Getting a new Nubia device is always a different experience for us. It's never been an overwhelmingly delightful or agonizingly poor first encounter, but always a pretty daunting one to wrap your head around. Bold and distinct design, high-end hardware at a bargain price, original screen gestures - these have always been a prominent part of the package ever since the Nubia Z9.
The new Z17 keeps throwing curve balls, making it even harder to define what this phone is all about or put a finger on a single signature aspect or feature. This latest Nubia flagship comes with a trendy dual-camera setup and the beastly Snapdragon 835 chipset under the hood. The Z17 boasts Quick Charge 4+ support before everybody else, and ZTE still manages to hang an extremely competitive price tag on it. At about $465, the Nubia Z17 undercuts the OnePlus 5 and the Xiaomi Mi 6 by a few dollars, pointing to a less-than-subtle stab at the "cheapest Snapdragon 835 phone" title.
There is clearly a lot of ground to cover, and different aspects of the Nubia Z17 to explore. But before we dive head first into that, there is one point of discussion that always seems to emerge when we review a Nubia handset - the ZTE connection. Nubia started as (and still is) a ZTE subsidiary, but it's a stand-alone brand that has always played by slightly different rules. It's not unlike Huawei and their Honor brand. Speaking of, ZTE and Huawei are domestic and global rivals in not only consumer devices, but telecom and network equipment.
In a broader sense, Nubia is related to ZTE in much the same way OnePlus is to Oppo. Both offshoots seem to have more freedom to experiment and be different, while still enjoying the strong corporate backing, RnD, and manufacturing resources. With ZTE fighting its own battles with the likes of the Axon and Blade lineups, Nubia is challenging the big names in the premium tier.
That being said, the big question is whether the Nubia Z17 can, for starters, stand up to the value flagships by OnePlus and Xiaomi. Another potentially interesting relationship to explore is the one between the Nubia Z17 and ZTE Axon 7/7s. We'll try and find out which approach worked out better.
Follow along on the next page for a closer look at the exterior design of the Nubia Z17.