ZTE tries for a US return with an affordable flagship

TECHNOLOGY

ZTE’s U.S. government dealings have never been as high-profile as fellow Chinese smartphone maker Huawei, but it has had its fair share of scuffles. Last summer, the company got smacked with a $1 billion fine over sanction violations. All in all, 2018 was not a great year for ZTE here in the States.

It all amounted to a big blow for a manufacturer that was actually doing pretty good business selling mid-range devices in the largest smartphone market. With the Axon 10 Pro, it seems ZTE is finally done licking its wounds and is ready to try again here in the States, even as trade tensions continue to loom large in dealings between the two super powers.

I’ve got to say, it’s looking like a pretty solid device. The company seems to be positioning the product in the same sliver of the market that OnePlus has found a home. At $549, it’s a breath of fresh air in a world of $1,000+ flagships, without skimping on the design language or features. It’s doubly compelling given that OnePlus’s own prices have been creeping up a bit as well, as the company has pushed into more premium territory.

The device has a 6.47-inch display with a small camera notch up top and an in-screen fingerprint reader. There’s the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon chip on-board (855), paired with a a beefy 4,000 mAh battery. Around back are three cameras, including a 48-megapixel, a telephoto and a wide-angle. The headphone jack, however, is MIA.

With Huawei more or less out of the picture here in the States, maybe there’s some room for ZTE to thrive, after all. Of course, the company still has to contend with a shrinking smartphone market, just like everyone else.

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