ZTE Axon Pro boots Android 5.1.1 Lollipop out of the box. The OS has been lightly skinned by the Chinese manufacturer and can easily be mistaken for a stock build, even though it actually isn't. Take a look at the firmware in action in the short clip below.
The lockscreen holds no surprises. It displays notifications and contains shortcuts to the phone dialer and then camera.
At a quick glance, the homescreen looks like a usual Android affair - you change wallpapers, add/remove widgets, create shortcuts. However, ZTE has also added the option to change the device's theme, as well as its transition animation.
ZTE has preloaded three different themes on the Axon Pro, with the default one closely resembling stock Android Lollipop. The second is dubbed "Fancy" and removes the app drawer of the device. The third theme is called "Sports," but you are not likely to use it unless you are thirteen or younger.
All the apps in the default theme are stored into a comfy app drawer, sorted alphabetically. There is no option for custom order.
One finger swipe from the top of the homescreen will open the notification area, which features a clean look. Additional swipe reveals customizable quick toggles that include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Airplane mode, screen auto-rotate, flashlight, and location on/off among others. Of course, you can also adjust the brightness of the screen and go into the settings menu too.
The app switcher has a card interface that allows you to select the app you need by swiping up or down. You can close apps by swiping left or right, or by hitting the dedicated button on the top right corner of each card. ZTE has also added a shortcut to the task manager, as well as a button to clear all cards.
Finally, Google Now is summoned by long pressing and upward swiping from the home key. A shorter press and swipe up open a ZTE shortcut screen to your music player, favorite contacts, Yahoo Sports, and the preloaded fitness tracker by Azumio.
We found the default user interface of the Axon Pro to be light and pleasantly functional. The available themes, coupled with the slew of quality Android launchers in Goole Play allow users to have the UI of the smartphone any way they like in case the default setup does not float their boat.
Google Chrome is the default browser in the ZTE Axon Pro. Its design matches the material look and feel of Android Lollipop.
One of Chrome's strengths is its ability to seamlessly sync with the desktop version, using nothing but your Google account. This allows you to open an article on your PC and finish reading it on your mobile phone. It also syncs your bookmarks and favorite sites.
Oddly, rather than using the stock Android calendar, calculator, and clock, ZTE has opted for its own alternatives. The latter look like clones of Google's solutions in both design and functionality.
There is a powerful file manager available out of the box. An office editor is not preloaded, through Google's own Docs are really available for free in the Play Store.
Argus by Azumio is a capable fitness tracking app with social network integration that's preloaded on the Axon Pro. RockMyRun another fitness solution that's available on the smartphone.