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ZTE Axon 30 Ultra 5G announced — here to defeat the Galaxy S21 Ultra?


ZTE has just announced its new flagship for 2021 — the Axon 30 Ultra 5G. Just by looking at the device, we can already get strong “I am here to compete vibes”, but once we dive in the specs sheet it starts to look even more interesting.

ZTE Axon 30 Ultra 5G price and release date

The Axon 30 Ultra 5G will begin selling in China on the 19th of April for an undisclosed price. The phone will come to international markets — the global version of Axon 30 Ultra 5G will be available on www.ztedevices.com in May.

Design and display

The ZTE Axon 30 Ultra 5G comes with a huge, 6.67” AMOLED screen on the front. Its resolution is 1080 x 2400 (20:9 ratio) and it has a variable refresh rate that can go up to 144 Hz. To top it off, the panel has a 300 Hz touch sampling rate — that’s the number of times the screen scans for touches and swipes. For comparison’s sakes — the iPhone 12 Pro has a 120 Hz touch sample rate, the Galaxy S21 Ultra has a 240 Hz touch sample rate. So, if you find those two phones responsive, the Axon 30 Ultra will feel like it’s reading your mind.It’s a curved display with next to no bezels — ZTE’s numbers say the screen-to-body ratio is 95%. At this point, we hope there’s a good amount of software optimizations to deal with ghost touches on this thing, because it sounds like it’ll be hard to handle it without accidentally tapping the screen edges.

The screen specs state 10-bit color depth, 100% DCI-P3 Color Gamut, and HDR10+ compliance. In other words — it should be able to compete with the best of them.

Real silk finish

The ZTE Axon 30 Ultra 5G has a metal frame and a glass back, which has been through 15 types of finishing processes in pursuit of a feel that ZTE calls “real silk”. It should look glossy from afar, but have a soft, very fine matte feel to the touch. Effectively, it should be able to both look flashy yet keep fingerprints at bay — we are very curious to check it out in real life.

On launch, the Axon 30 Ultra 5G will come in white and black, but a gold-ish and a green-ish colors have also been teased.

ZTE Axon 30 Ultra 5G camera

This is where the Ultra goes crazy with its quad-camera setup on the back. OK, so we have one 64 MP, OIS-assisted main camera with an F1.6 aperture — a pretty wide lens by smartphone standards, which should let a lot of light in. The phone will consistently prefer to use this camera when the lighting is low, though you can use the software Night Mode on any of the cameras.

Then, there’s another 64 MP camera with a 35 mm equivalent focal length. This one has an F1.9 aperture and ZTE calls it the “portrait camera” — it’s neither an ultra-wide-angle, nor is it a telephoto camera. It sounds like just a secondary “main” camera, so we are kind of curious how exactly the Axon 30 Ultra will use it differently than the already competent main camera.

The third camera is a 64 MP ultra-wide with an equivalent focal length of 13 mm. It sounds like it should be able to get a ton of stuff into the viewfinder frame and ZTE promises special distortion-fixing magic, which will remove any “fisheye” effect.

And the 4th one is the periscope camera — it’s an 8 MP sensor behind a 5x optical zoom lens with OIS. With digital enhancements, the ZTE Axon 30 Ultra will be able to zoom up all the way to 120x — tests will tell how good the image looks at that level.

The selfie camera is a 16 MP shooter.

Of course, it is not all about the sensors and lenses. ZTE is all in on the “computational photography” idea and has expanded its Camera app to feature new modes that make use of the multi-sensor camera on the back. A special filmmaker mode will come with templates, effects, and transitions, and the ability to record with 3 cameras at once, then picking which footage to use in post. The ZTE Axon 30 Ultra will be able to shoot 8K video and has a software Steadicam enhancement on top of the dual OIS modules to ensure smooth footage.

ZTE Axon 30 Ultra 5G hardware software

In the spirit of being a 2021 flagship, the Axon 30 Ultra comes with the latest-and-greatest in hardware as well — the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 powers this beast, assisted by 8 GB or 12 GB of LPDDR5 RAM (depending on storage option). The storage variants are either 128 GB or 256 GB super-fast UFS3.1 storage.

The lights are kept on by a 4,600 mAh battery. Yeah, we’ve seen bigger ones recently, but get this — it supports 66 W super-fast charging. It should be able to top up in less than an hour, if recent phones like the OnePlus 9 Pro (with 65 W charging) are anything to go by.

Out of the box, the phone comes with Android 11 with ZTE’s custom interface on top — called MyOS11.

ZTE Axon 30 Ultra 5G vs ZTE Axon 30 Pro 5G

Alongside the Axon 30 Ultra, we have an Axon 30 Pro announcement. For the most part, they are very similar phones — the only place where the Axon 30 Pro cuts some corners is the camera.

So, hardware and software are the same, and design is mostly the same. Here is where the Axon 30 Pro is different to the Axon 30 Ultra:

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