Features: 7.5/10

The Z11 mini S indeed packs in everything you can think of and more when you consider its price tag.

While it may seem a bit less when compared to a Redmi Note 4, it does make up for it in other areas.

There’s a 5.2-inch Full HD IPS LCD display on the front, along with the usual array of sensors and a 13MP front camera that sits to the left of the receiver. Inside, you get a tried and tested Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 chipset clocked at 2.0GHz with an Adreno 506 GPU. The chipset is paired with 4GB RAM and 64GB of internal storage that is expandable up to 256GB using the second SIM slot.

On the back, the primary camera features of a 23MP sensor with f/2.0 aperture, PDAF, and an LED flash, which is the second highlight of this smartphone.

You get the usual connectivity options, which include, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth v4.1, GPS and FM Radio and even NFC. There’s even a USB Type-C port at the bottom that keeps up with the times.

Powering all of the above is 3,000mAh battery, which is a tiny improvement over the 2,800mAh unit on its predecessor.

Display: 7.5/10

The 5.2-inch display on the Z11 Mini S is a fine-looking unit. It does not go over the top with colour saturation and features some decent looking blacks keeping its price tag in mind. With a Full HD resolution, its 424ppi pixel density ensures that text looks crisp, even if it is set at smallest setting. The same can be said about the images, which made viewing videos a great experience.

The screen over the display feels solid and looks great with 2.5D finish around the corners, something that adds to the premium look and finish of this mid-range smartphone. The screen does accumulate fingerprints easily, but thanks to its oleophobic coating can be wiped off with minimal effort.

ZTE Nubia Z11 Mini S (13)

Coming to the negatives, the display despite being an IPS LCD unit does look noticeably dull when viewed at an angle. Adding to what appears to be insufficient levels of brightness, is a noticeable pink tinge.

The software that governs the ambient light sensor seems a bit too aggressive and will rarely crank up the brightness even in brighter environments. I ended up keeping the Auto Brightness feature turned off most of the time.

The software along with Nubia UI 4.0 does have its advantages. Head on to Settings and under Display you will also find a Screen display preferences section that lets you customise the displays, hue and saturation levels, which is a good touch.

Software: 6/10

The ZTE Nubia Z11 Mini S features a customised version of Android 6.0 Marshmallow called Nubia UI. This is Nubia UI 4.0 and while it comes with some interesting customisation and gesture functions, is quite a mess considering its premium-looking exteriors.

ZTE Nubia Z11 Mini S Software A

Indeed, I have seen better customised mobile operating systems (or skins) from Xiaomi, Vivo and Oppo but there’s literally nothing like what you get on a ZTE.

First let’s begin with the positives. The software feels light and does not appear to bog down the hardware that already consists of low-powered Cortex-A53 cores. There’s gestures, plenty of them. In fact, there are so many of them, that they end up hampering the user experience. The side edge gestures were my favourite. And each of them can be customised to an extent.

ZTE Nubia Z11 Mini S Software B

You can how hold down the edge, to quickly break down into card view and select the desktop of your choice. You can even swipe up or down the edge of the screen to switch between apps (pretty handy). You can swipe down both edges of the display to adjust the brightness and there are still a few more.

While they did make for a fun way to use the smartphone, with so many gestures turned on, I did end up with the touch sensitivity of the corners and edges of the display being turned off during normal app usage. This led to issues when you tap on the corner of the keyboard to switch the numeric keys, where half the button gets ignored thanks to the overlay of the touch gesture, that takes 4-5mm off your touch area from the corners.

ZTE Nubia Z11 Mini S Software C
There is a split screen mode available for a limited number of apps. But I’d rather not mention it as its implementation is pretty bad.

Eventually, it went from fun to annoying and I ended up turning every single software gesture off.

Then there’s the inconsistency in the UI. Everything from the text, to the buttons to the layout of the buttons to the layout of the text, is a complete mess.

Thanks to this severe lack of optimisation, you will find text for many menus and headers in native apps scrolling through because they don’t fit inside the UI button or tab.

ZTE Nubia Z11 Mini S Software E
There is a major issue with aligning buttons and wrapping text to fit into menus.

While typing and copy pasting text, I often found myself waiting for the text to stop rolling so I could figure out which one was copy, paste and cut. ZTE could have simply gone in for stock Android and solved the problem entirely, but then again it seems to favour its swipe-happy Nubia UI over Spartan stock Android Marshmallow.

ZTE Nubia Z11 Mini S Software D
The text-wrapping issue.

Issue of text wrapping was even visible in the notifications tray where I often ended up with lines of text that got cut into half thanks to the additional notification from the same app below it. Indeed there is a lot to work on out here.

Publish date: March 20, 2017 2:00 pm| Modified date: March 20, 2017 3:18 pm

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