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Nubia Z17 Mini Smartphone Review

Florian Wimmer, 👁 Daniel Schmidt, Felicitas Krohn (translated by Alex Alderson), 02/07/2018

Touches into the edges. The Nubia Z17 Mini is a 5.2-inch mid-range smartphone that tries to impress with a special mode of controlling the device from the edges of the screen. A dual-camera on the rear and ample storage options are other good reasons. Therefore, can you overlook this outdated Android?

Nubia Z17 Mini

Nubia is a Chinese smartphone manufacturer, established in 2012. Unlike other Chinese manufacturers, Nubia devices can now be easily purchased in Europe with full manufacturer's warranty. The Nubia Z17 Mini, which we will be taking a closer a look at in this review, is a mid-range smartphone with a 5.2-inch screen and a recommended retail price of €349 (~$427). We will be looking at the blue special edition of the device, which currently can be found online for around €290 (~$355) and comes with 128 GB of storage and a generous 6 GB of RAM.

There are some similar sized smartphones in this price bracket such as the HTC U11 Life, the Motorola X4, the Huawei Nova 2 or the Honor 9, against which we will compare the Nubia Z17 Mini.

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Nubia Z17 mini
Graphics adapter
Memory
6144 MB 
Display
5.2 inch 16:9, 1920 x 1080 pixel 424 PPI, capacitive touchscreen, IPS, glossy: yes
Storage
128 GB eMMC Flash, 128 GB 
, , 107 GB free
Connections
1 USB 2.0, Audio Connections: 3,5mm-Audioport, Card Reader: microSD up to 256 GB, 1 Fingerprint Reader, NFC, Brightness Sensor, Sensors: Electronic Compass, G-Sensor, Proximity Sensor, Gyrometer , USB-OTG
Networking
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (a/b/g/n = Wi-Fi 4/ac = Wi-Fi 5), Bluetooth 4.2, GSM (850/​900/​1800/​1900), UMTS (850/​900/​1900/​2100), LTE (1/3/5/7/8/20/38/39/40/41), Dual SIM, LTE, GPS
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 7.5 x 146.7 x 72.5 ( = 0.3 x 5.78 x 2.85 in)
Battery
11.2 Wh, 2950 mAh Lithium-Polymer
Operating System
Android 6.0 Marshmallow
Camera
Primary Camera: 13 MPix Dual-Camera: 13.0MP, f/​2.2, Auto-focus, Dual-LED-Flash, Videos @1080p/​30fps (Main camera); 13.0MP, monochrome, Depth of field (Second camera)
Secondary Camera: 16 MPix f/​2.0
Additional features
Speakers: Mono downfiring speaker, Keyboard: Virtual Keyboard, Charger, USB-Cable, SIM-Tool, Backup, File Manager, 24 Months Warranty, LTE-Bandwidth (Download/​Upload): 300Mbps/​50Mbps, UKW-Radio, Quick Charge, SAR-value: 0.496 W/kg (Head), 1.148 W/kg (Body), fanless
Weight
155 g ( = 5.47 oz / 0.34 pounds), Power Supply: 55 g ( = 1.94 oz / 0.12 pounds)
Price
349 Euro
Note: The manufacturer may use components from different suppliers including display panels, drives or memory sticks with similar specifications.

 

Case

As well as our blue version with golden edges there are two other versions,  a black version also with gold edges and a white model with a rose gold back. It is worth bearing in mind though that the other variants offer only 4GB of RAM. The case is milled from a single piece of metal and looks stylish. We really like the round corners and pronounced edges, and the Nubia Z17 is also very good in the hand. The rigidity of the device is average, so there are visible signs on the display when pressure is applied to the front of the device. However, the back is very rigid. This is echoed when the device is twisted as the Z17 Mini only creaks quietly. With a thickness of 7.5 mm (~0.3 in) the device is relatively slim, to the extent that the dual-camera protrudes slightly from the back of the device.

Nubia Z17 Mini
Nubia Z17 Mini
Nubia Z17 Mini
Nubia Z17 Mini
Nubia Z17 Mini
Nubia Z17 Mini
Nubia Z17 Mini
Nubia Z17 Mini
Nubia Z17 Mini

Size comparison

148.4 mm / 5.84 inch 73.4 mm / 2.89 inch 9.5 mm / 0.374 inch 163 g0.3594 lbs149.1 mm / 5.87 inch 72.9 mm / 2.87 inch 8.1 mm / 0.3189 inch 142 g0.3131 lbs147 mm / 5.79 inch 71 mm / 2.8 inch 7.5 mm / 0.2953 inch 155 g0.3417 lbs146.7 mm / 5.78 inch 72.5 mm / 2.85 inch 7.5 mm / 0.2953 inch 155 g0.3417 lbs142.2 mm / 5.6 inch 68.9 mm / 2.71 inch 6.9 mm / 0.2717 inch 143 g0.3153 lbs

Connectivity

128 GB of storage and 6 GB of RAM are rare in this price bracket, with combinations of either 32 GB/3 GB or 64 GB/4 GB being the norm. Moreover, the connectivity of the Nubia Z17 mini is comprehensive since Nubia has included NFC, USB-OTG, Dual-SIM and a microSD card slot. Unfortunately, choosing to expand the Nubia's storage with a microSD card will entail the sacrifice of one of the nano-SIM slots since it is not possible to use two SIMs and a microSD card simultaneously.

