Top Smartphone Alternatives to Apple/Samsung at CES 2017

A fingerprint sensor and 20-megapixel optically stabilized camera that shoots 4K video are present on the back of the ZTE Axon 7. The smartphone came out earlier in 2016, but was featured at the company’s booth at CES in Las Vegas, Nevada on January 5, 2017. Photo by Kyle Davi/BU News Service

By Kyle Davi
BU News Service

LAS VEGAS—Looking to buy a new smartphone but wary of Apple and Samsung?  Don’t want to dish out a lot of money to upgrade your device? You’re not alone.

After Samsung’s disaster with the exploding Galaxy Note 7 and Apple’s removal of the headphone jack, many consumers are looking for alternative phones.  In response, the smartphone market has boomed at CES this year.  Many retailers are showcasing their newest designs as cheaper substitutes to Apple and Samsung. 

We’re here to help you differentiate the good from the mediocre.  So here are the top three alternative smartphones to Apple and Samsung being showcased here at CES 2017.

#3: Asus ZenFone 3 Zoom

Photo Courtesy of ASUS

An update to the Zoom lineup, Asus once again hits the mark with the ZenFone 3 Zoom that was introduced at CES on Thursday.

The new iteration features a 5,000 mAh battery, which is much larger than most other smartphones on the market.  Asus claims up to 25 hours of web browsing, 48 hours of talk time, and a standby time of 42 days on a full charge.

A 12-megapixel camera with dual lenses is the other main feature on the ZenFone 3 Zoom.  You can switch between the two lenses for a 2.3x optical zoom similar to an iPhone 7 Plus.  The lenses can also work in unison to create better depth-of-field in your photos.

If you’re into selfies, there is also a 13-megapixel front-facing camera.  Manual mode is available for both the rear and front cameras, along with the ability to shoot in RAW format.  The ZenFone 3 Zoom also supports 4K video recording, something that was missing on the previous model.

A full metal design, the newest Gorilla Glass 5 and USB-C charging certainly make this phone feel premium.  While pricing has not been announced, it is expected to be around $500.  Asus says the phone will be released in February and is coming “soon” with more specs.

#2: ZTE Axon 7

The ZTE Axon 7 smartphone was featured at the ZTE booth at CES in Las Vegas, Nev., on Jan. 5, 2017. Photo by Kyle Davi/BU News Service

The ZTE Axon 7 was technically not announced at CES 2017, but released back in late May of 2016.  ZTE did announce their new Blade V8 smartphone this year, but it seems to be just full of gimmicks and not as good as their Axon 7.

While ZTE may have disappointed at CES, their Axon 7 certainly does not.  The company achieved their goal of getting high-end specs into a cheaper smartphone.

The highlight of the phone is its design.  A full metal body with rounded corners and edges feels great in the hand.  The screen is a quad HD AMOLED display that looks strikingly similar to Samsung’s Note 7. 

But the best part is the speakers. Dual front facing stereo speakers with Dolby Surround Sound steal the show.  The sound produced from the Axon 7 is impressive, with crisp and loud audio that was clear even on the CES show floor. 

The phone also features a 20-megapixel rear camera that is optically stabilized and capable of recording 4K video.  For selfie lovers, the smartphone has an 8-megapixel front camera.

The Axon 7 features a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor, 4 or 6 GB of RAM, and a micro-SD card slot.  In terms of battery, you get a decent amount of time with the phone.  It charges using USB-C and has QuickCharge 3.0 that gives you a 50 percent charge in 30 minutes.

For all of those high-end specs, ZTE’s Axon 7 starts at only $400.  That’s half the price of Apple or Samsung devices, with most of the same features.  However, we couldn’t place it at number one because it’s technically not a CES 2017 phone.

The Axon 7 is currently available, though the company is waiting for approval to get it on Verizon and Sprint’s networks.

#1: Honor 6X

The Honor 6X smartphone was revealed at CES in Las Vegas, Nev., and available for hands-on use at the company’s booth on Jan. 5, 2017. Photo by Kyle Davi/BU News Service

The number one pick for an Apple or Samsung alternative is the Honor 6X, which was announced on Tuesday at CES 2017.

An all-metal design with a smooth finish and curved glass highlights the outer features of the smartphone.  The screen is 5.5-inches and full HD, with auto-adjusting contrast and brightness to reduce eye fatigue.

There are also dual cameras on the rear of the phone that work together for better photos.  The design allows for refocusing after the image has been taken, along with better nighttime photos.  Honor promoted their new photo software as being one of the best on the market for pictures with difficult lighting. 

The Honor 6X has a 3340mAh high-density battery with new power saving technology.  The company claims you get 1.5 hours of video watching, 70 hours of music playback and 8 hours of gaming on a full charge.

But the reason the Honor 6X is the best alternative smartphone to Apple or Samsung is its price:  starting at $250. 

You can check out the BUNS article on Honor’s launch event with more information and accessories here

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