The Nubia Z7 Max is one of the higher end phones offered by ZTE. It is one of the first few phones to offer dual-SIM LTE stand-by. The phone features a 5.5” display and runs on ZTE’s custom Android OS dubbed the “Nubia UI”.
|Model||Nubia Z7 Max|
|Dimensions||152.7 x 76 x 8.7 mm|
|2G Network||GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 MHz|
|3G Network||TD-SCDMA B34 / 39, WCDMA 850 / 1900 / 2100 MHz, CDMA EVDO 800|
|4G Network||TDD-LTE B38 / B39 / B40 / B41; FDD-LTE B3 / B1 / B7|
|Resolution||1080 x 1920|
|CPU||Qualcomm MSM8974AC Snapdragon 801|
|OS||Custom Android 4.4.2|
|GPS||Yes w/ A-GPS and GLONASS|
This review is based off my experience with the Z7 Max running on the latest updated Nubia UI based off Android 4.4.2. Also, note that for anything regarding LTE, experience is based off a static test (did not use it as my daily driver); phone runs on 3G most of the time.
Packaging and Accessories
The Nubia Z7 Max does not come in anything too fancy. A plain white box with some details at the back and a logo at the front is all there is to the exterior. Box quality feels pretty much the same as any budget Chinese phones and there are not many accessories that are provided with the phone. Lifting the box cover up, you will be greeted with the phone and upon lifting that up, a wall adapter, microUSB to USB data and charging cable and some manuals and instruction sheets. As with many other Chinese phones out there, the phone does not come with an earpiece.
The accessories provided feels alright overall. It is pretty much standard to find such decent quality cables and adapters in most reputable Chinese brands. Overall, packaging and accessories are definitely decent but I would love to see more Chinese brands put a little more effort into differentiating their flagship products from the rest.
Design and Build Quality
The Nubia Z7 Max does have a few uncommon design choices that make it slightly different from the rest. Firstly, instead of having the standard centralized microUSB port at the bottom, the one on the Z7 Max is located more towards the left side of the phone (still at the bottom that is). This might cause some compatibility issues with your docks but I feel that having it in such a manner allows for neater cable routing and better ease of use while the phone is plugged in.
Secondly, the home button on the Z7 Max is this red circle that acts both as a notification LED as well as the home button. Whenever you have any notifications, this circular LED will start breathing a gorgeous looking red. It is a really nice implementation both aesthetically and in terms of effectiveness. Other than that, the phone does have a red accent around the rear camera and it features an IR blaster at the top. Something many other phones do not have.
In terms of build quality, the phone definitely feels sturdy and strong. The back has this pleasant rubberized feeling that gives the phone a nice touch. It must be said though that the back will start showing fingerprints and oil stains after use. Nothing much you can do there except to clean it every now and then. Overall I am very pleased with the build quality and I really like ZTE’s implementation of the notification LED on the phone.
The 1080P screen offers wide viewing angles and vibrant colour reproduction. It looks gorgeous and brightness settings allow the screen to be used comfortably both in direct sunlight and in pitch darkness.
The phone works great. It has been over a year since I started reviewing Chinese devices and I think that it is an established fact that reputable Chinese phone brands works as well as all your other international brands. The Nubia Z7 Max does everything you need a smartphone to do and does it effectively.
General performance is great and everything runs without any lag or slowdowns. Phone signal strength is fantastic regardless of the bandwidth you are on (2G, 3G and LTE). Call quality is clear and crisp at both ends. The dual-SIM LTE standby works as intended. One thing I would like to point out is how great the WIFI signal strength is on the phone. I must say that I am thoroughly impressed with how good it can receive WIFI signals on both the 2.4GHz and 5.0GHz bands. GPS signal and tracking performance is good with locking taking only a few seconds and accuracy is maintained throughout after position is locked on.
The phone battery life is decent. That said, I did not test it much on LTE though. My work day consists of roughly 8 to 10 hours of 3G standby with roughly 2 hours of screen on time browsing the net, watching videos and answering messages (all on 3G). I did answer a few calls and the phone still managed to last without charging for slightly more than 24 hours.
Overall the phone performance is excellent. It certainly performs well above expectations of phones at similar price range.
Nubia UI V1.50 (Based off Android 4.4.2)
In terms of aesthetics, the Nubia UI icons, animations and general design look pretty and nice. I do appreciate how the launcher handles app icons that are not present within its system. There are many themes available out there as well should you prefer something other than the stock icons. The launcher uses the iOS style of maintaining apps (no app drawer) and features some of your standard launcher functions such as widget resizing and folder management.
