ZTE Axon 30 5G review

GSMArena Team, 17 Sept 2021.

MyOS 11 and Android 11

Starting this year, ZTE's proprietary UI is called MyOS, previously called MiFavor. And just like the ZTE Axon 30 Ultra 5G, the vanilla Axon 30 runs on the MyOS 11, which is based on Android 11. In addition to the skin name change, there's a new UI to go with it.

ZTE Axon 30 5G review

There's a trend going on in recent years of manufacturers simplifying their software, making it look more like how Google intended and optimizing one-handed usage. ZTE's new MyOS seems to fit the description while leaving some prominent UI elements that remind you of non-stock Android. Still, we doubt the Android purists would find it irritating.

One such example would be the notification shade. It draws some inspiration from Xiaomi's MIUI with the bigger bubbles for the Wi-Fi, cellular data, NFC and Bluetooth. Unfortunately, you can't re-arrange those as opposed to the rest of the toggles in the drop-down menu. The notification cards are hardly any different, but we did notice that there's no way to access the notification history. And that's an Android 11-intrinsic feature.

Home screen, notification shade, recent apps - ZTE Axon 30 5G review Home screen, notification shade, recent apps - ZTE Axon 30 5G review Home screen, notification shade, recent apps - ZTE Axon 30 5G review Home screen, notification shade, recent apps - ZTE Axon 30 5G review Home screen, notification shade, recent apps - ZTE Axon 30 5G review
Home screen, notification shade, recent apps

The recent apps menu, app drawer, Google's feed and general Settings menu will look familiar to anyone who has used Android for the past couple of years. The only noticeable change would be the icons in the main Settings menu, some of them share the same color giving you yet another hint when looking for something. And as mentioned earlier, single-handed navigation has been improved as most of the system menus can be pulled towards the bottom half of the screen.

General settings menu - ZTE Axon 30 5G review General settings menu - ZTE Axon 30 5G review General settings menu - ZTE Axon 30 5G review
General settings menu

ZTE's more simplistic approach has reached its apps too. Now, MyOS has far fewer system apps and has delegated some of the functionalities to Google's default apps such as Photos, Contacts, Messages and even the dialer.

As opposed to the rather limited theme selection - only three at the moment - MyOS offers a wide range of customization options for the Always-on display and its behavior. It can be scheduled or it can be set to appear only after you tap on the screen. If the AOD feature is turned off, a single tap on the screen would only highlight the fingerprint scanner area. Once you remember the positioning of the fingerprint over time, you can just tap and hold until the handset unlocks.

Home screen settings, themes, wallpapers, AOD - ZTE Axon 30 5G review Home screen settings, themes, wallpapers, AOD - ZTE Axon 30 5G review Home screen settings, themes, wallpapers, AOD - ZTE Axon 30 5G review Home screen settings, themes, wallpapers, AOD - ZTE Axon 30 5G review Home screen settings, themes, wallpapers, AOD - ZTE Axon 30 5G review
Home screen settings, themes, wallpapers, AOD

Speaking of, we found the reader to be accurate, reliable and fast. Perhaps it's the same one used in the Axon 30 Ultra, so we weren't expecting much of a difference in performance. The scanner's positioning isn't ideal, though, as it's placed a bit lower than it should. Especially not ideal for users with long fingers.

Proprietary features are not missing from the list, with the so-called Z-POP functionality probably being the most unique one. A small transparent button appears docked on the left or right side of the screen, and by holding, dragging and then releasing, a list of commonly used tasks appears. Some are for navigation others are like taking a screenshot, for example. They are customizable, though. Sadly, we found it to be interfering with the "Back" gesture, but tapping once works as a back gesture.

Z-POP, gestures - ZTE Axon 30 5G review Z-POP, gestures - ZTE Axon 30 5G review Z-POP, gestures - ZTE Axon 30 5G review Z-POP, gestures - ZTE Axon 30 5G review
Z-POP, gestures

Along with the Z-POP, ZTE has grouped a couple of other useful features such as mistouch prevention with granular control over the algorithm's sensitivity. Screen-off gestures are also available such as double-tap-to-wake, raise-to-wake, shake to turn on the flashlight, etc.

So, even without the poor theme support and the lack of notification history, ZTE's MyOS is pretty full-featured without feeling like a burden. In fact, ZTE has cleaned house, and the OS can potentially attract some vanilla Android fans along the way. Last but not least, the UI felt smooth and snappy, too, at least for the short time we've been using it.

