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Nubia Z11 Mini S – Redefining Affordable Performance on Mobiles – Review

Nubia Z11 Mini S is a new entrant in the Mid-to-high end segment of mobiles. Nubia is a sub brand of ZTE mobiles and they have been quietly strengthening their fleet of mobile. With the Nubia Z11, we understood the flagship capabilities of the brand. The Z11 mini was intended to be a toned down version of the Z11, but fell way below the mid level segment and landed on the entry-level segment. To fill the gap, we now have the Z11 Mini S. I have been using the mobile for over 2 weeks now and let me share my thoughts.

nubia z11

Design

The Nubia Z11 Mini S has a familiar design identity. It has a solid metal body construction, with antenna lines flowing over the back panel and not across. The top has the 3.5 mm audio jack and noise cancelling mic. The bottom has the USB-C port flanked by speaker grills. The right side has the volume buttons and power button. The left has a dual hybrid SIM slot. The back has the 23 MP camera with a single LED flash and a finger print sensor. The front has the 8 MP camera and below the display are the back-lit capacitive navigation keys. The home button has a unique and beautiful breath light effect. The back and menu keys’ orientation can be changed. The display is a 5.2 inch screen protected by Corning Gorilla Glass. The mobile is very handy and comfortable to use with single hand. The matte finished metal back and the 5.2 display size, makes the mobile easy to hold and not-so-easy to slip. It may not have an extra-ordinary style quotient, but it has a design that is built to last.

Display

The Nubia Z11 Mini S has a 5.2 inch full HD 1080p screen. The IPS LCD capacitive screen is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass. The display has decent viewing angles. It is very bright at all light conditions. The ambient light sensor is quick to sense the light and adjust the display. The display has good contrast levels and the gamma correction score I measured was 2.2 average. Text is crisp and images have a punchy vibrant color. The display was responsive and fast, but when the Edge Features (will talk about it in the Software section) are enabled, the corners become slow to respond to touch at times. But overall, we have a great display and it impresses me with its vibrance and contrast levels.

Harware and Performance

Nubia Z11 Mini S is powered by Snapdragon 625 with Adreno 506 for graphics. It has 4 GB of LP DDR3 RAM and 64 GB of Flash EEPROM internal storage. With 64 gig of internal storage, you can forget the problem that it comes with hybrid slot. The mobile handles all apps and resource intensive games with ease. It does not heat up and gets slightly warm after 30 minutes of continuous usage. 4 GB of RAM is good for multi-tasking, but if you bring on a resource intensive app on the memory, other apps are closed. Apps are opened instantly and there is no UI lag. The UI layer is very fast, snappy and responsive. Nubia Z11 Mini S has a very good performance.

Z11 Mini s Benchmark scores
Z11 Mini s Benchmark scores

The mobile has a fast and accurate fingerprint sensor. It can detect for a valid fingerprint from all angles. Nubia Z11 Mini S has FM Radio, NFC, DLNA, USB OTG support and also VoLTE capable. It has a DTS certified DAC for audio experience over the 3.5 mm jack. The loudspeakers on this mobile is loud and clear for most usage conditions.

Trust me, I am trying really hard to find a point to crib about and I haven’t found any till now.

Camera

Let’s now get to the sweetest part of the Nubia Z11 Mini S. It has a BSI 23 MP sensor camera which focuses using contrast detection and phase detection mechanism. It can shoot videos on 4K format at 30 fps. For videos, Z11 Mini S has electronic image stabilization. The front camera has a capable 13 MP sensor. The images out of the Z11 Mini S is sharp and rich in details. It has an excellent dynamic range. Exposure is 80-85% accurate under auto mode. Focusing is fast, but when the subject is too close, it starts hunting for focus. Z11 Mini S can click impressive shots under low light conditions as well. Noise is still contained and the exposure and contrast is still perfect, even when the light dips.

The front camera can click impressive shots at all light conditions. The details are great and the facial features are captured to replicate the natural look. Selfie mode is automatic. The moment it detects face, it starts clicking pictures and I found it real fun to click so many pictures and capture all the right moments with my kids, without bothering about the shutter button.

The mobile UI is very similar to an iPhone UI. But it has so many features which are not just working, but also sensible. Manual mode is very easy to use. It has a bunch of modes under “Camera Family” in the UI. Some of my favorite modes are double exposure, DNG Raw format mode, light painting, time-lapse and obviously the manual mode.

This is the best camera mobile in this price range and if you don’t want to take my words, have a look at the camera samples.

Software

Z11 Mini S is still running on Android 6.0 with Nubia UI skinned on top. We have no dates on when it will be updated to Nougat. The Nubia UI is similar to most of the Chinese mobile, which is a trend set by the MIUI. The UI is fast and feels light weight. It has a whole bunch of useful features scattered and buried at multiple places. The edge feature is one of the innovative feature that would redefine gesture based navigation on Android mobiles. When enabled, this feature lets you navigate back and forth between applications, clear all open applications, adjust screen brightness, etc… using gestures along the edges of the display. It does not have any bloatware. The Nubia UI is nimble and sensible.

Battery

Z11 Mini S is powered by a 3000 mAh lithium-ion battery sealed in the body. Snapdragon 625 is a power efficient processor. Z11 Mini S has a 5.2 inch 1080p display and all this makes the battery in to last for a very long time. On my typical usage, the mobile lasted for more than a day. On intensive usage, I got a screen on time of about 8 hours. continuous looping video test gave me about 9 hours on a single charge from 92% to 20%. Considering the price, the size and capacity of the battery, the Z11 Mini S has a fantastic battery life.

Verdict

We have a winner here. When someone asks me to recommend a good mobile under 20k in India with the best of everything, I tell them there has to a compromise somewhere. But now I have an answer, the Nubia Z11 Mini S excels in all department. It has a solid construction, ergonomic design, brilliant display, powerful hardware, sharp camera, sensible UI and an excellent battery life. This is an all-rounder of mobiles. Look no further, think no more, just buy the Nubia Z11 Mini S if you want the best Android mobile under Rs 20000. This mobile climbs instantly to our Gadgetdetail recommended mobiles smart-list.

Pricing and Availability

Nubia Z11 Mini S will be an online exclusive deal. It will be exclusively available on Amazon. It is priced at Rs 16999 and will be available from 21st March at 4 PM. No Flash sales model and it is good news that the mobile will be available on open sale. It will be available in Grey and Gold Colors.

About Giridhar

A Technology evangelist, Giridhar reviews gadgets and mobile applications. He is also a passionate photographer and a user experience designer by profession.

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