Smartphones and gadgets

ZTE Axon 40 Ultra review

Introduction

When did we decide that the 24-26mm focal length was the ‘default’ one for ‘main’ cameras on smartphones? And with the proliferation of ultrawide cameras and some other trends often bringing the ultrawide and the ‘main’ camera very close, isn’t that ‘default’ somewhat wasteful, when you can have a slightly longer native focal length, for a different perspective, in between your ultrawide and your telephoto? Something along those lines must have been on the minds of the team behind the ZTE Axon 40 Ultra we have here.

ZTE Axon 40 Ultra review

The Axon 40 Ultra calls its main camera ‘Humanity’ camera, which may be a poor use of English, seeing how it’s meant to be used for taking photographs of people. To serve this purpose better, it comes with a 35mm lens – a classic focal length revered by many (and vocally hated by others, but that’s beside the point). To be fair, the previous generation already had a 35mm camera (a different one, more on that later), but it didn’t have to carry the responsibility of being the primary unit – there was a 26mm one for that. Well, the 35mil is the protagonist in the Axon 40 Ultra’s story.

Then there’s the ultrawide camera. It uses the same sensor as the main one, only paired with a 16mm equivalent lens – perhaps ZTE realized that with the longer main camera, a less extreme ultrawide is a safer bet. Or it wasn’t all that easy to design a wider lens around that big 64MP sensor.

A third 64MP sensor, albeit a smaller one, teams up with a periscope lens to work as the Axon’s telephoto camera. That gets you 3.5x zooming power, if you’re counting from an average 26mm main cam, which the Axon itself doesn’t have – in slightly more ‘absolute’ terms, it’s a 91mm equivalent. So this year’s Axon Ultra is delivering a triple camera like no other.

You could say that about the selfie camera, though we’re not all that excited about it ourselves. It’s an underdisplay one, so that’s neat – this latest iteration is practically invisible too, so you’re getting a cutout-free display. Only we don’t expect great selfies from it.

Camera system aside, the Axon 40 Ultra is packing more or less standard 2022 flagship hardware. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is at the helm, the OLED display can do 120Hz refresh rate, the 5,000mAh battery charges at up to 65W.

ZTE Axon 40 Ultra specs at a glance:

  • Body: 163.2×73.5×8.4mm, 204g; aluminum frame, glass back.
  • Display: 6.80″ AMOLED, 1B colors, 120Hz, HDR10, 1116x2480px resolution, 20:9 aspect ratio, 400ppi.
  • Chipset: Qualcomm SM8450 Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 (4 nm): Octa-core (1×3.00 GHz Cortex-X2 & 3×2.50 GHz Cortex-A710 & 4×1.80 GHz Cortex-A510); Adreno 730.
  • Memory: 128GB 8GB RAM, 256GB 8GB RAM, 256GB 12GB RAM, 512GB 12GB RAM, 1TB 16GB RAM; UFS 3.1.
  • OS/Software: Android 12, MyOS 12.
  • Rear camera: Standard (main): 64 MP, f/1.6, 35mm, 1/1.7″, PDAF, Laser AF, OIS; Telephoto: 64 MP, f/3.5, 91mm, 1/2″, PDAF, OIS, 3.5x optical zoom (vs. 26mm cam); Ultra wide angle: 64 MP, f/2.4, 16mm, 1/1.7″, PDAF.
  • Front camera: 16 MP, f/2.0, 26mm (wide), 1/2.8″, 1.22µm, under display.
  • Video capture: Rear camera: 8K@30fps, 4K@30/60/120fps, 1080p@30/60fps, gyro-EIS, HDR10, 10-bit video; Front camera: 1080p@30fps.
  • Battery: 5000mAh; Fast charging 65W, Quick Charge 4+, USB Power Delivery 3.0 with PPS.
  • Misc: Fingerprint reader (under display, optical); NFC.

ZTE Axon 40 Ultra unboxing

Our Axon 40 Ultra arrived in a matte black cardboard box with a huge ’40’ across the lid and much smaller ‘ZTE’ and ‘Axon’ badges.

ZTE Axon 40 Ultra review

The relatively rich retail bundle includes a 65W adapter and USB-C cable to go with it, as well as a basic transparent protective case. Also provided is a USB-C-to-3.5mm headphone dongle, an increasingly rare sight.


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