ZTE Axon 20 5G, analysis and opinion

zte axon 20 5g

After spending a few weeks with one of the most beautiful mobiles I've had on my hands these last few years, I tell you how the experience with the first mobile with a front camera under the screen. This is the analysis of the ZTE Axon 20 5G that yes, it will not be the best mobile to become a 'selfie', but it comes out surprisingly well standing.

ZTE is a company that has accustomed us to strange pitches. In China, it is a very powerful company and the truth is that they have very curious terminals, but in the West, they have not finished curdling.

Nor do they finish landing in our territory and the most innovative mobiles we have seen are an Axon M with two screens that passed without penalty or glory and a Nubia Z20 (Nubia operates as an independent brand for a few years, but it is still ZTE) that we liked, but that was very... halfway in several sections.

Now they dare to launch the first mobile with front camera under the screen and, although they click on aspects that we consider basic, proves that it has personality and the truth is that this first experiment with the camera under the screen works on the avant-garde side. Basics are another song.

zte axon 20 5g

Magic under the panel is one of the most beautiful finishes of recent times

Let's start by talking about the design. And it is that it is one of the most striking terminals of recent years both by the finish and by the dimensions.

It is a large, very large mobile that has a height of 172.1 mm,77.9 millimeters wide, and a relatively discreet thickness, only 8 millimeters. It is very large, but it is not made uncomfortable in the hand both for its rounded finish in the corners and for a back with curved edges and also weighs 198 grams.

However, make a good pocket because it is one of those who 'peek out' over the top of the pocket of jeans and is one of those that in the pants of the gym... Sing.

There are two finishes, the glass finish on the back or the 'eco' leather, which is the one we have. Honestly, the glass has me a little boring, especially the glass with a glossy finish as this Axon has, so the 'right' option, for me, is the 'eco' leather, which I imagine will be faux fur.

ZTE Axon 20 5G – ZTE Device Global (ztedevices.com)

It is a very pleasant touch because it is a little padded and both that factor and texture, make the mobile very pleasant between the hands. The sides are plastic and the left is completely clean, as well as the upper one, in which we only find a microphone.

On the right side we have the volume buttons and a lock button with the fluted finish and at the bottom a USB-C, two other microphones, a speaker, and the slot for DualSIM 5G or a 5G SIM and a microSD. 

We are not IP certified, but we find an O-ring in the SIM slot that something will protect against any accident.

But let's go to the front, which is the most interesting thing. And that is, we have, really, a lot of technology under that huge panel. I think the chin seems a little wide, and I think they could have stretched the screen a little more down the sides, but definitely, what I like the most is that there is neither notch nor hole for the front camera.

zte axon 20 5g

That camera is at the top center of the device, under a second screen that we will now talk about, and in that same area, we have the proximity sensor, the auto-brightness sensor, and the call headset.

It's the same technology Huawei used, briefly in some high-end, to hide the call headset, but this time it's not a second speaker, and the calls, although they sound good, sound a little canned.

Basically, what that system does is emit a series of vibrations that make the screen, so to speak quickly, generate the sound in that area. It is a technology that, in the end, serves so that we have a completely clear upper front.

Reading our footprint takes care of another small camera at the bottom of the screen (like all-optical on-screen fingerprint systems, basically), so, in truth, ZTE has done homework by hiding, and doing well, a lot of technology under the panel.

By the way, if you want to protect the mobile, in the box comes a rigid ball that protects the corners and that will match the terminal.

Gradually, due to the use, it has been 'bleaching' and the sides are bluish because I use the jeans a lot, but it is beautiful and fulfills its function.

zte axon 20 5g

Huge nearly 7" OLED panel with 90 Hz of soda

Let's move on to the screen, as it is one of the most spectacular elements of this terminal. We have an OLED panel with a diagonal of 6.92". It is very, very large and I am not really used to mobile with this diagonal or with more than 17 cm in height, so it is something to be done.

However, you get used to it fast as soon as you start watching videos on full screen or playing video games, since it is imposing and not so many years ago, the 7" tablets were much larger than what we now have in hand thanks to a screen-to-body ratio of 84.8%.

It seems to me that we are facing a good OLED since the viewing angles seem more than correct and the colors are very, very vivid. This is something that we won't be able to change in the screen settings, as we only have the option to pull to a more neutral, warmer, or cooler tone.

I lack options in this section, honestly, and I have leftover artificial image enhancement options, such as a video enhancement engine that, in my opinion, saturates colors too much, something that is not necessary because, as I say, the panel itself already offers a saturated palette.

By software, there is dark mode, reading mode (which converts content to black and white), and night light that reduces the emission of blue light. All three parameters can be customized and we can decide that certain applications will load with reading mode as the default.

Over resolution, we have a density of 388 pixels per inch thanks to a resolution of 2,460 x 1,080 pixels. In this panel size, a QHD+ resolution would have been great, but I can't say that pixels are distinguished by making normal use of the device.

