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ZTE Launches Dual Screen Axon M

by Paul Brown | Oct 18, 2017

At a press event in New York on October 17th 2017, ZTE unveiled the ZTE Axon M, a foldable dual screen smartphone.  The Axon M features two separate 5.2-inch displays, which when side-by-side can create a larger 6.75-inch display.

ZTE Axon M

 ZTE Axon M

According to ZTE’s press release, the device will function in four different modes:

  1. Dual Mode: Provides unlimited potential in app combinations so consumers can do more, all at once. With Dual mode, you can watch your favorite professional basketball team or PGA TOUR tournament on one screen, while ordering a pizza online on the other.
  2. Extended Mode: Stream, email and play games on a full 6.75-inch Full HD display. Extended mode lets you watch your favorite shows and movies on a larger screen, when and where you want to.
  3. Mirror Mode: Sit across from your friends and watch the same content on one device. Simply fold the device in Mirror mode and place it on a table for easy viewing from two separate sides.
  4. Traditional Mode: When you aren’t watching sports, catching up on your favorite shows, or surfing the web, Traditional mode gives you a great everyday smartphone that’s easy to use and hold in one hand.

In terms of user experience, the Axon M should provide an enhanced experience for multitasking that cannot be achieved by any other smartphone.  In Dual Mode, rather than having to rely on split screen to view two different applications, the Axon M will allow the user to have two applications open side-by-side, with each utilizing a full display.

Multitasking on the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 (left) and ZTE Axon M (right)
Note8AxonM_multitasking

Mirror Mode allows you to sit across from someone and watch the same content on each of the screens, while also offering a convenient way to stand the device.  This is an innovative way to allow multiple consumers to consume the same content, on the same device, at the same time.  However, use cases are likely to be quite limited in this mode, and it may actually prove more useful as a way to stand the device when watching content alone.

Mirror Mode on the ZTE Axon M
ZTEAxonM_MirrorMode

The third innovative way to view content is in Extended Mode will give the user access to a 6.75” display, by extending content across both displays.  However, due to the hinge of the device, the content does not appear seamlessly across the two displays.  In 2011 Kyocera introduced the Echo, which also had a foldable display.  One of the major criticisms when viewing content was the separation of the screen, which participants found distracting.  Comments from participants related to this included “The line in the middle makes the functionality of it more difficult because things get cut off as you are scrolling and reading.” and “It is cool that you have the ability to see more information, but the split is annoying as it splits the text and cuts it off.”

Extended Mode on the ZTE Axon M
ZTEAxonM_ExtendedMode

Today, the ZTE Axon M provides a unique form factor, with some interesting use cases via different modes.  Dual Mode is likely to provide the most enhanced user experience, and will allow for a differentiated multi-tasking experience compared to other smartphones currently available.  However, Extended Mode will face challenges as it does not provide a seamless user experience, and the extension of small displays into larger displays is unlikely to truly take off until someone can provide truly a foldable/bendable display that does not leave a seam down the middle.

- Paul Brown

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