Chinese smartphone maker Nubia might not be as popular as Lenovo, Xiaomi, OnePlus and other Chinese brands but the company is silently producing some of the best handsets in mid-range category.
We recently tested the Z11 Mini that impressed us with its capable 23MP primary camera and also justifies its price point as far as other important features such as design, display, hardware and connectivity are concerned.
Today we have with us the latest mid-range Android handset from the company- the Nubia Z17 Mini. The smartphone is priced at Rs. 19,999 and has a Sony powered 13MP+13MP dual-camera setup as its highlight feature. What else makes this handset stand out from the crowd? Let's try to find this out with the help of following review.
Camera: Capable 13+13MP dual-camera setup
Camera is undoubtedly the highlight feature of the Nubia Z17 Mini. The smartphone features two 13MP+13MP camera units powered by Sony sensors. One of the two is the IMX258 RGB sensor and the other is an IMX258 MONO sensor.
The combination works on F2.2 aperture, which is not the best in the price-segment but the hardware manages to deliver a delightful imaging performance. The camera setup has Sapphire Glass protective lens on the surface.
While the auto mode delivers good results and the camera has a variety of modes and filters, the portrait mode is my personal favorite. It keeps the subject in focus and applies a software algorithm to blur the background. The results are surprisingly good for a smartphone priced under Rs. 20k.
In general, the image quality is very good in daylight. The images come out to be crisp and have rich colours. And if you like to experiment with the images you capture, you will simply love the camera on Nubia Z17 Mini.
The camera on the smartphone is backed by company's NeoVision 6.0 technology that offers a suite of modes and filters to let you experiment with the images you capture. These include Star Trail, Portrait, manual mode, 3D photo, Panorama, Multi-expo, Trajectory, etc. The camera can also record 4K videos, which further adds value to the overall package.
The front of the handset packs even more pixels. There is a 16MP selfie camera packing inside a 5P lens and working on F2.0 aperture. The front camera captures a wide frame as it has 80° Wide Angle lens. The selfies you capture show plenty of details and have good colour reproduction.
Overall, Nubia has once again delivered a capable camera smartphone in a mid-range price segment. Nubia Z17 Mini is a compact smartphone with a great camera hardware and nifty software features that truly enhance the photography experience.
Design: Impressive metal design which is also ergonomic
Nubia Z17 Mini is simply a head turner, especially if you have the Black-Gold variant. The smartphone has been given Red and Gold colour touch ups on front and rear that makes it quite appealing. Besides, the company's signature circular home button lit with bright Red light sits at the bottom of the 5.2-inch full HD screen and gives the handset a unique identity.
With 97 percent aluminum used in construction, the smartphone feels quite premium and sturdy. The front of the smartphone sports a 1080p display which is protected by a 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass. The glass seamlessly blends with Gold colour chamfered frame giving the handset a smooth and infinite look.
The rear panel is even more interesting and simply head turning. It has the dual-camera setup at the top left corner and a fingerprint sensor positioned at the center of the handset, which is very accurate and wastes no time in unlocking the handset.
The dual-camera setup and the biometric sensor have the distinguished Red and Gold colour rings respectively. Besides, the matte finish on the metallic Black rear panel restricts fingerprints, smudges and does not let the smartphone slip off from hands, which is usually a common issue with metallic handsets.
The smartphone also feels quite compact and light weight with the dimensions- 5.78 x 2.85 x 0.30 inch and 155 grams weight. The buttons are also placed ergonomically so that you don't have to struggle in everyday use.
Overall, Nubia Z17 Mini is by far the best looking handset from a Chinese company in sub Rs. 20,000 price-point. The smartphone will certainly please consumers who are not very fond of big screen devices.
Display: Crisp 1080p screen with 2.5D curved Gorilla Glass
The 5.2-inch 1080p screen on Nubia Z17 Mini is crisp and fairly bright for comfortable viewing in outdoor environment. The colors look natural on the LTPS IPS LCD panel and the contrast levels are also good.