Software

Nubia has opted for a relatively outdated version of Android, namely Marshmallow 6.0.1. Furthermore, the Android security patches were not up to date at the time of testing. These dated July 1st 2017, which were already six months out of date. A system update was not available, and while Nubia has promised an update to Nougat on their Facebook page, they have given no timeline for this.

Nubia applies its own UI on top of Android Marshmallow 6.0.1, which also includes its own File Manager, Music Player and Video Player. Fortunately, only a few applications are pre-installed and no advertising applications are included. However, all of Nubia’s applications ask for intrusive and unnecessary rights permissions. For example, the Video Player requested access to SMS while the Calendar requested full permissions “in order to be able to offer us a better service”. The associated privacy concerns of giving up so much personal data unnecessarily, induced our editorial staff to use the many existing open source variants in the Google Play Store instead.

Nubia Z17 Mini Software
Nubia Z17 Mini Software
Nubia Z17 Mini Software
Nubia Z17 Mini Software

Communication and GPS

All current Wi-Fi standards are supported and the speed of the Nubia Z17 Mini is relatively high compared with equally expensive devices. This is at least the case in our standardized benchmark with the Linksys EA 8500 as a reference router. Yet in practice websites will only load without delay in close proximity of the router. After all, the Z17 Mini does have full signal strength there. However, we found that only a quarter of the signal strength is available when we tested the device ten meters (~33 ft) and three walls away from the router, resulting in websites loading very slowly.

In terms of mobile data, the Nubia Z17 Mini is well equipped, with ten LTE frequency bands that would work across Europe and a maximum speed of 300 MBps.

Networking
iperf3 Client (receive) TCP 1 m 4M x10
Nubia Z17 mini
Adreno 510, 652 MSM8976, 128 GB eMMC Flash
341 MBit/s ∼100%
Motorola Moto X4
Adreno 508, 630, 32 GB eMMC Flash
337 MBit/s ∼99% -1%
Honor 9
Mali-G71 MP8, Kirin 960, 64 GB eMMC Flash
283 MBit/s ∼83% -17%
HTC U11 Life
Adreno 508, 630, 32 GB eMMC Flash
224 MBit/s ∼66% -34%
Huawei Nova 2
Mali-T830 MP2, Kirin 659, 64 GB eMMC Flash
58.3 MBit/s ∼17% -83%
iperf3 Client (transmit) TCP 1 m 4M x10
Motorola Moto X4
Adreno 508, 630, 32 GB eMMC Flash
336 MBit/s ∼100% +44%
HTC U11 Life
Adreno 508, 630, 32 GB eMMC Flash
274 MBit/s ∼82% +18%
Nubia Z17 mini
Adreno 510, 652 MSM8976, 128 GB eMMC Flash
233 MBit/s ∼69%
Honor 9
Mali-G71 MP8, Kirin 960, 64 GB eMMC Flash
140 MBit/s ∼42% -40%
Huawei Nova 2
Mali-T830 MP2, Kirin 659, 64 GB eMMC Flash
75 MBit/s ∼22% -68%
GPS-Test Indoors
GPS-Test Indoors
GPS-Test Outdoors
GPS-Test Outdoors

The Nubia Z17 Mini could not maintain a GPS signal or locate our editorial staff inside buildings. Even when outside the Nubia has a mediocre accuracy of thirteen meters (~43 ft). The location on Google Maps works well and locates relatively fast, while the compass is also reasonably accurate.

Our editorial staff measured the Nubia Z17 Mini’s GPS precision by comparing its accuracy with a Garmin Edge 500 over a nine-kilometer (~5.6 mi) bike ride. The Nubia Z17 Mini measured the overall distance covered as being thirty meters (~98 ft) less than the Garmin Edge 500. While this is ok, the Nubia Z17 Mini’s location placement was often doubtful throughout the course and as such we would not recommend relying too much on the Nubia if you navigate frequently.

GPS Garmin Edge 500 – Overview
GPS Garmin Edge 500 – Overview
GPS Garmin Edge 500 – Path
GPS Garmin Edge 500 – Path
GPS Garmin Edge 500 – Loop
GPS Garmin Edge 500 – Loop
GPS Nubia Z17 Mini – Overview
GPS Nubia Z17 Mini – Overview
GPS Nubia Z17 Mini – Path
GPS Nubia Z17 Mini – Path
GPS Nubia Z17 Mini – Loop
GPS Nubia Z17 Mini – Loop

Phone Function and Call Quality

Nubia has installed its own Phone application that focusses primarily on the keypad while arranging contacts and call history into easily accessible tabs that sit above the keypad. There are also many options, but unfortunately some are not completely translated from English to other languages. For example, the option for sorting contacts when the Nubia is set to German remains ‘sort order’ rather than the German translation.

The call quality is pretty good. The earpiece gets quite loud and voices are reasonably clear. At a regular call volume everything is intelligible. Unfortunately, there is some distortion with very loud voices and the microphone also picks up minor background noise. Overall, the sound quality when talking on the speaker phone is ok, despite the poor positional quality of the microphone and the somewhat thin sound.

Cameras

Photo taken with the front camera
Photo taken with the front camera

Nubia is aiming for its devices to be distinguished particularly in terms of camera quality and detailed photo software. On the rear of Nubia Z17 Mini are dual 13 Megapixel cameras, one color and one monochrome sensor, the combination of which should produce better low-light results. It is worth noting that it is possible to shoot with only the monochrome sensor too. Pictures that are taken in bright light seem a little pale and produce significantly less details than pictures taken with either an iPhone X or the OnePlus 5T. For a mid-range smartphone, the photo quality is acceptable though. In low light the cameras work well, producing results that are good, but a little blurry compared with higher quality cameras.
Videos can be recorded up to a maximum 4K quality with the main camera. The brightness sensor reacts relatively quickly, although not always exactly to changing light conditions, while details are washed out despite the very high recording resolution.

