Testing the ZTE Axon 30 Ultra in Xinjiang!

May 27, 2021 12:00 · 3247 words · 16 minute read

Hey everyone! I’ve got something new for you today, a flagship phone review.

00:13 - I sometimes do reviews of rugged phones, but usually, those are about value, utility, and are mostly good for the workshop and in the trades.

00:24 - I’m shop girl, I review shop phones. Today I’ve got one with a really top-end camera and specs- the ZTE Axon 30 Ultra.

00:34 - I’m not going to sit here and describe it while it’s in the box, so let’s open it up and see what they’ve sent me.

01:11 - Okay, this is the adapter, USB cable, and a pair of earphones.

01:23 - Okay, please select the language. English, start.

01:31 - Connected to wifi. Ok, it’s really slim, about 8mm, and they say 188 grams.

01:49 - It’s got a four-lens camera system that I’ll get into in a minute, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor.

01:58 - That’s an excellent SoC but, poor implementation can make a phone with a great processor bad, and great implementation can make a phone with a bad processor pretty good, this is why you never go just on specs.

02:14 - But it’s a good sign. The screen is 6. 67 inches, 2400 x 1080.

02:22 - Gorilla Glass 5 front and back. Looks like it’s going to be a fingerprint magnet but I’ll put it in a case anyway.

02:32 - As far as the cameras go, it’s got a portrait lens, a wide and ultra-wide-angle lens, and then a telephoto lens.

02:42 - You can shoot with each simultaneously and select which lens you like.

02:47 - Each sensor is 64 megapixels. It can record at 8k, 30 frames per second which is just silly, I don’t need that, I don’t know who needs that.

02:58 - Really, low light performance is what we’re looking for.

03:02 - It says it has image stabilization, I’m going to want to test that quite a bit.

03:08 - I usually have to use a gimbal with cellphone video and it would be nice if I could just leave that at home.

03:18 - It’s also got some insane level of zoom, part optical part digital with those 64 megapixels, I’ll have to see how that looks in action.

03:29 - It is a 5G phone, we’ve got 5G everywhere in Shenzhen, even elevators and such.

03:36 - Check where you are for 5G coverage before buying a phone just for this feature.

03:41 - It’s got a 4600mWh battery and 65-watt quick charge.

03:49 - The model they sent me to review is the 8 gigs of RAM, 128 gigs of storage model that might be a little light for me as a daily driver.

04:00 - There is also a model with 12 gigs of ram, 256 gigs of storage model which might be what you want.

04:08 - For me I’m a vlogger, I shoot and edit a lot of videos with my phone, I need some muscle and I need some elbow room.

04:17 - This phone is going to have to be pretty special for me to consider over my trusty Huawei P30 Pro.

04:24 - As you all know I hate judging electronics by specs off the box.

04:28 - I know too many engineers here in Shenzhen who earn a living gaming those numbers.

04:34 - Honestly, I think the only place you can review a phone properly is real-life use in the real world.

04:41 - My girlfriend Kaidi and I are about to do a little traveling let’s hit the road and take the ZTE Axon 30 Ultra with us for a spin, and see how it does.

04:52 - All of my videos have subtitles. Please turn them on by clicking the [CC] button.

04:58 - Shenzhen to Ürümqi So right now we are still waiting at the airport.

05:13 - We ordered some halal food. This is the soup, I guess you can put the soup in the noodles.

05:25 - So salty. You are supposed to put some of that inside and then there are some kimchi and beef.

05:34 - There isn’t a lot of beef. This is called Lanzhou noodle.

05:39 - It’s a very famous chain store in China. I guess it’s originally from Lanzhou.

05:45 - Because they name it after the city. Hopefully, I can visit Lanzhou one day.

05:50 - But yes they eat Halal food also. So it’s very easy to find halal food, Vietnamese food, Cantonese food at the airport in Shenzhen at least.

