ZTE just unveiled the latest addition to its premium Nubia brand, and it’s a looker. The Nubia Z9 features top specifications, a smooth metallic design with very thin bezels, and touch controls on the side of the device.
The Nubia Z9 is the latest device to make use of a so called “bezel-less” design, though there are actually 0.8mm bezels around the Z9’s 5.2-inch Full HD display. The result is quite stunning, and the curved sides of the 2.5D protective glass accentuate the illusion of a side to side screen.
The rest of the design is quite minimalist, especially on the back, while the front features capacitive navigation keys, and, in the Premier version of the device, a fingerprint sensor. There’s also a dedicated camera shutter button on the side, something we wished we saw on more Android devices these days.
On the inside, the Z9 features a 64-bit Snapdragon 810 SoC, Qualcomm’s most powerful processor right now, overheating controversy notwithstanding. The octa-core proc is coupled with either 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage (for the Elite Edition) or 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage (for the Classic Edition). The two editions share the other specs, including a 16MP Sony IMX234 camera on the rear, a 8MP wide viewing angle selfie shooter, a 2,900 mAh battery, LTE, a HiFi audio chip, and an IR blaster.
The Classic Edition (2GB RAM) is black, while the Elite Edition (4GB RAM) is golden. The Premier Edition mentioned above is identical to the Elite model, save for the addition of the fingerprint sensor embedded in the home key.
Now for the Nubia Z9’s original selling point: FIT. Standing for Frame Interactive Technology, this feature allows you to accomplish various tasks by tapping and swiping on the sides of the beveled sides of the screen. For instance, you can launch the camera by touching the screen in four points, the way you would normally hold the phone to shoot a pic in landscape mode. Or, you can swipe with your fingers on the sides of the phone to adjust screen brightness.
On paper, this functionality sounds great, but we will have to see how it works outside the confines of marketing materials. With a bezel-less phone, it’s important for software to differentiate between an intentional touch and the inadvertent touch of the user’s palm. Adding accurate gestures to this interface without a ton of false alarms sounds very tricky.
The Nubia Z9 will initially be available in China starting May 21, with pre-registrations now open. No details on the Z9’s availability in other countries. This is no budget offering to take on Xiaomi, like the Star 2, and the price shows it: the Classic version costs the equivalent of $560, the Elite version is $645, while the Premier will set you back a handsome $725. ZTE is serious about giving its best when it comes to the Nubia brand, and the price reflects that. And there’s nothing wrong with that.