The Nubia Z18 came very late this year. Compared with the expected release time, it has been delayed by a quarter. Almost every year, the smartphone market sees new trends, such as dual-camera, curved screen, 18:9 full-screen, special-shaped full-screen, and so on. Every time a new trend comes, the Chinese and other smartphone vendors bring them to their flagships. As for the new Nubia flagship, we have been waiting for a new screen concept, red lines as main design elements, and a ‘star’ camera. On September 5, the Nubia Z18 finally arrived.
It features the first three-sided borderless drop screen, a Snapdragon 845 world-class SoC, small red circle classic ID, top 8GB LPDDR4X memory + UFS 2.1 flash storage, a 6-inch large screen comfortable for single-hand operations, and surprising 2799 yuan price tag.
Nubia Z18 Appearance
The one we are reviewing is the regular 6+64GB variant that comes in night black.
The Nubia Z18 uses a 6.0-inch 18:9 borderless drop screen. The LCD screen has a resolution of 2160 x 1080 pixels and is custom-made by JDI.
It is worth mentioning that, relying on Nubia’s self-developed aRc 4.0 optical refraction technology, the Nubia Z18 only has the grip of the traditional 5.2-inch phone. It has become the smallest 6.0-inch smartphone with the smallest body size.
The front camera occupies a drop-shaped non-display area, and the rest of the forehead is almost integrated with the upper frame. This extreme design also allows the speaker to be placed in nowhere – it is inserted into the frame.
Actually, the LCD screen can’t use the COF packaging technology. But under the three-sided borderless background, the chin is lined up to be relatively large.
The left and right border disappear in the field of vision. Honestly, we have been seeing this starting from the Z9.
Due to the three-sided borderless design, the Nubia Z18’s screen ratio reaches 91.8%, and then goes up a new level, refreshing the 90.36% screen share maintained by the Nubia Z17S.
The Nubia Z18’s back panel is also worked hard. This is a quad-curved 3D glass that has undergone ultra-fine polishing treatment and has added an anti-fingerprint coating, which can shine even in the dark night.
Not following the current ‘iPhone-like’ design, Nubia is still inheriting the family design style. The familiar double red circle wrapped in dual-camera which is placed horizontally in the upper left corner. What we don’t like most is the regular fingerprint scanner on the back.
The phone also comes with a rounded 6-series aviation-grade aluminum alloy middle frame. The connection with the curved glass is excellent. The treatment is very delicate. So the whole body can be gripped to meet the curvature of the hand and enhance the grip.
The noise reduction mic is on the top.
The bottom of the fuselage carries a USB Type-C charging interface and speakers.
The standard dual Nano-SIM card slot is on the left. It still does not support storage expansion.
Also Read: Nubia Z18 Unboxing
Nubia Z18 Performance
The Nubia Z18 is equipped with the Snapdragon 845 world-class top processor. In addition, the chip is accompanied by a 6GB LPDDR4X memory + UFS 2.1 flash memory configuration.
In the AnTuTu benchmark, the Nubia Z18 scores 289,208 points. This is only the fourth result, according to the latest AnTuTu report.
But this is only the running score of the 6+64GB version. The top version of 8+128GB will definitely bring more sloppy running points and high rankings.
In the GeekBench benchmark test, the Nubua Z18 scores like other Snapdragon 845 – powered smartphones.
In the GFXBench test, from the above data, it can be seen that there is basically no difference between the models of the same SoC.
The continuous reading speed is around 718MB/s, which is a normal UFS2.1 performance.
Nubia Z18 Camera
Since the birth of the Nubia brand, it has never been more mediocre in photography. It has almost always been ahead of smartphone manufacturers with advanced hardware and algorithms and richly exaggerated camera functions.
As for the Nubia Z18, its camera features are not disappointing as well. It is equipped with a dual-camera that uses a f/1.6 large aperture. It is the first in the industry.
The main camera uses Sony’s IMX499 sensor, which measures 1/2.8 inches. It has a unit pixel size of 1.12um and supports OIS.
We usually take macro shots of different flowers because they can show how the camera handles the color reproduction job. As for the Nubia Z18, it faces nor problems with this test and is capable of providing natural colors. The focus is sharp and clear.