One unique thing about the launcher is in the arrangement of icons. You start by long pressing the app you want to move and it will store it in a temporary dock. You can then easily drag and drop these apps from the dock to whichever screen and wherever you want. A really intuitive way of managing the home screen.
The Nubia UI also supports some basic gesture functions such as double tap to wake, swiping fingers to either take screen shots or switch between apps and so on. Most of them do work as intended but there are some others such as the “Palm Screen Lock” that I can never manage to make it activate. Apparently you are to palm the screen and the phone screen will turn off. Tried that many times and it does not seem to work at all.
There are other kinds of “sensing” functions such as flipping to mute the media player or calls, shaking to change songs and so on. These features are pretty common nowadays in most of the newer phones. The Nubia UI is no exception and does generally handle most of them pretty effectively. I would love to see them add in even more gestures such as the one seen in OPPO’s Color OS.
The Nubia UI does have some interesting display functions. Firstly, it has this one hand operation feature that when activated, minimizes the screen to a smaller one towards the edge of the phone. This allows you to start operating the device single handedly using mainly your thumb for navigation. Secondly, it has this split screen mode that can be useful for people multi-tasking. It works perfectly fine and the phone does seem to handle the additional processes rather well. These two screen features are certainly interesting and helpful to some people out there.
As with many of the other Chinese custom Android OSes out there, the Nubia UI comes preinstalled with their own security and management app. It allows you to manage permissions, check your data usage and so on. It also has this “Powersaver” app that adds even more functionality such as displaying traffic speed, toggling between power profiles and an internal firewall system that you can set rules for individual apps.
Stock phone and Android apps are customized to have their own style and design. All of which looks great and functions well. There are not many additional features in stock apps (such as your calculator, calendar etc) except for the Music player which has a built in streaming function (using Baidu as its source).
Overall, the Nubia UI is certainly a great custom Android OS and I can see myself using it as a daily driver. While it is lacking in the gestures department, the split screen and one handed operation features are unique and useful. The general responsiveness is there and it is aesthetically pleasing with customization options available as well.
If you have looked at the specifications of the Z7 Max, you should know already that it can run basically any Android game out there in the market without breaking a sweat. Yes, gaming on the phone is as smooth as butter and it can run the most demanding of apps and games out there. Do take a look at the video review for a demonstration of the gaming performance. Also, the slightly left-aligned microUSB port at the bottom of the phone does allow for a more comfortable grip of the phone while charging. Mobile gamers rejoice. You will never have to look away from your phone ever again!
The main camera on the Nubia Z7 Max is a 13.0 MP camera that supports video recordings up to 2160P at 30 FPS. The camera app that comes with the Nubia UI is feature-filled and will allow all kinds of users to enjoy taking photos and videos. For photo taking, there are 3 different modes to select from. There is the “auto” mode for basic point and shooting, “pro” mode that allows you to manually tune some camera settings such as ISO and lastly the “fun” mode that allows you to add in special filters and effects.
Both photo and video quality are decent. The 4K video recordings do look extremely sharp and crisp with colours vividly captured and reproduced. That said, I will not consider the photos taken to be extraordinarily good or anything like that. It is certainly comparable with mainstream (not those devices that are made to be partial cameras such as the Samsung Zoom) flagship devices that are out there in the market but definitely not better by any means. Do take a look at the sample photos and videos to judge for yourself.
1080p Video Sample
4k Video Sample
Download unedited photos: Mirror 1
Official and Community Support
The official and community support for the Nubia Z7 Max is nothing short of great. You have frequent official updates and very active forums (mostly in Chinese language) with many helpful members. The phone does have custom ROMs made for it as well and even ROMS that modify the official ones to make them more featured-filled. It is a great phone to have if you are looking to flash some other custom Android software on it.
In terms of peripherals, I do see some cases, screen protectors etc that are made specifically for the phone. All of such accessories and peripherals are available online and can be easily purchased.
The ZTE Nubia Z7 Max is a great phone. It is one of those phones that when you see the price tag and hardware specifications, you can hardly believe your eyes. It is not just the fantastic hardware that makes the Z7 Max great. As mentioned, it is also well supported by both the community and the manufacturer themselves. Nubia UI is certainly suitable for all kinds of users and the camera is pretty good too. If you are looking for a dual-SIM LTE phone, look no further as you will probably not find anything else that is as good (if any) at a similar price range. All in all I would definitely recommend you to consider this phone if you are in for a high performance phone at a moderate price range.
[starreviewmulti id=1 tpl=31]