Reviews

Nubia Z17 Mini – Review – Where style and performance meets!

Nubia, the brand name may be relatively a new entity in the Indian market, but it was a subsidiary of ZTE. Nubia has been quite successful in the Indian market with its mobiles like Z11 Mini S. Nubia has introduced a number of mobiles in the market and now they have the Z17 Mini in India. Z17 Mini bring in style, performance and imaging capability to the table. It is priced at Rs 19999 and let us check out if the mobile is worth the price tag.

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Nubia Z17 Mini

Design

With mobile design becoming uninspiring these days, only a handful of mobiles stand out in the crowd. The Z17 Mini is one such mobile. It has a very comfortable form factor. Z17 Mini has 5.2 inch display, 155 grams light and just 7.5 mm thin. It is very comfortable to hold and handle. The metal body with diamond cut edges and curved corners looks elegant. I like the black variant more than the gold. The black Z17 Mini has gold accents and red rims on the camera. The mobile is a style statement for sure.

Nubia Z17 Mini

At the bottom, you would find the USB C port with speaker and mic. THe top has the 3.5 mm audio jack and noise cancelling mic. The right side has the power and volume button. The left has the hybrid sim slot. The front has a 2.5D curved display glass protected by corning gorilla glass of unspecified version. The home button at the center has a breathing light effect and it acts as the notification light as well. I personally love the breathing home button. The back and menu keys are mildly back-lit with a dot and their orientation can be changed. The back-lit is weak and almost invisible. But you get used to the location of the buttons over the time.

Nubia Z17 Mini

A very sensible design and ergonomic mobile. The Z17 Mini is impressive from all angles.

Display

Z17 Mini has a 5.2 inch IPS LCD panel with full HD 1080p support. The display is bright indoors with good viewing angles. The colors are natural but the contrast levels are average. The ambient light sensor is slow to respond and change brightness. Under direct sunlight, legibility is a bit difficult. The display is protected by Corning Gorilla glass and the 2.5D curved glass gives it a premium feeling. If you are going to be using the mobile indoors most of time, then you will find the Z17 Mini’s display pleasing.

 

Camera

Camera is a key highlight on the Z17 Mini. The Z17 Mini has a 13 MP dual camera arrangement at the back. One 13 MP sensor shoots RGB color information while the other sensor is for black and white. It is capable of shooting 4K videos and 1080p videos at 60 fps. The lenses are protected by sapphire glass for scratch resistance. The front camera is a 16 MP sensor with f/2.0 lens. It is capable of shooting 1080p videos

The camera UI is inspired from iOS, but it has a lot of functions. Nubia calls it the Neovision 6.0. The UI has portrait mode to click sharp portraits with bokeh background. The manual or the pro mode can be used to get full control over your shots. The “Camera Family” has about 16 modes to get your creativity flow.

  • Multi-Exposure – Click creative pictures by exposing and controlling exposure of multiple frames in one shot.
  • Light Draw – Light painting
  • E-Aperture – This is like the portrait mode, but not only controls aperture, but also controls a few more parameters like shutter speed. This is like pro mode and portrait mode merged.
  • Slow-Shutter – To click creative photos, but slowing the shutter speed.
  • Star-Trail – To click start trails.
  • Video maker – Create vine like videos
  • Trajectory – Click creative shoots with trails blurred.
  • DNG – Raw mode. This is useful for professionals who want to edit the photos in powerful software later.
  • Clone – Click same foreground subject in multiple locations on the same background
  • Time-Lapse – create time – lapse or hyper lapse videos
  • Slo-Mo – Slow motion videos
  • Pano – Panorama shots
  • Mono – Dedicated black and white mode
  • Macro – Assist in clicking very close up macro shots
  • 3D – create parallax 3D videos of objects
  • Time-Shuttle – A filter to give you a time travel feel in your shots.

With all these mode, you can keep churning out creative photos without much effort. But a basic knowledge of photography will help you get the right shot.

The quality of photos are good on the Z17 Mini. Focusing is fast, but accuracy is a miss and go. The colors are bright and natural. The exposure is perfect. It lacks sharpness and details to match my expectations. The low light shots capture the details, but has a bit of noise. The dual camera setup is not doing anything special here. The B/W mode lacks contrast. On the Huawei P9/P10 the B/W sensor can click some insane monochromatic pictures and the Z17 Mini is not as good as the P9. But in this price range, this is the best camera with dual sensor arrangement. The Nubia Z17 Mini has a better camera than the Moto G5, Honor 6X or the newly launched Honor 8 Lite. But strangely I found the Nubia Z11 Mini S camera to be better than the Z17 Mini for its sharpness and color accuracy.

Don’t get me wrong. When it comes to photography my expectation levels are a bit high. Considering the price range and average consumer usage, the Nubia Z17 Mini has exceptional camera user experience, both in terms of software and quality of shots.

Check out the camera samples and you will see what I mean.

Hardware

The standard edition of the Nubia Z17 Mini that is available in India is powered by the Qualcomm MSM8976 Snapdragon 652 processor with Adreno 510 GPU. It has 4GB of RAM and 64 GB of internal storage. Memory is expandable with the hybrid SIM slot. The mobile has DTS enabled DAC over the 3.5mm jack. The speakers are loud enough. It has all the usual set of sensors including the Gyro and magneto meter. It also has NFC. The fingerprint sensor is at the back and it is fast and accurate.

Nubia Z17 Mini

Performance

While some claim that the processor is old, I would say that it is implemented well on the Z17 Mini. The mobile handles the UI, apps and games with grace. There is no lag in the UI or frame drops in high end games or videos. The graphics rendering quality is also decent. The mobile does heat up to 6-8 degree on continuous use of gaming or camera. Strangely the mobile’s metal body gives a feeling of 10-12 degree of heat increase, but my thermometer shows only 6-8. This could be due to the thin form factor of the mobile. Nevertheless, the mobile has an impressive performance and would meet all your needs.

Software

Nubia Z17 Mini runs on Android 6.0 with Nubia UI. Though I wish it had Android 7.0 on it out of the box, the user experience from the Nubia UI is pretty good. 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

Z17 Mini is powered by a 2950 mAh battery sealed in the body. Snapdragon 652 is not known for its a power efficiency. Z17 Mini has a 5.2 inch 1080p display and yet the mobile gives me about 2-3 hours of screen on time. On continuous video loop test, the mobile lasted for 6 hours from 90 to 20%. On my typical usage, the mobile lasted for about a day. The mobile does not support fast charging, but it gets fully charged in about 2 hours. In 30 minutes, it gets charged from 12 to 45% and after that it takes about 1:30 hours to get fully charged using the stock 1.5A charger.

Verdict

So the Z17 Mini is priced at Rs 19999. For 20k, you get a stylish mobile with premium build quality, creative camera features, stable and sensible UI and a performance beast. The Z17 Mini is one of the best ergonomically designed mobiles. The dual camera setup does not convince on the need for a dual camera setup on this mobile. But at the end of the day, it gives out some amazing shots. If you are into photography and love to explore the art of imaging, you would find the Nubia Z17 mini to be a treasure chest of creativity. If you are a serious mobile gamer, this mobile can satisfy you with its performance. If you would like to show off the mobile as a style statement, Nubia Z17 Mini would be the head turner for you. Overall, the Nubia Z17 Mini is a great mobile for the millennials.

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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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