UMIDIGI Z1 Pro Review: A Big Battery Without The Big Size

It's not all about the svelte form factor though as the Z1 Pro is loaded with other great features.

These days there’s so many different types of smartphones that it can be hard to keep up with all of the available options. This is in no small part due to the many different Chinese brand smartphones that are on the market. UMIDIGI is one of those brands, formerly known as UMi, and one of their latest devices is the UMIDIGI Z1 Pro which we’ve been spending the past week with. The device is definitely a budget smartphone, but really only because it won’t cost a whole lot to get a hold of one compared to other devices which come with similar specs. For the most part it’s packed with some powerful hardware, though it isn’t necessarily on par with the top tier flagships from more well-known brands. That being said, those who aren’t looking to spend a whole lot will appreciate things like the Dual rear camera module, 6GB of RAM, and super slim profile of the build. In fact, UMIDIGI is boasting the Z1 Pro as the world’s thinnest big battery flagship smartphone, something which seems to be true as it comes with a 4,000 mAh battery that’s wrapped in a phone body that’s 6.95mm thin. To be sure, it's impressive that UMIDIGI was able to cram such a big battery in such a thin body. It's not all about the svelte form factor though as the Z1 Pro is loaded with other great features. Let’s dive in and see what the UMIDIGI Z1 Pro offers and how it stacks up.

Specs

The UMIDIGI Z1 Pro is coming to market at a regular price of $340, and for that price you get what is essentially a crop of high-end hardware. For starters, it carries a Full HD 5.5-inch display, using an AMOLED panel and coming protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 4, and it features a fingerprint sensor on the front which also acts as a home button. As mentioned above it’s powered by a 4,000 mAh battery to keep it going throughout the day, and based on our initial use the battery does last quite a while, though we’ll get into that more in the battery section of this review. UMIDIGI tossed in MediaTek’s MT6757 octa-core processor inside the Z1 Pro which we’ve seen on plenty of other devices, and it pairs with 6GB of RAM for the memory making it more than capable of handling games and multitasking. It also has 64GB of internal storage which it more room than most average users are probably going to need, but if you do need more than 64GB the Z1 Pro also supports expandable storage via microSD card, which you can access by ejecting the SIM slot. This is also a dual SIM device so if you don’t need more than the 64GB that comes with the phone standard, you can simply toss in two SIM cards to use for local and travel, switching between them when needed.

For the cameras, the UMIDIGI Z1 Pro has a 5-megapixel front-facing camera with a beauty selfie mode, and for the main camera setup there is a dual rear-facing camera which is comprised of one 13-megapixel sensor and one 5-megapixel sensor, both coming from Samsung. It comes with Android 7.0 Nougat software and features USB Type-C and it has PE+ 2.5A/1.67A quick charge, which probably isn’t going to be as fast as Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0 technology but it does charge up pretty fast nonetheless. All in all, the UMIDIGI Z1 Pro offers a well-rounded set of hardware for the price. It also comes in two colors - Black and Red.

In The Box

Inside the packaging the Z1 Pro comes with the charger and wall adapter, the SIM eject tool, the user guide, a screen protector, and a clear silicone protective case. These extra accessories are pretty standard with a lot of the Chinese brand smartphones, and for those that are used to having a screen protector and case on their device it’s a nice little benefit to not have to buy them separately.

Hardware & Design

Packing a 4,000mAh battery into such a slim body profile is no small accomplishment, and that’s definitely one of the better parts about this phone’s design. Aside from being thin though, the Z1 Pro is actually nice looking phone too. Having a complete metal body and some pretty slim bezels on the sides. There’s a bit of a similarity in the overall design with phones like the OnePlus 5, though it’s not exactly the same as the antenna bands go straight across the back but aren’t curved at the corners. The dual rear camera module and fingerprint sensor seem to take a heavy inspiration from the OnePlus 5 though, which isn’t a bad thing as the design is nice, but it is worth mentioning. Perhaps because it’s so thin the phone also has a nice lightweight feel to it, and edges of the metal on the back are slightly rounded so it feels good when holding it.

