The Umidigi Z Pro: Failing Flagship to decent Budget Phone
Not a standard hands-on review ;)
Now regardless what brand we’re talking about: there’s always this sweet spot. The place where price and quality meet in the right proportions. When the Umidigi Z Pro was launched, it was far from this sweet spot. In fact, eventhough it had a fast processor and two decent camera sensors built in it was a dissaster!
And it was a dissaster happening at anything but a convenient time. His predecessor the UMi Z was just getting horrible press due to swollen batteries, an OTA software update that led the phone to brick completely and the always absent customer support of UMi/ Umidigi. In short: Not a good year for the UMi Company.
In fact one might come to the conclusion it was such a bad year that they even decided to rebrand. The name Umidigi appeared and with it the newest (or first so you will) Umidigi “flagship” the Umidigi Z Pro. Launched just a couple of months after the UMi Z, there was hardly any change to notice from the outside. Except the UMi Z made it look like it had two rear camera’s when in fact one of the two was the (tremendously failing) laser focus lens.The Z Pro came with two actual rear camera’s. In fact it sports the very decent Sony IMX258 sensors which have known to produce stunning results…
But sadly, in other brands phones! Because the Umidigi software buffs and engineers somehow didn’t manage to produce similar quality pictures and videos. However it might have been, considering the high quality camera sensors, the Mediatek Helio X27 (one of the fastest processors out there those days) and the 4000 mAh battery Umidigi dubbed the Z Pro their latest “flagship” and slapped a price-tag between 250 to 275 euro on the device. Since they were obviously in a hurry to rebrand, the Z Pro had to launch quickly, thus leaving an entire first generation customers to be beta-testers. Paying beta-testers even!
So much for the history of the Umidigi Z Pro. Now, like I said in the very beginning there is this sweet spot, when price and what you get for it are just in the right proportion. Well since Umidigi is launching a new “flagship” like every forthnight these days there has been a price drop. This means you can order the Umidigi Z Pro for anywhere between 129 and 150 euro now. But wait a minute? Why would I want to buy a bugprone phone that had the worst of press even if its half the original price now? If that’s the question you’re about to ask then read on. I will try to explain:
First let’s address some of the complaints about the original, first batch of Umidigi Z Pro phones. The battery life was terrible 3.5 to 4 hrs SoT, even though it was packing a 4000mAh battery. The camera had focus issues, and some customers were only able to use the monochrome camera if the wanted to shoot anything besides macro shots. It wasn’t able to view HD YouTube or Netflix feeds, which even last year, was rather sad. And the fingerprint scanner would respond randomly if at all. And ofcourse many cases of freezing. When we look at this severe list of problems we can conclude two things. The first obviously being the fact this phone should in NO WAY have been released already. And secondly: Given the quality of materials used (Sony Camera, Samsung RAM etc etc) and the mentioned list one can conclude the problem is in the software!
And this is the good news! Simply because most of those things can be fixed with software updates. And they did! Now let’s jump to 2018 and find that as soon as you start the phone up it offers you several OTA updates. Now truth be told it’s always a feeling like russian roulette to agree to an Umidigi update, but in the case of the Z Pro they were actually useful, and working flawlessly! So now, we have this light aluminium gun greyish body. A beautiful 2.5D screen with an oleophobic layer that’s running on Android 7.1, and that immediately impoved the battery life. So now it’s actually useable. Which is nice. They also improved the performance of the camera and some other bugs and glitches have been taken care of. So now, is it a perfect phone?
No, it’s not, but it’s a decent phone for a 140 euro price and it comes in this cool metal box, with this cool red charger cable. It’s got an iPhone 7 Plus/ OnePlus 5 vibe going on, and you can tell all your buddies your phone has a tencore chip. It might sound sarcastic and ofcourse I am, but truth is every thing looks slick and well build. The problem here was and remains the software. That being said with the updates installed, the Umidigi Z Pro is a pretty decent phone at it’s price. It runs on a Helio X27 decacore processor coupled with 4GB of RAM. Yet it’s impossible to get over 96K on the AnTuTu benchmark out of it.