The front camera has a 16 Megapixel sensor and takes pictures that while lacking detail and being somewhat blurry, are well lit.

Even if the descriptions within the camera software may not have been translated perfectly, there are a variety of modes including a manual mode, 3D panoramic recording, image overlays, and slow-motion video recording among others.

Image Comparison

Choose a scene and navigate within the first image. One click changes the position on touchscreens. One click on the zoomed-in image opens the original in a new window. The first image shows the scaled photograph of the test device.

Scene 1Scene 2Scene 3
click to load images

Our editorial staff then tested the main camera again, but this time in the lab under controlled lighting conditions. This test produced a slight blur over the entire image, with colors looking flat and the transitions being somewhat pixelated. Tones are relatively accurate compared with the reference color space, although whites have a distinct brownish tint.

Photo of reference card
Photo of reference card
Reference card detail
Reference card detail
ColorChecker: The lower half of each patch shows the reference colour
ColorChecker: The lower half of each patch shows the reference colour

Accessories and Warranty

In addition to a quick charger and a USB-C cable the box includes a card for the twenty-four-month warranty, a quick guide and a SIM tool. Unfortunately, suitable accessories for the Nubia Z17 Mini cannot be found on Nubia’s website.

Please see our Guarantees, Return Policies and Warranties FAQ for country-specific information.

Input Devices and Operation

Google’s GBoard comes pre-installed, which as a proven keyboard app, offering the most important options.

The touch screen is responsive, even in the corners. The Nubia Z17 Mini has a trick up its sleeve to separate it from the competition. The edges of the screen have been designed to support gesture controls. However, the success of triggering these commands often proved difficult. For example, screen brightness can be adjusted by swiping either up or down on both sides of the screen. Unfortunately, this feature did not work despite repeated attempts. In addition, applications can automatically be closed by swiping from the right edge to the middle of the screen; this too often proved difficult to trigger. Our tests presented two practical problems with Nubia’s implementation of gesture controls with the Z17 Mini. Firstly, navigating through Android and a variety of applications accidentally triggered the Z17 Mini’s gestures. Moreover, some of the pre-assigned commands clashed with controls within certain applications such as swiping in from one side of the screen. Doing so would trigger the app command rather than the Z17 Mini’s gesture controls. Overall, successful use of the device’s gesture controls would require a lot of practice. It may be easier to just switch them off as they do not provide any essential new features.

The Nubia Z17 Mini has capacitive touch buttons located under the screen. It is worth noting that the back button is located on the right-hand side, which Western users may find odd at first. Otherwise, the touch buttons are reliable while the hardware buttons on the right-hand side of the device are responsive, have a good feel to them and require a good amount of pressure to activate them.

The fingerprint sensor is located on the back and reacts quickly, unlocking the device from standby.

On-screen keyboard in portrait mode
On-screen keyboard in portrait mode
On-screen keyboard in landscape mode
On-screen keyboard in landscape mode

Display

Subpixel layout
Subpixel layout

The 5.2” screen is an IPS panel with an average brightness measuring 406 cd/m². This puts the Nubia Z17 Mini far behind similarly prices devices. The brightness distribution is consistent at 91%, so that even large areas of the same color appear uniform to the naked eye.

We measured a relatively low screen flicker frequency of 442 Hz on the Z17 Mini. The frequency at which the screen flickers is relatively high and should only cause problems for those who are sensitive to PWM. 

414
cd/m²
424
cd/m²
426
cd/m²
408
cd/m²
405
cd/m²
406
cd/m²
388
cd/m²
393
cd/m²
388
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 426 cd/m² Average: 405.8 cd/m² Minimum: 3.79 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 91 %
Center on Battery: 405 cd/m²
Contrast: 664:1 (Black: 0.61 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 6.5 | 0.6-29.43 Ø6
ΔE Greyscale 7.4 | 0.64-98 Ø6.2
Gamma: 2
Nubia Z17 mini
IPS, 1920x1080, 5.2
Motorola Moto X4
LTPS IPS, 1920x1080, 5.2
HTC U11 Life
SLCD, 1920x1080, 5.2
Honor 9
IPS/LTPS, 1920x1080, 5.15
Huawei Nova 2
IPS, 1920x1080, 5
Screen
21%
31%
44%
19%
Brightness middle
405
469
16%
545
35%
550
36%
481
19%
Brightness
406
479
18%
526
30%
535
32%
487
20%
Brightness Distribution
91
86
-5%
87
-4%
92
1%
97
7%
Black Level *
0.61
0.37
39%
0.42
31%
0.42
31%
0.48
21%
Contrast
664
1268
91%
1298
95%
1310
97%
1002
51%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
6.5
5.5
15%
4.9
25%
3.3
49%
5.2
20%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 max. *
9.3
10.7
-15%
8.5
9%
4.5
52%
8.7
6%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
7.4
6.7
9%
5.4
27%
3.6
51%
6.8
8%
Gamma
2 110%
2.1 105%
2.31 95%
2.38 92%
2.31 95%
CCT
8329 78%
8064 81%
7610 85%
7226 90%
8149 80%

* ... smaller is better

Screen Flickering / PWM (Pulse-Width Modulation)

To dim the screen, some notebooks will simply cycle the backlight on and off in rapid succession - a method called Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) . This cycling frequency should ideally be undetectable to the human eye. If said frequency is too low, users with sensitive eyes may experience strain or headaches or even notice the flickering altogether.
Screen flickering / PWM detected 441.5 Hz

The display backlight flickers at 441.5 Hz (Likely utilizing PWM) .

