Nubia N1 review: This is the perfect phone to play Pokemon
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What can a new player in a crowded market do to stand out? A dirt-cheap price? Killer specs? A ginormous battery? How about all of that? Nubia, which was previously a subsidiary of ZTE, has ticked all the above boxes with the N1. The N1 that looks oddly similar to the Xiaomi Redmi 3S Prime is a mammoth phone in terms of the hardware packed inside, but more importantly, for its elephantine 5,000mAh battery which Nubia claims gives the phone a 3-day battery life. For Rs 11,999 it certainly looks like one of the powerful ones in the market, but is it dependable?

In the curious case of budget phones, the more firepower you pack inside, the more attractive it gets. In that case, the Nubia N1 is certainly a champ, but it is in the finer details the N1 truly shines. Most features are standardised across phones in this commoditised market, however, the Nubia has put some thought into making the phone 'different' while borrowing the features that have been known to work for budget phones.

The Good

The N1 is the perfect phone to have if you are an ardent Pokemon Go Player. The 5,000mAh battery means you will not run out of charge when you are far away from your house hunting for Pokemon in the wild urban jungle. You have VoLTE and 4G meaning there will be fast uninterrupted speed to keep up with your pace. A bulky build and metal-finish rear that keeps the phone lodged firmly in your sweaty palms. If you're not an aspiring Pokemon Master, this can also double up as your primary media device which is used only to play music and watch movies while on the move. Also, courtesy its big battery, this phone will outlast your primary phone by over a day easily and you can always have it as a backup for emergencies.

Performance wise, the phone runs on a MediaTek MT6755 Helio P10 octa-core processor which is a bit dated, yet one of the better ones to come out of MediaTek's stable. The P10 came out in late 2015 and for a phone that released at the fag end of 2016, it is not exactly brand new. It packs four high-performance 2.0GHz cores and four low-power 1.0GHz cores to optimise battery life. The phone unlocks in a blink of an eye with the fingerprint sensor embedded on the rear panel. Apps too open without much of a lag and there were no stutters noticed when fiddling around with the phone. I ran Mortal Kombat X on the phone and found no significant gameplay lags except for long loading times.

Yet, where the phone truly shines is in the experience. Nubia has put in a lot of effort to streamline the user interface to allow for aggressive multi-tasking. Despite running on Android 6.0 Marshmallow, the N1 features a dual-desktop mode which can be enabled with ease by just swiping up from below. You can enable the split-screen from any app. It was especially useful for me when I was working out of a phone as I can easily keep a Chrome tab open above and a text editor below.

Also, the Edge Gestures in the phone are a charm to have around and the feature actually makes a difference which is a far cry from the gimmicky execution found on most Chinese phones. The edges of the screen are a whole different ecosystem altogether teeming with a multitude of features. Swipe along the edges on the right to get back to the desktop, swipe up or down the edges to switch between recent apps, tap on the left edge to go back or just swipe repeatedly along the edges to boost the device. It takes some time to get a hang of it, but it’s a fantastic productivity enhancement.

While the camera is anything but good, it does comes with a flurry of tricks in its bag. Features that are usually found in high-end phones like Slo-mo, time-lapse, multi-exposure and scene modes like light painting, star-trail, slow shutter and even RAW format shots. If you are the kind that likes to give an unrealistic touch to your photos, this one also comes with live filters like Lomo, Fish Eye and the likes.

Finally, there's the battery life of this phone. I tried to drain the battery in a day by keeping Pokemon Go on the whole time, but damn, this phone almost felt invincible, lasting well over a day and a half with the screen turned to max brightness, the GPS on overdrive and the data turned on. The next time, I played three movies back to back overnight and when I woke up, the battery was only down to 60 per cent. It seemed like the Earth will run out of time, but not this phone, not this battery. Impressive stuff!

The Bad

Well, the Nubia N1 might be a great phone for work and play, but it is not something you’d like to flaunt or show-off. It looks no different from the Redmi Note 3 or the Lenovo K6 Power. The phone looks like every other low-end Chinese phone in the market with the typical soft-gold brushed aluminium finish on the back and a white bezel with glass on top. The only departure from the generic design is the glowing red home button which glows much like the old Nokia N-series phones while charging.

There is also the lack of an App Drawer which is quite pissing off if you ask me. What if I don't want all my apps cluttering up my home screen? For that, if you’re not a power user, I’d suggest using something like the Nova launcher which is available on the Google Play store.

The camera is a horror show. Agreed it is a budget phone, but with rivals in the market like the Lenovo P2 and even the older Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 and the cheaper Redmi 3S strutting excellent cameras, the Nubia N1 loses by a big margin. The camera struggled to adjust the foreground exposure when the frame had a lit background resulting in uncalled-for silhouettes in the day. At night, noise creeped into the photos as the shallow f/2.2 aperture meant the shutter had to be open for long. This also resulted in shaky and hazy shots. Macro shots looked a tad bit artificial giving an impression that Nubia didn't really want to focus on providing a good camera.

There is also the strange case of the recent button. Almost all devices now have a dedicated recent apps capacitive button along with a back button. The Nubia N1 however requires you to long press the back button to get to the multi-tasking screen and the other button does nothing whatsoever, most of the times. Only on the home screen, pressing it pops up the launcher settings.

The Ugly

The review unit I received made it very apparent that the UI was hastily converted from the Chinese version to an English version. Sprinkled across the user interface are tiny spelling errors and grammatical fudges which are quite an eyesore. This, however, may not be true for the units that are shipped to consumers in India. If it is, then congratulations, we’re in the same boat.


The Nubia N1 is the perfect phone for playing Pokemon Go for long hours, or when you are out on a road-trip the N1 can double up as your media player belting out music for days. If you have a long flight, the 32GB/64GB storage and the 5,000mAh battery are a godsend that will keep you from being bored to death with movies and TV shows which the phone can be packed with. The display too is bright enough to enjoy watching them. Split-screen mode also allows you to get a bit of your work done. But fair warning, don’t try to pass yourself off as a photographer using this phone. At Rs 11,999 the Nubia N1 tries a lot to be your primary smartphone, but only ends up playing the second fiddle among other more reliable performers like the Moto G4 or the Redmi Note 3.