ZTE was the first major brand to release a smartphone with an under-display selfie camera with the Axon 20 5G back in 2020. We thought results from this first-generation effort left a lot to be desired, but the company has stuck with the tech nonetheless. Other brands have joined in with similar results: We didn’t think much of Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3’s under-display camera, and we doubt the Galaxy Z Fold 4‘s is any better.
ZTE is now on its third generation of under-display selfie cameras with the Axon 40 Ultra, which was released globally a few months ago. Even so, we slated the selfie camera’s image quality once again — it’s clearly inferior to conventional selfie cameras on flagship smartphones. This disparity isn’t a surprise as the very technology that enables under-display selfie cameras introduces all sorts of issues.
Our verdict: ZTE Axon 40 Ultra review — Hiding in plain sight
The camera essentially peeks through the tiny gaps between a screen’s pixels to take a picture, and those pixels block a lot of light from reaching the sensor. The fact that there’s a display above the camera also introduces issues related to lens flares and refraction. It’s no wonder that image quality isn’t up to par.
The nature of under-display selfie cameras means they can't compete with the best, but what about budget phones?
So the Axon 40 Ultra’s selfie sensor can’t take the fight to other flagships, but is it comparable to selfie cameras on budget phones at the very least?