Review: Nubia Z11 lays claim on the flagship killer title

Nubia’s second smartphone is packed with high-end features, something that more expensive Android phones tend to have


The absence of bezels on both sides of the screen gives Nubia  Z11 a compact look, and it will gather a lot of attention. Photos: Ramesh Pathania/Mint
The absence of bezels on both sides of the screen gives Nubia Z11 a compact look, and it will gather a lot of attention. Photos: Ramesh Pathania/Mint

Chinese company Nubia’s second solo smartphone in India, called the Z11, is another major contender for the title of flagship killer on account of its powerful hardware with premium design. Priced at Rs29,999, the Z11 is likely to be compared to the likes of OnePlus 3T (Rs29,999 onwards) and the Xiaomi Mi5 (Rs22,999). The Z11 is available exclusively on Amazon.in.

Design: Compact and handy

The Z11’s impresses with its unique and premium design. The absence of bezels on both sides of the screen gives the Z11 a compact look, and it will gather a lot of attention. It is only 72.3mm wide which is less than most of the big-screen phones it is competing with. The OnePlus 3 is 74.7mm wide, for example. At 162g, it weighs more than the OnePlus 3T (158g), though.

The matte black finish on the back and the gold coloured metal frame along the spine not only enhances its looks but also improves one’s grip over the phone. The fingerprint sensor on the back panel is quick and accurate most times. The SIM tray can take in two nano SIM cards or one nano SIM and a microSD card at a time. Both slots support 4G networks.

Display: Big screen looks good

The Z11 has a 5.5-inch display which offers a screen resolution of 1,920x1080p. It is not a very bright looking display but handles colours very well. Even on full brightness, it doesn’t strain the eyes, and the viewing angles are quite good. But the display is not the sharpest either. The OnePlus 3T also offers a Full HD resolution display. For most use cases on a smartphone, this resolution is more than enough. Another advantage, compared to the higher resolutions, is that the battery drain is comparatively less.

For the sake of comparison, though, the likes of LeEco LeMax 2 and Moto X Style offer quad HD resolution and slightly bigger screen at lower price. Games and videos look rich too. They also provide colour customisation options in the display settings such as cool, natural and warm.

Performance: Powerful and future proof

This is the area where Nubia has got almost everything right. Powered by Qualcomm’s 2.1GHz Snapdragon 820 quad-core processor with 6GB RAM and Adreno 530 GPU, the phone is one of the most powerful smartphones you can buy at this price. It can handle most heavy tasks and games such as FIFA 16 and Asphalt Xtreme like a breeze. Despite the sleek profile and a processor with high clocking speed on board, we didn’t find any signs of overheating on the back and edges.

Internal storage is 64 GB which makes it future proof. With the microSD slot, you can add another 256GB to it. The phone packs in a 3,000mAh battery which can deliver a whole day’s backup on one charge.

Camera: Impresses in most conditions

The phone’s key highlight is its 16-megapixel rear camera which impresses in most conditions. It is fast and delivers high quality shots, especially in daytime. The amount of detail it can muster and the ability to capture colours correctly in landscape shots is impressive. We could read text on shop clearly. Close-ups look equally rich and crisp. The camera struggled a little when it came to lighting up darker areas. Low-light shots looked surprisingly good. We did notice slight noise in the big screen but the detailing and colours still looked better than that in many mid-range smartphones.

The 8-megapixel front camera struggles in poor light but can capture good-looking selfies in properly lit rooms.

Software: UI can be complicated

The Nubia Z11 runs Android 6.0 with a typical Chinese phone interface which allows users to tinker more with the software’s look and feel. In this case, Nubia 4.0 looks colourful and visually brilliant but is a bit complicated to use. It offers numerous gesture controls which are too difficult to use and feel like interfering with other tasks. One of the features we like is the multi-tasking window that splits the screen into two allowing users to carry out two tasks side by side.

The Oxygen OS on OnePlus 3T looks a lot clutter-free yet offers customisation options. It is also likely to get the Android Nougat update before the end of the year, and that is a big advantage in terms of the performance and battery life improvements.

Verdict

Nubia Z11 is a solid smartphone with the features of a flagship, and there is no denying that it looks beautiful too. It is a good alternative to a lot of Android smartphones in that price bracket, and comes close to the OnePlus 3T. The OnePlus 3T is at an advantage with its clutter-free interface, and a slightly more consistent camera. But in terms of overall performance, it is too close to call.

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