Do we have a good one for you today – the new LG G4 goes up against the new and impressive ZTE Nubia Z9…it looks like it will be officially called the Nubia Z9, dropping the ZTE, which is probably a marketing ploy. Although the Z9 is available in three variants, we picked the "Classic" model, which most aligns itself with the LG G4 as it has 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage. The top-of-the line, called the "Exclusive" edition has 4GB of RAM, 64GB of internal storage and a fingerprint sensor. Can the Nubia Z9 newcomer compete with the new and improved LG G4 device?
Let us first take look at what these two devices have in common before we look at the specs that help differentiate these two smartphones from one another. Starting with their LCD displays, we can see that only 0.3-inch separates them in size – the LG G4 is 5.5-inches versus 5.2-inches on the Nubia Z9. This makes them almost the same height, but because of the 'bezel-less' sides, the Z9 is narrower than the G4…68.3mm versus 76.1mm. They both use a 64-bit Snapdragon processor, although different models. Both devices sport 3GB of RAM and 32 GB of internal storage. There is no mention of any expansion in this model, unlike the mini and maxi that do have an expandable microSD card slot.
The G4 and Z9 both have a 16MP main camera and both have a 8MP front-facing camera (FFC). The batteries are even close in size with the G4 packing a removable 3000mAh and the Z9 packing a non-removable 2900mAh battery. The both have the usual suspects – Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1, GPS, a built-in IR Blaster, are NFC compatible and include a microUSB port for charging and data transfer.
Please take a deliberate look at the detailed Specifications Comparison chart below and here you will see just how these two great devices stack up against one another – click on the "View Full Comparison" link at the end of the chart to expand the details. After that, we will look at each individual device in greater detail and point out some of its pros and cons. From all of this information we will try to determine the winner based on specs and execution of design and functions.
The new LG G4 is an evolution of last year's popular LG G3, after all, it already had the new QHD display, so this year LG refined and improved the G3 everywhere it was lacking and this is how we got the new LG G4. The device is slightly larger and they added a slight curve as well, but not near the curve of the LG G Flex 2, just enough to make it easier to hold in your hand. Along with the improved ceramic-coated metallic plastic backing making it easier to grip, for an additional $35, you can also special order a real leather one in several colors…complete with stitching.
LG greatly improved the display on the LG G4 by switching to a new IPS Quantum display technology. LG claims this allows for a 25-percent brighter display with a 50-percent increase in the contrast and 56-percent improvement to the color accuracy and it really outshines the dull LG G3 display. The new LG G4 sports a 5.5-inch QHD LCD Quantum display with a resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels and 538 pixels-per-inch (PPI)…much better than the Full HD display and 424 PPI found on the Nubia Z9.
LG decided to pass on the Snapdragon 810 that they used in their LG G Flex 2 and instead opted to use the 64-bit Snapdragon 808 hexa-core processor. Optimized by LG and Qualcomm for the LG G4 it should offer the user a consistent experience and be kinder to its battery. Surprisingly the Nubia Z9 is using the very processor that LG refused to use in the G4 – the Snapdragon 810. These the two processors should match up quite nicely with one another. The LG G4 is packing 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage, as does the Z9. The G4 also has room for expansion via a microUSB card – right now we have to assume that the Nubia Z9 does not have room for expansion, but does offer two models with 64GB of memory.
The LG G4 has a first rate camera area with a 16MP sensor, laser autofocus, dual-tone LED Flash, a wide f/1.8 aperture and OIS for their main camera. They also included a huge 8MP FFC with the f/1.8 aperture that should take excellent selfies and provide great video chatting. The Nubia Z9 has the same size main camera and FFC as the G4, but does lack their laser autofocus, but uses NeoVision 5.1 software for a great experience. The G4 uses a 3000mAh removable battery, compared to the non-removable 2900mAh on the Z9, and both batteries should easily get you through a day.
The LG G4 does offer optional wireless charging, FM Stereo radio and comes with controls that are easily accessible on the back of the device. It also incorporates some great software features in the camera app and on the device itself. The LG G4 is available in a variety of colors in both the standard ceramic-coated plastic back and the optional ($35) real leather. It is running the latest Lollipop and will cost you about $200 on a two-year contract and about $550 off contact and is available on all major US carriers.
ZTE Nubia Z9
The new Nubia Z9 by ZTE is nearly a bezel-free device on the right and left side as the display and uses 2.5D glass that wraps slightly around allowing the display to go all the way to the edge. It has a full metal chassis although the backing is plastic that looks and feels much like glass. The Nubia Z9 comes in three varieties – the Classic with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, the Elite with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage and the Exclusive that adds a fingerprint sensor to the Elite model.
The Nubia Z9 sports a 5.2-inch IPS LCD display with a FHD resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels and 424 PPI versus the 5.5-inch QHD display and 538 PPI on the LG G4. The Z9 is stunning to look at and uses ZTE's new Frame Interaction Technology (FiT) that allows you to make certain gestures along the sides of the display that will enable pre-programmed actions, such as a screenshot, taking a picture or turning the display on or off. It makes the entire device look beautiful…almost like a miniature Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, only not as pronounced and there is no actual visual function, simply a touching option.
The 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 octa-core processor provides the Z9's processing power with four cores clocked at 1.5GHz and four cores clocked at 2.0GHz…this compares very nicely with the Snapdragon 808 hexa-core processor found in the G4, although the 810 should offer more performance. They both come with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage – the LG G4 offers room for expansion.
While there is lots of hype about the LG G4's camera, the Nubia Z9 is no slouch in the camera area. It too has a 16MP sensor, OIS, LED Flash and autofocus on the main shooter, although the G4 does have laser autofocus and wider aperture lens. They both have a 8MP FFC for great selfies and video chatting – the Z9 has an 80-degree wide-angle FFC – and both devices have sophisticated software for their respective cameras.
The Nubia Z9 has a 2900mAh battery versus the 3000mAh battery in the G4, so that kind of a wash. It uses an embedded AK4961 professional music chip for audiophile sound. They will be available in the third quarter of 2015 and come in black and gold – $565 for the Classic edition, $645 for the Elite edition and $725 for the Exclusive. The Z9 will operate on the GSM / CDMA / HSPA / LTE technologies and uses LTE bands 1(2100), 3(1800), 7(2600), 38(2600), 39(1900), 40(2300), 41(2500), so make sure you check with your carrier.
…And The Winner Is…
Oh my, this was a real tough one to pick, almost to the point of calling it a tie. I chose the LG G4 only because it has the QHD display, laser autofocus, confirmed memory expandability and is compatible on all 4G LTE networks in the US. However, my accolades for the LG G4 stop there.
The new Nubia Z9 is one nice looking device that oozes technology – yes I know it only has the 1080p display, but what a display with FiT technology and bezel-less sides…almost a mini-Galaxy S6 Edge. The Snapdragon 810 is every bit as powerful as the Snapdragon 808 and even more so on paper. The same 3GB of RAM, the same 32GB of internal storage, same size cameras and both of them sporting high-end software, speaker on the bottom of the device with Dolby audio, and great battery life from the Nubia Mini that we tested.
The pricing is rather 'ambitious' on Nubia's part at $565 for an unlocked version versus the $550 for the LG G4 on a no contract price, so money really does not factor into the equation. Both of these devices should offer you a great experience and only you can decide which is best for you…I know I cannot!
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