Every now and then we come across “flagship killer” devices that offer the same amount of performance as the best in the business from Samsung, Apple and even Huawei at the fraction of their prices. Most of them come with weird yet unique quirks and features that set themselves apart from the rest of what’s available. The device we’re talking about today is one of those with the unique features. It’s called the Nubia Z20.
Design & Display
Like any other smartphone that came out this year, the Z20 supports a glass and metal construction. You have two slabs of glass on each side on the front and back, sandwiching a metal strip in the middle. Needless to say, it looks good just like most devices with the same build. Upfront, you have a 6.42″ 1080 x 2340 AMOLED display. Since there are no cameras, notches or hole punches, the Z20 has an impressive screen to body ratio of 84.8%.
Move to the back and you’ll find the triple camera setup. The cameras are lined horizontally, like on the Samsung Galaxy S10, and there are LED flashes on either side of the setup. Below the cameras, you’ll find the unique trait of this device, the secondary display. It is a 5.1″ 1080 x 2340 AMOLED panel and is protected with Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3.
As mentioned earlier, the Nubia Z20 supports three cameras only at the rear. The main sensor has 48MP, a 26mm focal length, and an f/1.7 aperture. The second shooter is a telephoto with 8MP and 3x optical zoom. Lastly, we have a 16MP ultrawide with a 12mm focal length. Of all these, only the main camera has OIS and autofocus.
Since there are no front cameras and there’s a secondary display at the rear, selfies can be taken from the back cameras. Unsurprisingly, this results in much higher quality pictures.
Coming to the video quality, the Z20 has another unique quality up its sleeve. This device can shoot 8k videos. That’s 4320p but only at 15fps. I wish the framerate was much higher, possibly to 24fps so that it was actually useable. Nevertheless, we are impressed. The rest is standard. 2160p@30/60fps, 1080p@30/60fps, 720p@1920fps (super slow-mo). It looks like Nubia has beaten Samsung at its own super slow-motion video game.
Under the hood of the Z20, you’ll find a 7nm Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 855+ CPU paired to an Adreno 640 GPU. This is the right formula for the best performance out of a smartphone these days and Nubia has spared no expense for it. I’m also surprised by the fact that Nubia used the 855+ variant of the CPU rather than the standard 855. This cames the Z20 more powerful than the Samsung Galaxy S10 and even the OnePlus 7 Pro.
As far as memory and storage are concerned, you do get some options to choose according to your needs. The base storage is 128GB and you can get it with either 6GB or 8GB of RAM. If that’s not enough for you, you can go for the top of the line 512GB variant but that’s only available with 8GB RAM. Unfortunately, there’s no expansion in storage via MicroSD.
Talking about the battery, this device has a non-removable 4000mAh unit that seems to do the job just fine. However, let’s not forget that this device has two displays albeit, both don’t work simultaneously. We haven’t tested the Z20 yet so we’re unsure about its battery life. Thankfully, we do know that regardless, it comes standard with a 27W fast charger that charges via USB-C Power Delivery 2.0.
Software & Security
Running on the Z20, you’ll find the Android 9.0 (Pie) which, at the time of writing this, is no longer the latest Android operating system. We now have Android 10, that’s being rolled out in devices. Coming back to the Nubia, on top of Android 9.0, you get a user interface called the Nubia UI 7. I’ve said it before and I’ve said it again, I’m not fond with most Android UIs and this happens to be one of those that I’m not a fan of. However, apart from my nitpicking, it’s decent to use and has plenty of utilities.
For security, you’ll find two fingerprint sensors mounted on either side of the device. This makes it easier for people to unlock the Z20 regardless if they’re right or left-handed. Since there isn’t a front camera, you do miss out on the face unlock feature.
Price & Verdict
At $500 the Nubia Z20 seems like a performance bargain if you ask me. Sure you have the Redmi K20 Pro that’s cheaper than this but it also rocks a less powerful CPU. It also features some unique features that distinguish from the rest. Unfortunately, this will be one of the reasons this will not be a hit in the smartphone markets. If you know how the world works, quirky devices do cause a stir but never sell well. I believe the Nubia Z20 will share the same fate unless a miracle happens.