Review: Nubia M2 Lite is high on style but misses on basics
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Chinese company ZTE has been trying to find a foothold in India with smartphones under the Nubia brand. So far they have impressed with the ability to combine steady performance and stylish looks. The Nubia M2 Lite smartphone, priced at Rs13,999, has the looks, for sure. But is it powerful enough to take on rivals such as the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (Rs12,999)?
Design: Premium design, well built
The key highlight of the M2 Lite is its good looks and ergonomic design. The metal finish and the dual gold plated borders along the spine gives it the aura of a flagship device. The matte finish on the back boosts grip quality and also keeps the back smudge-free. The side buttons are placed separately to avoid confusion—volume buttons are placed on the left, while the power button is on the right. The bezels on the front panel look a little too wide, giving the smartphone a slightly longish appearance. At 155.7mm, it is taller than Redmi Note 4 which is 151mm long. However at 164g, it weighs less than the Xiaomi smartphone (175g).
The fingerprint sensor is integrated with the home button on the front. It’s a non-clickable button like the home button on the OnePlus 3T. The fingerprint sensor is fast but feels a bit inconsistent at times.
Display: Big screen, low resolution
The 5.5-inch screen has a resolution of just 1,280x720p, which is a bit on the lower side for a big-screen smartphone. It gives the screen a washed out look in comparison to the brighter-looking display on the Redmi Note 4, which offers a higher resolution of 1,920x1,080p on a 5.5-inch screen. The difference is not that noticeable with casual tasks and webpages but reflects clearly in games and movies. Nubia has added a few customisation options to tweak colour saturation and hue. They are handy but fail to raise the quality of the display.
Software: Custom UI, Old Android
The smartphone runs Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) with Nubia UI v 4.0 over it. It is a complex UI with lots of hidden gestures and features. Surprisingly it doesn’t have a pre-loaded theme store, so you can’t customise the look and feel of the user interface.
The hidden features include gesture controls such as swiping with both fingers along edges to adjust brightness and swiping from the edge repeatedly to clear background apps and free up space. These require some practice but when they work can save you a trip to the settings page for little things. You can also adjust the apps layout. There is a dual instance tool, similar to dual apps feature on Xiaomi’s MiUI. It allows users to have two versions of the same app. This is useful for social media apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook. The Redmi Note 4 also runs Android 6.0 but it offers more customisations and has a themes and wallpaper store preloaded in it.
Performance: Basic performance
The M2 Lite is a typical budget smartphone when it comes to the main hardware. It runs on MediaTek’s entry-level MT 6750 octa-core chip which has been clubbed with 4GB RAM. The combo can handle most steady tasks and games such as PES 2016 without any niggle. But it is not very smooth and felt sluggish at times.
It offers 32GB of internal storage and accepts microSD cards up to 128GB. However, the memory card slot is built on one of the nano SIM trays, so you can’t use all three of them simultaneously.
The Redmi Note 4 suffers from the same issue of hybrid SIM trays, but offers 64GB of internal storage, which means more room for your offline movies and music.
The other area where the Redmi Note 4 outclasses the M2 Lite is its hardware. It runs on a faster and more battery efficient Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 octa-core chip with 4GB RAM. It also packs in a 4,100mAh battery which lasts longer than M2 Lite’s 3,000mAh battery, which could barely eke out a whole day’s backup on one charge.
Camera: Impresses in good light, treat for selfie fans
The 13-megapixel primary camera on the M2 Lite is slightly superior to the Redmi Note 4 which also has a 13-megapixel snapper. In bright light, the M2 Lite delivers better detailing and colour reproduction. Even indoor and low-light shots look slightly better on it. It also packs in plenty of cool camera modes such as pretty mode, multi-exposure, slow shutter, star trail, time lapse, macro, manual and slow motion. You won’t get many of them on any of the rivals at this price. The 16-megapixel camera on front supports wide-angle shots and can muster good-looking selfies even in indoor conditions.
Nubia M2 Lite has the looks of a flagship but is essentially a budget smartphone which misses out on some key elements. The Redmi Note 4 looks better placed in comparison, on account of its superior display, more storage, better performance and longer battery backup. It also costs Rs1,000 less.