Image: Forbes

Is Nubia X, the all-screen phone really that cool?

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Screen real estate is a big deal for smartphone companies. The “Notch” that we all love and hate was invented just so smartphone users could get more out of their screen. The ultimate goal of every smartphone company is to get rid of the notch and aim for a fully bezel-less display. There have been some interesting solutions but none of them can be as unique as the one proposed by the Nubia X.

Image: XDA Developers
Image: XDA Developers

In order to get a fully bezel-less screen, you need to get rid of the front-facing camera and the speakers. The Notch was introduced to get more of the screen on the sides whilst maintaining the camera and other key hardware components on the front. Several solutions to this problem have popped up. Oppo and Vivo came up with smartphones that had motorized cameras. The screen was fully bezel-less, the camera and speakers were placed under the screen and would pop up via a motorized mechanism whenever the camera app was accessed.

Oppo and Vivo’s solution was innovative, but not very practical in terms of durability. The Oppo Find X, for example, was not that structurally sound at all. Other companies took a similar, but better approach. The sliding phones were also fully bezel-less phones with the camera and speaker tucked away underneath the screen. However, instead of having flimsy motorized parts, the camera could be propped up using a manual sliding mechanism.

Phones like the recent Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 are a great example of sliding phones and they work great. They’re much more structurally sound and durable. The Nubia X, on the other hand, takes a completely different approach. The phone has no notch and a fully bezel-less display. However, it does not have any motorized or sliding mechanism. Instead, the phone has a dual screen.

Dual madness

The main attraction of the phone is its dual screen display. There’s a 6.1-inch 1080p LCD display on the front and a smaller 5.1-inch OLED display on the back. The back screen functions just as well as the main one on the front and it can be used as your main screen too. Since dual is the theme with this phone, there are two fingerprint sensors on the device too on each side of the phone.

Image: Youtube
Image: Youtube

The fingerprint sensors aren’t located on the back of the phone because of the dual screen setup. However, placing them on the side is also convenient and since they’re on both the left and right side, you can easily unlock your phone. The front screen of the phone has little to no bezel and no cameras at the front. There is a front speaker grill, but a very tiny one that you might not even notice it.

Why does the Nubia X have two screens?

The Nubia X has a very unique solution to the problem of housing the front-facing camera. The approach here is that there is NO front facing camera. Instead, if you want to take selfies or take front camera shots, you simply switch to the screen at the back and use the back cameras. This is a win-win for two reasons. One is that this way you get a fully bezel-less screen. The other is that you take selfies with the Nubia X’s high resolution dual rear cameras at 24+16 MP.

This solution not only takes care of the problem, but it actually works. Switching between the two screens is also seamless and there is no lag or stutter whatsoever when switching between the two screens. When you’re using your main screen, the back screen shows black pixels which makes the back look like a standard glass back. You wouldn’t even notice a second screen at the back when the main screen is turned on.

Switching between the screens is also easy and quite innovative. Instead of having to go and toggle a setting, you can do it instantly through the fingerprint sensors. The dual fingerprint sensors aren’t only there just for the convenience of unlocking with both sides, it’s there for another reason as well. When both the fingerprint sensors are gripped at the same time, the screen switches to the other side. It’s a pretty nice and innovative way to switch the screens, and coming from a company that was at the brink of death last year, it’s all the more impressive.

The Hardware

Very often we see phones such as the Nubia X come out which have some sort of main attraction. However, a lot of the time that main attraction attempts to hide the phone’s weaknesses which can be bad or average hardware. However, this isn’t the case with the Nubia X.

The phone is equipped with the Snapdragon 845 processor so performance is not an issue. The phone also comes with 8 GB of RAM and has a big 3800 mAh battery. From a performance perspective, the phone passes all tests with flying colors. However, that’s where most of the good stuff about the phone starts falling apart and the bad stuff begins.

Image: Tech Mech Blog
Image: Tech Mech Blog

Camera

Although the phone has a nice 24+16 MP camera setup, it’s average at best. It may look good on the spec sheet but having good camera sensors is only half the story. In order to have a good smartphone camera, the image processing software must be up to par as well. Unfortunately, that’s just not the case with the Nubia X.

The software really lets the camera down and that’s a recurring theme with the rest of the phone as well. Photos taken are average at best, although you can sometimes get a nice shot with good lighting. Most of the time though, you’ll end up getting frustrated with the camera as sometimes it’ll have trouble with exposure, sometimes the shutter speed will slow down terribly, and sometimes you won’t get the photo you wanted as the camera’s framing is questionable.

Difference between a Nubia X and iPhone XS shot
Image: Forbes

The camera also struggles in poor lighting conditions, which has been the focus of all flagships in 2018. Overall, the camera of the Nubia X isn’t great, it’s average at best.

Software

The software on this device is another area of concern. The Nubia X comes from a Chinese company and their approach can differ from what we’re used to. The phone runs on Android 8.1 still and the skin on top of it is not that great either.

Chinese companies tend to make their Android software resemble more to the one seen on the iPhones. The phone doesn’t have the traditional Android app drawer and the software is highly resistant to Google apps. On a normal Android phone, you’d see Google apps already preloaded. However, some companies decide against it which is fine as you can still install them later.

However, you can’t side-load Google apps on this device which is a shame. That’s not necessarily a bad thing either. Considering that the Nubia X was not meant for the international market, the decision then starts to make sense. The phone was made for the Chinese market and the apps used over there are different to the ones we use. However, there is a software update that’s in the works that will get rid of the Google apps problem so we can’t criticize the Nubia X on that front too much.

Conclusion

The Nubia X is a phone that divides opinion. The hardware on the device is excellent, but the software is not for everyone. The average camera on the device alone can turn many people away, but if that and the software is not a big deal for you, then you’re getting a pretty decent device.

The Nubia X is not a bad phone, it’s just not meant for the international market. They might make it more accessible to everyone with software updates, so there’s that. Keeping the negatives aside, the phone is an innovative piece of tech that deals with the notch problem in a very creative manner. The price is reasonable too at just around $500.

Is the phone the right one for you? Only you can decide. If you have questions regarding the structural integrity of the phone, you can refer to the video below.

 

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