ZTE nubia Z20 review


Some may say that the pursuit for a full-screen design has brought us a whole host of innovative mechanical solutions – slider mechanisms, pop-up mechanical selfies cameras, and even rotating and flipping cameras. Among those, dual-screen designs stand out as the most unusual of the bunch.

Which brings us to the nubia Z20 – a handset that tackles the full-screen design with two screens. However, nubia has kind of a unique take on the matter with a back display that blends with the design. You have to look real close to see that the phone has a secondary screen and you turn on the always-on feature, it looks like something out of a sci-fi movie. Oh, and both displays are OLED – a feature that’s hard to ignore.

But the duo of screens isn’t enough to sway users into buying the nubia Z20, so it has to impress with other specs and features. And we have some good news. The phone is a flagship-worthy handset checking almost all boxes for a 2019 top-shelf device. Running a Snapdragon 855+ chipset, a complete set of all three cameras (normal, ultra-wide and telephoto) and a generous 4,000 mAh battery, the Z20 is a competent contender to the flagships from the top brands.

ZTE nubia Z20 specs

  • Body: 158.6 x 75.3 x 9 mm, 186g; metal frame, Gorilla Glass 5 front and back.
  • Display: Main: 6.42″ AMOLED, HDR10 support, 1080 x 2340px resolution, 19.5:9 aspect ratio, 401 ppi; Secondary (on the back): AMOLED, 5.1 inches, 1080 x 2340px resolution.
  • Rear camera: Primary: 48MP, f/1.7 aperture, 1/2″ sensor size, 0.8µm pixel size, PDAF, OIS. Ultra wide: 16MP, f/2.2, 1.0µm pixels; AF. Telephoto camera: 8MP, f/2.4, 3x optical zoom; 4320@15fps, 2160p@30fps, 1080p@120fps video recording.
  • Front camera: Uses the main and the ultra-wide on the back.
  • OS: Android 9 Pie; Nubia UI 7.
  • Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855+ (7 nm): Octa-core (1×2.96 GHz Kryo 485 & 3×2.42 GHz Kryo 485 & 4×1.78 GHz Kryo 485), Adreno 640 (700 MHz) GPU.
  • Memory: 6GB/8GB of RAM; 128/512GB storage; no microSD card slot.
  • Battery: 4,000mAh; 27W fast charging over USB Power Delivery 2.0.
  • Connectivity: Dual-SIM; LTE-A, 4-Band carrier aggregation, LTE Cat-20/ Cat-13; USB-C; Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, hotspot, GPS; Bluetooth 5.1, A2DP, LE;
  • Misc: 2x side-mounted fingerprint readers for ease of use of the two screens; Pressure-sensitive frame; single down-firing speaker; no NFC; no FM radio.

And judging by the launch price in China, the nubia Z20 will give a few of the flagships a run for their money. Its global price of only €550 is low enough to overshadow its secondary screen.

Unboxing the ZTE nubia Z20

The handset comes in a generous box containing all the necessities such as charger, USB-A to USB-C cable for data transfer and charging as well as the usual user manuals. There’s also a USB-C to 3.5mm audio jack dongle since the phone doesn’t have one on its own.

More importantly, nubia is giving away a free transparent silicone protective case for the Z20, which to our surprise, works with the secondary display. It appears to be touch-sensitive and wraps around the phone’s side frame and back completely. So don’t worry about the secondary screen, this case should be enough to keep it out of harm’s way. Unfortunately, it’s still a silicone case, so it’s not ideal for touching and swiping across it even feels unpleasant.

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