A nice surprise from a company not known for its speedy software updates.
ZTE isn't the first company you think of when considering fast software updates. (Come to think of it, are there any these days?) The Chinese firm, which released its excellent Axon 7 flagship last summer, spent a good chunk of the latter part of 2016 testing Android 7.0 Nougat, delaying the upgrade well into this year.
When I asked a representative from ZTE, he said it was because the engineers needed to get Daydream support correct, and didn't want to release the software with a compromised VR experience.
Well, just over a month after that fateful day, the Axon 7 is getting yet another update — to Android 7.1.1. Available starting March 16, this marks, along with the OnePlus 3 and OnePlus 3T, one of the only devices outside of Google's own Pixel and Nexus lines to be updated to the latest version of Android.
The change log is fairly modest compared to the bump from Marshmallow to Nougat, but here are the highlights:
- T-Mobile Wi-Fi Calling support: T-Mobile Axon 7 users will now be able to send and receive both calls and text messages over Wi-Fi. Don't have service in a certain area? Don't miss a beat by connecting to a wireless network to continue talking and texting.
- More ways to communicate: With 7.1.1, Google made all its emojis gender-equal, representing a wider range of professions for both men and women – so now you can be the astronaut you always wanted. Plus, you gain the ability to send gifs directly from your keyboard on supported apps. Go ahead, express yourself!
- Daydream update & optimization: One of our favorite 2017 announcements was that the Axon 7 was finally Daydream-ready! With -- Android 7.1.1, we're making your virtual reality even better by updating and optimizing your experience.
- Google security patches updates through Feb 2017 – Speaking of security, Google fixed all of its known vulnerabilities with 7.1.1. Sound boring? You may be right, but these patches are critical in keeping your information even more safe while sending emails, browsing the website, texting, or processing media files.
T-Mobile users will be happy to know that ZTE worked with the carrier to roll out Wi-Fi Calling, and it's really good to know that Daydream support will be optimized. Of course, the update brings native 7.1.1 features from Google, including a larger set of emojis, support for image keyboards, rounded icon support in the launcher, and more.