ZTE Axon 40 Ultra review, an unexpected challenger

Announced this summer, we didn’t particularly expect it but we spent some time with it and this ZTE Axon 40 Ultra is the pleasant surprise of this summer.

Still somewhat in the shadow of other more “well-known” manufacturers, ZTE took advantage of this summer to announce its new high-end smartphone. Here is the new ZTE Axon 40 Ultrasuccessor to the Axon 30 Ultra, which marked us last year because it was a surprisingly balanced smartphone.

This year, we’re going back to a refresh rate of 120Hz for the simple reason that the Axons 40 Ultra also offers a camera under the screen. Next to it is a SoC Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1good autonomy and an excellent high-end finish.

We didn’t really expect it but it’s a good surprise. We’ve been playing with it for a few weeks, here is our test of the ZTE Axon 40 Ultra.

ZTE Axon 40 Ultra

ZTE Axon 40 Ultra Features

As a reminder of the characteristics, the new ZTE Axon 40 Ultra offer you :

ZTE Axon 40 Ultra
Screen – 6.8″ AMOLED curved screen
– FullHD+ definition (1116×2480)
– 400dpi density
– 120Hz refresh rate
– 360Hz touch sampling rate
– 20:9 aspect ratio

– Always On Display
– HDR10+ certified
– sRGB and DCI-P3

– Under Display Selfie
– Haptic feedback

SoCs and GPUs – Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
– Adreno 730
Memory – 8GB or 12GB of LPDDR5 RAM
– 128GB or 256GB UFS 3.1 storage
Colors – Glass back
Camera – Three cameras on the back:
– Main camera: Sony IMX787 64 Megapixels, 35mm, F1.6, OIS
– Ultra wide-angle camera: Sony IMX787, 16mm (112°), F2.35, Macro 4cm
– Periscope zoom: 64 Megapixels, 5.7x optical zoom, 91mm, F3.5, OIS

– PDAF + LAF autofocus
– Full Pixel Omni-Directional Focus
– Optical stabilization (OIS) on main camera and periscope zoom
– Electronic stabilization (EIS)
– 4cm Macro Mode
– Super Night mode on all cameras
– Smart Moon mode
– Fashion Star Photography
– Bresson and Film filter
– Shooting on all three devices at the same time

– Record videos in 8K at 30fps
– Record videos in 4K at 30fps or 60fps
– Video recording in Full HD 1080p 30fps or 60fps
– Slow motion mode in 1080p at 240fps or in 720p at 480fps
– Ultra Stabilization Video Mode 1080p or 4K
– HDR10 video recording
– Multi camera mode
– Video filters
– LUT management

– Front camera under the screen with a 16 Megapixel sensor, F/2.0
– Electronic stabilization (EIS)
– Front-end video recording in 4K, 1080p or 720p at 30fps

Audio – Stereo speakers
– DTS:X Ultra
Battery – 5000mAh
– Quick Charge 65W
– Quick Charge 4+
Connectivities – Optical fingerprint reader under the screen
-Bluetooth 5.2
– Wi-Fi 6E
– 5G
– Dual nano SIM
– A-GPS+GLONASS, DNLA, Miracast (WiFi Direct), Google Cast
-NFC
– USB 3.1, USB Type-C port
– Barometer, Gyroscope, Accelerometer
– Proximity and light sensor
Software -Android 12
– MyOS 12
Height and weight – 163.28 x 73.56 x 8.41mm
– 204g
Starting price – 749 euros (128GB + 8GB)
– 849 euros (256GB + 12GB)
Availability date – June 2022

On the packaging side, nothing very surprising since we find a black box with the smartphone of course, a USB-C to USB-C cable, a 65W charger and booklets for a first grip.

In terms of price, ZTE always plays it aggressive with a very competitive price for the features offered.

The design, the screen and the audio

Last year, we appreciated its predecessor, the Axon 30 Ultra. Also, this year, the ZTE Axon 40 Ultra continues in the footsteps of its predecessor with a design in continuity. Also, there are good first impressions. The finish is successful with a frosted glass back which offers a nice finish resistant to fingerprints and is pleasant to the touch. Like last year, we find on the back a photo block composed of several levels of thickness (which remains thick), which gives a discreet and successful general design.

Obviously, at the level of the front face, very little originality but we always appreciate the curved screen which makes it possible to virtually reduce the width in order to offer a better grip to the user. With a 6.8-inch screen, the ZTE Axon 40 Ultra is within the norm when it comes to size and weight. It is long to maximize both the displayable surface and the grip which is obviously better.

