By: Anil Satapathy, The Mobile Indian, New Delhi
Last updated : Friday, October 21, 2016 - 10:18
Nubia Z11 Mini looks decent on paper but not everything is rosy.
Good front and rear cameras
Allows creating two accounts apps like WhatsApp
Older Android Lollipop OS
Lags while playing high end games
Both front and back panels prone to scratches
Camera does not have laser auto focus or PDAF
Nubia earlier today announced the Z11 Mini for the Indian market at Rs 12,999. It will be available exclusively on Amazon.in from October 21.
The highlight of ZTE Nubia Z11 Mini is its 16 megapixel rear camera. It has a very good looking 8 megapixel front camera. The phone has 5 inch full HD display, 64 bit Snapdragon 617 octa core processor, 3 GB RAM, 32 GB inbuilt storage as well as an expandable storage slot which is capable of holding 200 GB micro SD card. Besides usual connectivity features, it has a 2800 mAh operating system.
We got the device soon after its launch and here is what we have found during our review.
With shiny black body, the Nubia Z11 Mini is a looker. The dull silver colour side panels goes well with the black front and rear panels. There are some other design elements â€“ like a red colour thread around its rear camera unit and home button, and the silver coloured brand name that is engrossed into its rear panel â€“ that certainly adds to its beauty. However, the rear glass panel is vulnerable to scratches and you must have a transparent cover to protect its delicate body.
Most importantly, it is a small device, despite having a decent 5 inch display. It is thus quite easy to grip the phone despite its glass body. The glass back panel has a smooth finishing and hence it does not attract that much smudges as I was afraid of. The sides are of metal and are curved. The tiny circular rear camera module is not protruding out, so I felt that it won't get damaged if you unmindfully drag it on a surface. Anyway, as per Nubia, the camera has Sapphire glass so it should not get damaged due to day to day use.
It does have a 3.5 mm jack so rest assured you don't have to discard your favorite headset. A USB Type C port is there for charging and file transfer to and from a PC. There are two speaker ports just beside the Type C port at the bottom. A mic is at the top for noise cancellation. The volume and power buttons are on the right with ample distance in between.
The Nubia Z11 Mini will certainly appeal to you if you are looking for a compact device with attractive design.
The phone has a 5 inch display that comes with full HD resolution which means it offers superb 440 ppi pixel density. Expectedly, it offered crisp output. Colour and brightness levels are quite good too. However, the display got some nasty scratches during our review and thus we recommend you to use a protective covering for the display.
The phone has a 16 megapixel rear camera and an 8 megapixel front camera. The rear camera has Sony IMX298 CMOS sensor, 6P lens and F2.0 aperture. Further the sensor has something called DTI or Deep Trench Isolation that as per the company reduces noises and offers crisper images. So I had high expectations from the phone and didn't disappoint us either. But I found it to be a bit slow. Obviously, I missed the laser auto focus a lot. However, if you focus it properly, then it manages to snap good pictures.
Here are some camera samples that speak volume about its cameras.
Processor and OS
I was though disappointed with its processing power. Despite having a 64 bit Snapdragon 617 octa core processor and 3 GB RAM, the phone could not play one of my favourite game - Injustice Gods Among Us. There were frequent lags also.
Also at a time when Android Marshmallow is quite common to even budget devices while newer devices are arriving with the latest Android Nougat, Nubia cannot justify the reason to launch Z11 Mini with the older Android Lollipop OS.
The Z11 Mini has a cutomised interface which is a bit different than the default Android UI. It has some noteworthy gesture inputs. For instance, it comes with various edge gestures such as to accelerate the phone, you just have to slide your finger on its right hand display edge up and down. If you slide both the right and left edges, depending on your choice, it can increase/decrease volume or brightness.
It has usual touch gestures as well. Another highlight of Z11 Mini is that it allows users to create two accounts of same app like WhatsApp (by default, this is not enabled so you have to enable this manually).
Also the ZTE Nubia Z11 Mini has a 2800 mAh battery which is not quite big and as expected offered average back up. Even with average usage, I had to charge it twice atleast in a day.
Its 5 inch touchscreen has full HD resolution and thus it managed to offer very crisp output. The touch input was good and despite its small screen, typing wasn't much of an issue.
Storage wise too, the Nubia Z11 Mini is quite good thanks to 32 GB of built in storage but the phone only offers 23.5 GB internal storage for users. Thankfully there is an expandable storage slot but again, it is a hybrid slot so you can either use two SIM cards of one SIM and a micro SD card for added storage space.
In connectivity department, it too looks good with 4G, WiFi (ac), Bluetooth 4.1, dual SIM slot (hybrid), and GPS with AGPS and GLONASS. I did not encounter any issue while using it as my primary calling device. There wasn't any issue with its Bluetooth, USB Type C port or GPS. As per the spec sheet, Nubia Z11 Mini has VoLTE support but during our review, it did not support Jio's voice calling feature. We could though managed to surf internet using Jio SIM on Nubia Z11 Mini.
Specification wise, the ZTE Nubia Z11 Mini at Rs 12,999 is a decent device, though not the best option. It fulfills what it promises such as a good looking phone with good chipset and camera. But it's the few small chinks in its armour that lets it down. Its biggest drawback is its older Android OS which makes it case very weak. Nubia thus should release the Android Marshmallow atleast if not Android Nougat but it has to act fast if it wants to make the Z11 Mini a mighty smartphone in the sub-Rs 15,000 segment.