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Nubia Z20 review: Dual screens and good value

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Quick verdict: You shouldn't buy the Nubia Z20 for its dual-screen set-up, but it's well worth considering if you want premium phone specifications for a sub-$1,000 price.

  • Nicely powerful
  • Camera set-up gives lots of selfie options
  • Full screen with no notch at all
  • Fair battery performance
  • Dual-screen gimmick doesn't work that well
  • No wireless charging
  • Lacks NFC
  • No water resistance
  • No HD Netflix support

6.42 inches

Display size

1080 x 2340px

128GB

Internal storage

48MP + 16MP + 8MP

Rear camera

4,000 mAh

Battery size

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Details

Pros

  • Dual-screen design
  • Triple-lens 48MP + 16MP + 8MP camera array
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 855+ CPU

Display

Display Size
6.42 inches
Resolution
1080 x 2340px
Pixels per inch (PPI)
401 ppi

Camera

Rear camera megapixels
48MP + 16MP + 8MP
Rear camera aperture size
f/1.7 + f/2.2 + f/2.4
Video recording
4K

Physical Dimensions

Dimensions
158.63mm x 75.26mm x 9mm
Weight
186g

Connectivity

NFC
No
Wi-Fi
802.11 a/b/g/n
Network category speed
N/A

Power, storage and battery

Processor
Qualcomm Snapdragon 855+
RAM
8GB
Operating system
Android 9
Internal storage
128GB
Battery capacity
4,000mAh

Device features

Headphone jack
No
Fingerprint sensor
Yes
Water resistance rating
N/A
Wireless charging
No
Launch price (RRP)$0

Nubia Z20

You've almost certainly never heard of Nubia, a Chinese phone maker that originally started as a subsidiary of the much larger ZTE. ZTE has had a presence in the Australian market for years, mostly as a maker of house brand phones for the likes of Telstra and Optus, but Nubia is a little known brand.

The Nubia Z20 certainly stands out thanks to its dual-screen gimmick, where both sides of the phone provide usable displays. But once the novelty – and in some cases limitations – of that approach wears off, what you're left with is, surprisingly, a good phone for the asking price.


Design

Design

  • Primary full-screen 6.4-inch display
  • 5.1-inch secondary screen on the back
  • Dual fingerprint sensors
  • No water resistance or headphone jack
Nubia Z20

Camera

Camera

  • Triple cameras are OK but not quite premium
  • Wide choice of selfie modes
Nubia Z20

Performance

Performance

  • Snapdragon 855 Plus is good value for this price
  • Dual screens remain a gimmick, not a must-have idea
  • Lacks widevine certification for HD Netflix
  • No NFC for contactless payments
Nubia Z20

Battery life

Battery life

  • 4,000mAh battery works well for a dual-screen phone
  • No wireless charging
Nubia Z20

Verdict

Verdict

  • Dual screen isn't a great gimmick
  • A good buy on specifications at this price
Nubia Z20
Should you buy it?

If the Nubia Z20's only claim to fame was that it was a dual display device, it wouldn't be worth buying. The compromises around NFC, wireless charging and water resistance aren't entirely worth abandoning for what ultimately becomes a cute gimmick rather than a feature you'll use every day.

However, by providing a laundry list of 2019's flagship internal components at a price point that's essentially around half that of most premium phones, it poses a good argument for its value if you do need that kind of premium performance. There are quirks to deal with, and while Nubia will ship to Australia there's no local warranty support. So as long as you're comfortable with that arrangement, there's a good degree of value here.


Pricing and availability

The Nubia Z20 sells through Nubia's own website with free shipping for US$549, which equates to around AUD$790 at the time of writing. We've seen other online merchants undercut that price already, so it's well worth shopping around, but make sure you're getting the 8GB/128GB model for that price. Nubia's representatives tell us that the other storage models are based on reflashed Chinese market models of the phone, and won't get warranty support through Nubia directly.

Alternatives

If you do crave multi-screen action you do have some choices, although nothing at or near the Nubia Z20's price point.

LG's dual screen LG V50 ThinQ is a 5G-capable handset that sells in Australia with the bolt-on dual screen accessory as standard, but it'll cost you quite a bit more than the Nubia Z20.

Samsung also has a play in this space with the Samsung Galaxy Fold, but that's an even more expensive proposition.


Specifications

Display

Display Size
6.42 inches
Resolution
1080 x 2340px
Pixels per inch (PPI)
401 ppi

Camera

Rear camera megapixels
48MP + 16MP + 8MP
Rear camera aperture size
f/1.7 + f/2.2 + f/2.4
Video recording
4K

Physical Dimensions

Dimensions
158.63mm x 75.26mm x 9mm
Weight
186g

Connectivity

NFC
No
Wi-Fi
802.11 a/b/g/n
Network category speed
N/A

Power, storage and battery

Processor
Qualcomm Snapdragon 855+
RAM
8GB
Operating system
Android 9
Internal storage
128GB
Battery capacity
4,000mAh

Device features

Headphone jack
No
Fingerprint sensor
Yes
Water resistance rating
N/A
Wireless charging
No

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