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The past few months have seen a number of Chinese smartphone makers dumping their devices in the Indian market. With so many brands crowding the market, the real question remains, are they worth the price?
ZTE Nubia Z9 Mini
ZTE is a fairly known brand from china that has been the leader in telecom devices and smartphones. The company, just like other Chinese brands, re-branded themselves and is going by the name of Nubia. Their latest device for the Indian market is the Nubia Z9 Mini which seems to take its inspiration from Sony’s flagship smartphones. On the first glance, the design seems to have front and back glass panels with a metal frame, but the back panel is actually plastic and can be removed to reveal the microSD card slot. The handset is very glossy and not very comfortable to hold as it tends to slip out of your hands, but a decent case does solve the problem. The finish of the device is great and feels as good as the Xperia Z3.
The smartphone bears a 5-inch full HD display which offers vibrant colours and good viewing angles. The home button below the display is quite unique with a round ring that lights up when you are charging or when the display is turned on. In the hardware department you get an octa-core Snapdragon 615 processor with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage which is expandable upto 128GB. Running on Android 5.0.2 Lollipop, ZTE has used their UI called Nubia UI 2.8 which is smooth and probably the most customized look on a Lollipop running smartphone. The performance is smooth and there were hardly any instances where apps got stuck. Yes, on some occasions it does heat up, but almost all the new Snapdragon based smartphones come with this issue.
The highlight of the smartphone is its camera capabilities. The front has an 8MP sensor while the back has a 16MP unit, both of which take excellent pictures. The camera app is clean and simple and comes with a proper manual mode to tinker with all your exposure settings. There is a variety of modes like light painting, star trails, slow shutter, special effect and so on that keep you engaged for a long time . The quality of pictures is surprisingly great with good details and accurate colours and the focusing and shutter are swift. Low light conditions are handled well and the camera manages to keep a low ISO which means lesser noise. For a sub 16k smartphone, the camera on the Nubia Z9 mini is quite worth it.
If you don’t worry about the brand, and want a powerful smartphone with a great camera, the Nubia Z9 mini is a no brainer.
Lenovo has established well in the Indian market now and ever since it has acquired Motorola, the company has been focusing more on affordable smartphones. The lastest smartphone is a sub-10K device called the A7000 who’s USP is the integrated Dolby Atmos surround audio system.
The A7000 offers a large 5.5-inch display with a 720p resolution, which isn’t the sharpest but, is vibrant and produces good colours. The handset has a fully plastic body with a matte finish at the back and a glossy finish on the front. The back panel comes off to reveal the removable battery, two SIM card slots and a microSD card expansion slot. The overall design is very attractive, but the overall finish is nice and it doesn’t feel like a cheap device.
Lenovo has done well in the performance section as there is a 64-bit octa-core MediaTek processor with 2GB of RAM which provide enough power for your daily tasks, casual gaming and mulitmedia. There is 8GB of onboard memory which can be expanded further, a decent 2900mAH battery and dual SIM card slots with 4G support. The smartphone runs on Android Lollipop with Lenovo’s Vibe UI on top which is full of features and runs pretty smooth. The Dolby Atmos feature works when you plug in earphones to enhance your audio experience. Sadly, it isn’t ground breaking, rather there are a few equalizer and enhancement settings which can be seen on a number of smartphones in the market today.
The A7000 comes with an 8MP rear camera with dual LED flash and f/2.2 aperture which comes with a bunch of modes like HDR, panorama, live effects, and scene modes. Pictures come out decent but over sharpened at times, it isn’t the fastest camera but it gets the job done. Low light shots are not very impressive as there is visible noise.
For the price the Lenovo A7000 is great if you want a peppy UI and good performance. The Dolby Atmos feature is a nice addition, but it doesn’t give a strong reason to buy this device. Other options in the same price segment include the Huawei Honor 4X, the Xiaomi Mi 4i or the Yu Yureka.