ZTE is back from the dead, sort of. And at least for now. The company is perhaps desperate to put the horrible past few months behind and show a tough face. That resolve is being tested at IFA 2018 where it’s showing off the Axon 9 Pro. Yes, there was no Axon 8 and neither is there a non-Pro Axon 9. And while the ZTE Axon 9 Pro might sound like any other 2018 flagship, it does have one feature that makes it a tiny bit more interesting. Unfortunately for US consumers, that doesn’t really matter.
The base specs of the ZTE Axon 9 Pro are something you’ve seen before. There’s the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, with 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage. Like its predecessor, the successful and popular Axon 7 from 2016, it has an AMOLED screen. It’s larger though at 6.21 inches but, ironically, less pixel-dense with only 2248×1080 pixels, FHD+ down from QHD. And yes, that means it has a notch.
On the back you get dual cameras, 20 megapixels and 12 megapixels to be exact. The front has a large 20 megapixel sensor too. But that’s not the only sensor sharing space in that notch. There’s an RGB sensor that part of the Axon 9 Pro’s defining feature: Axon Vision.
Axon Vision is ZTE’s marketing term for the smartphone’s adaptive display. It’s actually two features lumped into one. The first uses that RGB sensor to measure ambient color temperature and adjust the display’s settings to compensate. Sounds like Apple TrueTone so that isn’t exactly special. What’s special is Axion Vision’s “Motion Video Optimization” feature that fills in videos with frames to ensure that you get smooth 60 FPS even if the source video is only 24 or 30 fps.
Call it a gimmick but it at least the ZTE Axon 9 Pro has something worth talking about. Well, there’s also the 649 EUR ($757) price tag. And the fact that it’s not coming to the US. Either ZTE, like Huawei, is taking out its grievances on US consumers or it figured it would rather not stir the hornet’s nest this soon.