In-depth analysis of Nubia Z11, everything you want to know -


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Friday, 6 October 2017

In-depth analysis of Nubia Z11, everything you want to know

We will not blame you if you've never heard of Nubia. This particular Chinese smartphone brand has been making quite a bit of noise recently in its home territory, but until recently it had not come to arouse too much user interest in the western market. Although this is increasingly changing and we can see their products on the shelves of our stores. The Nubia Z11 is the first smartphone of the brand to launch into the world market, and was the device that landed first in our country. A great device that has managed to evolve with the arrival of new versions (such as the Nubia Z11 Mini and the Nubia Z11 Max ) and the later arrival of the Nubia Z17 .

As for the Z11 we can say that it is a terminal that we love and that has a design "no bezel" and a camera technology that will give DSLR features in your pocket.

Announced at IFA 2016 in Berlin, the Z11 is a flagship that focuses firmly on design and photography, while offering a spec sheet, with up to 6GB of RAM, to ensure that it keeps pace with the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, LG G5 and HTC 10.

Although we have not yet understood why someone would need the option of 6GB of RAM in their handset in 2016, Nubia is not the only manufacturer that increases RAM, since other similar terminals like the OnePlus 3 also boasts of that amount, and costs less also.

Nubia Z11 price and release date

Global launch in September 2016. Launch price starting at approximately 500/550 euros. The Nubia Z11 will launch in September in several countries, including the United Kingdom and the United States, with the standard silver edition (4GB of RAM packaged) costing € 447.

There is also a gray model and a special model - Black Gold Edition - which come with 6GB of RAM and a price of € 614 and € 632 respectively.

Even the standard version is slightly more expensive than the normal version of OnePlus 3 - its closest competitor - but the Z11 outperforms its rival with a microSD slot and a somewhat more premium design.

The Nubia Z11 does not include a QHD display like the Samsung Galaxy S7, but at 403 pixels per inch, the 5.5 inch and 1080p IPS LCD is still very clear and - thanks to the bevelled design - it feels incredibly attractive and sensitive.

The Nubian version of Android 6.0 turns out to be a rather heavy layer and is powered by 4GB of RAM and a quad-core Snapdragon 820 processor, the same one you'll find in other flagship and expensive models like the Sony Xperia Xperia X Performance.

Included in the thin body of 7.7mm is 64GB of internal storage, a microSD slot for enhanced multimedia capability, a 3000mAh battery, an 8MP front camera and a very fast fingerprint scanner for added security.

The main attraction of the Nubia Z11 is the 16MP Z11 rear camera, which combines an OIS (Optical Image Stabilizer), Nubia HIS (Handheld Image Stabilization) and EIS (Electronic Image Stabilizer) to produce photos that, according to Nubia, can rival the DSLR quality of any quasi-professional camera. Beside the camera in the back we also find that there is a two-tone flash.

A couple of accessories are welcome when included in the box, such as a USB cable type A to type C, a handy micro USB to USB adapter type C and a pair of nice headphones. It is surprising to see that with a smartphone of average price these days we get a set of headphones, so this attractive set is a real plus.


We found a thin unibody metal body with screen without bevel. A USB Type C for fast loading and data transfer. A fast fingerprint sensor located at the back. With all this you can not deny that the Nubia Z11 is a nice phone, but like so many other modern smartphones there is nothing particularly innovative in the design. The volume and power keys are exactly where we imagined them, placed in the upper third of the right edge. Both keys are rather simplistic, and not too tactile, but at least they respond.

One of the most eye-catching features of the Z11 is the lack of bezels on both sides of the 5.5-inch screen, which makes this great phone sit a little smaller and easy to hold with one hand while also It looks quite elegant. Unfortunately, there is no single-handed driving mode like the one you'll find on the Huawei P9, so most of the time you'll probably still be using both hands.

On the back, we find a fingerprint scanner that falls well under your index finger for a very quick release - just like the Nexus 6P. We would prefer a reader mounted on the front as it allows you to unlock the phone when leaning on a table. With a scanner mounted on the back you will always have to lift the phone to see beyond the lock screen; Having said that, it is very fast and never failed to recognize our fingers.

It is a device that meets the minimum requirements, but that is more annoying in this case, since the Z11 has navigation buttons below the screen, so there is no obvious reason for a scanner can not be installed At the same place.

A circular start key is flanked by two hidden capacitive navigation buttons that illuminate the contact and can be customized to your preference.

At the bottom edge, we find the USB-C connector that is flanked by two twin-loudspeaker grids that look suspiciously like those found on the Apple iPhone 7, although this is not necessarily a bad thing (though there is only one speaker on board). Unlike the latest Apple phone, the top edge is where we found the 3.5mm audio jack and an infrared transmitter (although strangely there are no apps included to make use of it).

