The Best ZTE Phones of 2021, including Nubia: Axon, Blade, RedMagic, and more!

The Best ZTE Phones of 2021, including Nubia: Axon, Blade, RedMagic, and more!

Once upon a time, ZTE was among the top five biggest smartphone manufacturers in the world. But facing increasing competition from major brands like Apple, Samsung, Huawei, and Google, the Chinese tech firm has quickly slipped down the global smartphone rankings.

As well as trying to navigate the highly crowded and competitive smartphone market, ZTE has also been deemed a risk to American national security because of its alleged links to the Chinese government and has also undergone a bribery investigation in the US. But despite these challenges, ZTE continues to release Android smartphones with decent specifications and affordable prices.

In 2012, ZTE also set up a new mobile phone subsidiary called Nubia. It would eventually go on to become a separate business three years later. Today, Nubia is a popular Chinese smartphone manufacturer that offers a variety of innovative and budget-friendly Android devices.

If you’re looking for an Android smartphone that provides excellent value for money, it’s worth considering a handset from ZTE or Nubia. But given that both companies offer lots of different smartphones, you might be wondering which model to choose. To help you pick one, we’ve rounded up the best ZTE and Nubia smartphones of 2021.

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ZTE Axon 20 5G

ZTE Axon 20 5G in hand showing the full display

ZTE dominated the headlines in 2020 when it announced the world’s first smartphone with an under-display camera: the Axon 20 5G. It’s a mid-range Android smartphone that offers a 6.92-inch FHD+ display, 5G connectivity, a 64-megapixel quad camera with AI, a 32-megapixel front-facing camera that sits under the screen, a Snapdragon 765G processor, a 4,220mAh battery, 8GB of RAM, 128GB of onboard memory, Android 10, and more.

    ZTE Axon 20 5G
    The ZTE Axon 20 5G is the first ever smartphone to feature an under-display camera, and it’s surprisingly very cheap.

ZTE Axon 11

ZTE Axon 11 in different colors

The Axon 11 is one of the best Android smartphones currently offered by ZTE. It features a 6.47-inch 2340 x 1080 display, a 4,000mAh battery, wireless charging, a quad camera, a 20-megapixel selfie camera, up to 8GB of RAM, up to 256GB of internal memory, a fingerprint sensor built into the display, an octa-core processor, Android Q, and many other great features.

    ZTE Axon 11
    The Axon 11 is one of ZTE’s best Android phones, offering a massive display, a large battery, a quad camera, and much more.

ZTE Blade X1 5G

ZTE Blade X1 5G

Should you want a 5G smartphone that won’t break the bank, you should check out the ZTE Blade X1 5G. Costing just $384, it sports 5G connectivity, a 6.5-inch 2340 x 1080 display, a 60Hz refresh rate, a 4,000mAh battery, DTS:X Ultra audio, an artificial intelligence-powered quad camera, a 16-megapixel front-facing camera, 6GB of RAM, 128GB of onboard storage, up to 2TB of expandable storage, a Snapdragon 765G processor, Android 10, and more.

    ZTE Blade X1 5G
    With a price tag of under $400, the ZTE Blade X1 5G is one of the cheapest smartphones to offer 5G connectivity. Plus, it offers a large display, a big battery, Android 10, and more.

ZTE Blade A7 Prime

ZTE Blade A7 Prime

The Blade A7 Prime is a cheap Android smartphone from ZTE. Its top features include a 6.09-inch display with a resolution of 720 x 1560 pixels, a quad-core Mediatek MT6761 processor, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of internal memory, expandable memory of up to 2TB, a 3,200mAh battery, a 16-megapixel rear camera, a 5-megapixel front-facing camera, Android 9.0 (Pie), and more.

    ZTE Blade A7 Prime
    The ZTE Blade A7 Prime is a feature-packed Android smartphone that won’t break the bank. It offers a large display, a decent camera, a big battery, and more.

