ZTE Axon 20 5G Assessment: Below-Show for Early Adopters

I don’t imply to sound too disparaging once I say that there’s actually just one purpose you’re more likely to contemplate shopping for the ZTE Axon 20 5G, and it’s not the catchy title.

That is the primary cellphone on this planet – or no less than the primary you’ll be able to truly purchase – that options an under-display selfie digicam, an engineering monitor that sees the entrance lens nearly hidden beneath the display screen itself, to be able to get an uninterrupted full-screen expertise with out the mechanical gimmickry of the pop-up cameras that have been all the fashion for 12 months and have now disappeared nearly totally.

I say ‘nearly’ as a result of I don’t need to faux that ZTE has nailed the tech right here, and you may nonetheless type of see the digicam. Or, somewhat, you’ll be able to see the distorted, low-res block of the show that’s hiding that digicam. Selfie photograph high quality can also be clearly compromised. That is tech-in-progress and it exhibits, however that’s the value that comes with early adoption.

It helps no less than that you simply’re not paying a lot of a literal value. The Axon 20 is a surprisingly reasonably priced mid-range gadget given the cutting-edge tech, and it affords specs and options that will make it fairly good worth even with out that nifty front-facer.

Design & show

Ever since Apple unveiled the iPhone X, the race has been on to kill the notch. We’ve had tiny notches, we’ve had punch-hole notches, and we’ve had pop-up cameras that take away notches altogether, however the ZTE Axon 20 is the primary industrial cellphone to undertake what is going to nearly definitely change into the default design ultimately: an under-display digicam.

The tech behind it principally goes over my head – it principally entails numerous clear show layers and particular pixel matrices – however the finish result’s that as an alternative of seeing a selfie digicam on the entrance of the cellphone, you’ll see a barely pixelated sq. the place a selfie digicam ought to be.

To make the digicam work as supposed ZTE has truly had to make use of completely different dimension pixels for this patch of display screen, providing you with a much less detailed patch of picture, made particularly obvious in movement. You possibly can see the define of the completely different show clearly under, although notice that that is simply the digicam catching a flicker – you’d by no means see something this stark in regular use!

It by no means appears to be like this unhealthy in follow, however the digicam caught a transparent define of the show

How seen that is varies – in opposition to a white background it’s fairly stark, whereas in opposition to a black one it nearly blends in totally (you gained’t be shocked to study that the entire inventory wallpapers fade to black on the prime). In fact, you possibly can say a lot the identical about raindrop and pin-hole notches, so is ZTE’s resolution actually an enchancment?

Notches block the display screen totally, and there’s a good argument to be made {that a} pixelated patch of display screen is best than none in any respect. At occasions I fear that it’s finally simply as distracting – perhaps much more so – than seeing a static lens there, however that concern might be outweighed by the sheer cool issue of realizing there’s a secret digicam lens hidden beneath there.

Outdoors of that small patch show high quality is first rate. ZTE has included a 90Hz refresh fee OLED panel right here, which in itself is pretty spectacular for the value – much more so when you issue within the 10-bit color vary. Show high quality is flattening throughout the trade, so sure you’ll be able to in all probability discover a higher display screen for this when you spend much more, however the considerable distinction is changing into negligible for many.

Elsewhere, the Axon’s design is pretty understated. The show is flat, with slim however seen bezels. It’s additionally giant at 6.92in, that means the cellphone as a complete is large – although impressively ZTE has saved the burden only a hair under 200g, which suggests the cellphone nonetheless feels usable.

My overview unit is black, with a glass rear that refracts gentle in subtly various patterns. There’s additionally a yellow vegan leather-based possibility if subtlety isn’t what you’re going for. Each function a pair logos, and a slim quad-camera module.


For as a lot because the front-facing digicam is the principle purpose to purchase the Axon 20, it’s additionally fairly clearly the cellphone’s greatest weakpoint, with frankly horrible selfies popping out of this cellphone – and the rear cameras, whereas higher, additionally aren’t fairly as much as scratch.

Let’s begin with selfies. For lack of a greater phrase, they’re gentle. Each single time. Each photograph from the entrance lens comes out with a delicate haze to it that makes faces appear like they’ve been run by means of a foul magnificence mode (don’t fear, I checked, all these filters have been off) and leaves background particulars blurring collectively.

This, greater than the show artifacting, is proof that the under-display tech isn’t fairly there but, and it’s simple to see why manufacturers like Apple and Samsung aren’t but able to throw this into their telephones. Fairly merely, when you take loads of selfies, you shouldn’t purchase this cellphone.

The principle rear digicam is a 64Mp, f/1.eight shooter that pixel bins all the way down to 16Mp images. In good lighting outcomes are admirable, with pretty even publicity and true-to-life colors. Focus stays a difficulty although, with gentle patches usually showing, particularly in photographs which can be pretty near the topic.

