UMI Zero Review: A whole new mid-range experience

UMI Zero Review: A whole new mid-range experience

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umi zero review

We review the UMi Zero, a mid-range phone dressed as a flagship with a wallet friendly price tag!

FYI This is a review of a pre-production version of the UMi Zero. Since writing this review we have also been sent a final production model and will post a separate review of it in the coming days.

The UMI Zero caught the attention of phone users all over the world with a radical new design, and use of premium materials. When the UMi Zero was in the planning stages, UMi went for a new approach from the phone itself, to even the packaging and accessories. The result is a truly unique handset, a mid-range phone with high-end features and looks!

UMI Zero Review: Packaging

Having received hundreds of Chinese phones for review, I was quite surprised when the UMi Zero arrived in it’s large packaging. The box is much more luxurious than most Chinese phones at this price, and really set you in a quality frame of mind. The packaging contains the 5-inch UMi Zero, screen protector, screen cleaner, USB, Texas instruments fast charger and ‘Z’ shaped protective bumper! A good haul in a great looking box.

UMI Zero Review: Design

The UMI Zero is a 5-incher boasting a beautifully crafted, black “stealth-design”. The metal body looks and feels outstanding, and the Gorilla Glass 3 panels on both sides deliver that little extra everyone is looking for in a mobile device. The build quality is outstanding at any price but considering the Zero costs only $200 it is even more impressive.

Everything fits together nicely, there are no loose parts, no large gaps, not a single flaw. From the design and construction of the phone alone you would easily think that the Zero could be sold for double the asking price if it came from another manufacturer. UMI didn’t lie when calling this a “super body”. The slim metal chassis measures only 6.4mm and weighs a feathery 145g. All very impressive!

UMI Zero Review: Super AMOLED Display

Another killer feature of the UMi Zero is its display. Yes, it is a 5-inch FHD 1920 x 1080 panel, but the real stand out feature is the fact it is a SUPER AMOLED panel! This is the same screen technology used on high-end Samsung phones, and certainly not what we expected from a $200 Chinese device.

An OLED panel consists of many small LEDs. Every sub-pixel represents an LED, which means there is no need for back illumination. The result: Intense and crisp colors, a very high contrast only few LCD panels can reach, and a true black, which sometimes makes it impossible to distinguish the screen from the phones black frame in the dark.

Sure AMOLED display’s are not everyone’s cup of tea, but at this price the screen is an amazing addition to a superb looking phone.

UMI Zero Review: Performance & System

As mentioned at the start of the review, this version of the phone is a pre-production sample with pre-production firmware. This might be the reason for the lower than expected benchmarks. The Zero uses an octacore MT6592T chipset, the ‘T’ meaning it is the faster 2.0Ghz option, but even still this is a little behind the times considering more modern phones are getting newer 64bit processors. Oddly even the faster clock speed, gaming performance was lower than expected and certain games (Dead Trigger 2 for example) were a little laggy at times. Sure this could be the pre-production hardware and optimisation, but for your reference here are the benchmarks I managed:

Benchmark Result
Antutu 30.515
3D Mark Icestorm Unlimited 7.291
3D Mark Icestorm Extrem 4.999
3D Mark Icestorm 7.215
Anomaly 2 142.960
Vellamo Browser Test 2.073
Vellamo Metal Test 1.370
Vellamo Multicore Test 888

What we also noticed about the Android 4.4 KitKat ROM is, that it’s mostly a vanilla ROM. But we were missing a few features during the test, the most important one being off-screen gestures. KitKat does support these out of the box, but the UMI Zero doesn’t have them. This really is a pity which will hopefully be fixed with the final firmware. UMI promised a lot of features, including the possibility of installing various custom ROMs like MIUI with just a single tap, which we haven’t seen yet on the device.

UMI Zero Review: Multimedia

There’s no need telling you about how amazing 1080p movies look on the gorgeous Super AMOLED panel, right? So how about audio? Well this isn’t quite up to the same standard as the high-end build and looks. It would haven been great to see UMi pack some nice audio equipment in the Zero’s chassis, but I guess there wasn’t much room in the budget for that. Sound quality is nothing to write home about on the built-in speaker, while it is better through headphones, but lacks some serious bass.

UMI Zero Review: Reception Quality

The UMi Zero represents the first time the company have made an all metal body, and as we all know, metal isn’t all that great when it comes to signal strength. Don’t get us wrong the reception of calls is pretty good, but 3G signals and WIFI is much weaker than on a similar plastic bodied phone. There were times during the review that we had no 3G signal at all which could become annoying.

GPS was working surprisingly well with our review unit. We’ve got a first fix within seconds, and that’s even possible inside the building at the window. The sat-count was at 9 most of the time, the accuracy reaching up to 2m.