To finish with the figures, we have 60 Hz or 90 Hz non-adaptive refresh. The system goes much better at 90 Hz and the experience, in my opinion, is much superior, so I recommend setting this mode since we start using the mobile. In my case, the default 60 Hz came.

zte axon 20 5g

Now, how about the experience of playing or watching videos? Honestly, it's spectacular both because of the size of the panel and the camera area. Yes, depending on how we put the phone we will notice that that second panel that camouflages the camera has a small density and if we pose the look it is easy to see a beastly decrease in resolution in that area, but it is something you forget about.

In bright scenes with clear content you can notice the green, red and blue pixels, obviously, but in the rest of the contents... you don't even realize it's there. I am clear that this, executed with a second panel with a little more resolution, in the future, but finally, ZTE has solved the ballot well in this terminal.

Also really like not seeing the call headset being camouflaged under the screen. It's not the best-ringing headset, definitely, but you can see at all times an effort to make the front completely clear.

 The black dot of this screen is a brightness that is insufficient for all lights. Officially it's about 400 nits and in our lab tests, we have a measurement of about 600 Lux on average. There is no high light mode and, although the automatic brightness sensor works well, it is very difficult to see the contents of the screen well on the street.

And about HDR, YouTube does mark HDR, but in other apps like Netflix or Disney+, it doesn't appear anywhere. The brightness, anyway, is insufficient, so it's not something.

zte axon 20 5g

The sound is not up to the task, unfortunately. Not only do we not have stereo audio, but the only speaker that mounts is not the one that has the most power or the one that has the best sound is capable of offering.

When we go over 70%, the treble squeaks and the truth is that, in general terms, the sound bothers a little not because it is very loud but because it does not sound especially good. It's a very flat sound and the lack of bass is chlamysome.

By software, we have a lot of options, such as the DTS engine that allows us to customize the sound depending on where we are listening and there is a high definition mode that is activated when we use headphones.

This section passes without sorrow or glory, the truth, and it is a shame because if a good and large screen accompanies it with a good stereo sound, you get a very powerful multimedia section, but that is not the case.

zte axon 20 5g

You can do it all, but I look at the software

Let's go inside because ZTE hasn't been limited to the most basic 5G chip for its Axon 20 5G. Han 'tucked in' the Snapdragon 765G, a processor that we've seen on recent mobiles and that really performs great in all sorts of tasks.

It is an SoC in which the GPU is the Adreno 620 and in which the CPU consists of a core at 2.4 GHz, another at 2.2 GHz, and the six current low power Qualcomm, the Kryo 475 Silver at 1.8 GHz. There are versions of 6 and 8 GB of RAM, but mine is 8 GB.

As we always say, synthetic tests allow us to compare devices of the same range, but the really important thing is the performance in apps, and the truth is that there is no complaint with ZTE mobile.

In apps like social media, mail, YouTube, and such day-to-day apps, mobile behaves beautifully, being very stable and responding as it should. The operating system gives us the feeling of not being heavy, now we will talk about it, and in heavier apps, it also behaves well.

We've been playing Fortnite and Genshin Impact, two of Android's heaviest games, without any problem, although it's true that we noticed some warm-up in the back with the title of the epic game. Nothing troubling.

Games like Call of Duty Online go very well in the highest quality and you can also seamlessly move games at 90 Hz from the Store to take advantage of the screen refresh.

zte axon 20 5g

In terms of speed, we have UFS 2.2 memory and the speed is also correct, offering a good rate of both read and write. This is noticeable when exporting files as heavy photos processed in programs like Snapseed or when opening apps and games.

And we can have the most powerful hardware, that without good software... performance won't live up to it. It's something that's going on a bill for a Xiaomi that has shipped devices like the Mi 11 with the spectacular Snapdragon 888 which, however, has confessed parts of the software.

That doesn't happen here and, although we have Android 10, the truth is that the MiFavor 10.5 layer (the name seems horrific to me, everything has to be said), it behaves very well. At 90 Hz I have not felt slowdowns, multitasking goes as it should, there are several system customization options in each of the tuning parameters.

On-screen we have already commented that a little more customization is missing, but as I say, it is a system that has surprised me by its stability and how well it goes in general terms, being an easy-to-use layer, not very intrusive and that, when it is pula, can be a very good layer.

And you're going to find some un-translated menus and I've missed some other notice in Chinese, but I've usually liked it. However, if you buy your mobile, I recommend disabling news notifications from your browser, as news appears that you will not be interested in at all on the lock screen.

Para terminar, vamos a repasar los sistemas de desbloqueo. Tenemos la típica foto de Android que nos permite desbloquear el móvil con el rostro siempre que haya buena luz. Funciona de manera correcta y no destaca por su rapidez. Lo mismo ocurre con la huella en pantalla. 

I don't mind the location, but the truth is that I think the unlocking system is a little slow. It works well, yes, but without being something remarkable.

zte axon 20 5g

4,220mAh that fall short and an included 30W charger

It's a cell phone with big numbers, but on the drums, they've fallen a little short. And it is that we have a battery of 4,220 mAh that, on paper, is not what sounds best if we take into account that huge panel of almost 7", and when we make daily use and pass the tests we check that, in fact, it falls short.

