Market Insight

[Display Dynamics] ZTE launches special foldable smartphone with hinged displays

February 09, 2018

David Hsieh David Hsieh Senior Director, Displays

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Key findings

  • ZTE presented its dual-screen smartphone, the Axon. It features two 5.2-inch FHD displays with 426 ppi. It calls it a foldable smartphone. However, it looks like two smartphones connected by a foldable hinge.

As reported in the Displays at CES 2018 - Special Report, ZTE exhibited its latest Z-01K smartphone at the exhibition. It is considered a foldable phone from a form factor perspective and is sold under the Axon name in certain sales regions.

Its specifications are as follows:

  • Size: two 5.2-inch (1920×1080) 426 ppi displays with Gorilla Glass 5
  • JDI display panels
  • OS/platform: Android 7.1.2
  • Battery: 3180 mAh
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM+64 GB ROM
  • Bluetooth: 4.2
  • Wi-Fi: On
  • Camera: 20 MP
  • Sound:
    • Headphone jack (3.5 mm)
    • High-fidelity sound with Dolby Atmos
    • Dual speakers

The form factor looks like two smartphones, both with 5.2” FHD displays, hinged together to form one body. The hinge facilitates folding the two halves. It is an out-fold rather than an in-fold hinge. Therefore, when folded, the displays are the front and back of the device and the backside screen shuts down to prevent mistaken touches.

ZTE is the eighth largest smartphone brand in the world. In 2017, the company shipped 50 million smartphones. However, in 2018, the company is expected to ship 41 million. Facing a shrinking business, the company feels pressed to find new ways to win over customers, and a foldable phone could be an innovation as well as a way to differentiate itself from competitors.

According to ZTE, it does not intend to sell the phone in China. Instead, it is focusing on Japan, the United States, and Europe. One reason is its higher cost and price. ZTE has launched it in Japan, as shown below, at a price of JPY90,000 (USD818.00).

IHS Markit came across the following comments regarding this product:

  • It is actually two phones linked together by a hinge, so it is not truly foldable. ZTE designed a special APP that creates a landscape view when you unfold the two sides. However, due to the bezel, the landscape view looks strange, and you can see the dark space in the middle of the landscape picture pattern, as shown in the picture.
  • It can be defined as a dual screen smartphone, but not as a true foldable.
  • From an application perspective, it might be difficult for ZTE to prove that the Axon M delivers a better user experience. So far, the applications that support the two displays are from ZTE. None of the major third-party applications supports it. Regardless, unfolded, it can be seen as a big screen smartphone with a bar in the middle of the display.

ZTE has actually emphasized the special function of its dual screen mode, as shown below.

This is not the first time that a dual screen smartphone has been introduced to Japan. NTT DoCoMo in Japan released a dual screen smartphone in 2013 (see below), but the project failed. New reports assume that it failed due to the performance of the OS and CPU, but conditions have changed over the last five years and NTT DoCoMo is trying again with the new ZTE products.


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