UMI Zero Review: Camera

UMI advertised the Zero to feature a 13 mega pixel rear shooter coming from Sony and 8 mega pixels for the phones front. Pre-production versions of the phone came with an F2.2 aperture, but what is odd is that a firmware updated changed that number to F1.8. This is rather odd behaviour, and after reaching out to UMi they guarantee that production version will have a genuine aperture size of F1.8. Let’s hope that this is the case.

As far as the quality goes we’ve not been disappointed considering the price the Zero is sold for. It’s by far not anything you would call high-end, but it’s pretty usable. Besides a high noise production the camera produces quite sharp shots with nice colors. The dual-LED flash is usable, but nothing for those big rooms.

UMI Zero Review: Battery

The UMI Zero allegedly boasts a 2,780mAh battery. It’s hard to say if this is true or not, as the battery life isn’t significantly longer than with other phone. You’ll get over a day, but don’t expect any wonders. This might be up to the bad optimization though, so please wait for feedback of users who got the final product.

One outstanding feature of the UMI Zero is it’s capability of using fast charging. The technology comes from Texas Instruments and uses a special 2.4A charger with a special Micro USB cable. It is able to charge the battery by 1% / minute. This means you’ll be ready to go after just a little over one hour, if you acquired the habit of re-charging your phones at 20%. But please, be careful and don’t touch the plug attached to the charger when charging the phone while actually using it. The metal on there acts as a type of heat-sink and reaches up to 108°C – we’re not exaggerating! This doesn’t do any harm to the material, but would to your finger so be careful.

UMI Zero Review: Conclusion

If you are looking for a flagship phone with Snapdragon beating performance then this is not the phone for you. If however you are in the market for a mid-range phone and performance with the build quality and looks of a high-end phone then the UMi Zero is a great device. For the quality the Zero is simply outstanding and, at this time, extremely hard to beat!

There are issues but many should be fixed with the final firmware on production models, and it is a shame the phone uses and older CPU which cannot support LTE, but I suppose we can’t get it all at such a great price.

Thanks to efox-shop.com for providing us with a pre-production sample of the UMI Zero, and keep posted for the full review of the final production version of the UMi Zero coming soon!

Also Read:
Christopher joined the amazing world of Chinese phones and tablets back last year and quickly developed a large interest in them. Today he is operating the German GizChina issue and also writing on gizchina.com.
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  • i got one and i dont know what to do with it.

    יש לי אחד ואני לא יודע מה לעשות איתו

    • KU DE TA

      إعطائها إلى الشعب الفلسطيني

      • josef

        you really thinks the palestinians will give something to the jews if it were opposite.
        you have to see what happens at the Arab countries
        You slaughter by the leaders.
        if israel was a palestine place, the situation was even worse in the area.
        go sleep on your nose

        • KU DE TA

          “Israel” IS a Palestine place. It has always been. Period.

      • אין ” עם פלסטיני” זו המצאה ושקר.

    • Ruby

      Where did you order yours from? I thought it hasen’t been released yet.

    • Rick

      Can this phone support Hebrew? Does it work in Israel?

  • I ordered one from e-fox, hoping it’ll turn up soon 🙂 what more can I say, ideal midrange phone it would seem. Looks nice, seems well made, well done umi perfect gift phone 🙂

    • NiHouMa

      I hope that you receive the right stuff. E-Fox has a WOT(web Of Trust) warning.

      • They couldn’t hit my flight deadline again which is a uni problem, but they have refunded monies to PayPal twice now, very quickly as well so to me that’s trustworthy 🙂

  • The performance of the MT6592T seems to be on Par with the MT8392 (1.7GHz). That’s odd because my Cube Talk 9X scores just about same on Antutu. Despite the 2K resolution display on the cube.

    • Yeah, the MT8392 seems to be a much better performer somehow (at least when compared to the MT6592).

      • Quite true cos I don’t understand how it will match the performance of the turbo version of the MT6592. Plus we all know that the MT6592 can’t power a 2K display but the MT8392 can handle it like on the cube talk 9X.

        There has to be some differences between these 2 SoCs.

  • BaigAndroid

    Hi,

    Did the phone get heatup

  • Dave

    Saw a video review on YouTube and they where using off screen gestures.

  • ferdi

    ya i was asking under your last article, whether its possible to change aperture with software or is it fixed within the lens! because other phones use the same sony sensor and all have a f2.0. my understanding is that the lens fixes the aperture? so how can it be released with a fixed lens on 2.2 and change to 1.8?

    • no it isn’t possible it is a physical part that cannot be changed with an update

  • george

    To sum it up, its an item to look at, not for real live use. Your SIM card should be in a real phone

  • Yury

    They need to re-brand (re-design) at first…
    logo UMI -> 100% stealed from Xiaomi, so if they can’t even create own logo, what should i think about their phones???

    • ferdi

      if thats the case iuni also stole the name from MUI!!

  • RoS

    Where is now cheapest place to order UMI ZERO ?
    Is someone offering in this moment placing order with shipping from Europe (pls only not antelife) ?