That will get worse in low gentle, the place heavy noise begins to creep in and dominate photographs. The devoted evening mode tends to make issues worse – its noise elimination is hit and miss, nevertheless it reliably reduces sharpness and readability and not using a important enchancment to the color replica.

The 8Mp ultrawide is a good additional choice to have, however the high quality is unlikely to impress an excessive amount of. Colors are equally real looking, however the dynamic vary is clearly decreased in comparison with the principle lens, and the drop-off intimately is tough to disregard. It’ll do for the occasional group shot or vista, however you gained’t need to depend on it.

The ultimate two sensors are a depth sensor used for the deeply disappointing portrait mode, which introduces horrible artifacting round topics on each the entrance and rear lenses, and a 2Mp macro digicam which truly punches above its weight. It wants good lighting and a gradual hand, nevertheless it does ship first rate close-up photographs when you’re cautious with it.

Core specs & efficiency

Inside, the Axon 20 is simply as typical because it appears to be like exterior, selfie digicam excepted.

On the coronary heart of the cellphone is the Snapdragon 765G chipset, in all probability the most typical chip throughout mid-range telephones all through 2020. It’s paired with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage – each first rate however not excellent allocations, although aggressive for the value, and storage is expandable by way of microSD.

In benchmarks the cellphone is actually on a par with different 765G telephones, with the profit that due to the 90Hz panel it may possibly hit body charges above 60fps in some easy gaming duties.

In actual world phrases, the cellphone feels quick and fluid. The 765G could now be a year-old mid-range chip, however in all honesty it delivers sufficient oomph for anybody however an influence consumer, and I see no purpose to not be assured in its longevity both.

Battery & charging

ZTE has geared up the Axon 20 with a 4220mAh battery, which is first rate however not distinctive. Precise efficiency is worse than that means although – it lasts a day however not for much longer, and did pretty poorly in each our battery benchmarks – lasting a number of hours lower than equally specced units.

I am undecided if that is all the way down to the show tech – screens are all the time among the many greatest energy attracts, and who is aware of how a lot that under-display digicam is exacerbating issues. Both means, the tip end result is not unhealthy battery life, nevertheless it’s definitely not nice.

At the least the charging tech is a bit higher. There is no wi-fi charging, however the 30W wired speeds are completely respectable for the value, charging the cellphone up by 60% in half an hour in my check.

Software program

The Axon 20 runs Android 10, with ZTE’s MiFavor 10.5 overlay on prime. That is the primary ZTE cellphone I’ve used, however I believe the software program right here has been tweaked for the worldwide market, as in truth it skews fairly near inventory Android.

It ships with one or two ZTE apps pre-installed, however principally sticks to official Google choices for SMS or internet looking, and there’s no different bloatware put in in any respect.

Safety choices embody an under-display fingerprint scanner (good) and face unlock (very unhealthy). This latter is presumably one other casualty of the brand new digicam tech, however not helped by a poor implementation that sees it scan a face in a split-second, with no choice to scan once more to enhance outcomes (past deleting the information and beginning once more). Both means, the tip result’s that it’s astonishingly unreliable, and nearly by no means works first time.

Worth & availability

The ZTE Axon 20 5G is on the market globally from ZTE (apart from the US and Canada), and can price you £419/$449/€449.

Given the distinctive show tech, it’s refreshing that the Axon 20 is priced as a mid-ranger, making it way more attainable for most individuals.

Alternatively, there’s stiff competitors round this value. At £379 the OnePlus Nord affords related specs however is extra compact and a greater all-round bundle, whereas the Pixel 4a delivers a far superior digicam at simply £349. The Realme X50 5G and Xiaomi Mi Observe 10 additionally each supply stronger spec sheets at £299 and £459 respectively.

For extra choices, try our rating of all one of the best mid-range telephones round, and our decide of one of the best mid-range cellphone offers proper now.


Early adopters will in all probability benefit from the novelty of the ZTE Axon 20 5G, and anybody able to drop a number of hundred out of sheer curiosity can have it rewarded.

That’s not why most of us purchase our telephones although, and the compromises to the selfie digicam, face unlock, and show high quality make this difficult to advocate to most – although when you actually by no means take selfies, it’s possible you’ll discover the opposite flaws simpler to disregard and the massive show and strong spec sheet sufficient to win you over.

ZTE Axon 20 5G: Specs

Android 10 with MiFavor 10.5
6.92in Full HD+ (1080×2460), 90Hz, 10-bit AMOLED
Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G octa-core processor
128GB storage
64Mp, f/1.eight essential digicam, PDAF
8Mp, f/2.2 ultrawide
2Mp macro
2Mp depth sensor
32Mp, f/2.zero under-display selfie digicam
Fingerprint scanner (in-screen)
11ac dual-band Wi-Fi
Bluetooth 5.1
Twin-nano SIM
4220mAh non-removable battery
30W charging
172 x 78 x 8mm

About the author: SubSellKaro

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