The Pixel XL — the one with a 2K screen — can cost a whopping US$869 for the 128GB model. And that’s without the extra money for “protection.”
That’s a scary amount of cash to risk carrying around just as a phone!
But yesterday [it was yesterday when this post was being written before its long delay!] ZTE again confirmed that their Axon 7 phone is a Daydream VR phone, the first non-Google phone on the market.
The Axon 7 costs US$399 and unlike the Pixel XL, has a microSD card slot that can accept up to 128GBs. Since 64GBs is already on board, that’s more storage than a Pixel XL.
As for the Axon 7 itself, I got to fondle one earlier this month at Best Buy:
That photo was taken by another Axon 7, the gray-colored model.
Here are three more sample photos (click to enlarge):
Those were sent out via Twitter so were probably size-reduced in transit.
But would the Axon 7 be as good with Daydream View as the Pixel XL was in my brief test?
I don’t know.
I attacked this question from two angles.
1) Search for posts about screen-door effect from people using it with Google Cardboard. But I couldn’t find any posts anywhere about people even trying the 7 with Cardboard!
2) Search for information about the 7’s screen. I came across this tantalizing bit that has yet to be verified (click to enlarge):
If that’s true, with all other things being equal — such as type of glass, touchscreen, and backlight — the Axon could in theory be as good as the Pixel XL when it comes to VR image quality when used with the Daydream View headset itself.
If someone out there has a Pixel XL phone already, from the Play Store download and run DevCheck System Info and post in Comments the description string for the screen.
I’m not sure that any reports about using the Axon 7 with Google Cardboard would matter, however.
When I think about how superior the image quality of Daydream View is with a Pixel XL versus the Gear VR with a Samsung phone (demos now use the S7 or S7 Edge), I’m beginning to wonder if the key difference isn’t the phone screen but the headset lenses.
I have to think they dissected the Gear VR — and probably all other competitor headsets, including the original Cardboard — and mathed the hell out of the lenses used in Daydream View. And in doing so, wound up with image quality remarkably superior to Gear VR.
That could be very, very good news for people who own the Axon 7 and for those who want a Pixel XL-like phone but at a lower price.
An Axon 7 combined with the Daydream View headset might be just as good as the Pixel XL.
We’ll know sometime within the next two weeks.
I’ll try to keep up with Twitter and YouTube for reports from owners.
ZTE Axon 7 Daydream VR-Ready Phone At Best Buy, Amazon, B&H
Video: Owner Review Of Daydream VR-Ready ZTE Axon 7
Videos: ZTE Axon 7 Hands-On, Camera Tests
ZTE’s Axon 7 Is The First Daydream VR Phone
ZTE Will Enter VR With Axon 7 Phone