The 5.2-inch screen size is quite appropriate for a mobile device, as it allows you to watch videos, play games and browse web pages comfortably without bulking up the overall design. The 424ppi pixel density makes text; videos and everything else look sharp and rich.
The display on Nubia Z17 Mini offers more than just the standard touch-n-type interaction. The innovative hardware + software implementation- Nubia FiT 2.0 that we have seen previously in Nubia Z11Mini S is also provided on the Z17 Mini to create a new interactive method.
What this means is that Nubia allows you to perform a variety of interactive functions on the handset without actually making the screen curvier or adding additional sensors to it.
With simple touch gestures on the sides of the screen, you can trigger interactive responses such as adjusting screen brightness, switching between apps in the background, returning to your last used page and clearing apps running in the background.
It might take a while to get a hang of the features but once you start using them, they seem to add a great value to the overall user experience and come quite handy in day-to-day tasks.
Hardware: Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 CPU with 4GB of RAM
Nubia Z17 Mini brings ample RAM to make sure you multitask freely without any performance issues. The smartphone has 4GB of RAM that efficiently handled more than 20 apps simultaneously running in the background. The same can be said for the processing power and gaming performance.
The 4GB RAM is paired with an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 CPU and Adreno 510 GPU. The combination can handle day to day tasks without breaking a sweat and can even manage strenuous tasks without any major performance issues.
The apps fire up quickly, screen navigation is smooth, camera works without a lag, etc. which makes the handset a great everyday Android device. The handset also did quite good in gaming and can be used to run casual as well as heavy games.
Nubia Z17 Mini comes with 64GB internal memory, which can be expanded by up to 200GB via microSD card.
Software: Still hanging with Android 6.0 Marshmallow
The only shortcoming I found on the Nubia Z17 Mini is the dated Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow. Nubia will sort this out with an update but as of now, it can be a deal breaker for consumers who can easily get an Android handset running the Nougat mobile OS in under Rs. 15k.
To sweeten up the deal and to enhance the software experience, the company has deployed its Nubia UI 4.0 on top of Android Marshmallow, which brings tones of features to enhance the user experience.
The Edge gestures are undoubtedly the most talked about feature. You also get long screenshot, multi-screen view where you can two apps at the same time, screen recording that captures everything you perform on the display and dual-mode that allows you to access two accounts on one phone.
During my usage, I haven't noticed any lags, app crashes or software issues on the smartphone. I wish the company would have shipped the Z17 Mini with the latest Android 7.0 Nougat out-of-the box, which would have justified the price-point of Rs. 20k, features and the capable hardware of the smartphone.
Battery and Connectivity
Nubia Z17 Mini is backed by a 2,950 mAh battery unit, which is supported by Nubia's NeoPower technology. The handset did manage to last a day with mix usage which was quite unexpected for a battery with less than 3,000 mAh capacity.
Depending upon usage pattern, the smartphone can last for a day, a bit less than that or can cross the 24 hour mark on a single charge.
As far as connectivity is concerned, Nubia Z17 Mini supports dual Nano SIM cards and come equipped with Bluetooth 4.2, Wi-Fi, GPS and USB Type C.
There's not much to explore in sub Rs. 20k price segment which makes Nubia Z17 Mini a welcome addition. The smartphone has an appealing design, one of the finest mobile cameras, ample RAM and memory to meet your multitasking and storage requirements and a snappy processor paired with a capable GPU to deliver on gaming.
The latest software (Android 7.0 Nougat) would have made the smartphone a complete package. But that can be easily addressed with a software update and will make Z17 Mini a great value forr money product.
Summing up all, Z17 Mini is another great product from the house of Nubia which as a brand might not be as popular as other Chinese companies but the smartphone itself is a complete value for money deal. Buy it for camera, design, storage and everyday performance.