  • david

    I read some problems with the UMi Zero’s SIM recognition and random reboots. Has anyone experienced these?

  • Mohd Shafaq Rafi

    This phove does not even reaches up the criteria as described. I ordered one UMI zero from Aliexpress to India. Reached within 14 days. But my expectations are shattered. Camera quality is does not even stands up against Gionee E3 which is only 8 Mpxls. Touch too is not that good. You ought to tap on home icon hard or twice to get back on the home screen. The Wifi mac address keeps changing after each reboot or Wifi Off / On. Whicle charging its upper left part becomes owen. Startup is too slow. Coming to super amoled, no good.

  • Mohd Shafaq Rafi

    I didn,t even used it an hour, just packed it back and trying to return it back. According to me it’s not worthy.

  • Ramón Soria Momparler

    I bought a mobile phone on May 20, 2015. I paid 185 euros in Tinydeal.com. It came quickly because the store sent the phone from Spain. The box was somewhat rickety, and the Z-shaped case had a broken side. I claimed and they did not paid attention to what I exposed. They said that everything was shipped in perfect condition.

    After 2 months of use there is only one word to describe my assessment about the terminal. DISAPPOINTMENT. I changed my mind from illusion to disappointment because I thought I had bought an excellent phone but in a few months I am infinitely disappointed. Now I see that many of the reviews I read on important websites before buying, were a big lie. They make good publicity to ensure that companies or selling websites can send phones to them. In addition, a review of 10 minutes can not be considered objective. Now I tell them my experience with objective data from 2-6 months of use.

    The camera is really bad. At daylight with good illumination takes pictures ok, but at night or using the flash, they are horrible. Even flash shooting is not synchronized with the photo capturing. All pictures are darkened. I do not think that camera is Sony. When you ask to the console dmesg application, it do not show Sony HW. More than one user has also commented on HTCMania. But that’s not the real problem. The real problem is that the photos are horrible.

    They say that Gorilla Glass 3 is mounted on the phone. Gorilla Glass?. No,Cheeta monkey. After two weeks of using, the back side was full of stripes. After one month of using I realized that there was a crack 3 centimeters long in the corner. It did not dropped to the floor, I used the phone, just that. Now, five months later i know that the slit is made because of the battery has been swelling gradually, chopping the rear glass. Moreover, now, I do not have rear glass because it has been taking off. The other day,the phone fell to the ground and despite of having a better cover than the original, the rear glass broke in hundred pieces.

    Now, 5 months later I have a phone that needs to be charged it 2-3 times a day. Not to mention that often battery drops really fast, passing from 40% to 5% in just 15 minutes of use. Before the smart people say a word I inform you that I have tried thousand of options to limit consumption and so,so so. That is not the solution because when phone was new I had no battery problems all day.

    It is also to be mentioned that phone screen has a bluish background I do not like. The screen should be natural color, not blue.

    Big mistake not to put the case cover immediately, because the glass of the rear camera is at cover cristal level, so it gets scratched easily. Big mistake by UMI not to think about it and had left the lens cristal it at a lower level than the rear housing.

    The sound is horrible. It’s the worst I’ve heard compared to other phones. It sounds tinny.
    In addition i will say that, the headphone connector is not making good connection. It unplugs very easily because it is poorly positioned and also because of the curvature of the housing. It does not help to make a good connection. Let me say that the location at the lower side does not seem right, it would have been better at the top.

    The GPS gets dizzy when you stop the car and it starts to recalculating routes. I tested all existing things, from using only the GPS signal, ie, not get help of mobile networks, and even hand-edit features GPS. I still do not trust a much about the improvement. On more than one occasion I’ve spent the freeway exits because the GPS is not updated quickly or sometimes the GPS gets stuck.

    The phone restarts when it wants. Although using the last ROM has left periods about 5 or 6 days.

    I tell that all this happens despite the official ROM update UMI ZERO, which is supposed to fix things. I did all wipes before flashing. I’m coming by 3.10.

    It is true that the phone runs the software fine. 2 GB of RAM and 8 cores are noticeable, but the other things mentioned before get into contrast. One thing is sure, all eight cores are noticed because there are times when the phone is so hot you could fry an egg on. Moreover it happens much more if you use the phone while it is charging. It really burns.

    Some metal parts such as the SIM charger are simply painted with paint which immediately jumps just by using the phone or putting it in the pocket. The rest of the chassis is in the same line, it loses the color easily with a simple use or when it gets in contact with other things in your pocket. It scratches easily and it lets out the gray-white beneath it. That is, you’ll have a perfect terminal with Picasian colors soon.

    The charger broke down in two months. What it was my surprise when I asked Tinydeal.com for a new one and they say that warranty do not cover tha charger, despite being part of the phone. They say the chargers warranty is only 1 month.

    Too much price for a lousy phone.

    Summarizing, worst phone i have ever owned. ZERO model is exactly the result it gets, zero.

    I will NEVER recommend. I regret infinitely I bought it.