If the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is on your wish list but beyond your budget, you might like the look of the ZTE Axon 40 Ultra, a new Android phone from Chinese tech company ZTE that looks like the flagship. from Samsung.

While the S22 Ultra starts at $1199.99 / £1149 / AU$1849 for 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, the Axon 40 Ultra offers the same specs for just $799 / £709 (around AU$1200).

The phones aren't much different in many other ways, either. Design-wise, both the Samsung and ZTE phones have "waterfall" displays that curve at the edges, the same screen size and refresh rate, and the same Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset and battery. with a capacity of 5000 mAh.

The ZTE Axon 40 Ultra even has some features the Galaxy doesn't: It has an under-display selfie camera, so you don't miss a screen, and it charges fast at 65W.

It's true that the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is the best phone overall: it comes with a stylus pen and has much better cameras. But we've extensively tested both smartphones, and the ZTE certainly isn't under $400/€400.

ZTE Axon 40 Ultra

(Image credit: future)

Analysis: ZTE is a true "best phone" contender

We haven't finished our in-depth review of the ZTE Axon 40 Ultra yet, but based on what we've seen so far, it's very likely to make it to our best smartphones list.

It looks a lot like the Galaxy S22 Ultra, which currently tops the list, in both feel and performance, and those are the two key attributes of a phone that we pay the most attention to.

Its faster loading and lack of a "punch hole" cutout on the screen also contribute to a solid and well-rounded user experience.

What lets the phone down is the camera setup: not bad, but not good enough to compete with the Samsung or newer iPhones. AI scene optimization isn't great, and autofocus is also slow. The front-facing camera is particularly underwhelming, likely due to its placement below the screen, and shots look incredibly soft with a creepy aura effect around subjects.

We also found ourselves missing Samsung's S Pen - the lack of a stylus isn't usually an issue on smartphones, but with our hand telling our brain "it's a Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra", we found ourselves reaching for the stylus in a rarely, and disappointed not to have it.

Another downside is battery life, as the phone didn't always last a day of use without recharging.

But with this resemblance to the Galaxy S22 Ultra costing roughly the same as the Samsung Galaxy S22, Xiaomi 12, or iPhone 13, it's easy enough to miss some sticking points. Don't miss our full review very soon.

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