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Nubia Z11 Review: A True Flagship

by Linus 30

There are plenty of smartphones out there and a lot of them are great. Some of those phones are true flagships and others are even called flagship killers. Meet the Nubia Z11, the phone that has all the flagship grade specs and killer looks. Learn more in our full review.

Nubia Z11 Review: VIDEO REVIEW

Nubia Z11 Review: UNBOXING

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The phone ships in quite a premium box as most of the Nubia phones. Inside of it, you can find a fast charger, USB C cable, SIM ejector pin, micro USB to USB C adapter and a pair of earphones that actually have a decent sound quality.

Nubia Z11 Review: SPECS

Display
5.5″ 1080 x 1920 pixels, LCD (~403 ppi pixel density)
Processor and GPU
Qualcomm MSM8996 Snapdragon 820, Dual-core 2.15 GHz Kryo & dual-core 1.6 GHz Kryo, Adreno 530 GPU
RAM
4GB
Camera
8MP Front/16MP Back, OIS
Connectivity
Bluetooth, 3G, 4G, GPS, WIFI, GSM,EDGE, GPRS, UMTS, HSPA, HSPA+, dual-SIM.
Battery
3.000 mAh (non-removable)
Dimensions
151.8 x 72.3 x 7.5 mm / 162g
OS
Nubia UI 4.0 (Android 6.0)
Storage
64GB (expandable via the microSD up to 256GB)

Nubia Z11 Review: DESIGN and DISPLAY

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One of the key selling points of the Nubia Z11 is its 5.5” true bezel-less display. In fact, the phone has 81% screen-to-body ratio, which is one of the best in the business.

Speaking of that display, we have a sharp, vibrant and bright 1080p panel that also has a decent sunlight legibility and it is covered with the Gorilla Glass 3.

The Z11 comes with interactive edge gestures. For example, you can quickly swipe through the recent apps or quickly access a different desktop.

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An 8MP shooter is here for selfies and just below it there are nicely backlit capacitive buttons that can be customized, and you can adjust the brightness of them.

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Also, the home button serves as a pulsing notification light, which is pretty cool.

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As far as the main camera, we have a pretty powerful setup that includes a 16MP Sony sensor, f/2.0 aperture, OIS and dual tone dual-LED flash. The fingerprint sensor works fine and you can unlock your phone straight from the standby mode.

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The loudspeaker quality is great. The sound is balanced, there is a decent amount of depth and even a little bit of bass. You can also tweak the audio settings with the Dolby Atmos Surround Sound system.

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The sound quality via the headset jack is great too and that is thanks to the built-in Hi-Fi audio chip.

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The buttons are made of metal and they have a great tactile feedback.

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It’s great that we have the IR blaster to control devices like TVs.

Nubia Z11 Review: HARDWARE and PERFORMANCE

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When it comes to hardware, the Nubia Z11 is a true flagship smartphone. It sports a Snapdragon 820 chip, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, which is also expandable via the microSD card slot.

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If you are willing to pay extra $100, you can get a super sexy-looking black and gold version that comes with 6GB of RAM.

As expected, I didn’t have any issues when I played 3D games on the highest graphics settings. Also, the phone did not overheat at all.

Nubia Z11 Review: BENCHMARKS

Nubia Z11 Review: USER INTERFACE

The phone ships with the Nubia UI 4.0, which is built on top of Android 6.0. It is quite a heavy skin and there are so many built-in features and customization options to talk about.

Just to name a few, the split-screen mode allows you to run two apps side by side. Also, you can adjust the display settings, customize the breathing light and capacitive buttons and use a few screen gestures that work great.

Even though there is no app tray and there are some features that you may not use, I love the simplistic look of the UI. Also, the phone has been fast and I didn’t have any hiccups or lag.

Nubia Z11 Review: CAMERA

The camera app can take pictures very fast and there are quite a few shooting modes to choose from. For example, you can adjust the camera settings in the pro mode or play with the “camera-family” apps. One of my favorites is the clone mode that works pretty well.

Nubia Z11 Review: IMAGE QUALITY

The daylight images taken with the 16MP camera look great. The pictures are sharp, there is a ton of detail, the colors look natural. Also, the dynamic range adjustment is good most of the time.

