ZTE Nubia Z9 Mini Review : A Phone with Incredible Performance, Brilliant Camera & Design which Speaks for Itself.

ZTE, a very popular Chinese OEM, launched the Nubia Z9 Mini in India this may. Aimed towards mid-budget segment, the Z9 Mini comes with great hardware, impressive build quality and outstanding camera to attract consumers who are ready to pay a little more.

At Rs 16,999, the Nubia competes against the likes of some popular phones in the segment like Xiaomi Mi 4i, Asus Zenfone 2, Lumia 640 XL. So, how good is the Z9 Mini? Do we have a phone which can compete against phones with great cameras? Check out our review to find out.

Video Review:

Design, Build & Display

Nubia Z9 Mini is easily the most beautiful looking phone in the segment. It features a space grey coloured mid-frame made of aircraft grade aluminium. This gives the phone a premium feeling and improves its rigidity and durability.

The rear of the Z9 Mini is shiny and looks like glass, but when taken out it turns out to be plastic. Right under the rear panel, you get to see the battery which is  non replaceable and there is a microSD Card slot as well.

Z9 Mini Design

On the side you have removable tray for SIM. It can hold two micro SIM slots. The buttons on the sides are made of metal, and they deliver decent tactile feedback. At the rear is a 16 MP camera surrounded by a gorgeous looking round border. A single LED flash is located on the left/right of the camera.  The phone includes 2 microphones, one on top and one at the bottom for better noise cancellation and speech quality. The 3.5 mm jack is also on the top, while the micro USB charging port is at the bottom along with speakers.

On the front, you have a 8 MP camera and ambient sensor at the top. At the bottom you have the usual capacitive keys — Menu, Home and Back. The Home Button glows in red every time there is a new notification and is easily one of my favourite features of the phone.

Keeping the price point in mind, Z9 Mini comes with a brilliant screen, which directly competes with Mi 4i and Zenfone 2. You have a 5 inch screen with Full HD i.e. 1080P resolution, with a 441 PPI and is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3. The high pixel density means that the display is clear and sharp. It also delivers great color saturation, viewing angles, and brightness.

Camera:

This is the strongest MSP of the phone. The phone houses a 16 MP rear camera with Sony IMX234 sensor, fast f/2.0 aperture, and LED flash. You also have a 8 MP front camera which uses Sony IMX179 Exmor R BSI sensor, and uses independent metering, and white balance for that perfect selfie.

Z9 Mini Camera

Camera App: The camera app on Z9 Mini is one of the most feature-rich app I have used lately. It almost reminds me of the Lumia 1020 Camera app which came with full feature manual control to the delight of all photographers.

 The ZTE Z9 Mini comes with a Pro mode that allows you to control the white balance, ISO (Auto to 3200), manual focus, and the exposure.You can also control the shutter speed.

When it comes to taking pictures using the front camera, you will love the details you get in the selfies. The back illuminated image sensor and metering tech for white balance is always up to the task of capturing great selfies.

When shooting video, you can record 1080P video with both front and rear camera. The settings allow you to record video at high frame rate, lock focus, and zoom when recording video.

When taking picture, there is no shot-to-shot lag or shutter lag. However, during our review the camera app crashed many times when we tried to change anything in the settings.

Picture Quality in Various Conditions: Looking at the pictures shot from the Z9 and will clearly see that the camera can easily handle extreme lighting conditions, while keeping the details without introducing any kind of noise. The day light photos are outstanding, including the macros. In medium light, the camera does a decent job as well. However in low light, even with flash, the pictures fail to impress.

Download Camera Samples from here

Performance & Gaming:

The Nuba Z9 mini comes with a 64 bit Snapdragon 615 Octa core processor and 2GB RAM. This provides the phone with enough power to run even the most demanding games like Asphalt 8 Airborne and Marvel’s Champions very smoothly. Now, this hardware isn’t something out of the blue, and it is being used in lot a phones these days. However, ZTE seems to have optimised its software for the hardware, which not many OEMs are able to do.

Z9 Mini Performance

The apps launches quickly, And there is no lag in switching between multiple apps as well. When it comes to we browsing on  Chrome, the experience was bit disappointing on heavy websites as the scrolling was lot slow.

ZTE Nubia Z9 Mini Gaming Review

Storage :

After the initial setup, you get around 9GB storage space of 16GB. This should be enough to keep you going for sometime, but once you start downloading games and shooting pictures, you will run out of space pretty soon. The inclusion of a microSD card does mean though that you can move big apps and games to the memory card easily.

Battery Life:

The phone houses a 3000 mAh battery, which for its specs is a great match. This is enough to power the phone through a day of heavy usage easily. During my usage of 1 week, the N9 mini easily lasted for 16 to 18 hours on a single charge with 4 hours of screen on time on a mix of 3G + Wi-Fi with only one SIM slot being used.

Call Quality, Audio and Music Experience.

I had great experience on all these fronts. I did not encounter any problem with GPS, Network and other related things. The cellular reception was just fine and the phone did not exhibit any strange behaviour in areas with poor network signal.

When it comes to Audio and Music playback, the speaker, which is placed at the bottom edge,  is not just upto the mark. While it does get loud, music starts cracking at higher volumes.

Z9 Mini Verdict

Z9 Min is an outstanding phone on all the major fronts: Amazing build quality, Display, Camera, and Performance. I am actually quite surprised that this phone did not manage to catch the attention of the media, which it should have. In the end, if you have a budget of 14 to 18k and are looking for a phone with a great camera and stunning looks, you cannot go wrong with the ZTE N9 Mini.

When it comes to after sales service for ZTE devices, the only response I had got from the OEM is they handle it themselves across India.