The Z1 Pro only comes with a single speaker which is located on the bottom of the device with the charging port, but it does also come with a 3.5mm audio jack for plugging in headphones, which is a nice touch as many devices are starting to move away from this, choosing to instead utilize the USB Type-C port for audio. As mentioned above the fingerprint sensor is located on the front of the phone just below the screen, with the SIM tray on the left side of the device, and the power and volume buttons on the right. The phone feels comfortable in the hand and because it’s so lightweight you shouldn’t get tired of holding for longer periods of time. Overall it feels well-made, whereas some less expensive smartphones can feel cheap or jenky.

Display

The Z1 Pro is using an AMOLED panel so right off the bat you can tell that colors are pretty vivid on this display, though if you find that the color isn’t completely to your liking the nice thing about this screen is that you can change up the color temperature from the settings menu. There are cool and warm options that are preconfigured, but you can also set it to a user-defined option which lets you drag a slider bar to select the temperature that you want. Being AMOLED also means that it has quite a bit more clarity and sharpness of picture than something like UMIDIGI’s standard Z1 which comes with a Sharp IGZO panel instead of the AMOLED offering.

The downside to this being an AMOLED panel is that it’s a glossy screen, so it picks up glare more easily and that can make it a little harder to use in direct sunlight. Because of this I had to turn the brightness up quite a bit which resulted in draining the battery a little bit faster. That being said, the battery inside does have a 4,000mAh capacity so it really didn’t drain too quickly.
Viewing angles on the screen are pretty good and the digitizer used here was decent as well, which means that you shouldn’t have any issues with the screen recognizing your fingers when interacting with it. There didn’t seem to be any hiccups during the time using it and overall it was just a generally good display. Then again you might expect it to be at least somewhat decent given it has a $340 price tag, although that isn’t always the case. When it comes right down to it the Z1 Pro screen is going to provide a good experience.

Performance

MediaTek’s processors aren’t always known for the best performance, and this is case even with the processor that’s used in the Z1 Pro as this is the same CPU in other phones we’ve reviewed before where it didn’t perform as well as we’d thought it would. That isn’t necessarily the case with the Z1 Pro though. While it did get a little warm during heavier use, like with longer gaming sessions, this isn’t just because of the processor but also because the entire body is made of metal. Even though the phone did get warm though this is to be expected with metal as the body material and it still managed to perform pretty good all the way through. There wasn’t much lag that we experienced during our time with the device, if there was any at all, so it’s definitely more than capable of being someone’s daily driver if they’re in need of a device which can stand up to the task of what most people use their phones for.

Battery Life

If long-lasting batteries are a quality you look for in a smartphone then the Z1 Pro can certainly provide this for you. With a 4,000mAh capacity battery getting through the day was never an issue even with heavy use, and on average I was getting about 8 hours of screen on time and about two days of use before needing to plug the device back in. If you’re not a heavy user, then you may end up getting closer to around 10 hours of screen on time, as this was closer to what we got when we put the Z1 Pro through the battery test via the PCMark app. Specifically it tested with results of 10 hours and 2 minutes, though that’s likely to vary if you keep the brightness up all the way. Overall, pretty good battery life.

Fingerprint Sensor

The fingerprint sensor is pretty standard, offering no things such as gestures or other special features. There’s no NFC, so it’s strictly for unlocking the device. That said, it works very accurately and it’s quick so there’s really no waiting at all for it to unlock the phone. I really only had one problem with the phone not unlocking in the very beginning but other than that the sensor has performed extremely well. It does take a little bit longer if you press the sensor when the screen is asleep, but that’s not a huge issue and certainly not a deal breaker, and it’s just as easy to hit the power button first then unlock with the sensor which at that point is rapid.

Phone Calls & Network

Though you can order this phone and have it shipped to the U.S., it’s not likely to be compatible with U.S. networks due to the frequencies that it supports. The phone would still be good for a travel device though as it is an unlocked smartphone and should support a number of networks outside the U.S. The supported network frequencies can be found below.