ZTE Axon 40 Ultra

No punch or other since the camera is under the screen. Suddenly, it makes sense, no 3D facial recognition either, but there is a fingerprint sensor under the optical type screen. During our tests, we did not note any particular problems. And finally, there is the power and / or standby button on the right edge as well as the volume buttons. Going back to the screen itself, it therefore offers a diagonal of 6.8 inches, which is classic in 2022, it is slightly larger than that of last year but that should not change everyday uses.

The panel is of the AMOLED type with a Full HD+ definition. As is the case with its gaming cousins, the RedMagic 7 Pro and RedMagic 7S Pro, the ZTE Axon 40 Ultra offers a full screen but with a real camera under the screen. The integration is such that you can’t see anything with the naked eye on a daily basis. In fact, it’s the same screen as the RedMagic 7S Pro. The brightness is still slightly better compared to its gaming cousins ​​and there is a refresh rate of 120Hz, to the delight of gamers. So yes, we do not find the 144Hz of the Axon 30 Ultra from last year, it is undoubtedly the price to pay for with a camera under the screen. In everyday reality, you don’t really need more than 120Hz.

ZTE Axon 40 Ultra

And finally, for the audio part, unsurprisingly, the ZTE Axon 40 Ultra offers two speakers that are present on the front to ensure good stereo. After that, it’s still speakers but we can say that it’s enough for short content on the internet. Finally, we were happy to find a jack, always practical. On the other hand, we would have liked another positioning because in landscape mode, the grip hinders the grip and more particularly at the level of the left trigger.

MyOS 12, Performance and Autonomy

Side android, we find MyOS, ZTE’s house overlay. And as has often been the case for some time on all overlays, the experience remains close to Android Stock. As a result, from our tests and uses, MyOS is quite pleasant on a daily basis. There is nothing special to note except that there are still stability issues, display bugs and even translation errors. But in absolute terms, nothing blocking.

ZTE Axon 40 Ultra

On the performance side, we won’t surprise you too much, but we find one of the best Android SoCs to date, namely the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. Also, we find results with different very high-end benchmarks! Overall, the benchmarks are obviously excellent. Whatever your uses, the Snapdragon will get by without flinching. All games run very well, regardless of the refresh rate. In short, no bad surprise on this side.

the ZTE Axon 40 Ultra offers a battery of 5000mAh, which is normal for this type of smartphone in 2022. Moreover, with a 6.8-inch screen, there is room for. We left everything in automatic mode, so it was the OS that was responsible for switching the display frequency as needed. In our uses, we obviously lasted a day without batting an eyelid, whatever the uses. If we push on a more moderate use, we can clearly hold two days. And then if we are just in autonomy, which would greatly surprise us, we can always use the 65W charger to recharge the smartphone from 0 to 100% in about 30 minutes. On the other hand, still no wireless charging, too bad!

Photo and Video

While we did not necessarily expect it, the ZTE Axon 40 Ultra remains a high-end smartphone and on the photo side, ZTE cannot afford a false note. You have to convince the consumer and for once, the Chinese manufacturer is trying to align itself with what its direct competitors are offering. We thus find the famous trio of cameras and on paper, it is impressive.

Like last year, the standard wide-angle and the ultra-wide-angle offer the same 64-megapixel Sony IMX787 sensor. The photo block is completed by a periscope zoom of 64 megapixels also and an optical zoom of 5.7x. As a result, you will have understood that the photo block of the ZTE Axon 40 Ultra is relatively complete. Exit therefore the superfluity of a 35mm camera from last year. It’s classic this year but it’s more effective.

ZTE Axon 40 Ultra

As for the photo quality itself, we were pleasantly surprised, when the light conditions are ideal, we don’t have much to reproach the ZTE smartphone for. The photos are detailed and contrasting. Colors are natural and as you might expect, the telephoto is slightly behind when it comes to sharpness. On the other hand, ZTE offers a certain homogeneity between the different cameras.

Indoors or in low light conditions, no surprise there. The ZTE Axon 40 Ultra does quite well with good management of chromatic noise but once again, ZTE has this tendency to smooth the photos too much to erase digital noise but to the detriment of details.

Better than words, examples:

But what surprised us the most this year was the presence of the camera under the screen. It is so well integrated that it is impossible for us to detect it with the naked eye. Impressive. So, if we can enjoy a full screen for our games and multimedia content, we can also always take a selfie. And speaking of the selfies, the quality is pretty decent. In absolute terms, it lacks sharpness, which makes us say that if the ZTE 40 Ultra will provide video streaming for example, we can only advise you not to take a selfie with the camera under the screen.

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