The frequency of 441.5 Hz is relatively high, so most users sensitive to PWM should not notice any flickering. However, there are reports that some users are still sensitive to PWM at 500 Hz and above, so be aware.

In comparison: 51 % of all tested devices do not use PWM to dim the display. If PWM was detected, an average of 9331 (minimum: 43 - maximum: 142900) Hz was measured.

We measured the black level at a relatively high 0.61 cd/m². This means that dark areas on the screen look somewhat gray. The low luminosity of the display reduces the contrast to 664:1, which is the worst value among the comparison devices. While the Nubia Z17 Mini’s display is fine, there are many devices with far better screens at this price point.

Furthermore, the color deviations in the CalMAN Test are quite strong, with a clear blue tinge in the grayscale.

CalMAN colour accuracy sRGB
CalMAN colour accuracy sRGB
CalMAN colour accuracy sRGB
CalMAN colour accuracy sRGB
CalMAN Greyscale sRGB
CalMAN Greyscale sRGB
CalMAN Saturation sRGB
CalMAN Saturation sRGB

Display Response Times

Display response times show how fast the screen is able to change from one color to the next. Slow response times can lead to afterimages and can cause moving objects to appear blurry (ghosting). Gamers of fast-paced 3D titles should pay special attention to fast response times.
       Response Time Black to White
29.2 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 15.2 ms rise
↘ 14 ms fall
The screen shows relatively slow response rates in our tests and may be too slow for gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.8 (minimum) to 240 (maximum) ms. » 70 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is worse than the average of all tested devices (24.8 ms).
       Response Time 50% Grey to 80% Grey
44.4 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 23.2 ms rise
↘ 21.2 ms fall
The screen shows slow response rates in our tests and will be unsatisfactory for gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.9 (minimum) to 636 (maximum) ms. » 68 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is worse than the average of all tested devices (39.5 ms).

The display has significantly more problems than other smartphones when used outdoors, simply because it is relatively dark. While the contents of the screen remain visible for a long time when the device is tilted to the side, this is at the cost of significant brightness and color shifts.

Outdoor use with the Z17 Mini at maximum brightness
Outdoor use with the Z17 Mini at maximum brightness
Viewing angles
Viewing angles

Performance

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 is already an old SoC with eight cores and a clock speed up to 1.8 GHz. Despite this, the Nubia Z17 Mini shows plenty of performance in comparison to equally priced smartphones, being noticeably faster in pure processor benchmarks. Graphics are handled by a Qualcomm Adreno 510, which is fast enough if not a lot of performance is required. Current high-performance benchmarks cut the Nubia Z17 Mini’s lead compared with equally priced devices. It should come as no surprise that the Honor 9 offers better performance given that it has a high-end SoC.