2G: 850/800/1800/1900
3G: 900/2100
4G FDD-LTE: 2100/1800/2600/800

Benchmarks

The Z1 Pro may not be the most powerful smartphone on the market but that doesn’t mean it’s a slouch. It does have an octa-core processor and it comes with 6GB of RAM so most use cases were perfectly fine. To test its viability we ran it through AnTuTu, Geekbench 4, and then 3DMark for the graphics, and you can view those results in the gallery of screenshots just below if you’re interested to see how well it did on paper.

Sound

As always, a phone with one speaker as opposed to stereo speakers is generally not going to sound as good, and that’s ok. At least in this case. The UMIDIGI Z1 Pro does only have one speaker but it actually sounded pretty good for what it is, though some might find that it’s not up to their usual standard. If you’re not really an audiophile though and you don’t care too much about having the best sound on a smartphone available, then you should be pleasantly surprised with what the Z1 Pro has on offer. It works perfectly fine for videos and games, and music worked just as well, though I did find that it sounded a little tinny with music as I tend to turn the volume up more when streaming music as opposed to video. The audio quality here isn’t going to be on par with what you’d find with HTC’s Boomsound, but then again most phones aren’t, and for $340 the sound that is provided is really pretty decent.

Software

When it comes to the software side of things there isn’t much about the Z1 Pro that out of the ordinary or unique. The UI is definitely close to stock Android though there are some obvious differences. The icons for instance aren’t the same icons you’ll find on Nexus or Pixel devices that are running on Nougat software. It is still Android Nougat though which means features like multi window are present as is the improved doze mode for helping with battery life.

Unsurprisingly, as close to stock software as this is I wasn’t shocked when looking through the settings and finding very little in the way of extra features that you will often find with OEM devices. That isn’t to say there weren’t any features that were preinstalled by UMIDIGI, just that there were only a few. Included in these few was of course the color temperature option that allowed you to adjust the color of the display slightly. There’s also a native blue light filter feature that you can enable if you plan on staring at the screen for longer periods of time or if you plan on using the device closer to bedtime. The nice thing about the blue light filter feature on the Z1 Pro which UMIDIGI calls Eyebrow Mode, is that once you enable this mode you can adjust how much blue light is filtered out with a slider. There are also three additional modes that you can enable which will automatically adjust the level of blue light for you based on the activity, including a Night Mode, an Outdoor Mode, and a Sleep Mode. Though I didn’t use the phone much at night or just before bed, when I did the Eyebrow Mode was quite useful in helping to keep my eyes from being exposed to too much blue light when it was late and it was just generally easier on the eyes.

One interesting extra feature is that the Z1 Pro gives you the option to change your back navigation keys between capacitive and digital on-screen buttons. If you choose digital, you can also hide them, and bring them back up at any point simply by sliding up on the screen from the bottom edge. Though I don’t imagine you’d need it with 6GB of RAM, UMIDIGI has implemented a feature called DuraSpeed, which was developed to help restrict apps running in the background in attempts to focus more of the system’s power on the foreground app, or more specifically the app that you’re currently using. While I didn’t find this to have much change when enabled, it might come in handy for some depending on the foreground app you’re using, what apps you have running in the background and how many you have installed. Overall though it wasn’t of much use to me personally. One last software feature that was nice to see was the ability to adjust the LED notifications. You can change the colors of the LED indicator for calls, SMS messages, and all other notifications, and you can only change between blue, red, and green so things are pretty limited in this regard, but it’s better than not having it there. While there may not be a whole lot of extra software features included, the ones that are there are useful enough and because the software experience is closer to stock it should help using the phone feel more familiar to the average user.

