Nubia is the precious subsidiary brand of the Chinese manufacturer ZTE. With the Nubia Z17 Lite, the manufacturer is now launching a cell phone that offers the Mid-end technology at its best. With a Snapdragon 653, the Z17 Lite has the world’s fastest mobile processor on board. Depending on the version, there are 6GB RAM, a dual camera and a borderless 5.5 inch FullHD display. In addition, all LTE frequencies required in Europe are supported. So the Nubia Z17 Lite has the potential to compete with the Xiaomi Mi6 or Oneplus 5. What the phone delivers in practice, you’ll learn in the following review.
The Nubia smartphones are known for their noble appearance. Fortunately, the Z17 Lite version is no exception. If you hold the device in your hand, you immediately notice that it is a premium mobile phone. The right and left borderless display, the bright red home button and the solid metal housing are the cornerstones of a restrained design, which convinces with a few, but properly set accents.
Below the display are three soft-touch buttons. The home button is marked by a red glowing circle. Next to it are two more soft-touch buttons, which are marked by a red dot when touched. The weight of the smartphone is relatively high at 168g , which also underlines the high quality impression. The dimensions of 15.27 x 7.25 x 0.76 cm are the average of current 5.5-inch phones. In comparison, a Oneplus 5 is thinner, but also wider and longer (Oneplus 5: 154.2 x 74.1 x 7.25 mm). The back and frame of the Nubia Z17 Lite are made of metal.One of the two antenna strips is realized in the form of a thin plastic strip on the back, whose color is adapted to the housing and hardly noticeable. The second antenna strip has been worked even better into the case and runs almost invisibly along the top of the smartphone.
On the bottom of the smartphone is a USB Type-C port, which is surrounded on the right and left by speaker openings. Only one of the two outputs acts as a loudspeaker, while the other has been integrated with the microphone. The 3.5mm headphone jack … now that is on the Nubia Z17 Lite (unfortunately) no longer available. So you have to either Bluetooth or USB Type C headphones, or grab the supplied adapter to listen to music with the phone. I’m still skeptical if I can make friends with this Apple-led trend. Maybe I will not even have a choice? The fact is that the Nubia Z17 Lite despite the lack of headphone port is not waterproofis. At least this consolation bonus could have been bought in my opinion. Also to criticize is that the surface of the front and back is very smooth and the phone is therefore a bit slippery in the hand.
The Nubia Z17 LIte is one of the rimless smartphones. On the left and right side, the display extends to the frame, thus contributing to the high-quality look. However, this is not a Curved display, as it is known for example from Samsung S7 Edge or the Galaxy S8. Instead, the laterally rounded glass is shaped so as to give the impression visually extending slightly beyond the edge. However, this effect is caused by a distortion and is also accompanied by a slight stretch of the display content on the edge. With the latest generation of bezel-less and infinity displays à la Xiaomi Mi Mix and Samsung Galaxy S8, the Nubia Z17 Lite can not quite keep up, the frameless display is still a very nice gimmick and visibly enhances the look of the phone.
The display is a 5.5-inch IPS panel with a FullHD resolution of 1920*1080 pixels. This results in a pixel density of 403 pixels per inch . Individual pixels are no longer visible. Perspective stability is given at all times. The brightness of the Z17 Lite lies at 390 cd/m² in the lower midfield of the high-end phones. A mode that aims to increase the brightness of the display in strong sunlight, although there is little visible improvement. Fortunately, the Nubia Z17 Lite compensates for the somewhat low brightness with its good contrasts. The readability in sunlight is therefore no problem even with a lot of light.
The color representation of the display can be readjusted in the settings. With a slider, the image can be set warmer or colder. We already liked the balanced standard setting the most. There is also a sophisticated system for using edge gestures on the Nubia Z17 Lite. The implementation was successful, although I did not really perceive these gestures in practice as a great enrichment.
What’s in the box
The delivery of the Nubia Z17 Lite is next to the smartphone:
- Rubber cover
USB Type C cable
Quick Start Guide (Chinese)
Quick Charge 3 Power Plug (Chinese) + Adapter
USB Type C to 3.5mm headphone adapter
On the positive side, the Nubia Z17 Lite comes with a matching protective cover. It is a pity, however, that “only” a Quick-Charge 3 power plug is included. The Nubia Z17 Lite is the world’s first smartphone to support Quick Charge 4. Unfortunately, there are currently no QC4 power supplies.
The Nubia Z17 Lite is the fastest mobile processor currently available. The Snapdragon 653 is split into two clusters. A power cluster with 8 × 1.95 GHz. The powerful chip is supported by 6GB RAM. In practice, there are no restrictions on multitasking even with the “small” version. Anyway – The Nubia Z17 Lite does any task with a top speed.Games and elaborate apps can be used smoothly without any problems and loading times are barely available. In short – The Nubia Z17 Lite can easily cope with high-end applications and does any work in your sleep. The heat is consistently in the unproblematic area. If you play 3D games on your mobile phone, it will be noticeably warm, but never really hot. In terms of benchmarks, the Nubia Z17 ranks alongside a Oneplus 5 and behind a Xiaomi Mi6. The speed of the UFS 2.0 memory module impresses with almost 700MB/s read and 200MB/s write. The speed of the main memory is only average at 6GB/s.
