ZTE Axon 10 Pro hands-on: A potential OnePlus killer

After building up its presence in the US with its flagship Axon line, it’s been a rocky road for Chinese manufacturer ZTE for the past year. However, the company is optimistic in bouncing back and having a relevant smartphone in contention once again. The ZTE Axon 10 Pro, the company’s latest flagship, was recently officially introduced at an event in China – and it’s something worth getting excited for if you’re looking for that balance between price and features.

The affordable flagship smartphone

Above all, it’s the price given to the new ZTE Axon 10 Pro that makes it so compelling. Considering the specs of the phone, combined with a stunning and sleek design, it’s honestly astounding that ZTE is bold enough to price the Axon 10 Pro at €600 (~$670). That undercuts the majority of the competition already, which is unbelievable. The only smartphone in the US that’s within the same range is the LG G8 ThinQ, but the ZTE Axon 10 Pro benefits from having a robust triple camera system, an in-screen fingerprint sensor, and a far more appealing looking design.

Compared to the juggernauts in the space, such as the Samsung Galaxy S10+, Huawei P30 Pro, Google Pixel 3 XL, and the Apple iPhone XS Max, there’s a significant disparity from their prices over the Axon 10 Pro. All of those phones easily come in at $1000, so ZTE’s aggressive price point does make it an enticing thing to consider – more so when it matches them in the specs department. Even the ZTE Axon 10 Pro 5G seems like it’s still going to be a competitive option over them when it’s launched later this summer for €900.

OnePlus is set to unveil its new flagship very soon, but ZTE’s flagship already makes for a compelling alternative. Everyone knows OnePlus’ strategy of being a flagship killer by offering its phones at lower prices, so having another player in the space like ZTE following suit definitely makes for some interesting competition.

A worthy triple camera system

Dual cameras are great, but if you want to really be a formidable player in the space, you’re going to need to have at least a triple camera system! Well, the ZTE Axon 10 Pro comes with exactly that. On paper, there’s a lot to like here with its arsenal. Starting on the front, there’s a 20MP AI Portrait selfie camera that’s still discrete with the subtle teardrop notch with the display. However, the more impressive thing is found with the phone’s rear triple cameras – breaking down to a main 48MP camera with an f/1.7 lens, accompanied by an 8MP telephoto lens (3x optical) and a 20MP 125-degree wide-angle camera.

Looking at this package, it all too reminds us of the Huawei P30 Pro. That’s not a bad thing considering the excellent performance of the Huawei P30 Pro. We did manage to see a few samples, but didn’t get the chance to snap a few shots ourselves to try and see determine its performance. Still, this package offers plenty of versatility by covering the gamut – near, close, and far, so you have the entire range covered by one phone. Adding to the arsenal is the AI engine behind the scenes that not only detects what you’re shooting, but will leverage the entire system to deliver the best results. There’s also a 5x zoom option that relies on all three cameras to produce sharp and in-focus snapshots.

There’s no arguing the specs are all drool worthy no matter how we dissect it, so for the ZTE Axon 10 Pro to nearly match what Huawei has done with the P30 Pro, it’s impressive and adds to its already ridiculous price.

All the trimmings of today’s flagship

It’s arguable that this is the best-looking smartphone that ZTE has come up to date, even though it’s not the most original design we’ve seen. The glass meets metal construction is no doubt a hallmark strategy for many of today’s flagships, but we do appreciate how it also takes some queues from Samsung – like how the edges of the display are sloped a bit to give it a more seamless appearance. This is what ZTE refers to as “3D quad curved glass.” Speaking of being seamless, the teardrop notch isn’t distracting by any means, especially when the phone features a pretty high screen to body ratio. And on top of that, the 6.47-inch FHD+ AMOLED display looks stunning!

Enhancing the beauty of the phone is its lightweight feel and sleek chassis, feeling easier to handle than the P30 Pro. Throw in a 4000 mAh battery into the mix, along with fast charging Qi wireless charging, the ZTE Axon 10 Pro has all the trimmings of today’s flagship. There’s no compromise over on the processing side as well, seeing that it’s powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 chipset along with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage.

Will it come to the US?

You could say that the ZTE Axon 10 Pro is a tease. That’s because it’s unknown at this moment whether or not it’s going to be coming to the US. Given what has transpired over the course of the year, it’ll be interesting to see how ZTE plays its cards. In the slight possibility of it happening, it’ll give OnePlus a good run for its money – even if the pricing remains unchanged from what it is right now overseas at €600.

Indeed, ZTE can remain a competitive challenge for OnePlus if the Axon 10 Pro’s price doesn’t change with a US release, but it’d be wise for ZTE to take everyone by surprise by potentially lowering the price of its flagship. OnePlus has always been aggressive with its pricing, but if ZTE follows the same approach, it may shake things up in the industry. Only time will tell if that’s the case, so we’re eager to see what transpires.



1. kiko007

Posts: 7521; Member since: Feb 17, 2016

Looks great for what they're asking pricing wise.

2. DeDex

Posts: 121; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

Even though we will have to see how it fares in the real world, the spec sheet looks great for the price (Snapdragon 855 for €600? Wow.). Software is the big unknown here: will it get Android updates in a timely fashion? Will the camera software honor the triple-camera setup? I am inclined to remain wary about the camera for now: having a theoretically solid camera setup is pointless if the software is not on point, as quite a few manufacturers have already proved. On the opposite side, Google proved that good camera software could make a huge difference, so it will be interesting to see if ZTE threw all their weight towards the spec sheet or if they kept some ammo for the software :)

3. lostdaynight

Posts: 33; Member since: May 16, 2011

Why would this be a OnePlus killer? It's roughly the same price and exact same form factor of the "vanilla" OnePlus 7. Specs are identical except for the extra cameras and wireless charging on the ZTE. I guess if you're willing to bear ZTE's garbage MiFavor skin, slow updates, and paltry global bands for that stuff.....have at it.

4. Sparkxster

Posts: 1258; Member since: Mar 31, 2017

Nice way to come back ZTE. Axon 10 has very little compromises and is priced right.


Posts: 477; Member since: Nov 21, 2016

The only thing it does better than the regular OnePlus 7 is the camera setup.

6. elpaco

Posts: 1; Member since: May 09, 2019

Seriously, I don't understand where in the world is a in screen fingerprint sensor an advantage in this stage of the game. Yeah they're a novelty and certainly fun to experience as someone who's very much into phone, but they're not really ready for mainstream. Not enough that it can be considered a plus over the a regular one. Besides, ZTE was never good on updates at all.

7. Deadeye37

Posts: 312; Member since: Jan 25, 2011


8. joenodden

Posts: 14; Member since: May 09, 2019

With that notch and the likely unoptimized skin, it's nowhere near a OnePlus killer if it costs the same amount. The OnePlus 7 pro is gonna have no notch, a more optimized skin on Android, and probably a $700 price tag.

9. tokuzumi

Posts: 1999; Member since: Aug 27, 2009

So, a hands on review that wasn't a hands on review? I mean the author literally had their hands on the device, but didn't use it to be able to comment on features and performance.

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