ZTE intros dual-screen smartphone powered by Android

ZTE's Axon M. Image: ZTE

ZTE is targeting mobile video fans with a new “foldable” smartphone featuring dual screens that enables owners to use two apps at the same time.

The Android-powered ZTE Axon M features two 5.2-inch screens that support multiple use-case scenarios: The screens can be combined for single-screen viewing on a 6.75-inch screen with a slight break in the center, or can be used for completely separate apps or content.

The phone also offers a “mirror mode” that can display the same content simultaneously on both screens, enabling multiple users to view content from different sides. And the phone can be used while it’s closed, supporting more traditional smartphone uses.

“The ZTE Axon M is the beginning of true smartphone innovation, and ZTE is leading the way,” said Lixin Cheng, CEO of ZTE Mobile Devices, in a press release. “The mobile technology ecosystem and consumer habits have evolved over the past several years, but the smartphone design has only slightly varied throughout that time until today, with the introduction of the Axon M. Consumers need and expect more from their current smartphones and we are proud to partner with carriers around the world to transform their mobile experience.”

The phone will be available in the United States, Europe, Japan and ZTE’s homeland of China. AT&T has exclusive carrier rights to sell the phone in the United States and will offer the phone for $24.17 a month for 30 months—or $725—through its equipment installment plan.

ZTE continues to quietly gain traction in an extremely competitive worldwide smartphone market. The company is the nation’s fourth-largest smartphone vendor with 11.5% of the U.S. market, according to Counterpoint’s figures for the second quarter. LG is the third-largest smartphone player in the market with 15.4% of the market, behind market leaders Samsung and Apple.

Overall, ZTE doesn’t play at the high end of the smartphone market in the United States (it does sell its high-end Axon line of phones unlocked online in the U.S. market). Instead, ZTE has built its business in the low-end, prepaid U.S. business, accruing sales through the likes of MetroPCS, TracFone and AT&T’s Cricket brand. But the Axon M, which will hit AT&T shelves within the next few weeks, clearly signals the company’s intention to take on Apple, Samsung and others at the more expensive end of the segment.