Nubia is going crazy in the Indian market. Aiming to achieve a significant market share by the end of 2017 in India, ZTE-owned Nubia is launching devices aggressively in the country. Whatever the company announces in its homeland China, it's being launched in India this year. We're just into July 2017, and Nubia has already announced two devices for the Indian market- the Nubia N2 and Nubia M2.
Nubia is launching one device every month, and in June 2017, the Nubia Z17 mini was launched, which is the company's first dual camera smartphone to land in India. Priced at Rs. 19,999, the Z17 mini is touted as a smartphone designed for shutterbugs. The device competes with the Gionee A1 and Oppo F3 smartphones in India. Here are my initial impressions of the Nubia Z17 mini.
Let us start this with the standout feature of the smartphone- the dual camera setup. As mentioned earlier, the Z17 mini is the company's first dual camera smartphone in India, which sports two 13MP sensors at the back. One sensor captures standard RGB images, while the other one shoots black and white pictures (monochrome).
In my brief period with the device, I captured some images with the Z17 mini rear camera, and they appear to be impressive for the asking price. The pictures came out with excellent details; even the low-light shots are impressive as well. Nubia has added a Portrait mode, which uses the software to blur the background in images. Furthermore, there are a plethora of camera modes available to play around with the device. The Z17 mini has a 16MP front-facing camera, which also captures images with extreme details.
The smartphone has a compact 5.2-inch Full HD display, carrying a resolution of 1080 x 1920 pixels and 424 PPI. The screen is vivid, and the viewing angles are decent as well. What standouts in the device is its compact form factor. With a small display and 155grams weight, the Z17 mini feels light in the hands. A thumbs up to the Nubia engineering team for evenly distributing the weight.
Another aspect where the Z17 mini excels is with its design. The Z17 mini looks like a watered down version of the flagship Nubia Z17 with slim bezels and full metal body. Nevertheless, the device is slippery, thanks to the metal build.
Nubia has gone with hardware capacitive keys for the Z17 mini. A red-coloured circle home button is visible at the front, below the display. This button is flanked by two hardware keys, which lit up only when you touch the screen. The red-coloured home button also has a LED light beneath, which is helpful to indicate when the device is charging or when a notification arrives.
The Nubia Z17 mini comes laden with Nubia UI 4.0 on top of Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow. The device runs the dated version of Android, however, it's not short of features. That said, the split screen feature of Android 7.0 Nougat is present as well in the device. Nubia UI is a heavily customised Android skin, which doesn't have a single reminiscence of stock Android.
Nubia UI is full of features such as super screenshot (three finger drag on the screen to capture a screenshot), dual instance (create dual apps), smart sensing (flip to mute/pause a call, shake to clear notifications, etc.), touch gestures, etc. There are some Edge gestures as well such as hold and swipe the inward to open a desktop, swipe up/down from the edge to switch between apps, etc.
The UI is not the smoothest one out there because I noticed some lag here and there. The annoying part with the UI is that you have to press and hold the back capacitive button to enter the recent apps menu, and there's no option to customise this as well.
The phone comes with connectivity options such as 4G LTE, VoLTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 ac, Bluetooth, GPS, and USB Type-C port. I tested the smartphone with Reliance Jio 4G SIM card, and it worked well without any issues.
The smartphone is powered by the octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 chip, clubbed with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. The storage is expandable up to 256GB with the help of a microSD card. The Snapdragon 652 chipset blew through all the necessary tasks, and the single downward facing loudspeaker is adequately loud as well.
Nubia has added a small 2950mAh battery to the Z17 mini, and I noticed significant battery drain on the phone in my short usage. The device came down from 80 percent to 70 percent with a 30 minutes usage. The phone has support for Quick Charge technology, which is said to charge the device from zero to 100 percent in 90 minutes. This needs to be tested along with the intensive battery life tests. The Nubia UI also seems to be a juice drainer with no optimisations whatsoever.
The Nubia Z17 mini seems to be a capable mid-ranger, which also bets big in the camera department. So far, none of the smartphones released under Rs. 20,000 with dual cameras impressed us, but the Z17 mini seems to overrule that. The phone has excellent design, compact form factor, and dual cameras, which makes it a worthy contender in the sub Rs. 20,000 price bracket.
We will bring the full review of the Nubia Z17 mini in coming weeks. If you have any questions related to the smartphone, post them in the comments below. I will try to cover them in the complete review.