ZTE has really thrown the cat between the pigeons with its flagship Axon 40 Ultra, with the Chinese brand having Android ownership in its sights.
Here’s a premium phone that comes with many of the same specs and a very similar design to the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, but at a much (and we mean a lot) lower price. So what’s the point?
We’ve spent some good hands-on time with both devices, and we know all about their specs. Here’s how the two shows compare.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs ZTE Axon 40 Ultra price and availability
The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra hits stores on February 25, 2022. Prices start at $1,199.99 / £1,149 / AU$1,849 for the 8GB RAM / 128GB model, before going up to $1,299.99 / £1,249 / AU$1,999 AU$ for 12GB / 256GB. $1399.99 / £1329 / AU$2149 gets you the 12GB / 512GB, while paying $1599.99 / £1499 / AU$2449 for the higher-end 12GB / 1TB model.
The ZTE Axon 40 Ultra goes on sale June 21st at $799 / £709 (about AU$1,200) for 8GB RAM / 128GB storage. Spending $899 / £809 (about AU$1,350) increases it to 12GB / 256GB.
That’s a difference of $400 / £440 in favor of ZTE.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs ZTE Axon 40 Ultra design
Design-wise, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra and ZTE Axon 40 Ultra are remarkably similar. This is certainly no accident on ZTE’s part, which is what happened with the massive popularity of the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra.
These are two very large phones, the Samsung phone measures 163 x 77.9 x 8.9mm and 229g and the ZTE phone comes in at 163.2 x 73.5 x 8.4mm and 204g. ZTE advantage.
Small differences in size aside, the similarities are clear. Both phones have “waterfall” displays that curve away at the sides, and they both accompany those curves with flat top and bottom edges. ZTE’s notable camera module seems to have a lot in common with the Samsung Galaxy Note S20 Ultra, which is arguably more elegant than the discrete camera modules of its spiritual successor.
ZTE has another notable advantage over Samsung. It ditches the punch-hole notch entirely in favor of an under-display selfie camera.
Samsung is bringing back its own unique feature: the S Pen. While you’ll find a neat shell on the bottom of the Galaxy S22 Ultra for this advanced digital pen, there’s no such provision at ZTE.
When it comes to colours, the Galaxy S22 Ultra offers a choice of Phantom Black, Phantom White, Burgundy, Green, Graphite, Sky Blue and Red colours. ZTE Axon 40 Ultra will be available in black, gold and silver.
In the end, our reviewer called the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra an “indisputably beautiful device.” By extension, then, this should be the case for ZTE Axon 40 Ultra as well.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs ZTE Axon 40 Ultra screen
The ZTE Axon 40 Ultra continues the estimation business with an AMOLED display identical in size (6.8 inches) and refresh rate (120Hz) to the equivalent Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra.
It doesn’t get quite as bright as the Samsung panel’s 1,750 nits, but 1,500 nits still makes it one of the brightest displays on the market.
Samsung’s screen is somewhat sharper too, hitting a maximum resolution of 1440 x 3088 compared to ZTE’s 1116 x 2480. In practical use, this difference shouldn’t be apparent in most everyday scenarios, but it’s an advantage for Samsung.
The South Korean giant also uses a more advanced standard of ultrasonic fingerprint sensor in its phones compared to ZTE’s standard optical system.
Overall, we’re pretty confident that the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra will have the better offer of the two. It’s the best in the business right now, after all, as Samsung makes most of the best smartphone screens on the market.
Still, the ZTE Axon 40 Ultra’s screen looks and feels impressively close, especially for the money.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs ZTE Axon 40 Ultra cameras
If there’s one area where the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra earns an extra $400 over its price, it’s the camera system. Even at this early stage, we can tell you with confidence that it has much better cameras than the ZTE Axon 40 Ultra.
Samsung is nothing short of one of the best smartphone camera systems on the market, with an amazing 108MP ultra-wide sensor that captures shots that are sharp, colorful, and oddly exposed. It also benefits from a 12MP Ultra HD display.
But the Galaxy S22 Ultra’s crowning glory is its 10MP dual zoom setup, which provides up to 10x optical zoom. No other phone can rival it in those close-ups.
Certainly not the ZTE Axon 40 Ultra, even with its 64MP triple camera setup. It’s by no means a bad system, but it’s not good enough to rival Samsung’s. ZTE’s AI scene optimization isn’t particularly good, and the phone suffers from a sluggish autofocus system.
The other problem with ZTE is the front camera. It may be cleverly hidden behind the screen, but that makes for some soft, blurry selfies.
Meanwhile, Samsung’s 40MP selfie camera uses Tetra Binding technology to merge four pixels into one for high-quality 10MP photos. There really is no contest here.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs ZTE Axon 40 Ultra performance and specs
Both phones run on the same Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset. Or, at least, they do in most areas.
Here in Europe, Samsung is using its own Exynos 2200 chip. It offers broadly equivalent performance to the Snapdragon, but it’s neither fast nor efficient.
That’s a nominal win for ZTE, then; But we’re talking good margins here. These are two very capable smartphones that are easy to operate.
Both phones offer a choice of 8GB or 12GB of RAM, so there’s nothing in between on the memory front either. Samsung offers double the storage, with 512GB and 1TB options added to 128GB and 256GB.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs ZTE Axon 40 Ultra battery
Wouldn’t you know that — both phones have the same 5,000mAh batteries, too.
With the Galaxy S22 Ultra, we found that battery life was good for a full day of varied activities. Honestly, we hoped for the best.
We wish the ZTE Axon 40 Ultra could rival its competition on the endurance front, given its slightly dimmer, lower-resolution screen. So far, however, we’ve found that the phone doesn’t always last through a day of use without needing to recharge.
One area where the ZTE Axon 40 Ultra undoubtedly outperforms Samsung is in recharging. While the Galaxy S22 Ultra only supports 45W charging, ZTE extends it to 65W.
However, you don’t get wireless charging with ZTE. Samsung offers support for 15W Qi, or PMA.
The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is undoubtedly the better phone of the two overall. It obviously comes with the great S Pen, and its cameras are in a completely different league than the ZTE Axon 40 Ultra.
The clearer, brighter display and the availability of wireless charging add more weight to the Galaxy S22 Ultra case.
But is Samsung’s $400 / £400 flagship better than its competitor? This is the question we look forward to answering in our final ZTE Axon 40 Ultra review.
While the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is the best phone on the market right now, there’s a chance the ZTE Axon 40 Ultra could prove to be better for more people — especially in these tough times financially.