ZTE Axon 30 Ultra review: the right stuff for the right price

The ZTE Axon 30 Ultra is an advanced device that checks all the right hardware boxes. Snapdragon 888 processor? inspection. Fast refresh rate screen? inspection. A metric ton rear camera? Check, check, check and check. Also, prices are reasonable, starting at $749 while many of its competitors start at $1,000. The Axon 30 Ultra offers many aspects such as a high-quality screen and flagship-level performance. For some it will be enough. But it falls short in more subtle ways not seen in the spec sheet. The new camera array is disappointing with its choppy and heavy handling. There are bugs everywhere. They range from the harmless (the 5G on/off toggle appears twice in the quick settings menu) to the more annoying (the camera shutter noise can be heard even in silent mode). ZTE may or may not address these bugs in a future update, and parents will be offended by loud smartphone cameras during their kids’ dance recitals. The Axon 30 Ultra delivers top-notch performance with a large, stunning screen. It has all the core hardware, but a few key features have been omitted to match the Axon 30 Ultra’s more aggressive price point. There is no IP rating for waterproofing and wireless charging. This phone doesn’t even work with Verizon, it only works with T-Mobile and AT&T, and T-Mobile’s 5G service is limited to one band. If these aren’t your deal breaker and you’re comfortable with the occasional issue, then the Axon 30 Ultra delivers top-notch performance with a big, cool screen at a lower price than the competition. We don’t see too many high-performance/low-cost premium phones in the US to challenge the heavyweight of the Android world, and it’s good to have an alternative. But it lacks some luster and a few features that set it apart from its more expensive rivals. Good Stuff Excellent performance Big and fast refresh rate screen Great camera hardware Bad Stuff image processing is a mixed bag. No IP rating Does not work with Verizon 30 Ultra’s screen has curved edges to make it more immersive. ZTE Axon 30 Ultra Screen, Battery and Performance At 6.7 inches, the Axon 30 Ultra’s screen is as big as it comes out these days. It is a 1080p OLED with a refresh rate of up to 144Hz. You can manually set it to 60, 90, 120 or 144Hz, or let it automatically switch the speed depending on the content you’re watching. That 144Hz speed is slightly faster than the 120Hz speed you’ll find on most high-end devices, but if you didn’t know which one it was, I don’t know if you can tell the difference. The bottom line is that on the 30 Ultra’s screen, all swipes, scrolls, and animations look amazingly smooth. Generally speaking, it’s a really nice screen. The contrast is rich, the bezels are thin, and the panels run across the sides of the phone. Marketers love to call these “immersive”-like screens, but they actually feel like fair descriptors. It’s a bit hard to see outside in bright light, but still usable. That big screen makes the Axon 30 Ultra a big device. It’s comfortable enough to hold and the curved screen and back panel help, but you can’t stretch your thumb cleanly across the screen while using it with one hand. It has Gorilla Glass 5 on the front and back panels and the frame is aluminium, giving the whole phone a solid and luxurious feel. The Axon 30 Ultra features Gorilla Glass 5 on the front and back panels. Thanks to the Snapdragon 888 processor, the phone’s performance also meets the “premium” standards. It feels like you’re moving between apps very quickly, picking up or zooming in on Google Maps, and scrolling through Twitter. We’re also happy to report that the on-screen optical fingerprint sensor is also fast and responsive. I was a bit impressed with all the unlocks and password manager authentication. This is a feature that puts extra distance in order to make it feel like a responsive premium device. The Axon 30 Ultra’s 4,600mAh battery is large enough. However, I was conservative about some battery drain settings like screen refresh rate and all my use was on wifi, so if I actually use it, I’d expect it to drain the battery completely for a day. As mentioned earlier, wireless charging isn’t an option here, but the phone supports 65W wired charging with the included charging device and is fairly fast. Android 11 is preloaded on the Axon 30 Ultra, and ZTE says the Android 12 update will be available at the end of the year or early 2022. The company doesn’t give an exact schedule for security updates, but they say they usually do. three years. Not the worst support policy so far, but not the best. ZTE’s Android interface is called MyOS, and it’s a simple thing that doesn’t make it too flashy. The fully expanded Quick Settings menu, accessed by swiping from the top of the screen, has a really staggering number of shortcuts, but you can rearrange and trick them at will. various cameras. ZTE Axon 30 Ultra Camera Rather than a single high-resolution main camera complemented by several low-resolution sensors, ZTE has opted to place three 64-megapixel sensors in the Axon 30 Ultra’s rear camera array. There is a standard wide-angle main camera with optical stabilization, a wide-angle equivalent to 35mm for portraits, and an ultra-wide. There is also an 8-megapixel 5x telephoto camera with optical stabilization. It’s a lot of cameras and none of them are disposable. The Axon 30 Ultra’s camera is impressive, but a bit disappointing. First, the good: These three 64-megapixel cameras all capture a lot of detail in good lighting. This is what you would expect from a main camera, but not always with ultrawide as they tend to use lower resolution chips. The telephoto module provides true optical zoom of 5x. It doesn’t give good results indoors or in dim lighting, but it’s much better than digital zoom alternatives because there’s plenty of light. I also really like the wider portrait lens than the telephoto option that most other smartphone cameras use. This is personal preference. I love getting more shots from portraits, but maybe not. If you don’t like the wide-angle view, there is no option to digitally zoom in while using portrait mode, and portrait mode photos with artificially blurred backgrounds can only be taken with a dedicated portrait lens or selfie camera. Consider a wide portrait if it’s not your thing. Grid View is now bad: image processing (especially color and saturation) is inconsistent between cameras and two pictures from the same camera can be noticeably different due to slight changes in composition or subject position. Images from the main camera often look oversaturated. Most of them are subtle enough that I don’t really care, but if you take a picture of an orange cat, it will look like a cheetah. Portrait mode photos also have a bit of a miss. Separating a subject from a blurred background can seem a bit awkward, and since portrait cameras don’t have OIS, you can still see some blur in dark conditions without moving the camera much. The wider the focal length, the more obvious the subject cropping problem is, as you need to increase the blur if you want to blur a distracting background. When the Axon 30 Ultra works properly, the images look really good. These shortcomings can be even more disappointing, as the images look really good when the Axon 30 Ultra works. The exposure is well-balanced, all four cameras are truly useful, and each offers an impressive level of detail retention. It’s often more often enjoyable to have a dedicated camera at home with this combination of focal length and features, but the image processing has become so wildcarded that I don’t feel comfortable with it. One of the Axon 30 Ultra’s most annoying bugs is also in the Camera app. The camera shutter sound is permanently fixed even when all volume controls are set to silent. There is no way to turn it off either in the Camera Settings menu or in the Preferences menu. I hate this. Some people will be able to live with it. Perhaps you can root your phone and get rid of the problem yourself. ZTE will solve the problem soon. All I know is that you can’t live a lifestyle with shutter sound. No matter how good the picture is, you can get your phone back. The Axon 30 Ultra lacks a few flagship features like wireless charging, but it doesn’t compromise on build quality. The ZTE Axon 30 Ultra is an affordable alternative to the larger Android flagship with top-notch performance and a great screen. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone, and you should be comfortable living a few quaint lives or just browsing around them. You don’t get the same level of luster or reassurance you get from Samsung, OnePlus, or Google devices, but at the price you get great performance for the money. The Axon 30 Ultra has a price advantage over other large screen-to-performance competitors like the $1,069 OnePlus 9 Pro and the $999 Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus. If you’re willing to give up some screen space, the advantages are narrower compared to the OnePlus 9 ($729) and the standard Galaxy S21 ($800). Using one of these options gives you the same great performance plus a few other benefits like wireless charging and more sophisticated image processing. The Axon 30 Ultra has a price advantage over other large screen-to-performance competitions. Of course, it’s an important caveat that the Axon 30 Ultra won’t work with Verizon. This would rule out a significant number of potential customers in the US. And I wish the camera lived up to its hardware potential more often. If you’re not too concerned, aren’t a Verizon customer, and your priorities are set for big screens and fast everyday performance, the 30 Ultra has a great option. If none of the above pertains to you, I see no reason not to buy the Axon 30 Ultra. You get great performance, a massive screen with smooth and fast refresh rates, great camera hardware, and you can even rub it in your friend’s face for hundreds of dollars less than a cell phone. Photo by Allison Johnson / The Verge

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Discover

Sponsor

Latest

Top 10 most comfortable mattresses for 2021

Are you looking for the most comfortable...

ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 6 review: flexible flagship

Once upon a time, the Thinkpad X1 Yoga was Lenovo's flagship business convertible and joined the clamshell X1 Carbon at the...

Top 10 Brands to Make Leather Jackets-Top 10 About

Are you looking for the best brands...

Xiaomi Mi 11 review: undercutting Samsung

Who is Samsung's biggest mobile competitor? The first name that comes to mind is, of course, Apple. However, most...

Intel Lunar Lake has been discovered again, but the rumored 14th generation CPU may not arrive long ago.

We've got another glimpse of what Intel's 14th generation processors will theoretically be the successors to the current 10th-generation Comet Lake CPUs (although...