06:02 - The noodles are too long. Right, I can just eat it like that.

06:10 - These noodles are so long. This kind of noodle is called Lamian- Hand-Pulled Noodles.

06:13 - Let me have a bite of the Roujiamo .

06:22 - What do you think of the Lamian? Try the Roujiamo.

06:23 - It’s okay. You are only biting the edges. The meat is in the middle.

06:30 - The bun is crispy but no taste compare to the noodles.

06:42 - It’s raining now and it is so windy so we changed. I changed my outfit, I changed to this dress, a little conservative.

06:51 - Ürümqi is a big city. I asked the local taxi driver she says it is ok to wear whatever you want here but in another area, you have to be more conservative.

07:02 - And now we are going to one of the markets in the central area where Kaidi’s mother happens to live nearby.

07:10 - So I am going to buy some souvenirs for my friends and my colleagues and then we will go to visit her mom. And it takes about 40 minutes.

07:27 - So we just got out of the car and right now we are at Kaidi’s home. Her mom prepares so much food for us.

07:34 - And tomorrow is their new year I guess if we can’t finish it tomorrow they can eat it too. My hair is such a mess.

07:39 - Wow, is it okay if I just eat it with my hands? Sure Are you sure? Yes, this is how you eat the lamb chop.

07:47 - What do you do with the vase over there? That’s just for decoration.

07:51 - Oh, thank you. Mom Her mom prepared so much food for us. I don’t think I can finish it but I should try it, otherwise, it would be impolite.

08:23 - What’s that? My dad’s photos. She’s showing us her dad’s pictures because I am videoing but I don’t use any filter.

08:53 - Let’s all take a selfie also. We are at a local breakfast place in Ili.

09:03 - We just got off the airplane this morning so we didn’t have any breakfast.

09:07 - Thank you. Don’t mention it. What’s this? Stir-fried lamb intestines.

09:16 - Is it good? Good. This one tastes so good.

09:21 - Lamb intestines, really good. I want to dip the white bread in the milk tea.

09:28 - You are not supposed to. Well, I did. So whatever.

09:33 - You should put the lamb internal organs on the bread and wrap it.

09:37 - Take a look at their milk tea. I know it looks kind of weird with the white stuff on the top.

09:45 - This probably is the skin formed on the top of the milk.

09:51 - This is milk tea. Yes, but the white stuff is when they boiled the milk it formed a thin layer of skin.

09:55 - The thin layer on the top of the milk tea, is the stuff when you heat it up and then cool it off, it will form a thin layer on the top.

10:05 - My girlfriend loves this. She told me it’s their traditional breakfast.

10:27 - Look! There are so many cows on the mountain.

10:39 - We finally climbed up to the top of the mountain. Now we can see the view better from here.

10:44 - We almost give up when we climbed half way of the mountain. Now we are so thristy and we need more oxygen.

10:50 - But it’s not altitude sickness. There are so many mountains around us and on this one there are so many little red flowers.

11:06 - She is picking some for me. This is for you.

11:32 - So beautiful, but I can’t eat it. These flowers are so cute I don’t know what the name is.

11:43 - Do you know the name of this kind of flower? I don’t know either. I have never seen these flowers before.

11:49 - There is someting inside, the stamen is special.

11:52 - There are tons of sheep here. But only one house there for the shepherd, I don’t think they have electricity or water.

12:00 - How do they live like that? Oh my gosh. Those are for eating not for us to keep them as pets.

12:09 - There are a lot of them! A bunch of cattle! And there are still some snow on the mountain, it’s crazy.

12:23 - There is snow in the sun. Kids are so happy, kids are running around.

12:34 - They saw the cows and snow on the mountain.

12:41 - Magnificent! Walking down now. Scary! I don’t know what I was thinking.

12:57 - They put their beer also in a bag. Is this some sort of alcoholic drink? I think there is a small percentage of alcohol inside.

13:04 - And what’s this? There is no label on it.

