After launching the Z17 premium smartphone in its home market, Chinese tech corporate ZTE is now planning to make inroads in India’s mid-ranged smartphone segment by introducing a scaled down version of the phone in the form of the Z17 mini in the country. The phone has been priced at Rs 19,999 as it will be exclusively available on Amazon from 12 noon on June 12.
We laid hands on the phone before it goes on sale online and found it to be not half as bad when pitted against competition from the likes of the Motorolas, Lenovos and Samsungs in this price range. But does it make for a worthy buying option? Let’s find out.
Design and display
The metallic unibody design on the Nubia Z17 mini is an extension of the company’s ideology to manufacture good-looking handsets. The all-metal design accompanied by the 2.5D curved glass on the front, and contrasting gold lines running through the its edges, definitely impart a premium feel. At 155g, it feels comfortably lightweight and a 7.45mm thickness means that it’s sleek to hold in the hand as well.
The 5.2-inch screen makes for comfortable viewing, thanks to almost zero bezel on the sides. Though there is a fair amount of bezel on the top and bottom edges, it doesn’t look out of place along with the signature red home button at the base.
On the right edge are the volume controls located just above the power button, which feel a little shoddy, while the left edge houses the dual SIM card slot. The headphone jack sits on the left side of the top edge and the bottom edge is home to the type C charging port, flanked by speaker grilles.
The display is a neat 5.2-inch Full HD unit with 1080p resolution. A pixel density of 424ppi brings out the colours effectively, alongside the safety of the Corning Gorilla Glass. The automatic brightness adjustment mode makes viewing easy under bright sunlight and even from tight angles.
The company has labelled the Nubia Z17 mini’s camera as one of its USPs. The Sapphire Glass protected shutter on the rear comes with twin Sony IMX 258 13-megapixel sensors – one is a monochrome, while the other a sporting an RGB lens; there is also an f/2.2 aperture and NeoVision 6.0.
The dual rear camera combines multi-view and dynamic features to create an interactive 3D motion picture, much like you-know-who. Moving on, the front shutter is an impressive 16MP camera with Sony sensor, 80-degree-wide-angles, video calling and selfie light.
Just like the appearance of the lenses, the camera UI also looks inspired from a certain Apple iPhone 7 Plus. The portrait mode is one of the standout features and gives a neat bokeh effect when the light is alright. There’s a little bit of an issue in low-light conditions and even when indoors once the sun is down. However, you have other features like the 10 image filters to keep you distracted.
Hardware and software
The Chinese version of the phone was launched in the form of two variants with a 4GB and a 6GB RAM to choose from. In India however, the phonemaker has decided to get only the former with 32GB and 64GB internal storage options and expandable memory up to a remarkable 200GB, via the microSD card slot. At the heart of things is a 64-bit octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 processor, which powers most smartphones in the segment.
The operating software is a dated Android Marshmallow 6.0, covering up for which is the Nubia UI 4.0. The initial impressions of the company’s UI come across as tidy, with decent value-additions like the Edge Gestures. That said the Z17 mini does feel a little underwhelming when it comes to the text interface, and we do look forward to a quick update to make amends.
Battery and connectivity
A 2,950mAh Li-ion polymer unit takes care of the battery requirements that come with the display of this size. It has lasted for around 24 hours on full charge when put into average use. We’d require some more time to figure out how it performs with intense app usage and calling.
Connectivity options on the new Nubia include Bluetooth 4.2, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/ac, GPS, GLONASS, and USB Type-C port. The company says that the smartphone supports 2.4G/5G dual-band WiFi, with upload speeds reaching 430Mbps.
All in all, the phone does come across as a premium product in this price range despite not offering much over and above its rivals. It is lightweight, has an ambitious camera and is even powered by a swift processor. A dated OS however could just make the going tough when pitted against competition from the Moto G5 Plus, the Xiaomi Mi Max, the Lenovo P2 and the likes.