Smartphones have not changed over the last 10 years. Lixin Cheng, CEO of ZTE Mobile Devices, shared this sentiment during Tuesday’s unveiling event for the Axon M mobile device.
“Overall, innovation has stalled,” said Cheng. “Over the years, wireless speed has increased, and now you can only tell the difference between devices by the name on the back versus what it is capable of.”
In his opening presentation, Cheng identified a group of consumers he called “mobile revolutionaries,” which are the consumers who don’t just use technology, but are empowered by it. He went on to say that we have all become revolutionaries, but have become frustrated by the limitations of mobile devices, despite how they have become the “primary device and the nerve center” of everything they do. Consumers are tired of having to pay more for new smartphones that are nearly identical to the ones that they already have, he said.
ZTE’s stated goals to identify the pain points of its users and innovate with new technologies to meet them.
“To us, it’s more than just providing a smartphone. It’s providing a smartphone that will make their lives easier and happier,” Cheng said.
While discussing how mobile users are demanding a device that will help them do more, Cheng pointed to a study conducted by CSE & Vantedge in 2017, which found that 68 percent of users switch between multiple apps to meet their needs. However, smartphones have reached their limits when it comes to screen size, as six inches is the largest size that can fit comfortably in one hand. Therefore, many have taken to carry multiple devices to complement their phones, such as tablets and laptops.
Cheng then introduced the ZTE Axon M, a first-of-its-kind mobile device that has two screens that can be folded back-to-back, as something that “will completely transform your smartphone experience.”
When closed, the Axon M looks like any other all-glass smartphone. But the device can be opened to support a variety of configurations. The screens work independently of each other; content can be extended across it, turning the phone into a small tablet. Furthermore, it can be used in tent mode with screen mirroring turned on, making it the ideal device for playing games like chess face-to-face.
During the product demonstration, the Axon M’s capabilities include managing email on one screen and a calendar on the other. Or consumers could watch a video on one screen while going through social media on the other. The new Android smartphone will be available this holiday season in the US exclusively through AT&T with a worldwide launch to follow shortly after.
“Axon M is a category-defining smartphone that will give you an unrivaled experience and unlimited potential because of the dual-screen technology,” Waiman Lam, vice president of product marketing at ZTE USA, told AListDaily at the unveiling event. “This phone is very special because there’s nothing like it out there . . . Our targets of engagement are young professionals who are on-the-go and need to multitask. Also, fun-seekers who are into gaming, since they can use the big screen for a tablet-like experience. Everyday moms and dads, too, who have to do many chores or might want something like a big map when driving.
Lam said a lot of consideration went into making sure consumers can use the phone in normal scenarios for the entire day.
“We’re very confident that we’ve been able to achieve that,” he said.
ZTE prides itself on innovation, but the Axon M doesn’t necessarily support AR or VR technology like Google Daydream. However, Lam pointed to related devices that do.
“The Axon 7 is like a high-class sedan and the Axon M is like a luxury SUV,” said Lam, comparing to the Axon family of devices to car types.
Lam said that the unveiling event was just the start in getting the word out about the Axon M to consumers this holiday season.
“Obviously, we live in a digital world where everybody is online with social media,” he said. “We’re going to be doing a lot of programs to try to make people aware of this new device, which allows them to do so much more than an average smartphone. We’re going to use digital channels to advertise the product in addition to some creative offline ways to reach consumers.”
He also echoed the presentation’s message by stating that the smartphone is probably the most important device of them all, and ZTE’s goal with the Axon M is to make it better and more efficient. The brand’s biggest focus is on innovation. It illustrates that by pointing out how it had one of the first devices to use eye scanning to unlock phones, how the Axon 7 has dual front-facing speakers for high fidelity sound, and now the Axon M, which enables better multitasking with dual screens.
ZTE takes pride in being ranked by the World Intellectual Property Organization as the most innovative company last year in terms of patent applications worldwide across all industries, and among the top three in the past seven years.
“I think our innovation speaks for itself with the products that we launch,” Lam said.
As ZTE looks to popularize the next mobile hardware platform, it’s working with developers to optimize apps for it.
“We’re asking developers to sign up, and we’re also going to have events with developers,” said Lam.
However, the company isn’t looking to create Axon M-exclusive apps.
“The idea is that we don’t want to develop a brand new app just for this phone, but developers should be able to adapt apps for it,” Lam said. “It’s a new hardware platform, so there’s more opportunity for developers to make apps that are suitable for it and other phones that are a single screen.”