13:07 - Beer maybe? Is that so? I want to try one.

13:11 - Maybe it’s like craft beer. No, I think it’s Kvass in a bottle.

13:15 - Okay. That store on the back says they sell belly-wrapped meat, what is it? The drink in front of you is pure fruit juice.

13:26 - Roasted chicken and baked eggs. I would like to try their baked eggs.

13:38 - This is lamb lungs with the flour inside right? Yes.

13:40 - This is the boiled style, they also sell lamb intestines stuffed with rice and other internal organs inside.

13:44 - We should order some of noodles and other Xinjiang style cuisine here also. I want to try all of them.

13:54 - This kind of looks like ma la tang- spicy hot pot.

13:58 - This is not your cuisine right? It’s from other places.

13:59 - Right. Weird, so many sells them. Well, you eat this kind of bamboo rice too? Some of the people like it.

14:06 - Are these made out of horse intestines? No, those are lamb intestines.

14:10 - I see. Lamb intestines. Looks so delicious! They look like they enjoy their meal so much.

14:28 - Let’s keep rolling. There are so many spicy hot pot stalls in this place.

14:33 - Is this kind of like your local spicy hot pot that is different from the ones we have in Shenzhen? Yes.

14:39 - So many people like it. So many people have ma la tang stalls here.

14:43 - That kid is adorable. We have to try this.

14:57 - The soup must be so good that owner drinks it also.

15:00 - The restaurant’s name sounds so common, Memeti.

15:02 - We should buy a couple of those BBQ skewers to try.

15:04 - We will come back. Yes, we should keep walking and see what else they got.

15:07 - Wow, they look so delicious. This is what I am going to have later.

15:25 - Is that curry sauce on top of the lamb skewers? Is that curry? They put the meat on the shelf, I like it.

16:05 - So we are taking a vehicle kind of like a Tuk-tuk in Ili because we can’t find a taxi easily.

16:10 - But you can find this kind of four (three) wheels car everywhere and they also have the one that like in my video, like my bubble trike, they have that kind of vehicle.

16:25 - They have that kind of car. At first, I thought it was just for old people but in here actually, they are using it as a taxi.

16:36 - But I don’t see a license plate on it. So we are kind of like in a Tuk-tuk.

16:43 - Tuk-tuk is the one I took in Thailand. But in here we can’t find a taxi that’s why we got in a tricycle.

17:00 - This is one of my favorites, thin-skinned buns stuff edwith lamb meat inside.

17:05 - It’s steaming hot, it’s really good. We have buns that are stuffed with meat or vegetables but be careful, don’t get too close, it’s hot.

17:32 - That looks more crispy than the one we saw from the other stall.

17:35 - What’s inside that? This is not our food. This is burger.

17:38 - I know, but some of them are Chinese. Would you like some dumplings? These are fried dumplings.

17:43 - What about this fried chicken? Do the locals eat it often? Not really.

17:48 - Anway, I want to try it. Hello, I would like a fried chicken drumsticks and a burger.

17:56 - Eat in or take away Eat in here. How much is it? Do you want me to microwave them for you? Yes, please.

18:02 - Oh, do people drink Kvass in the morning? Is this empty or full? There is liquid inside.

18:07 - I would like a cup of it. We also sell yogurt.

18:09 - Just a cup of Kvass for now. So this is the beverage we saw the other day.

18:13 - Is this alcohol? Is this alcohol? No, it’s a fermented non-alcoholic drink, sometimes of very low alcohol content.

18:23 - Ok, thanks. You should try our yogurt drink also, no additive inside.

18:44 - Where’s your seat? This looks so good.

18:52 - I am going to have the chicken drumstick and I am going to have their roasted stuffed bun. I guess they…

19:10 - Wow, they buy so many. I don’t think they can finish it in one day.

19:15 - Maybe they use it in a restaurant or something.