As for regular daytime photos, the phone can identify the objects’ edges and make a clear separation. From the photo below, we can see the sunlight reflected from the floor of the lens is not disturbed by the exposure, but the details of the rainbow-colored halo are recorded for a moment. The building is bright and dark, and the transition is natural.
The superior white balance faithfully reflects the color texture changes of dome-type buildings and trees at different angles, under the light, and distance.
First, check the photo taken without the AI adjustments.
Then check out how it changes after the AI is turned on.
In this photo, the AI camera is not turned on in a low light environment.
Here, it’s turned on.
From the comparison of the above two sets of photos, we can see that the AI camera function of the Nubia Z18 has obvious effects in exposure compensation, local shading adjustment, intelligent noise reduction, etc. And it doesn’t matter what lighting environment you use it in. What’s more interesting this feature is originally turned off. You have to dig in settings to turn it on.
When the AI is turned on, the phone is capable of providing way better photo experience. Just check out the samples below.
To take better portrait photos, enable the beauty function. In this photo, it’s not turned on yet.
In this one, it’s turned on.
As shown above, the ‘micro-shaping’ of the Nubia Z18 does not perform the traditional one-size-fits-all process but recognizes the pixel-level skin tone enhancement.
The front-facing 8MP camera with a f/2.0 aperture and a 1.12um single-pixel size is capable of taking satisfactory selfies. Even after the full-scale beauty is applied, the portrait inside the focus is still sharp, and the background behind it is blurred. Isn’t this what we need?
Nubia Z18 Battery
The Nubia Z18 is equipped with a 3450mAh large-capacity lithium-ion polymer battery and supports NeoCharge flash charging technology, which can achieve 9V/2A charging power.
In the first test, we set the brightness at 80% and the volume at 50%, and there was 98% remaining power. We played an online video with a 1080p resolution for 1 hour. After the test, the remaining power was 84%. So we can assume the Nubia Z18 can provide around 7 hours of video playback.
For the playing games, the test began when there was the remaining 84% of power. After 1 hour, it was reduced to 57%. Thus, the Nubia Z18 can play games for 4 hours.
Charging starts at 0%. It takes a total of 115 minutes to fully charge. Considering its 3450mAh large capacity battery, this charging speed is in line with expectations.
Nubia Z18 Experience
Though the Nubia Z18 is a genuine flagship with strong hardware and more ambiguous AI algorithm, the camera is what the company bets on. There are up to 16 camera adjustments and modes. Among them, we’d like to talk about the Art Camera and Time modes.
Take a look at the Van Gogh filter of the art camera. You can take a regular photo and turn it into a post-impressionist image. The high-definition, high-purity, and high-brightness colors are filled with it.
Another amazing filter of art camera is called ‘flame.’
Buying a Nubia phone and not using the Time mode is a sin. Under this special effect, the photographed green plants and the surrounding space lines have corresponding distortions and ambiguous extensions of distant and near transitions.
No matter what mode or filter you use, all these magical surreal operations require only a small amount of time to press the shutter. No need for post-editing.
The Nubia Z18 supports the new Mavericks Voice 2.0. There is even a special button on the side. The red edging is visually conspicuous and looks different.
Press and hold the physical button to wake up the voice assistant, and then tell the content you want to send to WeChat friends. The Maverick voice assistant will turn it into text and selects the sending object.
In this way, the process of sending messages by WeChat is optimized, and the whole operation is faster. At the same time, it can also be used for notes as the Mavericks Voice 2.0 helps users to convert their thoughts into text. The text data can be interworked with Notepad, Calendar, and various third-party applications.
As shown above, Mavericks Voice 2.0 also quickly wakes up and operates a variety of local features, including making calls, opening apps, turning Bluetooth on/off, adjusting volume, downloading app apps, and more.
In general, the price of 2,799 yuan ($409), the three-sided borderless water drop screen, its easy-to-use operating logic, perfect the software system and powerful hardware makes the Nubia Z18 one of the most desired models. Of course, the market is full of various flagships coming with identical features, but the phone’s camera is what you have to acquire it for.