The Nubia Z17 Mini is a smartphone by the subsidiary of the well-known Chinese manufacturer ZTE. The Nubia series is famous for its especially fine design and hardware in the upper middle class price section. We tested Nubia Z17 Mini in great detail and in the following you’ll find out how well the Chinese smartphone really performed.
Design and build quality
Nubia clearly knows how to produce a beautiful smartphone. Whereas most ZTE smartphones have a design you need to get used to, Z17 Mini is a real beauty. The black version is doubtlessly one of the most beautiful smartphone we ever had in our test laboratory. The design itself, however, is not really extraordinary. With 7.5mm, the phone is pleasantly thin and the weight of 155g also create a nice impression while holding it in the hand. Compared to other smartphones, Nubia Z17 Mini stands out especially because of the colour pattern. The round, red home button and the golden rims around the casing and the fingerprint scanner are a nice contrast to the otherwise rather ordinary design.
Next to the home button, there are two soft touch buttons, that lack any symbol and LED. Above the display, you can find a notification LED shining in different colours. Power button and volume control are located on the right and have nice feedback. The camera is located on the top left of the rear and juts out less than a millimeter. The glass used for the camera is saphire-glass, which is extremely scratch-resistant and used for the IPhone as well. The fingerprint scanner’s position on the rear makes it possible to unlock the phone while pulling it out of the trouser pocket. The scanner’s accuracy and speed are great.
SIM cards can be inserted in the SIM tray on the left side. The rear cover is not removable; therefore, you cannot replace the battery. The Z17 Mini works with either two Nano-SIMs or one Nano-SIM and one micro-SD card. Dual-SIM and storage expansion at the same time is not possible. On the other hand, storage expansion is not standard with smartphones of this price section.
From a purely optical perspective, Nubia Z17 Mini is one of the good-looking smartphones in its price range. Build quality is on a high level and we cannot find any weak spots in terms of design.
Scope of delivery & accessories
Nubia Z17 Mini’s scope of delivery is quite spartan. Besides the smartphone itself, you can find a USB Type-C cable, operating instructions, a power plug and a SIM ejection tool in the box. Matching accessories like protective covers or screen protectors can be found at a reasonable price on Aliexpress.com.
Nubia Z17 Mini has a 5.2-inch display. It can also be operated with one hand and thanks to the full-HD resolution of 1920x1080pixels, it is not possible to detect any single pixels. The panel uses the LTPS-technique. Colour representation is strong, but brightness is only mediocrecompared to other current phones in this price section. When using the phone outside, there are no problems in bright sunlight, as long as you set brightness at the maximum level. Reducing the brightness, you notice that the display is reflecting strongly. With brightness set at the maximum, the reflection is no more annoying, but the high brightness increases energy consumption.
The phone houses Corning Gorilla Glass in order to protect the display from scratches. Nubia does not specify which version was used. The touch screen can register up to 10 points of contact at the same time and carries out all inputs immediately.
Nubia Z17 Mini Performance
Nubia Z17 Mini is available in two versions with different hardware. The standard version houses a Snapdragon 652 processor and 4GB of RAM. The High-End version offers a slightly faster Snapdragon 653 and 6GB of RAM. We tested the standard version and had a pleasant user experience at all times. Nubia Z17 Mini is not as strong as Snapdragon 82x smartphones in terms of performance with an Antutu benchmark of 83,000, but the difference is barely noticeable in daily use. All apps are opened fast without any delay and the phone navigates fluently through the system or through websites. In terms of gaming, Z17 Mini can convince as well, although there is a significant difference to current high-end smartphones. The Adreno 510 GPU is capable of running any current game without lags. If you like to play highly demanding games like Asphalt 8, you should play it on medium graphics settings.
Concerning the RAM memory modules, Nubia Z17 Mini can only be placed among the middle class. The internal storage has a reading/writing speed of 190/150MB/s, which are good values, but it is a bit slow compared to UFS 2.0 modules. You notice this especially when installing apps, as Nubia Z17 Mini takes some time to do so. The same holds true for the RAM, which has an only mediocre speed of 8.7GB/s.