AnTuTu v6 - Total Score (sort by value)
Nubia Z17 mini
87232 Points ∼30%
Motorola Moto X4
70445 Points ∼24% -19%
HTC U11 Life
73617 Points ∼25% -16%
Honor 9
150276 Points ∼51% +72%
Huawei Nova 2
63304 Points ∼22% -27%
PCMark for Android
Work 2.0 performance score (sort by value)
Nubia Z17 mini
4695 Points ∼39%
Motorola Moto X4
4887 Points ∼41% +4%
HTC U11 Life
4835 Points ∼40% +3%
Honor 9
6113 Points ∼51% +30%
Huawei Nova 2
4822 Points ∼40% +3%
Work performance score (sort by value)
Nubia Z17 mini
6093 Points ∼31%
Motorola Moto X4
5919 Points ∼30% -3%
HTC U11 Life
5818 Points ∼30% -5%
Honor 9
7034 Points ∼36% +15%
Huawei Nova 2
6252 Points ∼32% +3%
BaseMark OS II
Web (sort by value)
Nubia Z17 mini
10 Points ∼0%
Motorola Moto X4
795 Points ∼39% +7850%
HTC U11 Life
858 Points ∼42% +8480%
Honor 9
1069 Points ∼53% +10590%
Huawei Nova 2
847 Points ∼42% +8370%
Graphics (sort by value)
Nubia Z17 mini
1832 Points ∼6%
Motorola Moto X4
1519 Points ∼5% -17%
HTC U11 Life
1515 Points ∼5% -17%
Honor 9
4126 Points ∼14% +125%
Huawei Nova 2
843 Points ∼3% -54%
Memory (sort by value)
Nubia Z17 mini
2150 Points ∼29%
Motorola Moto X4
1405 Points ∼19% -35%
HTC U11 Life
838 Points ∼11% -61%
Honor 9
3258 Points ∼43% +52%
Huawei Nova 2
2011 Points ∼27% -6%
System (sort by value)
Nubia Z17 mini
3829 Points ∼23%
Motorola Moto X4
3279 Points ∼20% -14%
HTC U11 Life
3215 Points ∼20% -16%
Honor 9
4154 Points ∼25% +8%
Huawei Nova 2
2959 Points ∼18% -23%
Overall (sort by value)
Nubia Z17 mini
621 Points ∼7%
Motorola Moto X4
1536 Points ∼18% +147%
HTC U11 Life
1368 Points ∼16% +120%
Honor 9
2779 Points ∼33% +348%
Huawei Nova 2
1436 Points ∼17% +131%
Geekbench 4.4
Compute RenderScript Score (sort by value)
Nubia Z17 mini
4465 Points ∼10%
Motorola Moto X4
3894 Points ∼9% -13%
HTC U11 Life
3956 Points ∼9% -11%
Honor 9
Points ∼0% -100%
Huawei Nova 2
2997 Points ∼7% -33%
64 Bit Multi-Core Score (sort by value)
Nubia Z17 mini
4612 Points ∼8%
Motorola Moto X4
4115 Points ∼7% -11%
HTC U11 Life
4193 Points ∼7% -9%
Honor 9
6527 Points ∼11% +42%
Huawei Nova 2
3556 Points ∼6% -23%
64 Bit Single-Core Score (sort by value)
Nubia Z17 mini
1454 Points ∼23%
Motorola Moto X4
870 Points ∼14% -40%
HTC U11 Life
877 Points ∼14% -40%
Honor 9
1869 Points ∼29% +29%
Huawei Nova 2
918 Points ∼14% -37%
3DMark
2560x1440 Sling Shot Extreme (ES 3.1) Physics (sort by value)
Nubia Z17 mini
2322 Points ∼47%
Motorola Moto X4
1811 Points ∼37% -22%
HTC U11 Life
1779 Points ∼36% -23%
Honor 9
2287 Points ∼47% -2%
Huawei Nova 2
1662 Points ∼34% -28%
2560x1440 Sling Shot Extreme (ES 3.1) Graphics (sort by value)
Nubia Z17 mini
827 Points ∼12%
Motorola Moto X4
724 Points ∼10% -12%
HTC U11 Life
729 Points ∼10% -12%
Honor 9
2798 Points ∼39% +238%
Huawei Nova 2
330 Points ∼5% -60%
2560x1440 Sling Shot Extreme (ES 3.1) (sort by value)
Nubia Z17 mini
965 Points ∼15%
Motorola Moto X4
835 Points ∼13% -13%
HTC U11 Life
839 Points ∼13% -13%
Honor 9
2666 Points ∼42% +176%
Huawei Nova 2
402 Points ∼6% -58%
2560x1440 Sling Shot OpenGL ES 3.0 Physics (sort by value)
Nubia Z17 mini
2229 Points ∼45%
Motorola Moto X4
1816 Points ∼37% -19%
HTC U11 Life
1711 Points ∼35% -23%
Honor 9
1809 Points ∼37% -19%
Huawei Nova 2
1657 Points ∼34% -26%
2560x1440 Sling Shot OpenGL ES 3.0 Graphics (sort by value)
Nubia Z17 mini
1379 Points ∼12%
Motorola Moto X4
1259 Points ∼11% -9%
HTC U11 Life
1257 Points ∼11% -9%
Honor 9
2990 Points ∼26% +117%
Huawei Nova 2
526 Points ∼5% -62%
2560x1440 Sling Shot OpenGL ES 3.0 (sort by value)
Nubia Z17 mini
1507 Points ∼18%
Motorola Moto X4
1351 Points ∼16% -10%
HTC U11 Life
1336 Points ∼16% -11%
Honor 9
2611 Points ∼31% +73%
Huawei Nova 2
620 Points ∼7% -59%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Physics (sort by value)
Nubia Z17 mini
10942 Points ∼13%
Motorola Moto X4
12870 Points ∼15% +18%
HTC U11 Life
12919 Points ∼15% +18%
Honor 9
15150 Points ∼18% +38%
Huawei Nova 2
14488 Points ∼17% +32%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Graphics Score (sort by value)
Nubia Z17 mini
23175 Points ∼4%
Motorola Moto X4
18355 Points ∼3% -21%
HTC U11 Life
18469 Points ∼3% -20%
Honor 9
38979 Points ∼7% +68%
Huawei Nova 2
11688 Points ∼2% -50%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Score (sort by value)
Nubia Z17 mini
18563 Points ∼8%
Motorola Moto X4
16767 Points ∼7% -10%
HTC U11 Life
16859 Points ∼7% -9%
Honor 9
28883 Points ∼12% +56%
Huawei Nova 2
12212 Points ∼5% -34%
GFXBench (DX / GLBenchmark) 2.7
1920x1080 T-Rex HD Offscreen C24Z16 (sort by value)
Nubia Z17 mini
36 fps ∼0%
Motorola Moto X4
30 fps ∼0% -17%
HTC U11 Life
30 fps ∼0% -17%
Honor 9
60 fps ∼0% +67%
Huawei Nova 2
19 fps ∼0% -47%
T-Rex HD Onscreen C24Z16 (sort by value)
Nubia Z17 mini
37 fps ∼1%
Motorola Moto X4
31 fps ∼1% -16%
HTC U11 Life
29 fps ∼1% -22%
Honor 9
55 fps ∼2% +49%
Huawei Nova 2
20 fps ∼1% -46%
GFXBench 3.0
off screen Manhattan Offscreen OGL (sort by value)
Nubia Z17 mini
17 fps ∼3%
Motorola Moto X4
14 fps ∼3% -18%
HTC U11 Life
14 fps ∼3% -18%
Honor 9
30 fps ∼5% +76%
Huawei Nova 2
7.9 fps ∼1% -54%
on screen Manhattan Onscreen OGL (sort by value)
Nubia Z17 mini
17 fps ∼5%
Motorola Moto X4
15 fps ∼4% -12%
HTC U11 Life
14 fps ∼4% -18%
Honor 9
28 fps ∼8% +65%
Huawei Nova 2
8.9 fps ∼2% -48%
GFXBench 3.1
off screen Manhattan ES 3.1 Offscreen (sort by value)
Nubia Z17 mini
10 fps ∼0%
Motorola Moto X4
9.6 fps ∼0% -4%
HTC U11 Life
9.7 fps ∼0% -3%
Honor 9
22 fps ∼0% +120%
Huawei Nova 2
4.8 fps ∼0% -52%
on screen Manhattan ES 3.1 Onscreen (sort by value)
Nubia Z17 mini
11 fps ∼0%
Motorola Moto X4
11 fps ∼0% 0%
HTC U11 Life
9.8 fps ∼0% -11%
Honor 9
22 fps ∼1% +100%
Huawei Nova 2
5.2 fps ∼0% -53%
GFXBench
off screen Car Chase Offscreen (sort by value)
Nubia Z17 mini
6 fps ∼2%
Motorola Moto X4
5.3 fps ∼1% -12%
HTC U11 Life
5.5 fps ∼1% -8%
Honor 9
15 fps ∼4% +150%
Huawei Nova 2
2.9 fps ∼1% -52%
on screen Car Chase Onscreen (sort by value)
Nubia Z17 mini
6 fps ∼2%
Motorola Moto X4
5.7 fps ∼2% -5%
HTC U11 Life
5.4 fps ∼2% -10%
Honor 9
16 fps ∼6% +167%
Huawei Nova 2
3.1 fps ∼1% -48%

