Monday, September 20, 2021

ZTE’s newest under-display selfie camera looks slightly improved

Last year’s Axon 20 5G from ZTE was the world’s first commercially-available phone to put a front-facing camera underneath its display. Although it was a significant step forward in phone technology, the camera was terrible. It took terrible pictures and the module created distortions in certain settings. ZTE is now attempting to improve the Axon 30 with an updated version.

First, let’s take a look at the specs. The Axon 30 has a 6.92-inch AMOLED screen with 120Hz refresh rate and FHD+ resolution, all powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 870 5G chipset. There’s a four-camera array on the rear of the device, with a 64-megapixel main, 8-megapixel 120-degree wide-angle, 5-megapixel macro lens, and an additional depth-of-field lens. The battery has a 4200mAh capacity, 55W fast charging, an additional depth-of-field lens, and a maximum of 5 megapixels. GSMArenaYou can choose from 6GB, 8GB or 12GB of RAM, and 128GB or 256GB UFS3.1 storage.

The under-display cam is the most exciting. These modules require transparent materials to function. This is a new development, and therefore lower-quality than regular display tech. For the Axon 30, ZTE says it’s doubled the pixel density in this area from 200 PPI to 400 PPI. This should result in a seamless integration.

A comparison of Axon 20, (left) and Axon30 (right) under-display screen.
Image: ZTE via GSMArena

ZTE says it’s also improved the under-display camera itself. As you can see, the Axon 20’s pictures were blurred and soft under good lighting. They also produced a lot more noise in bad lighting. It is a great technical achievement, but it is not as good as regular front-facing cameras. The image below, taken by Ice Universe (aka @UniverseIce), shows that there might be some improvement.

We’ll obviously have to wait to try the Axon 30 ourselves to give you a full evaluation, but don’t hold your breath for any miracles. Ice Universe points out that the image above was taken outside with lots of light. Ice Universe responded to a Twitter user requesting that they test the camera in darker conditions. responds: “Such a poor performance.”

Another photo from Ice suggests the under-display camera is also visible when the screen is turned off, but that’s hardly a big deal.

The ZTE Axon 30 launches in China for the first time. GSMArenaReports indicate that sales will start on August 3. Prices start at CNY 2,198 ($338) if you choose the 6GB / 128GB model. CNY 3,098 ($476) if you choose the 12GB or 256GB version. Pricing and availability globally will be announced later.

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