Xiaomi Mi3 vs. ZTE nubia Z5S: Which one’s for you?

You’ve probably heard of ZTE and maybe unknowingly had a ZTE networking device (router, modem) at your place. However, the manufacturing giant from China is keen on making it big on the smartphone arena, and already has a few power-packed smartphones in its arsenal, the newest among which is the nubia Z5S. On the other hand, Xiaomi is a relatively young company based in the same country, a company whose fame is spreading like wildfire with people across continents demanding local availability. We probably don’t need to say this, but the Mi3 is Xiaomi’s weapon of disaster for this year.


xiaomi mi3 on sale hero
Like you would’ve expected, both devices come with 5-inch 1080p screens, essentially leaving nothing to choose from. However, the touch panel used on the Mi3 is known to be an ultra-sensitive one, with the operation possible with wet fingers or with gloves on. 5-inches is like playing it safe; not too big to be carried around, and not too small so you can enjoy your multimedia on the go.

Processor, battery, UI

snapdragon 800

Again, both devices feature the same 2.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 (Mi3 comes in a Tegra 4 variant for the Chinese market) which is one among the most powerful mobile chipsets going around. Both come with 2GB of RAM as well, but the operating system making use of these resources varies in a vast manner. While Xiaomi’s Mi3 comes with a very heavily-modified version of the Google’s Android, i.e., MIUI, ZTE’s nubia Z5S will come with a more subtle variation. As far as we’re concerned, MIUI certainly provides for a very enjoyable, customizable and secure usage experience, and this is first-hand info. Z5S packs a 2,300mAh battery, whereas Xiaomi’s Mi3 comes with an impressive 3,050mAh unit.

Camera, storage

nubia z5 micro sim

Gizchina News of the week

Like any other flagship that’s seen a release this year, both these powerhouses come with 13 mega-pixel shooters at the rear. On the front-facing department, the Z5S gains the upper hand with a 5 mega-pixel unit as opposed to a 2 mega-pixel one on the Mi3. Xiaomi specified at launch that the 13 mega-pixel shooter that comes with the device is manufactured by Sony, while ZTE makes no such claims but mentions OIS and 4K video support. On the storage front, the Mi3 comes in 16/64GB variants, whereas the Z5S does 16GB and 32GB built-in.

Availability, etc.

nubia z5 saleThis is where Xiaomi’s Mi3 suffers; the only way for international customers to get hold of one is via a reseller. On the other hand, ZTE devices are available in many countries and the Z5S should be soon, too. Connectivity is another thing that might play a decisive role. Eyeing the American and European markets, ZTE has listed 4G LTE-enabled versions of the Z5S and the Z5S mini while the Mi3 can, at best, do 3G.


xiaomi mi3 hands on
The Mi3 is priced $320 here in China, whereas the ZTE nubia Z5S goes for $330. Of course, expect your favourite reseller to mark up the price by a good 20-25% when ordering internationally.  This will hamper the value : money aspect that Xiaomi thrust upon. For those who might be interested, ZTE have also rolled out the Z5S mini which comes with updated specs and a  pocket-friendly$246 price tag!

Xiaomi Mi3 Vs Nubia Z5s Specifications

[table id=56 /]

Considering the above factors, which of the two beasts do you foresee yourself saving up for in the next couple of months? After having spent some time with the Mi2S, I’m pretty much in deep love with MIUI and it will be Mi3 for me!

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  1. thorun
    November 25, 2013

    Man, i just want an Mi3 with LTE!! Xiaomi have to take a look at this!!
    ZTE is also good, but i love MIUI and the battery of Z5S is also disappointing!

  2. Markoff
    November 25, 2013

    Nubia Z5S seem like good deal compared to Xiaomi, cost only 100RMb more and has LTE, lower weight, probably real Android, better front camera, it’s on sale worldwide, nice phone from ZTE all in all, Xiaomi killer (if their phones would be actually available, so there is nothing to kill really)

    • November 25, 2013

      Unfortunately, LTE networks are usually restricted to the USA. But yes availability plays in favour of Nubia.

  3. Sakthi Ganesh
    November 25, 2013

    Try to change the nubia z5s battery to 2300mah from 2800mah in specification sheet

  4. kolyamba
    November 25, 2013

    Xiaomi made not best their phone. Physical sizes are too big. I have ZTE V987 (Grand X Quad) for 6 months. It has 5″ display too. Sizes of my phone are 70x141x9.2 vs 73.6 x 144 x 8.1 mm of Mi3. Galaxy S4 is 69.8×136.6×7.9. It’s really sad.

