I’m often asked how to define an attractive phone. Well, there’s no answer to the question. Each one of us has an individual preference. I might say the design, while others might want great cameras. With the Z17 Mini, Nubia tries to offer the best of both worlds. At Rs 19,999, you get a metal bodied design that feels premium, good performance and an exceptionally bright 5.2-inch FHD display. Having lived with the Nubia Z17 Mini for a couple of weeks, here’s my verdict.
Nubia Z17 Mini specifications: 5.2-inch full HD 1080p display | Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 processor | 4GB RAM + 64GB storage | 13MP + 13MP dual cameras | 2950 mAh battery | Android 6.0 Marshmallow with Nubia UI 4.0
Nubia Z17 Mini price in India Rs 19,999
Nubia Z17 Mini Design, Display review
The Nubia Z17 Mini has an eye catching design that will surely turn heads. Like any other smartphone in the market today, the Z17 Mini offers a metal design but the company has tried to add a bit of shimmer to make it distinctive. The black matte finish back is slightly curved that makes the phone easy to hold for long durations. The metal edges are slightly rounded and chamfered with a gold finish.
There is a dual-rear camera setup on the left along with the an LED Flash. The circular fingerprint scanner can be found in the center. The sensor is really fast and with a good success rate. The Nubia logo on the back also makes an impression. To make it more appealing, Nubia has added a golden ring to the edges.
The front side of the phone houses a 5.2-inch display with thin bezels. The volume and power keys are positioned on the right edge. Both keys are fairly responsive. On the bottom edge, a USB-C connector is flanked by twin speaker grilles. Meanwhile, the top edge features a 3.5mm headphone jack and noise cancellation mike.
A circular home key is flanked by two capacitive navigation buttons. The home key lights up in a red colour when the display is on, and can be customised depending on your preference.
Given the 5.2-inch display, Nubia Z17 Mini has a compact design. I loved the phone because of its small footprint and yes it is easier to hold in the hand. Ladies, this might be the phone for you.
Not only is the Nubia Z17 Mini’s design top-notch, the display itself is one of the finest I’ve ever seen. Although a Quad HD display would have been nice, but the 5.2-inch 1080p Full HD display is equally good. It’s actually sharp and colourful, with good viewing angles. When I watched the trailer for Baahubali 2: The Conclusion, the Z17 Mini’s screen showed me deep colours, something I miss on my Asus ZenFone 3. However, I found the phone’s display to be a bit reflective.
Nubia Z17 Mini performance review
Nubia Z17 Mini is a decent performer. Thanks to the Snapdragon 652 processor inside, I was able to load apps without any issues. Nubia has put a zippy processor, and because of that the phone never slows down while playing games and browsing the web. The 4GB RAM and generous 64GB of storage adds to the experience. And if you like to expand the storage, there’s a microSD card built into the dual-SIM tray. For the most part, the Z17 Mini is smooth and stutter free.
For power users like me, the phone’s battery has to stand out. In my tests, the Z17 Mini’s lasted between 8 to 9 hours. This might not impress users, at least those who are totally engrossed into the device all day. Ideally, the 2,950mAh battery should have lasted a day or two. It again depends on how much you use the device.
The Z17 Mini runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow. The company has used its own custom software skin called Nubia 4.0 UI. Like a typical smartphone from a Chinese OEM, there is no app drawer and all apps can be found on the homescreen. The interface seems to be a bit confusing , and honestly it has a learning curve. Some of Nubia’s customisation includes an array of touchscreen gestures.
Nubia Z17 Mini is one of the cleanest that I’ve seen on any Android smartphone. It might not be bloatware-free like the OnePlus 5, only a handful of apps come preinstalled on the phone. Though I wish Nubia had kept the look totally stock build of Android 7.0 (inspired my Moto smartphones) with a few tweaks that actually add functionality instead of just loading the device with bloatware.
Nubia Z17 Mini camera review
The Z17 Mini comes with the dual-camera setup, which should be seen as its usp. Like the Honor 8, the sensor arrangement is a colour (RGB) and monochrome combination. Each of the cameras has a 13-megapixel Sony sensor, an LED flash and phase detection autofocus (PDAF).
After a week of use, I can confirm the Nubia Z17 Mini is capable of taking good photos that match the likes of Honor 8, if not beat the Huawei P10 or iPhone 7 Plus in quality. I mostly operated the camera in the auto settings. The camera works fine, but it does struggles with exposures in bright light. Otherwise, the photo quality is impressive. With ample light conditions, especially outdoors, the camera worked like magic. I had some issues with colours. Reds came out too bright which ruined an otherwise good photograph. Low-light performance is also impressive, but not the best I’ve seen on a smartphone. Images taken in the night are surprisingly good enough to share on a social media.
Let’s not forget the Nubia Z17 Mini does come with a bokeh mode that basically simulate a depth of field by artificially blurring out the background. Well, the performance is satisfactory. In some scenes where the subject is clear, the bokeh mode does work well. However, I have seen cases where the camera struggles, when the subject is not well defined, you end up with not-so-good results. While I totally agree the Honor 8 has an edge when it comes to capturing monochrome shots, but I assure you that the Nubia Z17 Mini doesn’t disappoint on the camera front. The front camera stands at 16-megapixel, which more or less captures decent self portraits, especially in indoors.
Nubia Z17 Mini verdict
Nubia Z17 Mini is not perfect, but it has a few positives to its name. A good design, capable dual rear cameras and a beautiful display all this makes the Nubia Z17 Mini a highly recommended smartphone in the mid-end segment. However, I also see a great value in the Honor 8 which now sells at an equal price. That phone doesn’t disappoint in the camera department, though I wish it had a slightly better display.