The device is an attractive confluence of great looks and sturdy build quality despite shortcomings in some areas.
--BY SARTHAK RAJ BARAL
One of Nubia Z17 Lite’s primary draws is the unique design. While the declaration that the Z17 Lite is a ‘bezel-less phone’ is customary marketing hyperbole, the device eschews the standard mid-range design template in favour of a bold, modern design.
The absence of side bezels and the subtle edge on the panel make the phone a tempting proposition although the top and bottom bezels serve as counters. The unique combination ensures the phone stands out amongst the clutter and carves an identity of its own, unlike other mid-range devices that are often accused of blatantly replicating the look and design of high-end Apple and Samsung phones. In such a plagiarist environment, the Z17’s aesthetic originality is worthy of merit.
Our ‘Black Gold’ review model is certainly a looker. Golden accents on the side and the fingerprint sensor nicely complement the matte black finish. Another unique touch is the coloured home button in the centre, a feature that lends further credence to the phone’s unmistakable originality.
The 5.5-inch IPS LCD with a 1080 X 1920 resolution is a solid panel by all accounts. While the chunky bezels encroach upon the screen real estate and a screen-to-body ratio of 75 percent certainly leaves a lot to be desired, there can’t be many faults levied against the screen itself. At 401 PPI (pixels per inch), the panel is sharp, vibrant and colour accurate.
The absence of side-bezels greatly enhances the multimedia experience, notably when consuming content in the landscape orientation. Another factor worth pointing out is the remarkable brightness level on show; sunlight legibility is excellent.
At a time when most smartphones feature displays north of 6 inches, the Z17 Lite’s 5.5-inch screen is reminiscent of phones from the early years of the decade. While that may serve as a deterrent to some, there remains a sizeable market that craves for a more compact display compared to the colossal screens are presently in vogue.
Software, Performance and Battery
On the software front, the Z17’s performance isn’t wholly convincing, even with the caveat of it being a mid-range device. The device sports the Snapdragon 653 SOC. The chip made its bow in 2016, which, with respect to smartphone time frames, seems like aeons ago. Also, the age shows; even with the animation settings toggled to the bare minimum, the phone has a somewhat sluggish feel, and there is a noticeable lack of smoothness that is exacerbated because the phone operates on Android 7.1 (Nougat), the 2016 iteration of the operating system. Even the pre-installed theme has a dated feel. It’s also worth noting the phone was initially launched on September 2017.
Make no mistake; the phone isn’t ‘slow’ by any means, and to its credit, I did not experienced a single bug or crash. However, with the competition in the mid-range segment greater than ever, even marginal flaws have a substantial bearing on the eventual reception of a device.
Some slight niggles aside, the performance here is good. The phone has some nifty features such as ‘Edge gestures’ and ‘Flip to mute.’ Another intuitive feature is the ability to answer a call by placing the phone on your ear, without the need for any touch-based command. Also present is the 6 GB of RAM, which is undeniably an impressive figure on paper yet apps in the background constantly keep refreshing, although this is surely down to the SOC and not the RAM availability. Further, the inexplicable lack of a headphone jack is a letdown.
Battery life too isn’t altogether up to scratch. The 3,200 mAh battery provides a decent standby time, but the screen-on time is unremarkable, which can be credited to the power-hungry processor. That being said, the phone does last an entire day with low-to-moderate usage, although by the skin of its teeth. Heavy users though, will discover that a top-up in the middle of the day is mandatory.
The dual rear cameras are capable if not sensational. Photos come out good under adequate lighting conditions. During the daytime, the captures are attractive, detailed and colourful.
At night, however, the photos come out grainy and have a fair bit of noise. Given the camera tech on board the device, night shots aren’t expected to be drool-worthy and are on par with the segment’s standard. The daylight shots though, fair better than the completion on some occasions. The selfie camera is impressive; the snaps are detailed and crisp.
Regarding video capabilities, the phone offers the ability to shoot at 4K, which is a fantastic feature.
The Nubia Z17 Lite’s most prominent allure is its unequivocally singular aesthetic charm. The nonconformist approach to design is appreciable, and it has contributed to a device that looks and feels stylish. While there are distinct deficiencies on the software front, performance as a whole is competent.
For consumers weary of the cavalcade of 6-inch plus displays flooding the market, the Z17 Lite serves as a welcome respite.