19:20 - Wow, look at all those dessert. This cake looks like the cake I have in Canton. When I was a kid my mom always buy this for me as a snack. Not so different.

19:38 - Is that a donut? Hi, I would like this one, and this one, one of each.

19:50 - And there are some pastries. Are those cakes real? No, they are fake.

19:55 - That’s what I thought even they look so real, they need to be put in the refrigerator.

19:58 - One of this also, please This one I like it a lot, with cream inside.

20:04 - How many of that? Just one. You want more? Just one of each, thanks.

20:11 - One of each? Yes. You should film all of them, there are three buddha.

21:10 - Okay, let me take a video of this. Okay we had to cut our trip a bit short, just three days out of the ten planned, but here are my initial impressions. Keep in mind that according to the ZTE technicians the software has yet to be finalized.

21:44 - Okay, pros and cons. Pros. Build quality is great, it’s solid, no surprise there that’s pretty much table stakes for a flagship phone but good to know the 30 Ultra hit the mark.

21:58 - This is my first 5G phone, I don’t know if you ever used one but I was blown away by the speed uploading video and pictures as I shot them in Xinjiang.

22:11 - Obviously that’s all highly dependent on your local carrier, but if you’ve got 5G, the ZTE Axon 30 Ultra won’t be the bottle neck.

22:23 - I was running a lot of processor-intensive stuff at the same time shooting 4k video, running a VPN, uploading to the cloud, and not one hiccup. Battery life took a hit which I’ll get into in a minute, but speed and performance did not.

22:39 - It can handle whatever you can throw at it.

22:42 - The display is bright, clear and easy to view.

22:46 - The wide angle camera is new to me but once I got used to it, it came in very handy, I can’t see using a phone without it now. The under screen fingerprint reader works very well and makes for a clean build. MyOS 11 is a very lightly skinned version of Android, nothing objectionable.

23:08 - Ok now the cons- this was the 128 gig version they sent me, don’t even bother if you do any amount of video.

23:16 - Flagship phones these days don’t allow for external memory and 128 gigs fills up really fast.

23:23 - That’s not really a phone problem, but you won’t get much out of the phone unless you get it with decent specs so I don’t see why they’re selling a version with insufficient memory.

23:36 - Budget for more memory. Cameras- I’m told this is the preproduction software and it’s being ungraded as we speak, but the selfie camera quality just falls short right now for a flagship.

23:49 - The other cameras were quite good as you can see.

23:53 - That said, I’m going to do a follow up review in a little while once they push the software update that’s supposed to fix the selfie camera issue.

24:02 - Like most Android phones it has automatic battery optimization turned on for most of the apps, think of that like training wheels for a bicycle.

24:14 - If you’re like me and need to keep a lot of stuff running in the background for work, you’ll want to manage that manually, and yes you will burn through that battery if you turn optimization off.

24:26 - That’s to be expected, there’s no free lunch with smart phones, processor power, slim build, or battery life- choose two.

24:36 - Personally, I’m happy with the granular options so I can get all the power I need, when I need it.

24:43 - There was no crashing, freezing- nothing like that. Solid performance the entire trip.

24:50 - Final verdict- should you buy this phone? For gaming- ask someone else, I don’t game I have no idea.

24:58 - For business? Absolutely, it’s a powerhouse, just make sure you charge up regularly.

25:05 - For entertainment? Check, beautiful for watching videos.

25:09 - But for vlogging- I’m sorry ZTE, it’s tough for me to get review units and I hate to burn this bridge, but until that selfie camera gets fixed I can’t recommend the Axon 30 Ultra for anyone whose business requires the use of it.

25:27 - If it gets fixed this month- that’s great but if if’s and and’s were pots and pans all beggars would be tinkers.

25:35 - Again this is a preliminary review, and with any luck when I do the follow up this issue will be addressed.

25:43 - That’s it for today, this is the Axon 30 Ultra, and I’m Naomi Wu- I’ll see you all next time. .