The long-awaited successor to the 2016 Axon 7 may finally end up being announced at this year's IFA after ZTE narrowly escaped bankruptcy by having its denial order in the U.S. lifted last month. A ZTE-made device identified by the model number A2019 Pro was recently spotted in a number of online databases, including the one from browser benchmark HTML5. Industry insider Roland Quandt believes the handset in question is the Chinese variant of what's likely to be advertised as the Axon 9 Pro, whereas its international model may be launched alongside the "ZTE A2019(G) Pro" identifier.
The Axon 7 is 26 months old now and while the company previously signaled it's working on its successor, that handset would have likely already been announced had the U.S. Department of Commerce not hit it with a seven-year ban on purchasing and licensing any kind of American technologies, completely crippling its operations and placing it on the road of certain bankruptcy. The Trump administration ended up pushing for the sanction to be replaced with a set of milder penalties, including a $1 billion fine and in-depth board and management changes. While significant, the concessions allowed ZTE to resume operations and stay in business several weeks back.
Besides the Axon 9 Pro, a regular Axon 9 may also be on the cards, with the two devices now being rumored to be slated for an IFA unveiling given how the Berlin, Germany-based trade show is ZTE's final 2018 opportunity for a high-profile handset launch in the West, not accounting for the possibility of the company organizing a standalone product announcement event. According to several previous benchmark sightings, the Axon 9 series should offer Qualcomm's Snapdragon 845 chip and a base of 6GB of RAM, as well as 64GB of flash memory expandable via a microSD card slot. With ZTE's global operations now being fully resumed, the company also revived its product support unit and is now once again issuing regular software updates to its high-end Android devices.