Over the past year we’ve seen some massive jumps in both device display quality and camera quality. ZTE launched the Nubia Z7 back in July in China, and it was such a high-end device that they brought it with them to CES 2015. Everything still holds up and you honestly wouldn’t know this wasn’t a brand-new top-of-the-line phone, not just in the display or the camera but the build quality as well. These three items are among the top selling points for the Nubia Z7 and they seem to rank among the best the smartphone world has to offer at this point in time.
Holding the device is a joy, with an all-metal frame the Nubia Z7 immediately feels premium in the hand. The back features a ceramic-like material giving it a slightly coarse texture but nothing as rough as the OnePlus One’s sandstone back, for instance. On the right side of the device you’ll notice three buttons: the power button nearest the top, the volume rocker slightly below and situated much closer to the bottom a dedicated shutter button for the camera. I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to have a dedicated camera shutter button again. As someone who loves taking photos it’s so much easier and more satisfying to use a physical button, and it’s great to see ZTE using this.
On the face is a set of three capacitive buttons, with the large circular red home button flanked by two unobtrusive and unmarked small red LEDs that glow when the screen is pressed. These looked really, really nice when lit up and the glowing pulse of the smaller lights gives the phone a really slick look. The screen itself is a glorious 2K display which is both bright and vibrant and offers accurate colors from what I could tell. Being 2K and 5.5 inches you’re not ever going to see a pixel here, as the density is well above 500 ppi, and the overall quality was definitely better than some other 2K displays I’ve seen.
The camera was probably the highest selling point though, especially for me. ZTE has gone almost overboard with features and guarantees that this phone will replace basically any camera that you might own if you want it to. The Nubia Z7 packs Sony’s latest 13 megapixel sensor with optical image stabilization (OIS), which should be the IMX 214 but I couldn’t get an exact model from ZTE at this time. Dual-LED dual-tone flash sits below the camera for more color-accurate shots even with flash on. The software is the pick of the litter for sure and features a familiar, simple interface with a big shutter button in the middle on the bottom flanked by a video button and a host of others.
The Professional mode is the real meat of the camera software and features every tweak I could think of asking. There was even an option to turn off the excessive denoise filters that most smartphones tend to shift into overdrive anytime the ISO goes above 400, which was incredibly impressive and refreshing to see. You can change everything from the white balance to exposure levels on the fly and quickly, and many modes feature advanced tuning like a white balance slider that covered the entire gamut of lighting. All in all this is probably the most impressive camera software I’ve ever seen, hands down, and with the 13MP Sony sensor and OIS on board I imagine we’d be in for some seriously amazing shots with this. Hopefully we can net a more domestic version for review soon!