while Chatting

The Chinese Phone manufacturer, ZTE on Tuesday introduced the Axon M, a phone that rocks two displays -- one on each side -- that flip open to create a larger combined screen.

Is it weird? Yep.

This review shows a radical departure from the slew of lookalike metal-and-glass phones that have hit the market. The big trend this year has been the removal of the frame around a display. Sure, it refines the look of your device, but it isn't blowing anyone away.

So it's surprising that ZTE, known mostly as a maker of budget phones, is the company looking to start a new wave of innovation.

"This is a new direction," said Linda Sui, an analyst at Strategy Analytics. "We're right at the corner of the foldable-display era."

We've already seen hints of startling designs from other handset makers. Lenovo has shown off a concept bendable phone called the CPlus that you could wrap around your wrist. Samsung has said it's working on a foldable phone that it hopes to introduce next year under the Galaxy Note brand.

But it all starts with the Axon M (the M stands for multitasking) -- and with getting you to take a chance on such an unusual phone.

History of Novel Designs

There's a reason phones have largely settled into a common design: The standard slab is typically the one that does best. History is littered with phones that have gambled on a novel feature or design -- think the Amazon Fire Phone, the Facebook Home-powered HTC First or the Nokia Lumia 1020 -- only to be dumped into the bargain bin.

ZTE Axon M has 2 screens and opens into a 6.8-inch tablet
It doesn't bode well that AT&T is the exclusive US partner for the Axon M. Those previous three phones all received a big push from the big US carrier with little impact.

Unlike the other failed phones, ZTE at least appears ready to stick with this design for the long haul.

"We are committed to it," said Jeff Yee, ZTE's global vice president of product marketing and strategy. He said the company is already working on a second generation of the Axon M.

ZTE developed the Axon M at the request of Japanese carrier NTT Docomo, which was looking for a dual-screen device. AT&T saw the phone a year ago and offered its own feedback.


We're all over this 'flip' phone for 2017
Kevin Petersen, head of AT&T's device business, said in an interview on Monday that the Axon M has the potential to start a new category, but urged patience.

"You don't establish a new category overnight," he said. "You need to get it out there and get people engaged with it."

AT&T considers this a marquee device to show off its new position as a provider of both wireless services and entertainment. It purchased DirecTV to expand its video capabilities and is in the process of buying Time Warner -- home to "Game of Thrones" and "Justice League" -- to better establish its Hollywood credibility.

Petersen acknowledges the need to get the phone in people's hands and vows to have the Axon M in AT&T stores. While ZTE and AT&T wouldn't talk about their expectations, Sui said she expects the phone maker to sell 2 million to 3 million units around the world, helped by its commitment from NTT Docomo, as well as carriers in China and Europe.

"Everything kind of came together and worked for us," Yee said of the partnerships.

Source: CNET

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