ZTE Blade A3 Prime

ZTE Blade A3 Prime

The Blade A3 Prime is another super affordable ZTE smartphone, offering a 5.45-inch 720p HD display, an 8-megapixel rear camera with a dual flash, a 5-megapixel front-facing camera, a 2,660mAh removable battery, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage, expandable storage of up to 2TB, a quad-core Mediatek MTK6761 processor, a rear fingerprint scanner, face unlocking, and Android 10. Considering this is a $49 device, you’re getting a lot of features.

    ZTE Blade A3 Prime
    The ZTE Blade A3 Prime is perfect for anyone who wants a compact and affordable Android smartphone with decent specifications.

Nubia Z20

Nubia Z20

Nubia’s current flagship smartphone is the Z20, and it is truly an extraordinary device. What sets the Nubia Z20 apart from other Android smartphones is its dual displays. On the front of the device, you’ll find a 6.42-inch display. Meanwhile, the back of the phone houses an additional 5.1-inch display.

In terms of other features, the Nubia Z20 has a triple camera system with a 48-megapixel primary lens, a 3X optical zoom, a 4,000mAh battery, a Snapdragon 855 Plus processor, 8GB of RAM, 128GB of internal storage, Android 9, and more. This is definitely the perfect phone for anyone who wants something unique.

    Nubia Z20
    The Nubia Z20 is one of the most unique smartphones on the market today, offering two high-resolution displays and many other excellent features.

Nubia RedMagic 5S

Nubia RedMagic 5S

If you’re a diehard gamer, you’ll love the Nubia RedMagic 5S. It’s a gaming smartphone that sports a 6.65-inch eSport AMOLED display, a 144Hz refresh rate, a Snapdragon 865 processor, dual-mode 5G, 12GB of RAM, 256GB of onboard memory, built-in 320Hz shoulder triggers, a 4,500mAh battery, ICE 4.0 Active Liquid Cooling technology with a turbofan, a triple camera with a 64-megapixel main sensor, a premium metal and glass design, and more.

    Nubia RedMagic 5S
    Looking for one of the best gaming phones? Then look no further than the RedMagic 5S from Nubia. It sports a large display with a buttery smooth 144Hz refresh rate, a fast processor, and much more.

Nubia RedMagic 5G

Nubia RedMagic 5G

The RedMagic 5G is another of Nubia’s latest gaming smartphones, and it has similar specifications to the RedMagic 5S. You get a 6.65-inch AMOLED display with a 144Hz refresh rate, dual-mode 5G connectivity, a Snapdragon 865 processor, Active Liquid-Cooling technology with Turbo Fan 3.0, 12GB of RAM, 256GB of internal storage, integrated shoulder trigger buttons, a triple camera, a 4,500mAh battery, Android 10, and more.

    Nubia RedMagic 5G
    The RedMagic 5G is an excellent gaming smartphone, sporting a large display, a 144Hz refresh rate, dual-mode 5G, a Snapdragon 865 processor, and more.

As you can see, ZTE and Nubia both offer great Android smartphones for all users and budgets. But which should model should you purchase, though? For anyone who wants an affordable 5G-ready Android smartphone, we’d recommend the ZTE Blade X1 5G. As well as offering 5G connectivity, it also boasts a large display, a quad camera, and many other great features for under $400.

But there are cheaper ZTE phones out there, with the ZTE Blade A7 Prime and ZTE Blade A3 Prime being excellent examples. Meanwhile, the NUBIA Z20 is a perfect option if you want something a little different, and gamers will love the Nubia RedMagic 5G.

If you aren’t specifically looking for a ZTE device, you can check out our list of best Android smartphones to see some of our top picks across manufacturers.

Do you own a ZTE or Nubia smartphone, and if so, what do you love about it? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

About author

Nicholas Fearn
Nicholas Fearn

Nicholas is currently Features Editor at XDA-Developers, where he writes about everything from the latest Huawei smartphones to the best VPN services. With a technology journalism career spanning nearly seven years, he’s previously written for publications such as the FT, Forbes, Engadget, The Next Web, TechRadar, Android Central, Windows Central, iMore, Tom’s Guide, Laptop Mag, Macworld, Computer Weekly, IT Pro, and many others. As well as being a tech fanatic, he’s also a diehard Mariah Carey fan. He tweets at @nicholasgfearn.