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Saturday, June 19, 2021

ZTE Nubia Z9 Mini Express Review: Definitely the most versatile phone camera

The Nubia Z9 Mini has to be among the more stylish Android phones available anywhere in the market

Rating: 4 out of 5
Written by Nandagopal Rajan |
Updated: May 6, 2017 4:30:57 pm
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ZTE is one of the largest handset manufacturers in the world. But it has never really been able to make an impact in India on its own. However, in the past few quarters the Chinese company seems to be taking this market much more seriously.

After a couple of moderately successful launches last year the company is bringing in its flagship Nubia series to India with the Nubia Z9 Mini. And this is no ordinary phone despite its affordable price tag, because it sports what ZTE calls the first SLR camera in a phone.

ZTE Nubia Z9 Mini

The Nubia Z9 Mini has to be among the more stylish Android phones available anywhere in the market. For a second, it might make you believe you are staring at an Apple device. That is before you notice the flaming red LED home buttons, which is unlike anything you might have seen.

The phone has a stylish metallic frame with a very solid feeling volume rocker and power button. The phone also has a micro USB port that is not bang in the centre of the bottom frame and looks like it has been made to last.

Specs: 5-inch (1080x1920p, ~441 ppi) display | Qualcomm MSM8939 Snapdragon 615 (Quad-core 1.5 GHz Cortex-A53 + quad-core 1.0 GHz Cortex-A53) | 2GB RAM | 16GB internal storage expandable up to 128GB | 16MP rear camera + 8MP front camera | dual nano SIM | 2900 mAh battery | Nubia UI based on Android Lollipop | Nubia Z9 Mini full specs

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Rs 16,999

What is good?

This phone has a lot going for it and is among that new breed of phones that give you more bang for your buck right from the word go.

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To start with, as I said before, this has one of the best designs in an Android phone. The phone’s look will be appreciated wherever you are. It is also a very practical design and gives you a good feel in the hand. However, since there is not a lot of texture to offer a great grip, hold on to your phone at all times.

The full HD display is stunning, at least with all the pre-loaded wallpapers of starlit skies. It works reasonably well under the bright Indian sun.

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From a performance perspective, the Z9 Mini is a little star. This phone is a rarity just because it is among the cooler Snapdragon powered devices I have used in recent times. Plus, the 64-bit octa-core processor ensures the phone is lag-free whatever you do. This phone has a very demanding camera and the processor is able to deliver when needed. The benchmarks scores compare it with a two-year-old flagship, but you won’t feel outdated when it comes to daily performance.

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Now, we come to the camera. This is where the Z9 Mini goes much ahead of the competition. Is this is the best camera in an Android smartphone? Well, I am not sure of that. But this is certainly the smartphone that gives the most options when it comes to camera settings.

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Yes, the phone has a regular auto mode, to which you must stick to if clicking anything in a hurry. For the PRO camera mode, while being extremely versatile, needs a good understanding of camera mathematics. Don’t even look that way if you can’t understand ISO and exposure compensation, unless you want a lot of pictures that are either all white or all black.

The camera comes with some pre-set modes that make it easy to choose the unique light painter mode and the Star Track mode, which you can really play around with if you have a lot of time and a tripod for the phone. That is because a lot of the low-light features are impossible to execute without a tripod. But if you do manage to find one, the results can be stunning, at least from a smartphone camera viewpoint.

It also has the best macro mode in any smartphone I have tested, and I have tested quite a few in the past decade or so. Without doubt, this smartphone camera is one of the most versatile around. It has to do more with the end results to be the best Android camera.

The Nubia UI is among the more simple Android skins in the market. It is easy to use and thankfully there is no bloatware to deal with here. The phone has one screen full of camera pre-sets, which might not be of much use during a regular day.

The phone also has a good 2900 mAh battery that can also up to 36 hours with regular use. It lasted almost three days as my backup phone with data running all the time and the camera being used often. Most of the notifications and settings are uncomplicated.

What is not that good?

The phone does not have major issues. But the camera results are a bit over processed when you are using the PRO mode or the presets. They are great to look at on the phone screen, but not that awesome on a larger screen. It is good that almost 90 percent mobile users see their photos only on the smaller screen.

I found a small quirk with the FM radio not being able to catch stations in Delhi. At best I could hear a feeble AIR FM Gold.

Verdict

Buy this phone if you love playing with the camera. It is an added advantage that the rest of the phone is really good too. You should not face issues using this phone for regular connectivity and it has a good style quotient too. But don’t think you can replace the DSLR with this clicker.

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