Review: Nubia Z17 Mini is impressive, particularly for the camera
Nubia Z17 Mini has plenty of cool features but it is not without its share of shortcomings
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Chinese company ZTE has been trying to make its mark in the budget and mid-range segment by offering elements of more expensive smartphones. Their latest smartphone, the Z17 Mini, is offering premium looks and dual cameras to impress buyers. It is priced at Rs19,999 and is available on Amazon.in. We take a look at the good and the not so good features in it.
The good aspects
The smartphone impresses with its display, steady performance and camera quality.
Design: This is not a typical metal clad smartphone with silver and gold finish. Nubia has tried to jazz it up with matte black finish, chamfered edges and chiselled speaker grille. The metal finish lends it solidity while the matte finish on the back improves grip quality. The bezels in the front include the usual home, back and multi-tasking keys which are backlit so you can see them in dark. The back includes a dual camera setup, Nubia logo and a finger-print sensor which easily within reach of the index finger. It is accurate and doesn’t feel sluggish even when we had multiple fingerprints configured on it. The smartphone weighs 155g, yet doesn’t feel heavy or unmanageable at any point.
Performance: Powered by Qualcomm’s mid-range Snapdragon 652 octa-core processor with 4GB RAM, the Nubia Z17 Mini delivers a stutter-free performance and provides ample headroom to run games such as Big Bash 2016 and PES 2017 smoothly with 8-10 apps also running simultaneously in the background. It has 64 GB storage which is still not common at this price point. You can expand it to another 256GB via microSD Card.
Camera: The key attraction of the smartphone is the two 13-megapixel cameras which come with sapphire glass lens for protection against scratches. One camera comes with true colour RGB (Red, Green and Blue) sensor and the other with a Sony monochrome sensor. They combine to deliver high quality shots.
The camera also offers plenty of cool modes which take advantage of the dual cameras such as 3D photos and Time shuttle. The former can capture 3D shots of 6 to 8 seconds and the latter blurs background to highlight objects under focus. Other interesting modes include the macro mode, time lapse, slow motion, multi-exposure and monochrome.
The camera impresses in daytime shots and captured details and colours very well. In low-light photos, there is a slight noise but colours look accurate. The 16-megapixel camera on the front can capture wide angle selfies, looks good, and has a Beauty mode with 10 cool filters.
Connectivity: The smartphone comes with a USB type-C connector which is a lot more convenient to use than micro USB. Users don’t have to worry about the orientation of the connector before charging or transferring data from a PC. It also supports Fast Charging.
The middling elements
The display looks good, but it has its limitations. The battery backup is average.
Display: The 5.2-inch display has a resolution of 1,920x1,080p. It is a good looking display with good wide viewing angles. Colours in photos, games and videos look rich without looking too saturated. It is a bit reflective, though. This affects visibility in outdoor conditions at auto brightness.
Text in webpages and ebooks look crisp. The display settings allow users to adjust the colour saturation and switch between the comfortable looking warm and more natural looking cool mode. The other niggle is that it smudges a lot and also picks scratches.
Battery backup: The 2,950mAh battery barely lasted a day on modest usage. This may work for casual users but if you are a heavy user you will have to charge it twice a day. Battery backup isn’t one of its strong points but not such as deal breaker either.
The not-so-good traits
The smartphone runs on a two year old version of Android with a complicated UI.
Software: The Z17 Mini runs Android Marshmallow (6.0) version of Android with their custom interface called Nubia UI over it. There is no app drawer and all apps are placed on homescreen. Though there is no theme store, the UI allows user to adjust screen resolution, and provides gesture controlled shortcuts to adjust brightness, switch between apps, and kill unnecessary process without opening an app or going to phone settings. These controls are a bit hard to remember and carry out initially.
Nubia has tried to incorporate some features of new Android such as side-by-side multi-tasking so users won’t miss out on them. However they are very limited in number.
How it compares with rivals
The Z17 Mini is competing with the likes of Moto G5 Plus (Rs16,999), which also offers a 5.2-inch display with resolution of 1,920x1,080p. The Moto smartphone is not as good-looking but feels more in touch with the times. It is driven by more powerful and more battery-efficient Snapdragon 625 octa-core chip with 4GB RAM and runs the latest Android 7.0 (Nougat) with plain Android interface. The other alternative to the Z17 Mini is the Honor 8 Lite (Rs17,999). It has a stylish glass back design, weighs just 146g, offers a 5.2-inch display with resolution of 1,920x1,080p. It runs on Huawei’s proprietary Kirin octa-core processor with 4GB RAM. It is not as powerful as Snapdragon 652 chipset on Z17 Mini, but can handle multi-tasking well. It also runs newer Android 7.0 with a more polished Emotion UI, compared to Nubia UI.