The ZTE Axon 30 Ultra 5G is a high-end smartphone that checks all the proper hardware boxes like the Snapdragon 888 processor, Fast refresh rate screen, An excellent rear-facing camera. It’s also priced well, starting at $749 while many of its rivals start around the $1,000 mark.
The Axon 30 Ultra delivers on many fronts, like its high-quality screen and flagship-level performance. For some, which will be enough. However, it falls short in additional subtle ways in which you won’t see on a spec sheet. Its novel camera array is handicapped by uneven, heavy-handed processing. There’s also a stray bug here and there, which may range from harmless (a 5G on/off toggle appears twice during a quick settings menu) to more annoying (the camera shutter noise going off even in silent mode).
And despite the fact that all of the key hardware is there, a couple of flagship features are omitted to hit the Axon 30 Ultra’s more aggressive price point. There’s no IP rating for water resistance and no wireless charging. The phone doesn’t work on Verizon either, just on T-Mobile and AT&T, and 5G service on T-Mobile is restricted to at least one band.
If those factors aren’t dealbreakers and you’re comfortable working around the occasional quirk, then the Axon 30 Ultra offers top-notch performance with a large, lovely screen at a lower cost than the competition. We don’t see too many of these high-performance / lower-cost premium phones within the US to challenge the heavyweights of the Android world, and it’s nice to have a competitor.
ZTE AXON 30 ULTRA SCREEN AND PERFORMANCE
At 6.7 inches, the Axon 30 Ultra’s screen is about as big as they are available lately. It’s a 1080p OLED with a refresh rate of up to 144Hz. you’ll set it manually to 60, 90, 120, or 144Hz, or let it switch automatically between those rates supported by the app or the content you’re viewing. That 144Hz rate is a bit little faster than the 120Hz rate you’ll find on most high-end devices, but I’m unsure I could tell the difference between them if I didn’t know which was which. the bottom line is that each swipe, scroll, and animation looks incredibly smooth on the 30 Ultra’s screen.
Android 11 comes preloaded on the Axon 30 Ultra, and ZTE says an Android 12 update will come at the top of the year or in early 2022. the company doesn’t provide a firm timeline for security updates but says it generally provides them for around three years. Not the worst support policy far and away, but not among the absolute best. ZTE’s Android interface is named MyOS, and it’s an easy affair that doesn’t attempt to get too fancy. There are a very overwhelming number of shortcuts within the fully expanded quick settings menu accessed by swiping from the top of the screen, but you’ll rearrange and whittle them right down to your heart’s content.
ZTE AXON 30 ULTRA CAMERAS
Rather than one high-resolution main camera complemented by several lower-resolution sensors, ZTE has chosen to place three 64-megapixel sensors within the Axon 30 Ultra’s rear camera array. You’ll find a typical wide-angle main camera with optical stabilization, a 35mm-equivalent wide-angle for portraits, and an ultrawide. The device also features an 8-megapixel 5x telephoto camera with optical stabilization.
The Axon 30 Ultra’s cameras are impressive, but they’re also a bit frustrating. First, the good: these three 64-megapixel cameras all capture tons of detail in good light, which I’d expect from the back camera, but that isn’t always the case with ultra wides since they have a tendency to possess lower resolution chips. The telephoto module offers 5x true optical zoom — results aren’t great indoors or in dim light, but with much available light, it’s far better than the digital zoom alternative.
Portrait mode photos suffer some misses, too: subject separation from blurred backgrounds can look a bit clumsy, and therefore the lack of OIS in the camera means you’re more likely to witness slight blur in dimmer conditions, even without much camera movement. the wider focal length also means you’ll get to crank up the blur if you would like to obscure a distracting background, which makes the subject cut-out problems more obvious.
ZTE AXON 30 ULTRA BATTERY
The Axon 30 Ultra’s 4,600mAh battery is sufficient and consistently got me through each day of moderate use. However, I used to be conservative with some battery-draining settings like screen refresh rate, and every one of my use was on Wi-Fi, so I expect you’ll fully drain the battery over the course of each day if you actually went for it. Wireless charging is, as mentioned earlier, not an option here, but the phone supports 65W wired charging with the included charging brick, and it’s plenty fast.
The ZTE Axon 30 Ultra is strictly what it appears to be: a lower-cost alternative to the massive Android flagships with top-tier performance and an excellent screen. You don’t quite get an equivalent level of polish or reassurance that you simply would from a Samsung, OnePlus, or Google device, but reciprocally you get excellent performance for the cash.
The Axon 30 Ultra features a healthy price advantage over the opposite big-screen-big-performance competition just like the $1,069 OnePlus 9 Pro and the $999 Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus. If you’re willing to concede some screen size, then its advantage narrows compared to the OnePlus 9 ($729) and standard Galaxy S21 ($800). With either of these options, you’ll get an equivalent excellent performance and a couple of other benefits, like wireless charging and more sophisticated image processing.