An Android iPhone: Full hands-on review of the Nubia M2
After testing and reviewing the incredible Nubia Z17 Lite it was time for a new challenge. What if I would review the sub 150 euro budget device of that same company? Will it also be as snappy and smooth as the Z17?
Although I hadn’t tested anything yet, I was sort of prejudiced. And then the Nubia M2 arrived. Now keep in mind the Nubia M2 has dropped in price in 2018. This means you will be able to grab one for anywhere around 140 euro. The time that you had to make tons of concessions if you went for a low budget (sub 150,- EUR) smartphone is over! And the Nubia M2 is a perfect example to illustrate that statement. Basically this phone is best described like this: An Android iPhone. This is my full hands-on review of the Nubia M2.
Box and design
The phone arrived in a rather plane looking white box with some red accents and with little other than the Nubia brand logo on it. When I opened the box and took the M2 out of it I was very pleasantly surprised. First thing that I noticed was the device was incredibly thin. With just a 7mm body this is one of the thinnest smartphones out there. Yet it still has a 3630 mAh battery and a 5.5 inch screen. The body is made out of aluminium-like metal and feels great. It has no plastic caps but fused antenna-lines that are prefectly worked into the body. The U Shaped design of those antenna-lines has definitely been ‘inspired’ by the iPhone 7 Plus. While we’re at it, it’s rather fair to say the entire phone looks very similar to the Apple flagship. Right down to the camera shape and placement.
Design is one of the few things Apple’s got right (if we exclude that horrible X-notch just for the sake of the argument). So I don’t see a problem with that. The phone feels great in hand and the front is covered with 2.5D glass. Also on the front we find the fingerprint scanner annex home button. Both are working extremely well and fast. On the phone’s right side we find the on/off button and the SIM slot(!). That’s quite different from other phones and on the left side we find the volume up/down buttons. This odd placement threw me off in the first days I was using this phone but I got used to it quite fast.
The Nubia M2 doesn’t have the new and fashionable 18:9 screenratio. But it brings us a familiar 5.5 inch screen with a 16:9 standard ratio. But that’s the only concession one has to make when it comes to the screen. Instead of the standard 720p resolution that seems to be the norm on many sub 150 euro phones the M2 sports a super amoled screen in a 1080p FHD resolution. Now I like bright and nicely saturated colours a lot. In fact I’m not even against a slight over-saturation to make the colours pop a wee bit more. And judging from the M2‘s screen: Neither is Nubia! Some colours like bright red almost eminates light.
Blacks are really deep and contrast is very clear. The daylight visibility is not bad for an amoled screen. In the brightest situations it could’ve been slightly better. But that’s definitely no deal-breaker there. The responiveness of the screen is absolutely great. It has 10 point multi touch, so typing fast or using it for gaming is not a problem whatsoever.
Let’s dig in a little deeper and see what makes the Nubia M2 tick. At the very heart of the Nubia M2 we find an old familiar processor: The Qualcomm Snapdragon 625. Now I’m actually reluctant to waste any more time even writing about this chipset. Also, what could I write about this processor that hasn’t been written by other reviewers (or myself for that matters).
So for those readers who might be new to my work or this processor, let’s just break it down fast and easy. It’s a very effective and smooth operating 2.0 GHz chipset in the midrange section (of 2017). It’s great when it comes to battery life and it’s very reliable without any heating issues. And I’m guessing that’s exactly the reason why so many brands out there have chosen to use this chipset. Well, that or the fact that they bought them in abundance last year and now have to get rid of them (cough… Xiaomi, cough).
The Nubia M2 is equipped with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage, that comes with the possibility to expand by SD-card. Graphically the SoC is supported by the Adreno 506 GPU. And everything is powered by a really great 3630 mAh battery that comes with a USB-C port to fast-charge. So the hardware of the Nubia M2 is definitely okay for a sub-150 euro phone. I mean, who else is offering you an amoled screen for that price?
The software of the Nubia M2 is a different story all together. In my opinion this needs a little explanation. Why? Well if any other brand would want to sell me their new smartphone in 2018 and the would tell me: Hey but it’s running on Android Marshmallow 6.0, I would’ve said they’re nuts. Yet basically this is exactly what Nubia has done. Because: YES, the M2 is still sporting Android Marshmallow 6.0. However, as end user there’s a good chance I won’t ever notice a difference with other much more expensive or more modern devices. Why?
Well Nubia has a rather extensive user interface they programmed over Android. The Nubia UI is very responsive, intuitive and just on spot with many interesteing shortcuts and features which make the phone function flawless and make it look awesome while doing so. If you want to use fingerprint ID for your banking app however, you have to use other means of identifying yourself using the Nubia M2. To me that was not a biggie at all. Other than that I loved using the Nubia UI and got used to it quite fast. It’s obvious they lean towards the iOS look, but I feel there’s nothing wrong with wanting the best of two worlds right?
Now everyone reading my reviews must’ve noticed I’m a real shutterbug and camera performance is very important to me. In fact, I’m inclined to say to me camera is the single most important feature on a smartphone. You can hand me the fastest, smoothest running phone in the world, but when it’s camera’s aren’t ready for the task, It’ll be gone within a few weeks (like every Umidigi ever for example). And when it comes to the camera the Nubia M2 surely doesn’t dissapoint. Sure it’s not nearly as great as the camera’s on its big brother the Nubia Z17 Lite, but at merely half it’s price that’s not a suprise. The quality of as well front- as dual rear camera is way above average, but definitely not flawless.
Technical Specs Rear Camera Set-up:
13MP Monochrome + 13MP RGB sensor
Sapphire Glass Lens
Tons of options
Ofcourse it does have all the fantastic extra photo options that are standard on Nubia devices like 3D photographs, light drawing, Clone Camera, Star Trail, Slowmotion and Timelapse just to name a few. So that’s really cool. It also has a real dual camera set up that enable you to shoot these fantastic bokeh effect pictures. However the edge-detection doesn’t always seem to work like it should, and if you choose to use you dual camera for anything other than a portrait, you might find it necessary to make several pictures to get the effect you wanted. Some situations will even be impossible to catch. On the bright side Nubia has also added the possibility to refocus after a shot has been taken, which is great.
The dynamic range of the Nubia Z17 Lite also is better than on the M2, and yet, the M2 beats many other 150 euro devices. Also when it comes to dynamic range.Lights, lightfall, sunshine etc are caught briliantly by the camera sensors of the Nubia. Seldomly have I made better shots of sunsets and reflections on the water than on the Nubia M2. No matter if you shoot in colour or in stylish Black and Whites the Nubia makes lovely shots.
Technical Specs Front Camera:
80° Wide Angle
When it comes to video the Nubia M2 also doesn’t dissapoint, Fair is fair, there is no image stabilisation so the shots can turn out slightly shaky, but all in all that’s the case with many other phones at this price range. And the end results of those phones aren’t nearly as sharp and rich in colour as the videos shot on the M2. The sound of the videos is also very clear and above average when compared to other smartphones. As always there’s a gallery of sample pictures at the end of this review.
After using the Nubia M2 for over 3 weeks as my daily driver (I planned for one week like I do with most phones before writing a review) I can only say I enjoyed using this phone very much. In daily use the battery life is really lovely and also with heavy use I could easily make it to the end of the day (even with some heavy gaming in the late hours). The charging is fast and the phone almost doesn’t heat up in the process. Taking pictures is a joy and the in call quality as well as the speaker sound is great. I rate the Nubia M2 an 8 out of 10.