The U.S. division of ZTE officially announced the start of the Android 8.0 Oreo beta test for the Axon 7, the company's 2016 flagship which originally launched with 6.0.1 Marshmallow but was later updated to 7.1.1 Nougat and was already confirmed as being set to receive the latest major iteration of Google's mobile operating system. The Chinese original equipment manufacturer started distributing the first Android 8.0 beta build to select Axon 7 owners enrolled in the experimental program and has reportedly bundled the OS with Google's January security patch, thus becoming one of the first phone makers to roll out the said update to one of its products.
The beta itself is expected to last for at least several months, with ZTE previously saying it's planning to begin distributing a stable version of Android 8.0 Oreo to Axon 7 units in the United States no earlier than April. The Axon 7 Mini (sometimes stylized as "mini") and Axon 7s are also likely to receive an upgrade to Oreo in the future seeing how both have similar hardware, even though the latter may skip 7.1.1 Nougat and move directly to the 2017 revision of the OS. The beta test is only live in the U.S. and there's currently no indication that ZTE is planning to hold it in other markets, though doing so wouldn't be unprecedented. Much like Samsung, ZTE often brings first experimental OS builds to a limited number of users before widening the scope of its Android beta tests once major bugs have been polished. No such issues have yet been detected in the first version of Android 8.0 Oreo for the Axon 7 but the test only started earlier this week and users still didn't have a chance to experience to OS for a prolonged period.
The Axon 7 is still without a successor as ZTE recently refocused its R&D resources to more unconventional solutions such as the Axon M which it touts as the first contemporary foldable smartphone. The Chinese phone maker is presently working on bringing the Axon M to Europe and gave no firm indications that it's planning on announcing the Axon 8 this year. The company is also looking to release its first 5G-ready smartphone in late 2018 or early 2019, as per previous statements from its officials.