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ZTE reveals first phone after Trump sanctions at IFA 2018

Like a handful of phones today, the Axon 9 Pro has an on-screen notch.


Angela Lang/CNET

After striking a billion-dollar deal with the US government earlier this summer, which would end ZTE’s import ban over violating trade sanctions, the Chinese phone maker is unveiling its latest flagship phone, the Axon 9 Pro.

Announced at the IFA 2018 conference in Berlin, it’s the first phone ZTE launched after this controversy and, not surprisingly, it won’t be available in the US. Instead, the phone is coming to select countries in Europe and Asia.


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The sleek Axon 9 Pro is waterproof, and has a 6.21-inch, 1080p AMOLED display. The display has its own dedicated chip to process video, a feature ZTE brands as “Axon Vision.” The technology not only boosts a video’s color contrast, but it bumps up its frame rate to render smoother images.

The phone is powered by a Snapdragon 845 processor and a 4,000-mAh battery that has wireless charging capabilities.

For your photo needs, it has two cameras on the back: a 12-megapixel sensor with OIS and a 20-megapixel sensor for depth information, so you can take bokeh-style portrait photos. But it’s not a telephoto lens, so there’s no optical zoom like in the iPhone X ($1,000 at Cricket Wireless) or Galaxy S9 ($620 at Amazon.com). On the front is a 20-megapixel selfie camera.

The Axon 9 Pro also jumps on two trends that many phones are following. First, there’s an on-screen notch at the top. The phone doesn’t come with any new special facial recognition technology, so there’s no real reason for the notch other than having a thinner top bezel. Second, it doesn’t have a headphone jack, so you’ll need to use a dongle or wireless headphones to listen to your music and calls.

Though ZTE doesn’t have exact pricing, the phone is anticipated to cost about 649 euros, which converts to about $760, £590 or AU$1,040.

ZTE Axon 9 Pro specs

Specs ZTE Axon 9 Pro
Display size, resolution 6.21-inch AMOLED; 2,248×1,080 pixels
Pixel density 402 ppi
Dimensions (Inches) 6.16 x 2.93 x 0.31 in
Dimensions (Millimeters) 156.5 x 74.5 x 7.9 mm
Weight (Ounces, Grams) TBD
Mobile software Android 8.0 Oreo
Camera Dual 12-megapixel, 20-megapixel
Front-facing camera 20-megapixel
Video capture 4K
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
Storage 128GB
RAM 6GB
Expandable storage TBD
Battery 4,000 mAh
Fingerprint sensor Back of phone
Connector USB-C
Headphone jack No
Special features Water resistant (IP68); Dedicated display chip and “Axon Vision;” Dolby Atmos audio technology
Price off-contract (USD) Converts to $760
Price (GBP) Converts to £590
Price (AUD) Converts to AU$1,040

Read more: All of CNET’s coverage of IFA 2018

IFA 2018: Key announcements on day 1


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