ZTE has been on the fringes of the Indian smartphone space for a few years now. Last year, the company brought its sub-brand Nubia to India, but despite having some interesting phones it did not get much traction. The company is back with more phones which are unique, though a bit dated, considering their global launches. We got our hands on the Nubia Z11.
The Nubia Z11 is one of the most stylish phones, at least in this price range. And it has one very unique feature—a bezel-less design. This is not like the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge where the screen curves into the sides, but a true bezel-less screen that does not end or offer any edges. The review device we got had a nice black and gold combination that was subtle while at the same time demanded a second look. The phone is a bit too smooth for my liking, but the gold bands on top and bottom prevent it from slipping off your hands. Also, Nubia plays on its red ring logo well, especially by using it as a home button which has a breathing effect LED when the phone is being charged.
What is good?
The bezel-less design is certainly a conversation starter and at least half a dozen people asked me which phone it was. So if you like that kind of attention, then this phone certainly should be on your radar. Also, Nubia has packed in some easy gestures that work on the screen and let you do regular stuff like shuffle through running apps or adjust brightness.
The Z11 is a top-shelf device when it comes to performance. It has good benchmark scores that put it in the range of the OnePlus 3 and above the ZUK Z2 Pro, which is quite an achievement. And it is not just about numbers, you feel this when you are multi-tasking or playing games. In fact, this also has one of the fastest processors when it comes to preloaded features like light-painting which otherwise needs a bit of processing power. Also, the phone manages to stay very cool whatever you do with it.
The camera has been one of the standout features of most Nubia phones. It is the same on the Z11 offering a fast clicker that churns out crisp images. It has a fast auto-focus that locks on to subjects easily, even in the dark. There is also a PRO mode that offers tweaks for settings, which I felt could have been more. There is also a camera family app basket that offers apps for light painting, multi-exposure and slow shutter speed; all features you can play around with when in the mood.
The Nubia UI 4.0 is easy to understand and get used to, though it is not that close to pure Android. In fact, this UI does not offer an app draw and you will have all your stuff on the homescreen itself. Given that the UI puts the bezel-less screen to good use, that’s a good experience overall.
What is not that good?
I used the Nubia Z11 on a RJio SIM. And even without much usage, the phone’s battery died by the end of the day. So when the network is patchy, the 3000 mAh battery might have issues. Also, the phone has a very bright display which you will need to use at reduced brightness to get the best out of this phone.
Having just cracked one of the review devices sent to me, I think the bezel-less display could end up being a liability for some users, especially the careless ones. For instance, I am not sure what will happen if the phone ends up in a tight jeans pocket with a bunch of keys. You will need to be extra careful with the edges to ensure that you don’t kill its use by trying to protect it.
Should you buy?
At the moment, I think the Nubia Z11 is a good challenger to the OnePlus 3, given its overall performance, camera and specs. However, the struggle for Nubia will be in establishing itself as a brand that India knows and trusts. I suggest this phone for those who love to be a bit ahead of the curve when it comes to technology and likes to take funky photos.
Estimated street price: R29,999