Legend

 
Nubia Z17 mini Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 MSM8976, Qualcomm Adreno 510, 128 GB eMMC Flash
 
Motorola Moto X4 Qualcomm Snapdragon 630, Qualcomm Adreno 508, 32 GB eMMC Flash
 
HTC U11 Life Qualcomm Snapdragon 630, Qualcomm Adreno 508, 32 GB eMMC Flash
 
Honor 9 HiSilicon Kirin 960, ARM Mali-G71 MP8, 64 GB eMMC Flash
 
Huawei Nova 2 HiSilicon Kirin 659, ARM Mali-T830 MP2, 64 GB eMMC Flash

The Nubia Z17 Mini must be complimented for its browser performance too. All website calculations loaded quickly, with the Z17 Mini being ahead of equally priced smartphones and only behind the Honor 9, which is no disgrace.

JetStream 1.1 - Total Score
Honor 9 (Chrome 59)
58.6 Points ∼100% +30%
Nubia Z17 mini (Chrome 63)
45.1 Points ∼77%
Motorola Moto X4 (Chrome 63)
30.81 Points ∼53% -32%
HTC U11 Life (Chrome 63)
28.993 Points ∼49% -36%
Huawei Nova 2 (Chrome 60.0.3112.116)
27.692 Points ∼47% -39%
Octane V2 - Total Score
Honor 9 (Chrome 59)
10208 Points ∼100% +11%
Nubia Z17 mini (Chrome 63)
9187 Points ∼90%
Motorola Moto X4 (Chrome 63)
5050 Points ∼49% -45%
HTC U11 Life (Chrome 63)
4893 Points ∼48% -47%
Huawei Nova 2 (Chrome 60.0.3112.116)
4864 Points ∼48% -47%
Mozilla Kraken 1.1 - Total Score
HTC U11 Life (Chrome 63)
9493 ms * ∼100% -115%
Huawei Nova 2 (Chrome 60.0.3112.116)
8863 ms * ∼93% -101%
Motorola Moto X4 (Chrome 63)
8396 ms * ∼88% -90%
Nubia Z17 mini (Chrome 63)
4411 ms * ∼46%
Honor 9 (Chrome 59)
3149 ms * ∼33% +29%

* ... smaller is better

Unfortunately, the Z17 Mini comes with eMMC memory while the faster UFS Flash memory is only installed in more expensive smartphones. However, this is common within equivalent devices in the Z17 Mini’s price range. The speed with which the Z17 Mini accesses its memory is average, while devices such as the Huawei Nova 2 accessing their data much faster. The access speeds of the microSD are quite fast and can compete with the fastest devices in our comparison. Our reference card here is a Toshiba Exceria Pro M501.

Nubia Z17 miniMotorola Moto X4HTC U11 LifeHonor 9Huawei Nova 2
AndroBench 3-5
37%
29%
16%
12%
Sequential Write 256KB SDCard
58.78 (Toshiba Exceria Pro M501)
60.05 (Toshiba Exceria Pro M501)
2%
59.83 (Toshiba Exceria Pro M501)
2%
34.64 (Toshiba Exceria Pro M501)
-41%
36.22 (Toshiba Exceria Pro M501)
-38%
Sequential Read 256KB SDCard
78 (Toshiba Exceria Pro M501)
83.91 (Toshiba Exceria Pro M501)
8%
82.75 (Toshiba Exceria Pro M501)
6%
67.99 (Toshiba Exceria Pro M501)
-13%
68.88 (Toshiba Exceria Pro M501)
-12%
Random Write 4KB
15.9
55.3
248%
50.2
216%
32.7
106%
25.41
60%
Random Read 4KB
60
45.4
-24%
39.3
-34%
55.7
-7%
69.03
15%
Sequential Write 256KB
143.8
120.5
-16%
120
-17%
204
42%
192.8
34%
Sequential Read 256KB
267
281.6
5%
268
0%
293
10%
300.35
12%

Games

Angry Birds
Angry Birds

The Z17 Mini handles simple games such as “Angry Birds” with ease, while more demanding games such as “Dead Trigger 2” are also relatively smooth, albeit not to the same extent as with simpler games. With that in mind using onscreen controls is perfectly possible.

