ZTE often does things a little differently. A while ago, it introduced the Nubia Z9 Max and Z9 Mini — which are the large and small variations of the Nubia Z9 flagship — but it failed to even mention the standard Z9 in its presentation. Then, in May, ZTE finally revealed the Z9 we’ve all been waiting for.
Updated on 06-04-2015 by Kyle Wiggers: Updated with U.S. availability news.
Availability and price
ZTE’s incredible Nubia Z9 phone will sell in China first, with the 32GB variant priced at 3,499 Yuan ($565) and the 64GB model at 3,999 Yuan ($645). A more expensive version of the phone, which has 64GB of storage and ZTE’s fingerprint scanner on it will cost 4,499 Yuan ($726). Chinese consumers can already pre-register for the device on the company’s official website or Jingdong Mall.
It’ll migrate from the mainland soon enough, though. On the heels of competitor Huawei’s unlocked P8 Lite unveiling in New York, ZTE has announced — via a billboard in Times Square, pointedly enough — that it’s bringing the flagship Nubia Z9 to U.S. shores later this year. It’ll come in three models priced from $564 to $725, according to the press release. No word on retail partners yet.
ZTE Nubia Z9
The Nubia Z9 is just about everything we imagined it’d be based on the many leaks we’ve seen ahead of its launch. The nearly bezel-free phone looks absolutely stunning and continues along the lines of the Nubia design language, but it has a metal chassis and 2.5-dimensional screen. The slightly curved screen measures 5.2 inches and sports a 1,920 x 1,080 pixel resolution. The screen spills gracefully over the edges by a millimeter or so, and thanks to ZTE’s new Frame Interaction Technology (FIT), certain gestures made along the bezels will enable preprogrammed actions, like taking a screenshot or turning the screen off.
A Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 64-bit octa-core processor powers the Z9, along with 3GB of RAM. ZTE offers both 32 or 64GB of internal storage, depending on how much you need, and no MicroSD card slot is mentioned. The Nubia Z9 runs Android 5.0 Lollipop with ZTE’s Nubia UI 3.0 on top. The phone packs a 2,900mAh battery, which should keep things running for a day or so.
ZTE popped a 16-megapixel OIS camera with an f/2.0 aperture, 6P optical lens, and 1/2.6-inch CMOS sensor on the back of the Z9 next to a LED flash. The front camera is a selfie taker’s dream with its 80-degree, wide-angle 8-megapixel sensor.
ZTE Nubia Z9 Max and Mini
The Z9 Max’s screen measures 5.5-inches and shows Android 5.0 with the latest Nubia user interface over the top. It’s driven by a 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor with 3GB of RAM. The design is reminiscent of the Apple iPhone 6, and in turn, the ZTE Blade S6.
Related: Read our review of the ZTE Blade S6
ZTE’s made an effort with the camera, fitting a 16-megapixel rear camera, and an 8-megapixel front camera — but there’s no mention of the retina-unlocking system, which utilized the same type of front camera on the Grand S3 here. This camera combination is repeated on the Z9 Mini, which has a slightly smaller 5-inch 1080p screen, and the 64-bit Snapdragon 615 chip with 2GB of RAM. The Z9 Mini also has swappable rear panels to give the phone a unique look, while the body on both phones is made from metal.
Both phones have 16GB of internal memory, a MicroSD card slot, and dual-SIM functionality, plus a 2,900mAh battery. The models announced here run on China’s 4G system, but ZTE has released Nubia phones in the U.S. before, so there’s a chance we’ll see international versions in the future. Converted pricing puts the Z9 Max at $400 unlocked, and the Z9 Mini at $240. In China, this puts the Z9 Max in direct competition with the new Xiaomi Mi Note, which costs slightly less, but has a Snapdragon 801 chip, and a 13-megapixel rear camera.
Updated on 05-06-2015 by Malarie Gokey: Added official launch news for the Nubia Z9.