Nubia Z11 hands-on

Nubia is relatively new to the Android game, but in a short amount of time the ZTE-backed company has been making waves with a slew of great products that haven’t failed to impress. While their latest flagship offering, the Nubia Z11, has been available in China for a couple of months now, Nubia is now prepping for its launch in Europe, and eventually the US, which is why the company has decided to showcase the device here at IFA 2016. Join us as we go hands-on with the Nubia Z11!

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The Z11 comes with a full metal unibody construction that feels very sturdy, and puts the build quality at par with many other flagship smartphones. The version seen in the video and images in this post is the silver model, but there’s also a dual-tone black and gold edition that looks a little nicer and comes with slightly better specs.

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Taking a look around the device, the power button and volume rocker are on the left side, the headphone jack and IR blaster are up top, and at the bottom is a USB Type-C port flanked by what appears to be stereo speakers. That has been done just for the sake of symmetry however, with there being only a single bottom-facing speaker unit, along with a microphone being housed in the other grill.

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There’s a fingerprint sensor on the back that not only offers an additional layer of security, but also functions as a shortcut key for taking regular and scrollable screenshots and also for recording the screen. The Nubia Z11 offers many specs and features that are on par with other flagships out there, but Nubia says that what makes this phone stand out from the crowd are its display, camera and battery.

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Starting with the display, the Z11 comes with a 5.5-inch IPS LCD display. Despite what you may expect, it is of the Full HD variety. There is still plenty of sharpness to be had and colors look bright and vibrant, but obviously, the resolution isn’t the stand out aspect of the display. What is most eye catching about this screen is the fact that there doesn’t seem to be any bezels on the right or left sides of the display.

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When looking at the phone head on, it will look like the display runs from edge to edge. Granted, we’ve seen with previous Nubia flagships as well, but it’s still great to feel like you’re literally holding a display in your hands. With the side bezels being so thin, it also makes the handling experience that much better, especially when compared to other devices with the same display size.

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Moving on to the camera, the Z11 comes with a 16MP rear shooter, with an f/2.0 aperture, optical image stabilization (OIS), a phase detection auto focus system, along with an 8MP front-facing camera. This may look like a typical high-end camera package when looking at it on paper, but Nubia did make a big deal about the different modes packed into the camera app that make for an unique shooting experience.

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One such mode is called Clone mode, that will overlap several images on top of each other to make it appear as though there are multiples of the same person or object in the shot. It’s an old trick that can manually be done using a DSLR and some editing in post, but the Z11 does it all automatically. It’s not perfect, but the device does a decent job of stitching all the photos together, especially since you are just using your hands to stabilize the camera.

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Another interesting camera mode is called Electronic Aperture, which, as the name suggests, let’s you dial the aperture from anywhere between f/2.8 and f/4.4. It’s obviously not a true aperture change, but the purpose of this mode is to let you alter how much motion blur there is in the background, while keeping everything in the foreground in focus. It is a nice feature, but which aperture you pick will also affect the shutter speeds, so very steady hands will be required if you are looking for shots with extremely blurred out backgrounds.

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Looking at the battery, the Z11 comes with a 3,000mAh unit, which is pretty standard fare for current generation flagships. However, Nubia says that they’ve done a lot of battery optimizations to help the device last longer than competing smartphones. You also get support for Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0, which is definitely a nice touch.

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The rest of the specifications are also standard for a 2016 flagship, with the Nubia Z11 being powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor. The standard edition comes with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of on-board storage, but there will be another variant that packs 6GB of RAM and 128GB of built-in storage. If storage is still a concern, the device also comes with expandable storage via microSD card up to an additional 256GB.

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On the software side of things, the Z11 is running Android 6.0 Marshmallow, with Nubia’s own custom skin on top. It is admittedly not the best looking user interface out there, but there are some interesting features baked in, with some of them taking advantage of the super thin side bezels. You can swipe up or down along both edges to adjust the screen brightness, swipe in to skip to any homescreen, swipe up or down along either edge to easily switch between apps that are running in the background, or even swipe rapidly along the edge to clear all the apps.

So, there you have it for this quick look at the Nubia Z11! The Z11 will be available in Europe starting at €499 (~$556), but the exact details of its availability and pricing in the US is still unknown. Overall, this is a very solid offering from Nubia that is comparable to a lot of flagships out there, and if you are looking for something different, the edge to edge screen will certainly stand out.

What do you think of the Nubia Z11? Let us know the comments section below, and stay tuned with Android Authority, TabTimes, and VR Source, as we continue to bring you more great coverage from IFA 2016!