  5. efwwr
    November 25, 2013

    Nubia Z5s – the best!

    • Josh
      November 25, 2013

      Yeah,Z5s is smaller and lighter!

      But for me the quality of the camera will make the decision, not the battery.

  6. liljohn
    November 25, 2013


  7. Allanitomwesh
    November 25, 2013

    My vote will always go to the phone with the bigger battery. Xiaomi on this one.

  8. Simon
    November 25, 2013

    I have to agree, you would be crazy not to go for the phone with the bigger battery !

  9. November 25, 2013

    I have used Mi2 for a year now and I absolutely love it. I ordered my wife Nubia Z5 mini so let’s see how it will rank against my old reliable Mi2 when it gets here in Finland.

    • Zino
      December 10, 2013

      When will your device arrive? Im interested in the mini but I want to check some reviews first to see if the IGZO screen will save the battery life of the Nubia

      • December 11, 2013

        It has already arrived and I am writing a review of it. Here’s a sneak preview:

        • Mrinal
          February 9, 2014

          Hi, correct me if im wrong but it looks you ordered a Z5 mini not a Z5S mini (the newer model).

          • February 9, 2014

            Yes, mine is Z5 mini and not the newer Z5S mini because when I ordered the phone, Z5S mini was not available. But now I would definitely order the newer one because it is thinner and lighter.

            • Mrinal
              February 12, 2014

              Ah ok. You mentioned in your earlier post that you were writing a review for the phone, did you already upload it by any chance? Since reviews on the Z5S mini are hard to find, im hoping to get some information from your thoughts on the Z5 mini 🙂

            • February 18, 2014

              Hi Mrinal. For some reason (comment moderation perhaps?) I have not been able to post the link to my fill review. But please go to my blog, you’ll find the link couple of posts up in my sneak preview, and just scroll down and you will find my full review there.

            • Mrinal
              February 18, 2014

              Hi, I saw the link briefly, seems to be gone now.. But i read the review 🙂 was quite helpful, thanks for that!

  10. Giuri97
    November 25, 2013

    nubia z5s design is horrible… xiaomi come on start to product this f**cking mi3

  11. highwind
    November 25, 2013

    neither. because dual sim > paying absurd amounts of money for idling qualcomm socs

  12. ruvimbo
    November 25, 2013

    Hi Yash,

    in the articel you write 2300mAh battery for ZTE but in the list it says 2800. What´s correct?
    Greets from Germany!

    • November 25, 2013

      Hi ruvimbo, 2300mAh is correct, it will be fixed soon. Thanks 🙂

      • Mobile hunter
        December 21, 2013

        Hi Yash,

        Please tell me from where I can get Nubia Z5s in 330$. I am in India.

        • December 21, 2013

          I don’t think you’ll be able to get one for $330, unless the phone is launched in India at a similar price. Most sellers have the device on pre-order at around $370 a piece. You can check AliExpress, DHgate, etc. Good luck.

          • Mobile hunter
            December 26, 2013

            Thanks for suggestion. But will I able to get this from the available sites or will come in peorder only. Also if any Christmas discount will be.

  13. agismaniax
    November 27, 2013

    Nubia Z5S with MIUI ROM !

    • November 27, 2013

      That would be the best of both 😉

  14. Yuri
    December 19, 2013


    Does anyone know which 3G frequencies Z5s supports? In their official website they claim that it supports only 2100, while in many non official familiar websites it is mentioned that it supports 900/2100. And I also saw that some people claim that it supports 850. Can anyone elaborate on this manner? Are there different versions?

    Thank You,

  15. Piet
    December 23, 2013

    Hey Yash !

    Do you have any news on the store release of the Nubia Z5S ? Looks like it still is in pre-order for now. I have the possibility to buy it in China until the end of january but I’m scared that it will still not be available (2.5Millions pre-order!!)

    If you have news or if you want to make a little test of this Z5S it would be great !


  16. bahakeem
    February 5, 2014

    Hi guys, so I bought the ZTE Nubia Z5S about 2 weeks ago and just got it 2 days ago and sadly there is no Play Store nor Google account at all…
    ALL the Google service are not there “maps, play store, drive, street view etc..”, so how do I enable them??
    I downloaded them from my PC then USB trasfer them to my mobile, but when I tried to open them they shut down without giving me any error messages..

    I am really looking for your help guys

  17. Secrieru Robert
    May 15, 2015

    I have Z5S but I don’t know how to update he.