With a starting price tag of $750/€750 for the base 8GB/128GB version, the Axon 30 Ultra 5G has no shortage of competition in the affordable high-end segment, if that string of words makes sense - a notch below ultimate flagships. It offers a compelling set of features around the star of the show, the 3x64MP cameras, but falls short here or there.
The Mi 11, Xiaomi's entrant in this price category, has a superior display (brighter, higher-res), but it can't quite match the Axon's quad-cam prowess with its 2.5 cameras. The MIUI vs. MyOS is a personal preference, though you could probably call Xioami's UI more polished. That's just about all that sets them apart - we'd pick the ZTE if taking pictures is most important, otherwise, we'd go with the Mi 11.
The OnePlus 9 retails for Axon money, but it too isn't up to the Axon's camera standard, entirely missing optical zoom capability. Then again, the autofocusing ultrawide on the OP could offset that for the right person. Unless you have a problem with ZTE's UI (which we don't think you should), the Axon is looking like a superior package.
The Galaxy S21+ can be had for around the Axon's price as well, but that may require resorting to unofficial channels. The non-plus, on the other hand, is $800 off-contract in the US and around €700 at reputable retailers in Europe, so well worth considering as an alternative to the ZTE. The Galaxy wins in a couple of key areas - its display is superior, if smaller, and the phone is IP68-rated. The Axon's camera system is more versatile, but the S21 should do at least as fine a job unless you frequently zoom in beyond 3x. Then there's the matter that Samsung likely just sounds better than ZTE to most people.
Now, if there's one phone that is packing as many and as comparable cameras as the Axon 30 Ultra, it's the vivo X60 Pro+. We're saying comparable, but that comparison ends with a vivo win across the board, perhaps the phone that can achieve it within this budget. The vivo doesn't have stereo speakers, but the Axon does, so there's that? Ultimately, if the X60 Pro+ is available in your market, it's the better option.
As we've proven time and time again, you can't judge a cameraphone by its megapixels. But in the case of ZTE Axon 30 Ultra 5G, the numbers don't lie - the overall camera experience you get here is difficult to match at its price point. The three 64MP cameras and the periscope tele team up to make a dependable camera system with only minor flaws that you should be able to live with.
We're fans of the looks too - the minimal bezels, thin frame and frosted glass back, plus a camera bump that's the Axon's own, make up a premium handset that stands out. The 144Hz refresh rate is rare outside of gaming phones, and the Snapdragon 888 is hard to find at this price without more serious trade-offs elsewhere. And even if it may sound like a minor point, we do like the PowerDelivery-based fast charging.
The Axon does come short in a few other areas - not by much, but the room for improvement is there. The display has a ton of potential but doesn't quite live up to it, dust and water protection is missing, there's no wireless charging. For all its camera chops, the Axon is also missing AF on the ultrawide.
All things considered, though, we can give the ZTE Axon 30 Ultra 5G a recommendation. It'll be a particularly good fit for those looking to take nice pictures without springing the cash for the true no-holds-barred flagships that can run you twice the price. Sure, there will be compromises, but there won't be any dealbreakers.
|256GB 12GB RAM||$ 439.00||€ 552.49|
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