Performance: 7.5/10

ZTE Nubia Z11 Mini S Performance A

Similar to Xiaomi, Lenovo, Asus and Vivo, ZTE goes in for the same chipset that is both capable and delivers great battery life. There are no slowdowns while using the smartphone and games and apps open and close quickly, without lag. In fact, at a point it gets hard to tell that there is a battery-friendly chipset inside, thanks to the well-optimised software. Gaming is not a problem either and most of the current favourites run without problems, provided the graphics settings are set to medium. With just A53 low-power cores inside, there are no heating problems either.

ZTE Nubia Z11 Mini S Performance B

Call quality was fine and the caller on the other side could be heard loud and clear. The same can be said about audio quality while listening to music though the headphones. The output was well balanced.

What I did find annoying was the low speaker output. The volume levels were almost half of what the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 offered. This is disappointing since the phone comes across as a premium device, at a price tag that is a higher than the rest of the competition.

Camera: 7.5/10

For a smartphone that comes with budget processing chops, I assumed that the high resolution 23MP camera at the rear was a gimmick. But I was wrong.

ZTE Nubia Z11 Mini S Camera A
Camera Family

To begin with, the software interface of the camera is brilliant. There are a ton of photo modes available under Camera Family and most of them are worthwhile provided you have tripod handy.

ZTE Nubia Z11 Mini S Camera B
The ‘Gradienter’ sitting over the shutter button is available in both Auto and Pro modes.

Everything that is available on the camera interface actually works. The handiest one of them all was the ‘Gradienter’ that basically shows a bubble level on the shutter button itself that will help you frame your images perfectly. There is a separate Pro section with the usual manual controls and even your now standard, Beauty mode for selfies.

Click on the Flickr gallery below to check out the image samples of the ZTE Nubia Z11 Mini S

ZTE Nubia Z11 Mini S

Coming to image quality, the lack of OIS can clearly be felt. But the Sony IMX318 Exmor RS sensor is pretty darn good. The images shot using the primary camera looked impressive for a smartphone in this range. They are not perfect, but showcased balanced and natural looking tones with the right level of sharpness. There is a bit of lens barrel distortion present, but the images showcased enough detail with the noise reduction on, made me forget about it. The camera also has the tendency to over expose at times, but keeping the HDR mode on Auto takes care of this problem.

ZTE Nubia Z11 Mini S Camera C
Zoomed preview in Macro Mode.

Focusing thanks to PDAF was really quick (even in low light) and the built in modes that offered a zoomed preview for the Macro mode is well thought of.

Low light is a slightly different scenario. With noise reduction turned on, the images in auto mode, showcased flat textures. This however varied from scene to scene. At times the noise reduction was useful while at others I had to turn it off (available in More Settings) to get some detail in the image. Switch to the Pro Mode and here is where the noise reduction really shines with long exposures (using a tripod) that are sharp and literally noise free at ISO 400.

ZTE Nubia Z11 Mini S (8)

The video department also has some good stuff including satisfactory 4K video and 1080p video at 60 fps which was impressive considering this smartphone’s price. The selfie camera produced photographs with good detail at 13MP resolution as you can see in the camera samples gallery above.

All in all, the ZTE Z11 Mini S comes with a great camera module and thanks to its software bits makes the most of it. Enough for me to call it a camera smartphone. Something, that you usually do not find in this price range.

Battery: 8/10

With a Snapdragon 625 inside, paired with a 5.2-inch Full HD display and just a 3,000mAh battery I did not expect the worst. True to my expectations, the smartphone performed really well although not as well as the Asus Zenfone 3S Max, which is the current king of ring in terms of battery life.

PC Mark Battery Life
PC Mark Battery Life test results.
Screenshot_2017-03-15-19-33-37
Battery life

I got more than a day of use continuous use and 12 hours on PC Mark for Android test, from this smartphone, which is pretty impressive. Indeed, ZTE has worked on optimising the software which is why I ended up with such great battery life results despite the tightly packed 3,000mAh battery.

Verdict and Price in India

The ZTE Nubia Z11 Mini S is a great smartphone, that’s stuck with unfinished software; something that the company can work on and fix. It features the perfect hardware combination and I have no complaints regarding its Rs 16,999 price tag because it offers a lot more than the competition. There’s a capable 23MP camera, great battery life and a premium looking design, one that even gives the Asus Zenfone 3 (5.2-inch model) a run for its money.

With that said, the camera on the Asus Zenfone 3 that is priced at Rs 21,999 is better, but not by large margin.

ZTE Nubia Z11 Mini S (14)

As for the rest of the competition that falls behind the Mini S, you get the Asus Zenfone 3S Max (Rs 14,999), the Vivo V5 (Rs 17,980) and the Redmi Note 4, which offers similar hardware at a much lower price tag of Rs 12,999. There’s also the recently launched Moto G5 Plus, but our review for now still stands pending. Our first impressions of the G5 Plus are out and you can have a look by clicking here.

What ZTE has with Nubia Z11 Mini S is the right-sized package with a good balance of hardware that justifies its price tag. Go for it if you are coming from any of the budget smartphones mentioned above or are looking for premium design and capable camera in the sub Rs 20,000 range.

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

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