Camera

While I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with the camera on the Z1 Pro, I was pleasantly surprised to find more than a few features to help add to the experience with using this phone to take pictures. Image quality is better than I had expected with colors not being too washed out in most cases, though how the image turns out for you personally might vary based on the features you’re using. For example, there’s an HDR mode you can enable which definitely helps to bring out the colors a little more but not in all situations, and I found that from time to time it would change between brightening up the images and giving them more color, and making things appear a bit darker. While the HDR option is a pretty standard feature that you’ll find on pretty much any smartphone these days, one that you won’t find is a Live Photo option. That is, unless you’re using the Z1 Pro which does offer this. If you’re unfamiliar with live photos that’s ok as it’s not something Android devices generally carry and was only available on iPhones. The Z1 Pro changes this by implementing it. Live photos are essentially like any other normal image on the surface as they appear like standard pictures, but if you take a live photo snapshot of moving objects, when you long press down on the image after it’s been taken you basically view it as a short video clip. This mode worked pretty well and it was nice to finally see the option on an Android device.

There are other modes available within the camera as well to cater to a handful of other situations. There’s a face beauty mode if you’re primarily taking pictures of other people but want to focus on the face, as well as a Panorama mode for wider shots, and a Bokeh mode for the shallow depth of field effect which uses the phone’s secondary rear-facing camera to help create this look. The downside with the Bokeh mode is that it has some mixed results and in my experience it wasn’t that great compared to other phones which offer a similar effect in their cameras. It also depends on what it is you’re shooting, and the more subjects that are in the shot tend to screw things up a bit and make the Bokeh look a little worse than it would if it only had a couple of subjects in it. In these situations, more often than not the blurred effect was applied much more heavily and some parts of the images turned out blurred that probably shouldn't have. Still it’s a nice feature as images will sometimes come out looking good when using it. In addition to all of this there is also a Pro Mode which will be a nice feature for anyone that likes to have a little more control over image adjustment before the image is actually taken. As with other Pro Modes you can use this to adjust the ISO, the exposure compensation, the saturation, brightness, contrast, and white balance.

While this isn’t the best mode for average users as there’s a lot of stuff to adjust and you’ll want to be more comfortable with all of the options, those who are used to adjusting these things on DSLR cameras or other smartphones will enjoy having the tools at their disposal. If you like adding filters to your images there’s also an option to throw on a filter before the picture is taken. These options are hidden away while in the camera UI but they’re easy enough to find as you simply need to hit the arrow button that sits along the bottom edge of the app interface, which brings up filters such as whiteboard, sepia, mono, negative, posterize, and others. Features aside, the camera is actually pretty good here and even if you ever only used the standard photo mode you shouldn’t be disappointed. Is it the best smartphone camera on the market? Absolutely not, but it does take a pretty good picture and it offers a big handful of camera software features to enhance your images. All in all UMIDIGI did a great job with the camera on this device.

The Good

Great build quality

AMOLED panel

Good screen

Fast and accurate fingerprint sensor

Decent sound

Affordable for the specs on offer

Thin profile

Big battery and long-lasting battery life

Android 7.0 Nougat

Pretty good camera

USB Type-C

The Bad

No NFC which means no mobile payments

No Stereo speakers

Low-light images could be better

Doesn’t work in the U.S.

Wrap Up

All things considered the UMIDIGI Z1 Pro is a pretty good smartphone for the money and if you live in an area where the device supports those networks, then it’s hard not to recommend this as a choice. It costs significantly less than other smartphones with specs that are equal to these, and if absolute top performance is not your top priority, other aspects of the phone are great too, like the long battery life and slim build.

Should you buy the UMIDIGI Z1 Pro?

As mentioned above, if you live in an area where the networks are supported, then this is a good buy. If you live in the U.S., don’t expect to use it as a daily driver, or at all really, but it’s still a good device to have on hand if you’re someone that travels and needs a phone to use so you don’t have to take your main device.

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About the Author
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Justin Diaz

Head Editor
Lover of food, craft beer, movies, travel, and all things tech. Video games have always been a passion of his due to their ability to tell incredible stories, and home automation tech is the next big interest, in large part because of the Philips Hue integration with Razer Chroma. Current Device: Google Pixel.
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