Android 7.1.1 with Nubia UI 5.0
Nubia UI is a heavily modified Android interface with its own look and numerous additional functions. The interface looks chic and lets both newcomers to smartphones and experts find their way around immediately. The look and feel of the system convince. There is no button for the app overview (app drawer). The icons have a nice tile design and there are many configuration options in the settings menu.
It is possible to lock certain apps with a fingerprint and there is also a function to clone apps. In addition, Nubia has integrated practical edge gestures. For example, the brightness can be adjusted by moving it down or up over the corners or switching between the home screens. Otherwise, the Z17 Lite offers many settings. There is a sophisticated security and permissions center. The function of the soft-touch buttons can be swapped or occupy a long press on the home button with an extra function. One of the homescreens is reserved for quick access to the numerous camera features that we will come to later. Another innovation in Nubia UI5 is the access to the quick toggles. These are no longer in the upper status bar as usual, but are displayed by swiping upwards from the left soft-touch button. The look is geared very much to iOS. If you swipe up from the home button, you activate split-screen mode. This is well implemented and allows multiple apps to open simultaneously. The size of the individual screens can also be adjusted.
The Nubia Z17 Lite belongs to the latest generation of dual-camera smartphones. On the back there is a 13 megapixel camera with an aperture of f/2.0 and a 13 megapixel camera with an aperture of f/1.8. The setup is supported by Phase Detection Autofocus and a dual LED flash. As usual, the dual camera features features like a 2x zoom and bokeh effect on the phone. In addition, in normal shots, both images are added together. What the Nubia Z17 Lite lacks is an image stabilizer. Neither optical nor electronic image stabilization is available.
If you experiment a bit with the camera of the Nubia Z17 Lite, you will notice that the smartphone has an excellent camera app. All functions are quick and easy to find and a Pro mode with all possible settings is available. If you want to explore the numerous other features of the camera, you need some time to get used to it. There are 16 presets to choose from. For example, there is a mode to photograph the starry sky for a long time (Star Trail). You can use a motionless background to clone a person multiple times on an image or rotate the camera around an object to take a 3D image. It is also possible to save images in RAW format using the DNG mode. Here you can choose which of the two cameras should be used.The portrait mode with bokeh effect is also dominated by the Nubia Z17 Lite, although the Xiaomi Mi6 takes much better bokeh images. In order to take useful portrait shots, you have to make 3 to 5 shots and sort out the failed ones afterwards.
The 16 megapixel front camera is able to take beautiful pictures with a very good sharpness. This works both indoors and outdoors. Even in low-light situations you can still take usable pictures. For selfie fans, the Nubia Z17 Lite is so well suited.
As far as connectivity is concerned, the Nubia Z17 is optimally positioned in Germany. All necessary 2G, 3G and 4G LTE frequencies are supported. Also the Xiaomi Mi6 of many missing LTE band 20 is available. In the mobile phone, two nano Sim card can be used simultaneously, only the memory expansion is missing. The call quality on the phone is of high quality and even when using the handsfree function, there are no problems.
Wifi is supported with a / n / ac standard in the 2.4 and 5GHz network. The reception values are absolutely great and also several rooms from the router you still have fast internet. With Bluetooth, however, “only” the 4.1 standard is supported. In practice, this will cause problems for most users, but it should be noted that Samsung, Oneplus and Xiaomi are ahead of the pack here. As a further bonus features brings the Nubia Z17 still with NFC and an infrared remote control. GPS is supported with GLONASS and BeiDou satellites and ensures a fast and reliable positioning. When navigating by car or on foot with the integrated e-compass, there is absolutely nothing to complain about.
As for the speaker quality of the Nubia Z17, the smartphone can only place in midfield. The sound is definitely loud and differentiated and makes a lot at first glance. If you compare the device, however, with a Samsung Galaxy S8, Xiaomi Mi6 or Oneplus 5, you realize that there is still a slightly more balanced and clearer sound quality. If you connect 3.5mm headphones via the supplied adapter, you will get a usable sound, which, however, can not quite compete with other high-end devices. As far as listening to music is concerned, we recommend that more demanding music lovers choose a USB Type C headset or Bluetooth.
The Nubia Z17 does almost everything right when it comes to connectivity. In particular, LTE Volume 20 is likely to be very popular. Criticisms are there for the mediocre speakers and the missing headphone jack.
The Nubia Z17 has a 3200mAh strong battery . This is about the same as with the Oneplus 5. During our test period, we never had any problems getting a load through the day. An hour of surfing the Internet consumes an average of 10% battery. In the continuous video test, the Nubia Z17 achieves a runtime of very good 12.5 hours with half brightness. When gaming demanding 3D games like Asphalt 8 are used per hour about 14% battery. With these values, the Nubia Z17 is comparable in terms of battery life with other high-end smartphones, although the Oneplus 5 can have a slightly better runtime. An active usage time of 5-6 hours per day is possible depending on the intensity of use. If you only use your smartphone for 1 to 2 hours a day, it will take you two days to run it.
The Nubia Z17 is the first smartphone to support the new Qualcomm Quickcharge 4 Fast Charge feature. At the moment there are no QC4 adapters and the Nubia Z17 comes with only one QC3 adapter. Charging the smartphone with this takes 1 hour and 40 minutes. This puts the Nubia Z17 behind Xiaomi and Oneplus, which only need a little over an hour to fully charge. With a suitable Quick-Charge 4 power supply, the charging speed should be at a level with the competition, but whether many users will get a new power supply because of this, is to be doubted.