With conventional use with various email accounts and social networks that are constantly updated, Bluetooth, NFC, auto-brightness, 90 Hz, Spotify background for several hours a day and an hour of YouTube, more or less, daily, we have a range of six and a half hours of screen.

It's not rocket-throwing and arrives at night asking for the time on an intensive day. It is something that obviously depends a lot on each user, but even if the screen does not have the highest brightness on the market, it is a component that consumes a lot due to its size and is noticeable. In synthetic tests with 100% brightness, we have a result of 5 hours and 20 minutes of the screen. It's a very low tip.

On charging, we have a 30W charger in the box and yes, the charge is especially fast, but the battery isn't huge either.

In 23 minutes we have 50% with 100% in 58 minutes. It is a very linear load and yes, in less than an hour we have the mobile charged, something that compensates, in part, for autonomy.

zte axon 20 5g

If you don't like selfies, this phone is for you

Let's start by talking about the rarity, that camera under the screen. We have already said that we have a second screen with a very low pixel density on the camera and, when we do a selfie, the menu area of the app is dyed black for a reason: if the pixels on the camera are playing any color other than black, they would be seen.

And of course, even if you're looking through pixels in black and the focus isn't so, so close, there's a strange body on the lens, and that shows. Without further a glance, here are the photos you can achieve with this first camera under the panel:

They are photos with a luminous aura that looks like a filter, but that is the only result we can get. With very favorable situations, that's the best we're going to have. In dimly lit interiors or when light falls, we have blurry, moved photos in nearly 100% of attempts.

zte axon 20 5g

64 Mpx main sensor, 8 wide-angle and two 'peyote sensors

If we move on to the main cameras, first I want to talk about the app. I have commented that the software is going very well in general terms, but there really is something that I did not think goes 'fine', the camera app.

It goes like... slowed down, sometimes jerking and that's caused me to lose some interesting photography because the moment just doesn't wait for you.

I like the carousel format with advanced options by clicking, for example, twice on 'Video', and I think it will be rounder with an update that corrects performance.

That said, we have four sensors two that are good for something and two that... The main sensor has 64 megapixels f/1.8 and we need optimal conditions to take a good photo.

zte axon 20 5g

The lens is very small and the software does not have an automatic correction of this visual problem that yes, we will be able to correct in programs like Lightroom, but it is an extra step that we would not have to do.

On the other hand, we have the macro and depth sensor, both 2 Mpx f/2.4. From the second I will not comment anything because it does not serve much and the macro... well, it has a very flat color and it's very complicated that there's a photo that goes well.

In the video section, we have a maximum of 4K60 and a good electronic stabilization system in super stabilized mode at 1,080p. Point for ZTE in this section that, without the best video in its range, offers a decent result, but little else. At 4K60 stabilization is not the best, but it is logical if we do not have an OIS system.

In the end, it is a disappointing photographic section both on the front and back and a stumble on a stone of very important touch today.

zte axon 20 5g

5G and the always useful NFC

In this section, the truth is that there is little to say. The main connectivity feature is in the name and obviously, the Axon 20 5G has, surprise, 5G.

In the SIM module, we have the possibility to introduce a DualSIM or use one of the two as a support for a microSD and the truth is that the speed of the 5G depends on each operator, so in my case it is disappointing. And no, it's not the phone's fault.

I'm from Movistar and I have the 5G NSA so basically, it's a 4G in quotes. And the speed, of course, is what I can expect from this technology. In this sense, in line with what I have achieved with all the 5G mobiles that I have recently analyzed.

I liked the Wi-Fi antenna, as it has plenty of power to move around the house with a very good speed although, yes, it is not Wi-Fi 6.

And we also don't have a 3.5mm jack, which I don't usually penalize, but which I don't understand this time because the battery isn't that big and, besides, inside there's room to rearrange components and put that 3.5mm jack in.

Let's remember we're talking about a 172.1mm high mobile, but at least ZTE includes a USB to jack adapter in the box. Less is nothing.

zte axon 20 5g

It's more important to do things right than to be the first, and the Axon 20 5G does homework

As I said throughout the analysis of the Axon 20 5G is possibly the most beautiful mobile I have ever had since I've been analyzing 'cacharros', but also one of the most unbalanced mobiles. Mobile may not be perfect, but if it offers a balanced experience and the price accompanies, it is a mobile that I will recommend.

However, there are times when the mobile performs very well, but the cameras are nefarious... or on the contrary, a terminal with very good cameras, but with a half-gas system or a performance below what it should in its class and price.

This one from ZTE goes further in that good and bad things feature and we have a mobile that will surely captivate many, but that won't be an option for most.

zte axon 20 5g

And it is that, fundamentally like brightness, autonomy and in the cameras, it fails, but then it has a beautiful design, quality finishes, an imposing panel in size and that factor of the camera under the screen that is so, so attractive.

The performance is also very good since they have opted for a more than solvent Chip from Qualcomm and the truth is that in the apps of the day to day it behaves like a beast (contextualizing in the price, of course), and in the end, I have that feeling that I always have with ZTE: they do very good things... but maybe they focus too much on the innovative (and they usually do well), setting aside the basics.

ZTE Axon 20 5G - Full phone specifications (gsmarena.com)

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