Nubia Z11: Hands-on and first impressions

Let’s just assume smartphone innovation is dead and the only way to resurrect the exclusivity is to eliminate some elements, tweak others, and call it ‘world’s first’. Nubia, also the company behind introducing the world’s first bezel-less smartphone, today introduced the Nubia Z11 smartphone in India at Rs 29,999. For this premium flagship smartphone, the highlights include thin bezel-less design, 6GB of RAM, and a battery life claimed to last over two days. The Nubia Z11 will take on some of the popular sub-Rs 30,000 smartphones like the OnePlus 3T, Asus Zenfone 3, and the Honor 8. We spent little time with the Nubia Z11 and here are our first impressions.

First things first, the Nubia Z11 has a beautiful display. Being a bezel-less smartphone, the entire experience is taken a notch up. What adds to the overall charm of the smartphone is that it has a very slim form factor which makes it look like a very high-end, stylish device thereby justifying its pricing. It has a slim form factor with volume rockers and power button on the right side and the hybrid SIM slot on the left. What particularly disappointed me is that Nubia opted for a rear-panel design strikingly similar to the HTC Desire 10 Pro. It has a slightly matte finish and camera placement on the left corner, fingerprint sensor placed in the top half with thin antenna lines running across the edges. Despite the similarity, the Nubia Z11 has the camera module layered flat at the rear, which gives it a very symmetric feel.
On the front, the Nubia Z11 boasts a 5.5-inch full HD (1920×1080) display offering good color contrast and responsiveness. Now, as the display is sans any bezel on the sides, certain subtle features have been embedded onto the thin edges which are aimed at enhancing a user’s interaction with the device. Some of the features include sliding on the edges to control brightness, double tap for going back, and swiping up and down for switching between apps. It takes a little while to learn the gestures and initially, you might not be able to get the gestures correct. For example, it was little confusing to get the app switch effect, which looks as if you are turning a page on an e-book, right in one go. But one of the good things about the Frame Interactive Technology (FiT 2.0) is that it allows one to choose edge gestures. So in case you are worried of not being able to handle the bezel-less display, you can always disable the gestures and interact regularly.
The Nubia Z11 is powered by a Qualcomm’s 64-bit Snapdragon 820 processor with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage, which is expandable up to a good 200GB via microSD card. While this looks like a lot of performance and strength on paper, we will reserve our verdict till we put to test the smartphone for our detailed review. However, in the limited time we spent with the smartphone, there were no lags or heating issue experienced. Coming to the software, the Nubia Z11 runs Android 6.0 Marshamallow-based Nubia UI 4.0. Now with this there were a lot of subtle additions to the interface including a Super Screenshot and Windows 10-like Split Screen effect. The Super Screenshot mode allows one to capture a regular screenshot, a longer screenshot, and a video screenshot (limited to 1 minute and 50 seconds per screenshot). The Split Screen mode allows one to multitask in both portrait and landscape mode. How helpful it is while watching a video and sending a mail? We will talk more on that in our detailed review.

Coming to the camera on the Nubia Z11, the smartphone is aimed at photography enthusiasts and offers plenty of options for its 16-megapixel rear camera and an 8-megapixel front camera. For the rear camera, it offers multi exposure, pro mode, clone camera, peaking focus, and more. The selfie camera further offers beautification mode and HDR. In the given lighting conditions of the experience zone, the results were good. I am particularly looking forward at testing the camera to its fullest potential given the number of options it comes with. ALSO READ: Nubia Z11, Nubia N1 launched in India, priced at Rs 29,999 and Rs 11,999: Specifications, features

The Nubia Z11 is powered by a 3,000 mAh battery which the company has claimed can survive easily up to two days for a normal user. It further supports Quick Charge 2.0. Whether it holds true to the word, we will know once it has been tested out. Other features of the Nubia Z11 include Dolby Surround 7.1, 4G VoLTE support, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n/ac, and Bluetooth 4.1.

At the given price, Nubia Z11 is attempting to compete with some of the premium flagships available in the country with essentially no added frill other than the bezel-less, gesture-based display and perhaps 6GB of RAM, which a lot of regular users might not be even in the need of. Whether the Nubia Z11 is able to stand out from the crowd with its potential to deliver performance or will it become unguarded ‘without boundaries’, watch this space to know the answer.
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