Emissions

Temperature

The Z17 Mini reaches 44.8 °C (~113 °F) under maximum load, which is noticeably hot. The heat can also be felt over a large portion of the screen, with the device heating up less on the back. Our editorial staff found that the device would be uncomfortably hot if put in a trouser pocket after having been used for a while. Interestingly, the area of the Z17 Mini that heats up the least under load is also the warmest when idling. However, 35.7 °C (~96 °F) is hardly noticeable as temperatures rise.

Max. Load
 44.8 °C
113 F
44.6 °C
112 F
44.1 °C
111 F
 
 44.6 °C
112 F
43.9 °C
111 F
43.4 °C
110 F
 
 43.4 °C
110 F
39.8 °C
104 F
39.8 °C
104 F
 
Maximum: 44.8 °C = 113 F
Average: 43.2 °C = 110 F
37.1 °C
99 F
38.4 °C
101 F
39.5 °C
103 F
37.8 °C
100 F
38.8 °C
102 F
40.4 °C
105 F
37.5 °C
100 F
38.9 °C
102 F
39.4 °C
103 F
Maximum: 40.4 °C = 105 F
Average: 38.6 °C = 101 F
Power Supply (max.)  30.9 °C = 88 F | Room Temperature 20.4 °C = 69 F | Voltcraft IR-260
(-) The average temperature for the upper side under maximal load is 43.2 °C / 110 F, compared to the average of 33.1 °C / 92 F for the devices in the class Smartphone.
(±) The maximum temperature on the upper side is 44.8 °C / 113 F, compared to the average of 35.5 °C / 96 F, ranging from 22.4 to 51.7 °C for the class Smartphone.
(±) The bottom heats up to a maximum of 40.4 °C / 105 F, compared to the average of 34 °C / 93 F
(±) In idle usage, the average temperature for the upper side is 32.7 °C / 91 F, compared to the device average of 33.1 °C / 92 F.
Heatmap Front
Heatmap Front
Heatmap Rear
Heatmap Rear

Speakers

Pink noise speaker test
Pink noise speaker test

At 87.5 dB(A), the single down-ward facing speaker can get relatively loud. However, the speaker practically has no low frequencies with the middle highs being emphasized the most. Subjectively, the speaker can become very loud, which, combined with the over emphasized highs could be uncomfortable for people with sensitive hearing. Overall, one could use the smartphone to listen to music or a video. However, for those who want to enjoy good sound quality our editorial staff would recommend using the 3.5 mm output or Bluetooth as both give a clean audio signal.

dB(A) 0102030405060708090Deep BassMiddle BassHigh BassLower RangeMidsHigher MidsLower HighsMid HighsUpper HighsSuper Highs2035.2402532.937.53137.236.64031.740.45039.636.86328.329.78027.329.710026.928.612526.728.31602427.120020.933.225020.943.831519.549.240018.554.450017.558.463017.562.580015.769.7100015.873.8125016.672.2160015.871.8200015.470.6250015.572.131501675400015.881.350001680.4630016.374.7800016.374.81000016.2771250016.467.71600016.456.6SPL28.687.5N1.166.1median 16.4median 69.7Delta2.112.835.241.632.94037.239.431.734.939.641.528.331.227.333.926.929.426.735.52443.120.948.920.954.619.558.418.564.417.568.117.567.715.768.915.870.416.671.815.872.415.472.115.576.51677.815.872.31673.516.370.416.376.916.27716.474.816.46728.685.91.165median 16.4median 70.42.17.4hearing rangehide median Pink NoiseNubia Z17 miniMotorola Moto X4
Nubia Z17 mini audio analysis

(+) | speakers can play relatively loud (87.5 dB)
Bass 100 - 315 Hz
(-) | nearly no bass - on average 34.7% lower than median
(±) | linearity of bass is average (7.7% delta to prev. frequency)
Mids 400 - 2000 Hz
(±) | reduced mids - on average 5.4% lower than median
(+) | mids are linear (6.5% delta to prev. frequency)
Highs 2 - 16 kHz
(±) | higher highs - on average 6.8% higher than median
(+) | highs are linear (5.2% delta to prev. frequency)
Overall 100 - 16.000 Hz
(±) | linearity of overall sound is average (25.6% difference to median)
Compared to same class
» 58% of all tested devices in this class were better, 10% similar, 31% worse
» The best had a delta of 13%, average was 25%, worst was 44%
Compared to all devices tested
» 75% of all tested devices were better, 6% similar, 20% worse
» The best had a delta of 3%, average was 21%, worst was 53%

