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Review: ZTE Nubia Z11 Mini S

In april 2016, ZTE has launched the Nubia Z11 Mini and was praised for its hardware, camera and design. In november 2016 ZTE has made a "S" successor with the modelname ZTE Nubia Z11 Mini S and yes we got it for review from our partner CECT-Shop. The Mini S is bigger, has a better chipset, more RAM and a bigger battery. But the biggest highlight is the 23 megapixel rear camera. So is it worth the money? Well, lets find out. Packaging The Nubia Z11 Mini S comes in a white designed box with red accents on it with…

Review Overview

Design/ building quality - 8.5
Display - 8
Performance - 8
Connectivity - 8.2
Camera - 8.2
Battery - 7.5

8.1

User Rating: 2.49 ( 5 votes)

In april 2016, ZTE has launched the Nubia Z11 Mini and was praised for its hardware, camera and design. In november 2016 ZTE has made a “S” successor with the modelname ZTE Nubia Z11 Mini S and yes we got it for review from our partner CECT-Shop. The Mini S is bigger, has a better chipset, more RAM and a bigger battery. But the biggest highlight is the 23 megapixel rear camera.

So is it worth the money? Well, lets find out.

Packaging

The Nubia Z11 Mini S comes in a white designed box with red accents on it with the metallic Nubia logo on top. On the back we find the specifications.

When opening the box, you will notice that ZTE also paid attention to the packaging, the smartphone itself is wrapped in a polyfoam like bag and is protected with a temporary back- and screenprotector. Going further their is the manual with a sim-tray pin, a sticker, a white USB Type-C cable and a chinese power adapter. For this CECT-Shop has added a converter to the package and a sticky stand. We also find a CECT-Shop checklist in the package (not showed in the unboxing video) to be sure your device has been checked as a working device before shipping.

Design and building quality

When unwrapping the Nubia Z11 Mini S, the first thing that noticed is the beauty of this device. In design it looks familiar with the iPhone family, but with the small gold details and LED home button it gets it’s own luxury look. The smartphone feels very solid thanks to the metal body and has a nice grip. The 5.2 inch display of the Z11 Mini S is made from 2.5D glass, but has no gorilla glass protection. So, a cover and/or glass protector can be advised.

Going further at the front we see on top a 13 megapixel SONY IMX258 front camera and sensors. Below the display there are red capacitive keys and a red uplighting home button. Unfortunately no notification LED’s are placed on the smartphone.

Turning around the device you will find next to the Nubia logo also a single LED flash, a 23 (!) megapixel camera and a fingerprintsensor. On the right side are the volume buttons and power button placed while on the left side the simtray can be found. When you take a closer look to the side you will notice on the top of both side that the metal frame is replaced with a plastic part for a better network reception. The plastic sideparts are a part of the unremovable backcover which makes it a seamless design.

On top there is a 3.5 mm audiojack and a very small hole. We have tried to find out what the purpose is of this small hole, but couldn’t find any information about it. We expect it’s a second microphone though. Going to the bottom there is a USB Type-C port and two symetric grills where the left side is the microphone and other right side the speaker.

In size you get a smartphone that measures 146.1 x 72.1 mm and a thinkness of 7.6 mm. The smartphone weighs 158 grams. The smartphone lies good in the hands, but the back is a bit slippery. A case for the Z11 Mini S can be an useful addition to the smartphone.

Hardware

The ZTE Nubia Z11 Mini S has a 5.2 inch Full HD IPS display with a pixel density of 424 PPI. We can’t find anything bad about this display, the colors are produced well saturated and has a great sharpness level. The viewing angles of the display are good also, the colors remain good from every level. When testing the ZTE Nubia Z11 Mini S outdoors we had no problem with viewing the display in direct sunlight.

On the inside of the Z11 Mini S there is a power efficient Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 chipset with 8 cores and has a maximum clockspeed of 2.0 Ghz. In terms of memory the Z11 Mini S has 4GB LPDDR3 RAM and in graphical terms the smartphone is featured with the Qualcomm Adreno 506 GPU. With this configuration the smartphone gets an Antutu score of 62834. After testing out the device we can say the smartphone is great for average daily use, but if you are more of playing heavy games like Asphalt we won’t recommend this smartphone.

The ZTE Nubia Z11 Mini S has a furthermore an accurate, but slower than other brands, fingerprintsensor on the back which can be used for various kinds of functionality and 64GB of internal storage space which can be expanded to 200 GB by using the hybrid SIM/MicroSD card slot. Talking about the SIM card slot, the smartphone supports Dual SIM (Dual Standby) and is using Nano SIM cards.

The smartphone is getting its juice from the 3000mAh inside. Together with the pre-installed, battery optimized, Android 6.0 Marshmallow you can easily use the smartphone a whole day with normal use.

