Unless you’re a hardcore tech lover and you follow all the Android fan blogs, odds are good that you’ve never heard of the Axon 7 and had no idea it was in the works. Actually, odds are good that you had never heard of the original ZTE Axon either, even though it has been available for quite some time now. (In case you’re wondering, numbers are completely meaningless now for some reason, so there won’t be an Axon 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6.)

The Axon line might be new to you, but the Axon 7 is a smartphone you definitely won’t soon forget — it will be available unlocked for less than $500, and it’ll feature cutting-edge specs and performance on par with phones that cost nearly twice as much.

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ZTE on Thursday made the Axon 7 official. The company’s brand new flagship smartphone will be available for under $500 in the US with no service contract. ZTE’s first unlocked model will work with AT&T, T-Mobile and smaller GSM carriers, and a second version compatible with Verizon and Sprint may or may not be released later in the year.

Designed in partnership with BMW’s iconic Designworks subsidiary, the Axon 7 features all-aluminum construction that ZTE says was inspired by luxury cars. It resembles last year’s flagship HTC One handset a bit more than a 7 Series, but it’s a very sleek design nevertheless.

zte-axon-7

The phone will be available in either silver or gold as pictured above, but the real action is contained within the new Axon 7. Highlights from the phone’s specs include a 2.2GHz Snapdragon 820 processor, a 5.5-inch AMOLED display with 2K quad HD resolution, a gigantic 3,140 mAh battery with quick charging support (50% in 30 minutes), microSDXC support, dual speakers, a 20-megapixel rear camera, an 8-megapixel front-facing camera, and what ZTE claims to be the fastest fingerprint scanner available.

There are also two memory configurations, a 64GB model with 4GB of RAM and a 128GB version with a whopping 6GB of RAM.

At under $500 for the 64GB model, the Axon 7 is a tremendous value. It’s an Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow phone that packs specs on par with the best flagship smartphones on the market, and the aluminum design looks very sleek. It will also launch alongside a new VR headset from ZTE, and its VR experience will be powered by Google Daydream.

The ZTE Axon 7 will be sold unlocked on Amazon, on ZTE’s website, and at other leading retailers including Best Buy.

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