Motorola Moto X4 audio analysis

(+) | speakers can play relatively loud (85.9 dB)
Bass 100 - 315 Hz
(-) | nearly no bass - on average 25.4% lower than median
(±) | linearity of bass is average (10.4% delta to prev. frequency)
Mids 400 - 2000 Hz
(+) | balanced mids - only 2.2% away from median
(+) | mids are linear (3.5% delta to prev. frequency)
Highs 2 - 16 kHz
(+) | balanced highs - only 4.5% away from median
(+) | highs are linear (5.8% delta to prev. frequency)
Overall 100 - 16.000 Hz
(±) | linearity of overall sound is average (16.9% difference to median)
Compared to same class
» 2% of all tested devices in this class were better, 3% similar, 94% worse
» The best had a delta of 13%, average was 25%, worst was 44%
Compared to all devices tested
» 23% of all tested devices were better, 7% similar, 70% worse
» The best had a delta of 3%, average was 21%, worst was 53%

Frequency diagram comparison - checkboxes are selectable and de-selectable

Battery Life

Energy consumption

While the Nubia Z17 Mini’s energy consumption when idling is acceptable, under load it is too high, drawing up to 9.65 watts. This is by far the highest of the devices in our comparison tests. The fact that the Honor 9, which is the second most consumptive device in our tests, consumes far less power under load makes the Z17 Mini’s consumption figures even worse.

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0.01 / 0.13 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 0.83 / 2.01 / 2.02 Watt
Load midlight 5.95 / 9.65 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Metrahit Energy
Nubia Z17 mini
2950 mAh
Motorola Moto X4
3000 mAh
HTC U11 Life
2600 mAh
Honor 9
3200 mAh
Huawei Nova 2
2950 mAh
Power Consumption
29%
22%
-5%
24%
Idle Minimum *
0.83
0.65
22%
0.63
24%
1.13
-36%
0.65
22%
Idle Average *
2.01
1.51
25%
2.1
-4%
2.25
-12%
1.59
21%
Idle Maximum *
2.02
1.57
22%
2.15
-6%
2.3
-14%
1.71
15%
Load Average *
5.95
3.88
35%
3.34
44%
4.89
18%
4.61
23%
Load Maximum *
9.65
5.47
43%
4.83
50%
7.99
17%
5.84
39%

* ... smaller is better

Battery Life

Given the high energy consumption, it should come as no surprise that the Z17 Mini’s battery life in the Wi-Fi test is quite short at eight hours and seventeen minutes. The battery life should last around a day with normal use, but expect to need to charge the device overnight. Fortunately, the Z17 Mini will charge in less than two hours with the included Quick Charger.

Battery Runtime
NBC WiFi Websurfing Battery Test 1.3
8h 17min
Nubia Z17 mini
2950 mAh
Motorola Moto X4
3000 mAh
HTC U11 Life
2600 mAh
Honor 9
3200 mAh
Huawei Nova 2
2950 mAh
Battery Runtime
33%
46%
4%
21%
Reader / Idle
1652
1820
1399
1378
WiFi v1.3
497
659
33%
725
46%
516
4%
602
21%
Load
289
303
278
272
H.264
688
798
564
711

Pros

+ stylish case
+ quick SoC
+ comprehensive connectivity
+ good camera quality
+ extensive camera software

Cons

- partially inaccurate GPS
- video quality
- dark and low contrast display
- case gets hot
- high energy consumption
- relatively short battery life
- outdated version of Android
- software asks for unnecessary access pemissions

Verdict

In review: Nubia Z17 mini. Test device courtesy of notebooksbilliger.de
In review: Nubia Z17 mini. Test device courtesy of notebooksbilliger.de

The Nubia Z17 Mini makes a good first impression with its stylish design, reinforced with its rather fast Wi-Fi module, decent dual-camera, and feature packed camera software. However, then the doubts creep in: A relatively recent smartphone that still runs Android Marshmallow? With outdated security patches? There are also the preinstalled applications, which ask for excessive permissions with flimsy justifications. Furthermore, there are issues with high temperatures, short battery life and the only moderately useful gesture commands at the edges of the screen.

The Nubia Z17 Mini is a smartphone that is rough around the edges. The device scores highly with its decent performance, the good dual-camera and the variety of ways to take photos. However, if you want long battery life or you would like a current operating system, then you will have to look elsewhere.

These downsides do not completely detract from the Nubia Z17’s good first impression, especially as it is well priced against the competition, which typically offer a more rounded result. After all, the Nubia Z17 Mini blue edition offers plenty of RAM and storage, while performing and working well too. These are positives which should be considered in conjunction with the decent dual-camera and the diverse camera software. If you are not a particularly heavy user, or plan on just doing simple tasks like Messaging, then the Z17 Mini could be a decent Smartphone for you. However, those of you who value a more rounded overall experience and a long battery life will find better alternatives in this price range.

Nubia Z17 mini - 01/31/2018 v6(old)
Florian Wimmer

Chassis
87%
Keyboard
65 / 75 → 87%
Pointing Device
86%
Connectivity
46 / 60 → 76%
Weight
92%
Battery
91%
Display
83%
Games Performance
45 / 63 → 72%
Application Performance
51 / 70 → 73%
Temperature
84%
Noise
100%
Audio
51 / 91 → 56%
Camera
76%
Average
74%
83%
Smartphone - Weighted Average

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Nubia Z17 Mini Smartphone Review
Florian Wimmer, 2018-02- 7 (Update: 2019-03-25)
Alex Alderson
Alex Alderson - News Editor - @aldersonaj
Prior to writing and translating for Notebookcheck, I worked for various companies including Apple and Neowin. I have a BA in International History and Politics from the University of Leeds, which I have since converted to a Law Degree. Happy to chat on Twitter or Notebookchat.