All in all, Nubia Z17 Mini isn’t a performance miracle. Nevertheless, you get a nice phone, which is perfectly suitable for daily tasks, as it offers low load times, a smooth navigation through the system and a good gaming performance. However, we have to add that smartphones like Xiaomi Mi5s get you more performance at a lower price.
Nubia Z17 Mini houses an Android 6.1 system with Nubia UI surface. Up to now, we unfortunately didn’t get any information whether the system will be updated to Android 7 or not. Since the Nubia UI surface is strongly adapted, the Android base is not that prominent. Appearance and the system’s feeling are convincing. Like with all Chinese launchers, there is no button for an app overview. The icons have a nice tile design and in the settings you can find a lot of options for configuration. Some apps can be locked via fingerprint and there is also a function to clone apps. In addition, Nubia added some handy edge-gestures. You can regulate the brightness or you can switch between the home screens by swiping up or down at both edges. After some time you will get used to it and the little extra functions will prove themselves quite helpful in daily life.
Those who like to buy Nubia Z17 Mini now can purchase it via online shops from China. Our device was provided by CECT-Shop.
Nubia Z17 Mini houses a dual-camera on the rear side. As usual, the camera uses a normal colour sensor and an additional monochrome sensor. Both cameras have a 13MP resolution and use a Sony IMX258 sensor. The most important additional functions, which are available because of the dual-camera setup, are a Bokeh effect, black-and-white pictures and an improved performance with pictures taken in low light conditions.
Nubia Z17 Mini’s image quality is fully convincing. The pictures have a good sharpness and natural colour representation. The pictures are looking good even on a big computer screen. Trigger time is low and the autofocus works reliably. The focus is only wrong sometimes when taking shots at night. The cameras have only an aperture of f/2.2, which means they are not supposed to be strong with night shots. However, the dual-camera setup seems to compensate for the small aperture, and as long as you don’t take pictures in absolute darkness, the images are mostly fine. The same holds true for the 16MP front camera. You also get sharp and colourful pictures and even in low lighting conditions you can make a nice selfie.
In order to use the dual-camera as diversely as possible, several extra functions have been added to the camera app. The different camera tools can also be used from the home screen without opening the camera app first. Of course, it is nice that Nubia tries to get the most out of the camera setup, but the multitude of functions is somewhat confusing. Often it is not clear at first sight how to use certain functions. The basic functions of the camera app on the other hand are quite useful and easy to use. For instance, you can take nice black-and-white pictures with Nubia Z17 Mini, and there is also a blurredness effect for the background of portraits available.
Nubia Z17 Mini is a dual-SIM device with which it is possible to use two Nano-SIM cards at the same time. As an alternative, you can use one of the SIM slots for storage expansion.
3G and 2G are supported on both versions. Reception is high and when telephoning, voice quality is good on both sides. You can use the speaker during telephoning without any problems.
Of course, 2.4GHz & 5GHz Wi-Fi and Bluetooth with 4.2 standard are available as well. Reception here is also satisfactory and there were no problems when connecting to wireless devices. The position is determined via GPS, GLONASS and BDS. Nubia Z17 Mini determines the current position reliably within seconds and it is can be used as a navigation system. There is also an e-compass in order to simplify pedestrian navigation. The device offers the standard sensors (proximity, direction and brightness sensor) as well as a gyroscope. NFC and an infrared remote control are not available.
Nubia Z17 Mini houses a 2950mAh battery, which should be sufficient for a 5.2-inch full-HD display and an upper middle class CPU. Our practical test showed that the smartphone can be used actively for about 4-6 hours daily (depending on the display brightness) before it has to be charged again. Our observation is confirmed by the PC Mark battery test, where the smartphone lasted for 6:22 hours. This is by far not an excellent value, but it should be enough for most users. Only those using their phone extensively should look for a smartphone with a stronger battery. Nubia Z17 Mini is fully charged in 1:40 hours. This value is also only mediocre, as other smartphones with Pumpexpress or Quick-charge 3.0 have a far better charging time.