Concerning the audio, the quality while using (Xiaomi Pistons 2) headphones was pretty good. There was a good balance between the bass and treble, probably due to the buildin DTS functionality. The speaker on the bottom was a bit of a bummer, a lot of high sounds and almost no bass. Next to that the speaker is not one of the loudest which means you can have some trouble while listening to your music outside.

Camera

The 23 megapixel rearcamera is the real must buy reason for this smartphone. The cameras takes brilliant and sharp photos and videos with Nubia’s NeoVision 6 camera system. The used 23 megapixel SONY IMX318 sensor and the 6 part lens is a winning combination. The camera performed outstanding in daylight condition with a lot detail in the distance (see the appartment closeup below) as well during night shots. Is there anything complain about the camera performance? Yes there is, sometimes the images during daylight did look a bit oversaturated but this can also be caused by the sunlight type we had during our test and also when shooting in dim lighting a lot of noise appeared and sometimes images get even blotched. Overall, this is still a great camera that will surprise your friends.

The software of the camera is very extensive, next to various shot modes like HDR, panorama, lighttails, slo-mo, color filters etc it is also possible to adjust the camera manually in the professional mode where you can adjust the white balance, ISO etc. Also in app photo editing is one of the many possibilities.

Below the photosamples of the rear camera of the ZTE Nubia Z11 Mini S (optimized in size for this blog, original size 5312×2988):

The front camera is a 13 megapixel SONY IMX258 sensor which is performing extremely well for selfies and video calling. We were surprised how it performed in the living room at night with just some artificial light. The photos that are taken are of good quality, but can’t compete with the rearcamera. It has less detail than the rearcam and some more noise in the dark, but overall the colors are accurate and like the rear camera it snaps the photos fast and HDR is also an option while taking selfies.

Below the photosamples of the front camera of the ZTE Nubia Z11 Mini S (optimized in size for this blog, original size 4000×3000):

Connectivity

The ZTE Nubia Z11 Mini S is a 4G+ supported smartphone. Although 4G/ LTE is working well in China, it’s up to you to find out if the band of your country/ provider is supported. The supported bands are:

2G/CDMA1X / EVDO (BC0)
GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz (B5/B8/B3/B2)
3G/WCDMA 850/900/1900/2100MHz
FDD-LTE 1800/2100/2600MHz (3, 1, 7)
TD-LTE 1900/2300/2500/2600MHz
TD-SCDMA 1880-1920MHz
TD-SCDMA 2010-2025MHz

During our test we had no problem to get a 4G connection in the Netherlands. It’s good to say that we have tested in the crowdy part of The Netherlands where there is a stable and good coverage. The calling quality of the Nubia Z11 Mini S is as expected, great. There are no hitches, jams and noise in the background. Concerning the GPS we had a fix in just 2 seconds and it’s very accurate. We tried it while driving and the navigation of Google Maps was just spot on. The smartphone also supports NFC.

 

Software

The ZTE Nubia Z11 Mini S features it’s own UI based on Android 6.0.1. It has a lot of extra features like we have seen at Xiaomi smartphones too and it just looks fine. The software is easy to use and is available in various kind of languages, because CECT-Shop pre-installed the international ROM version for us. One side-note about the languages, it seems like not everything has been translated well. For English there were no issues, but when we changed to Dutch we noticed some untranslated parts too in English. The software is running smoothly and the smartphone does not give us a feeling that we are playing around with just a Snapdragon 625 chipset.

Other options of the software are theming, screen recorder, scrolling screenshots and dual apps (like two whatsapp instances at a time). Overall a great UI and Google Play Store is preinstalled!

The smartphone came with the Google Security update of June 2016. No bloatware or viruses were found on the device. Also no wireless updates have been pushed to the device either since than. Is this normal at ZTE? It’s a bit of a bummer that till now the software has not been updated yet.

 

Conclusion

What can we say, when looking at the design the ZTE Nubia Z11 Mini S is just a beauty. Everything is placed on the right spot and the unique gold and red details makes this device a wannahave. The building quality of the Z11 Mini S is very good and gives together with the design a premium feel. Also the camera setup is one of the best in daylight we have seen in this price range, in low light conditions it could be better but still it’s performing good.

The battery was performing well. Although with the combination of the 3000mAh and Android 6.01 this battery could be better optimized in our opinion. Still the device makes it a whole day at least. In performance the smartphone is just a midrange device when looking at the specifications, but while using the smartphone we experienced a smooth operating device.

Something to concern about is the software. Although the UI is just good and full of features we have our doubts about the update policy of ZTE. The latest is security patch is of June last year…that’s almost a half year old now.

Despite the small sidenotes the ZTE Nubia Z11 Mini S is a great midrange device which has a beautiful unique design and a great camera. For a pricetag of €249 / $264.74 at CECT-Shop, we can only recommend it.