ZTE made a big splash in the US back in 2016 when it launched the Axon 7, back then its premium model. It still is, so far, its flagship phone with no successor yet in sight. But while fans await what is rumored to be the Axon 9 (no Axon 8), the Chinese OEM is making their time worthwhile with its Oreo Beta program for those in US. But while it’s welcome news for those who have been dying for an update, getting into that program is proving to be harder than usual.
Having launched in 2016 and have been updated from Android 6.0 Marshmallow to 7.1.1 Nougat, and having already been discontinued in production, Axon 7 owners should probably consider themselves lucky to even be promised Android Oreo at this point. Or they should still feel entitled. ZTE never did make any promises to the length of support they were giving the phone. That is, until it did promise last December to give them Oreo.
It’s not yet the final release, mind. It’s still just the testing phase. But unlike other beta programs that are opened up to the public, ZTE is curiously making it difficult to actually get in. Others would simply enroll their device. ZTE wants you to fill up a multi-page online form, say you’re committed to spending at least 1 hour a day to engage and provide feedback, state your proficiency in Spanish, and, most of all, explain why you’re a qualified beta tester.
That said, it’s understandable that ZTE is trying to discourage those who simply want to test the beta without providing the feedback they need to make it better. But the requirements are still quite steep regardless. Plus, it didn’t exactly say upfront what those requirements are until you get to page 2 or 3 or 6 of the form.
ZTE’s Axon 7 Oreo US beta program comes exactly at a time when forces in the US stacking up the odds against it. The US government’s various intelligence agencies have recently raised their voices and concern about the use of ZTE’s and Huawei’s phones, not just by government employees but by citizens at large. At this rate, it might be even more difficult for ZTE to get users in the US, much less beta testers.