Interface and software

Android is hidden by unnecessary skin and the applications of Google add to some unusual news of Nubia. A novel selection of gestures at the edge make navigation different at least. Nubia has chosen to remove the Android experience in version 4.0 of its own layer which, despite the efforts of the company, does not feel like an improvement.

Built on Android 6.0.1, remember the layers that you'll find on phones like Huawei and ZTE, The application drawer removal is the highlight. This means that all your applications are in the home screens, all wrapped in a very attractive application icon design that border the childish.

The number of menus, submenus and features are a bit disconcerting, and while some users will enjoy playing and personalizing their phone in a superlative degree, for most casual users it's all a bit frustrating and away from Android stock. The whole experience is further aggravated by the dubious translations of native Chinese into applications and menus, making the experience not as good as one would expect.

Although we are generally not fans of the layers running on Android, there are some quick gestures available in the Z11 that we would like to see someday in the stock version of Google's operating system.

A particularly useful feature is the ability to display two on-screen apps simultaneously (as in Samsung's TouchWiz user interface), which can be activated by sliding the capacitive keys below the screen. Alternatively, you can easily adjust the brightness by sliding up and down on both sides, or switch between applications by sliding up and down from the bottom of either edge.

Another novel aspect of the slightly curved edges of the screen and - once we get used to it - is that we discover that they will be characteristics that we will probably use regularly. If you are not a fan of any of the gestures, you can activate or deactivate them individually in the Edge Gestures application.

As for the preinstalled applications, the selection is quite limited. The full suite of Google applications is available in a well organized folder, and although Nubia can not be accused of filling the phone with bloatware, there are some unique applications that you will not find on Android stock phones.

The first of these applications to mention, and one that is evident very quickly when reviewing a phone, is the 'Super Screenshot' app. This allows you to take screenshots by pressing and holding the fingerprint sensor; take 'long screenshots', which allow you to scroll through the screen and capture more than what is already on screen; capture specific sections of the screen by drawing in the screenshot and record the screen in high definition.

It's a bit strange to find such extensive screen capture functionality, but for those of us reviewing smartphones and applications, it's actually quite useful.

Another preinstalled application is 'Screen Projection', which - as the name suggests - allows you to project anything on the screen to a compatible device. It is essentially a Miracast application that is compatible with a variety of televisions and projectors that support this wireless transmission standard.

The application also allows you to project the screen of your phone into another Nubia phone, which can control the behavior on screen. It is a curious feature that we are struggling to understand the benefits of it.

Music, movies and games

The speaker provides audio produced by Dolby Atmos technology. As we said before an apparent set of headphones helps us to enjoy the sound clearly. Great storage capacity and fast processing for movies and games
The bright display and high speaker make the Nubia Z11 an ideal device for watching videos, but we recommend that you stick to the speaker. While YouTube videos look sharp, audio from the single built-in speaker distorts when they are at higher volumes. Unfortunately, there is also not much depth in the bass - especially when compared to the BoomSound sound technology included in the HTC 10, for example.

Listening to music through the included headphones is a pleasurable experience, and although there is no preamp electronics you'll find on some high end phones, the volume is high and clarity is passable.

Playing at full throttle? You will not have problems with the Z11. Qualcomm's fast Snapdragon 820 processor combines with the Adreno 530, one of the fastest mobile graphics chips on the market. It does not matter if you are playing intensive graphics games like Modern Combat 5: Blackout or something a bit less demanding like Osmos HD, in both cases you will find that the Nubia Z11 never falters and the games look great on the screen of 1080p of 5.5 inches.

Speaking of the screen, Nubia understands that not all of us have the same vision; some may want a warmer color temperature, while others may prefer it colder. Hidden in the display preferences of the screen, you can choose between Brightness, Natural or Standard Saturation and also adjust the tone from cold to warm.

Throughout our test with the phone, we kept it in the "Natural" setting, as it seemed to replicate the colors accurately on the IPS screen.

Specifications and benchmark performance

High performance but intermediate points to improve. The large amount of RAM keeps the interface smooth as silk
Do not think that just because the Nubia Z11 is fresh out of China brings a cheap processor - far from it. Inside there is a Qualcomm MSM8996 (commonly known as Snapdragon 820), which is combined with the Qualcomm Adreno 530 GPU, 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage in the version we tested.

An amplified version with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage is also available, although it's a bit more expensive for relatively low profits.

Despite the variation in storage and RAM, the two models are available worldwide - there are no other variations, no matter where you are. The Z11 can handle the full range of network bands in Asia, Europe and America, making it easy to get the fastest mobile data speeds and the best reception worldwide.

