Forget Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra — this 200MP camera phone will put it to shame

zte axon 20 5g
(Image credit: ZTE)

Update: You have to see what the world's first 200MP camera phone can shoot.

Samsung needs to watch out. The ZTE Axon 30 Pro has just been rumored to be getting a colossal 200-megapixel camera.

This would beat the already huge 108MP sensor on the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, and could make ZTE's next flagship a surprise rival for the S21 and the iPhone 12.

This is based on a Weibo post from Lu Qianhao, ZTE's director of consumer experience. In his message, he confirms the Axon 30 Pro will use a Snapdragon 888 chipset. Lu mentions the chip specifically for its Spectra 580 ISP (image signal processor), discussing how it supports up to a 200MP camera.

Lu's offhand mention is put into context by Weibo leaker WHYLAB, who more explicitly suggests the Axon 30 Pro will use a 200MP sensor. They also mention that this sensor, likely the S5KGND sensor made by Samsung, will perform strongly in low-light conditions, and support 4K video and deeper 10-bit color.

A Snapdragon 888 is already a big improvement from the Axon 20 5G, the previous flagship from the company. It used a Snapdragon 765G, an older processor from the less powerful 7-series line of chips. That brings the Axon 30 Pro into line with the Galaxy S21 series, but a 200MP camera would send it far ahead.

Lu also included a teaser image (below), which perhaps suggests the shape of the rear camera bump.

ZTE Axon 30

(Image credit: Weibo/Lu Qianhao)

The largest camera you'll currently find on leading smartphones is 108MP. The most notable phones with this sensor are the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra and Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, as well as devices like the Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro.

If this 200MP camera is Samsung-made, we may see this sensor on the Galaxy Note 21 or the Galaxy S22 further down the line. We know Samsung's been looking at 150MP sensors for use on smartphones, so it's entirely possible.

The Axon 20 5G's most notable feature was its selfie sensor hidden beneath a notchless display. It offers a convincing full-screen experience when you're gaming or watching video, but the camera's image quality wasn't up to par when we tested it. If ZTE is keeping this feature, it'll need to upgrade it significantly.

Our list of the best camera phones shows you don't need 200MP sensors to take great photos. Our top performer, the iPhone 12 Pro Max, uses three far smaller 12MP cameras. ZTE will need to do a lot more than offering a high-resolution sensor if it's serious about the Axon 30's photography prowess.

Richard Priday
Assistant Phones Editor

Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.