The indoor shots look good too but we can see a little bit more noise and less detail.

The low-light camera performance is kind of a mixed bag but we need to consider the fact that the phone runs on a very early international software build. You can definitely get some good-looking night photos but you may also get some pictures with quite a bit of noise and low amount of detail. I’m pretty sure we will see a software update to fix that.

The 4k video quality is pretty good and the footage looks quite sharp. The continuous auto-focus adjustment is graceful but it could be a little bit faster. The slow-motion video quality is not very impressive as there could be more detail. See the video review for video samples.

A selfie camera can take some great looking pictures in daylight and even in lower-lit situations. Also, 1080p video quality is not the best but it will be definitely good enough for social media.

Download full resolution camera samples

Nubia Z11 Review: CONNECTIVITY

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The phone comes with a hybrid dual-SIM card tray, which can take either 2 SIMs or 1 SIM and the microSD card.

The call quality, signal reception, GPS, Wifi and all other connectivity options work just fine.

In fact, you can use the dual-antenna system to boost the signal reception quality if you need to.

Nubia Z11 Review: BATTERY LIFE

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Nubia Z11 sports a 3000mAh battery and with my usage, I could get 1.5 days out of it. If I used the phone very intensively with the max. brightness display setting, I needed to charge the phone in the late evening.

When it comes to charging, the phone supports Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0 tech that allows you to fully charge the phone in just 1 hour.

Nubia Z11 Review: CONCLUSIONS

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Nubia Z11 is a great all-around flagship smartphone that looks just gorgeous.

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Its bezel-less display is sharp and vibrant and the edge features allow you to increase productivity if you get used to using them.

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The phone can handle anything you throw at it whether it would be heavy gaming or just scrolling through the user interface, which has a ton of features.

Also, the Nubia Z11 has great audio quality, good battery life and the device is very well-built.

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Both cameras are very good too if you tend to take pictures in broad daylight since the low-light camera performance is kind of a mixed bag. You can definitely get some good looking night photos but sometimes you may feel disappointed with grainy pictures. Hopefully, Nubia will improve that with the future software updates.

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All in all, Nubia Z11 is a very solid phone and the inconsistent low-light camera performance may be the only shortcoming at the moment.  The price of 499 EUR (International model) may sound a little steep for some but the phone brings a lot to the table and it is still a lot cheaper than the mainstream flagships. On the other hand, you can get the Chinese version of Nubia Z11 for just over $400 via the third-party resellers and that makes the Nubia Z11 one of the best phones in its price range.

4.7

All in all, Nubia Z11 is a very solid phone and the inconsistent low-light camera performance may be the only shortcoming at the moment. The price of 499 EUR (International model) may sound a little steep for some but the phone brings a lot to the table and it is still a lot cheaper than the mainstream flagships. On the other hand, you can get the Chinese version of Nubia Z11 for just over $400 via the third-party resellers and that makes the Nubia Z11 one of the best phones in its price range.

Design and Build
Display
Hardware
User Interface
Camera
Connectivity
Battery Life
Overall Performance
Value for Money
Buy Xiaomi Mi5
  • Muhammad Yasir

    great phone … but will cost me a kindey :p

    • Monster Energy

      lf you want cheaper and more powerful try elephone P9000 its flagship killer, and awesome device for price (205$), NFC 4GB ram, 32GB memory, fast charging wireless charging, type-c, 5.5″ FHD, octa core 2.0GHz, 13MP+8MP

      • Muhammad Yasir

        lol … thanks but no thanks man.

        i’d rather avoid elephone. shit software , weak build quality and HORRIFYING camera quality.

        • great conversation 😀

          • Muhammad Yasir

            ahaha !

          • NextHype

            prepare to see a lot more of it, since Elephone now remunerate ppl for posting positive comments on their products.

          • Muhammad Yasir

            hory shet.

            plz tell how can i get this job?

          • NextHype

            C’mon Muhammad, you don’t wanna sell your soul to the Eledevil for a couple of copper. It’s like beeing a pusher for a crystal meth dealer.

          • Monster Energy

            lol true that :V

          • willy

            Always wanted to ask where you live, looks (from the photos you upload) nice!