Performance

The Snapdragon 870 on board the ZTE Axon 30 Ultra 5G isn't something we haven't tested before - it's a slightly refreshed Snapdragon 865/865+ based on the same 7nm manufacturing process. It employs an octa-core CPU running on the 1+3+4 configuration. The main Kryo 585 Prime core (Cortex-A77-based) runs at 3.2 GHz, the other three Kryo 585 Gold (still Cortex-A77-based) tick at 2.42 GHz and the rest of the four Kryo 585 Silver cores (Cortex-A55-based) tick at 1.8 GHz for energy efficiency. An Adreno 650 GPU takes care of the graphics tasks and is clocked at 670MHz, just like the Adreno 650 in the Snapdragon 865+.

ZTE Axon 30 5G review

The SoC is paired with UFS 3.1 storage that ranges between 128 and 256GB, and memory can be either 6, 8 or 12GB. We got the 8GB/128GB configuration in the office for testing. We ran the usual benchmark tests to see where the Axon 30 stands in the price segment and to check if there are any performance inconsistencies.

GeekBench 5 (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • OnePlus 9
    3629
  • ZTE Axon 30 Ultra 5G
    3582
  • Realme GT 5G
    3555
  • vivo X60 Pro
    3490
  • ZTE Axon 30 5G
    3160
  • OnePlus Nord 2
    2792
  • Poco X3 Pro
    2574

GeekBench 5 (single-core)

Higher is better

  • Realme GT 5G
    1139
  • OnePlus 9
    1129
  • ZTE Axon 30 Ultra 5G
    1124
  • vivo X60 Pro
    1034
  • ZTE Axon 30 5G
    985
  • OnePlus Nord 2
    814
  • Poco X3 Pro
    735

AnTuTu 9

Higher is better

  • Realme GT 5G
    810433
  • ZTE Axon 30 Ultra 5G
    804626
  • vivo X60 Pro
    720352
  • ZTE Axon 30 5G
    701991
  • OnePlus Nord 2
    598022

GFX Car Chase ES 3.1 (offscreen 1080p)

Higher is better

  • OnePlus 9
    70
  • ZTE Axon 30 Ultra 5G
    69
  • Realme GT 5G
    65
  • ZTE Axon 30 5G
    59
  • vivo X60 Pro
    59
  • OnePlus Nord 2
    46
  • Poco X3 Pro
    45

GFX Car Chase ES 3.1 (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • OnePlus 9
    58
  • Realme GT 5G
    55
  • ZTE Axon 30 Ultra 5G
    54
  • vivo X60 Pro
    51
  • ZTE Axon 30 5G
    50
  • OnePlus Nord 2
    38
  • Poco X3 Pro
    38

GFX Aztek Vulkan High (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • OnePlus 9
    43
  • ZTE Axon 30 Ultra 5G
    41
  • Realme GT 5G
    38
  • vivo X60 Pro
    35
  • ZTE Axon 30 5G
    33
  • Poco X3 Pro
    27
  • OnePlus Nord 2
    26

GFX Aztek Vulkan High (offscreen 1440p)

Higher is better

  • OnePlus 9
    30
  • ZTE Axon 30 Ultra 5G
    29
  • Realme GT 5G
    29
  • ZTE Axon 30 5G
    24
  • vivo X60 Pro
    24
  • OnePlus Nord 2
    20
  • Poco X3 Pro
    18

3DMark Wild Life Vulkan 1.1 (offscreen 1440p)

Higher is better

  • Realme GT 5G
    5872
  • ZTE Axon 30 Ultra 5G
    5714
  • OnePlus 9
    5667
  • ZTE Axon 30 5G
    4255
  • OnePlus Nord 2
    4224
  • vivo X60 Pro
    4203
  • Poco X3 Pro
    3401

Nothing unexpected in terms of benchmark results, and as expected, the Snapdragon 870 falls short only to the Snapdragon 888. In other words, it's great for regular daily usage, and it can also run all of the latest games smoothly.

Reader comments

  • Anonymous
  • 08 Apr 2022
  • xkS

the main camera has 64MP 0.8um , so the digital zoom should be fine

  • xmor
  • 11 Oct 2021
  • y94

its 1/3 the price?

  • xmor
  • 11 Oct 2021
  • y94

how to tell everyone you don't have a dedicated camera without telling everyone you have a dedicated camera