ZTE’s Axon M foldable smartphone is official in the company’s home country as of Tuesday and is now also making its way to select European markets, the Chinese consumer electronics manufacturer said. The handset will go on sale in the Far Eastern country on Saturday, January 20th, being offered by JD.com, China Telecom’s brick-and-mortar stores, and ZTE itself. While the manner in which the firm launched the Axon M in China was much more extravagant than its U.S. announcement from mid-October, with the smartphone being unveiled on top of the Olympic Tower, Beijing’s highest skyscraper, the overall message behind the product remained unchanged; ZTE presented the Axon M as a “transformational” offering meant to reimagine the concept of a smartphone, claiming the device will allow users to consume content and multitask in unprecedented ways.
The tech giant has yet to provide many details on its European plans for the Axon M, having only confirmed that Vodafone and TIM will be carrying the device on the Old Continent. The full list of its wireless partners has yet to be disclosed but its first two names suggest the device will at the very least launch in the United Kingdom, Germany Italy, Russia, and Spain. No specifics in regards to the pricing of the smartphone have yet been disclosed but a price tag below €700 seems unlikely. Outside of product launch events, ZTE’s executives aren’t claiming the Axon M is the ultimate foldable smartphone but still insist the offering is much more than a proof of concept and has the potential to see commercial success. Regardless, the company’s management sees the Axon M as only the first step toward a truly foldable mobile device and intends to iterate on the concept moving forward, with the handset’s successor possibly being set for a release as early as this year.
The Axon M will start retailing in Europe by the end of the current calendar quarter and ZTE promised to share more details on its availability in the coming weeks. The tech giant is expected to attend MWC 2018 next month but is unlikely to announce many new smartphones at the Barcelona-based trade show and will presumably focus its conference on 5G technologies.