To test the relative speed of the Z11, we ran Geekbench 3. The average score of 4040 in the multi-core tests placed the Z11 well below the score of the cheaper OnePlus 3 with 5425 - it's no surprise, considering that the OnePlus 3 contains more standard RAM. It is also poorly compared to the LG G5, which obtained an average score of 5386, while the Snapdragon variant of the Samsung Galaxy S7 reached an impressive 5398 in the same test.

Their results are more in line with mid-range phones, or the lower end of flagship 2015, like the HTC One M9, which scored 3700.

Despite that, performance is high in actual usage, and despite our aversion to companies that insist on playing with the look and feel of Android, the Nubia Z11 feels agile and we do not find a hint of slowdown when navigating by the menus and enter and exit the applications.
Battery duration

The battery life compares well with phones of similar size. Overcome the iPhone 7, much more expensive than the iPhone 7

There are no power saving modes. When comparing the battery size of the Nubia Z11 with other smartphones of similar size, it is almost on a par with other phones in this price range - like the Sony Xperia XZ (which has a 2900mAh battery), or - our comparison favorite - the OnePlus 3 (which also has a 3000mAh battery).

After running our test battery (a high definition video in full brightness for 90 minutes), the Z11 lost 20% of its battery life to finish with a respectable 80% remaining.

While battery life is not bad compared to some of the other flagships, it's not the best thing you can buy - the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge has a QHD display with identical proportions but a larger battery of 3600mAh, and dropped only 14% during the test.

On the other hand, the Apple iPhone 7 (which is a little more expensive) only has a miserable battery of 1,960mAh, and lost 23% of its load in our HD video test.

There are no special battery saving options in the setup menu, so what you see is what you get with the Z11. Automatic brightness and the ease of adjusting the brightness using Edge Gestures makes it reasonably easy to keep track of the expense made by the screen.

While the battery life did not reach the day of use on some of the other flagships, the Z11 made a respectable demonstration on our battery test, and happily provided us with all its power and utility durnte a day of regular use without dangerously approaching to stay battery.


A high quality camera in an elegant smartphone package. We found a lot of tweaks and a lot of imaging technology that produce great captures. Poor light performance is not as good as dual sensor alternatives. Not onstante, it is important for any serious smartphone to have outstanding camera features, and this is an area that Nubia itself has understood in its Z11.

Although it may not have twin cameras like the iPhone 7 Plus or the Huawei P9, Nubia has integrated great optical technology into this super thin 16MP camera. The sensor helps you get the most out of any situation with Optical Image Stabilizer (OIS) technology, Nubia's HIS (Handheld Image Stabilization) technology and an Electronic Image Stabilizer (EIS). These combine to produce images that Nubia believes rival the quality of the most expensive DSLR cameras. As is usual in high-end phones, there is also a two-tone flash.

At a first glance, the 16MP rear camera seems to have the features to compete with most flagships, and for the most part it does - especially when it has to cope with good lighting. Unfortunately, as the sensor has smaller pixels than you'll find on the HTC 10, Samsung Galaxy S7 and Nexus 6P, it's not as impressive in poor light conditions.

The camera app remembers an iPhone in its simplicity, and comes with a variety of modes, including Panorama, Slow-Mo, Video, Photo, Pro, Time-Lapse and Camera-Family. The Camera-Family option hides a lot of additional settings, some of which are really impressive for a camera phone.

You will find Multi Exposure, Light Painting, Electronic Aperture, Slow Shutter, Star Track, Video Maker, Trajectory, DNG and Clone. The slow shutter and electronic aperture are features not often seen on smart phones, and are particularly good for producing some interesting photos of starry nights and other more artistic shots.

As expected with a smartphone that ensures you have a quality camera, professional mode gives you access to a lot of settings including exposure, white balance and ISO, allowing you to get a perfect shot in any situation.

Another practical setting that is hidden in the camera menus is the Snapshot function, which allows you to double-click the volume key to take photos while the screen is off. Although you will not be able to frame the photo, it allows you to take a photo incredibly fast, before the moment has passed.

The focus is fast and the foreground images have an impressive depth of field, which adds character to the photos. You can tap anywhere on the viewfinder to focus the camera, and as soon as you do, instantly take a picture.

The Nubia Z11 produces beautiful images in daylight, capturing a range of colors and definition without shimmering bright areas thanks to the HDR mode. The colors are not as saturated as in other terminals such as the Samsung Galaxy S7, but the camera is still the key asset of the Z11, especially if we consider that it is at least 120 euros cheaper than the Samsung flagship. 

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