Thanks to the update to Android Nougat the fingerprint scanner is flawless and fast and it’s able to hold the charge for 5 to 6 hours which again, is not what you would expect of a 4000mAh battery. But it’s almost twice as long as before the update, so definitely an improvement. Gaming is no problem on the Umidigi Z Pro and it can handle most of the games without any graphical problems. What I did notice though was the temperature of the phone is constantly very high. This hasn’t lead to any problems in the two weeks I used it. Maybe it can be related to the placement of the chipset.
Then, there is the camera. It certainly has improved after the update, but it still has some flaws too. Flaws that I personally would find inexcuseable in a 250-buck-flagship-phone, but are perfectly willing to deal with at a 130-140 euro price tag. The two main cons I consider to be the low light performance, that is … basically absent. Which might not sound like a big deal since a lot oof budget phones have trouble in low light. But here’s the thing: A) devices are getting better and anno 2018 even (some) low budget phones can shoot decent footage in the dark. And B) These phone don’t have a build-in camera option named “SUPER NIGHT MODE”. Correct me if I’m wrong, but that sounds promising. But the results are just migraine inducing, look at these examples:
Another thing on the camera of the Umidigi Z Pro is the dynamic range. At moments it’s perfectly on top of things. Yet shoot a second picture just seconds later and it’s a proper mess. Another equally mysterious phenomenon is the bokeh- or portrait mode. In one picture it seperates subject from the background just perfectly, the next shot is a mess again. Luckily it has an option to refocus after the shot has been taken. This can make up for some of the software’s mistakes, but sometimes even refocussing won’t help you out. Let me show you some “highlights” of dual camera missers:
So, what you are saying it’s an okay phone for it’s price that’s well build, it just doesn’t have a good camera…right? Well… No. See and this is what did my head in reviewing this smartphone, it is able to shoot some incredible looking pictures. The monochrome mode is just stunning, and I was able to make some lovely shots with it. If the conditions are right it’s a great camera. Just make sure you’re always making more than one picture of whatever you want to save. It has a zoom-option that also is great to use. The shutter speed is absolutely fantastic and I was able to catch my kids jumping in mid-air on several occassions. So no complaints there.
But as soon as the lights go low, you might as well forget you’re even carrying a camera. Unless your using the flash you can forget anything will turn out other than grainy and blurry. Video camera, same problems. The colours, the sharpness..everything looks great, but there’s no continuous auto focus meaning you have to tap the screen every time you move. And it lacks any form of stabilisation, so better not breathe or footage will be shaky. If you dont move and have steady hands however, the camera shoots lovely pictures. So you see my problem here? For every pro there is a con and the other way around. And that goes for everything. No joke.
Take the speaker, volume is way above average, great in a noisy environment, unfortunately the sound quality is below mediocre. The fast charger is a fast charger, yet it charges other 4000mAh phones FASTER than the phone it came with: The Umidigi Z Pro. That being said, it charges fast enough to not be annoying, but you know, it’s all those little tiny things together that still make me not sure. One thing I am sure of is the price drop was a great move and much more fitting to the phone. Would I recommend it? That depends on who’s asking. Are you not a heavy use but1.) still want a phone that has a good build and is not too slow? 2.) looking for a good, modern looking phone in the iPhone/OnePlus-look The Umidigi Z Pro might be a great phone for you.
If however you are a heavy user and want more than a 50-60% succes rate when taking pictures, you might want to skip the Umidigi Z Pro altogether. After all heavy use and a relatively fast heating chip usually aren’t the best of friends in the long end. Just consider the fact you might also get a Meizu M6S or a Nubia M2 for the same price, those might be better alternatives. As always I conclude with some picture samples shot on the Umidigi Z Pro. Enjoy.