        • Monster Energy

          build quality is great for my opinion, and some devices will get android N ( rummors ), however this is only your idea

          • mf1gt3r

            Why would you even dream of mentioning Elephone here? Is this post about Elephone? Shitty camera and stupid quality issues. Elephone has never had any camera on their device as good as the Z7s camera let alone the Z11.

          • James

            There still isn’t a stable official version of Android 6 for the Z9 series (and that was rumored to be released by the end of 2015) yet, just a developer edition with many issues – so I wouldn’t hold your breath.

          • James

            oh…. just realised, you’re talking about an elephone….

      • Karly Johnston

        No…

    • AtereJr

      For a lesser price (at $310), u can get the equally impressive Z11 max. Its got nearly everything this one has except for OIS and android 6. It has the best battery life i have seen on a phone till date, even the Mi max, mate 8 and S7 edge didn’t come close. I get over 9hrs SOT on a heavy usage with more than 4hrs of heavy graphic intensive gaming and wifi on all day. In case u’re wondering it also comes with QC3.0 with a full charge in less than 2hrs.

      • Alan Anthony

        AtereJr how does the z11 max sound through the headphone jack? Does it have good power or is a portable amp needed to push quality headphones. I like to have a good amount of bass in my music.

        • AtereJr

          Beautiful, the sound is rich and full with the right amount of bass. Listening to music is a joy. Since it comes with built in HiFi plus Dolby atmos, i’m not surprised about the quality.

          • Alan Anthony

            Did the bug just start occurring or has it been there for the life of the phone? Does the volume work normally above 50%?

          • AtereJr

            Its been there since i got it and yes the volume does work normally from 50% up.

      • Muhammad Yasir

        wow … that

        is NICE ! bet you enjoy using it.

        ok so camera has no OIS , but how’s the image quality ? especially on that front cam

        • AtereJr

          It just keeps getting better each day and the ultra slim look and feel (7.4mm) still keeps me stunned as to how a phone like this could have the best battery life i’ve seen.
          The front camera is very good for selfies and sometimes

          • Muhammad Yasir

            hmm… is the low-light drawback something which can be fixed by software ?
            or did they mess up with sensor setup ?

          • AtereJr

            Well, so far there have been two OTA updates and while there wasn’t any significant improvement in low-light photography with the latest (second) OTA, i refused to test out the first since the second was a mixed bag coz it fixed some very minor bugs while reducing battery efficiency (with the stock rom, on a normal – light usage i used to average 14hrs SOT but with the second OTA i averaged 8hrs SOT with similar usage).
            Honestly, i think it’s the software.

  • Monster Energy

    please admin make some research for elephone P9000, it have some awesome specs and superB speed, l love Elephone brand especially their action cameras

    • Karly Johnston

      P9000 is garbage.

      • Monster Energy

        fuck you too, 😉

  • Howard Allen

    i have z11 mini, it is a good phone ,very smooth running. now i want to buy a vkworld t1 plus for my sister.

  • James

    Nice review, Linus. The phone looks good.
    The availability of the international version seems somewhat limited at the moment.
    It would be good to see a comparison with some of the mainstream (and in-house, like the Axon 7) rival flagship phones.
    I love the look of the black and gold edition.

    This may be what I buy as my next daily phone (currently running a Redmi Note 3 Pro, while waiting for the last of the parts to arrive to fully repair my Nubia Z9 Max).

    I hope they sort out the low-light photography – the Z9 Max is pretty good in this regard, I just wish it has OIS.

    Whilst their software is leaps and bounds better than it used to be, Nubia updates don’t seem that great, or frequent.
    If they release an “Elite” edition, I’d advise people to avoid it – Nubia have a history of concentrating on software updates for phones which are the biggest sellers (which is quite sensible – look after the masses, look after your reputation), while the lesser selling and special editions seem to be left unloved (reference the Z7 vs Z7 Max, which got lots of updates – again, the Z9 Max and Mini got quite a few improvements, while the Z9 got less and the Elite editions barely anything).

  • Martin Jones

    Is TomTop trustworthy for this? And what does “International Version” mean? Are spelling and grammar okay on the International Version?