ZUK Z1 hands on and first impressions


zuk z1 hands on

Ahead of tomorrow’s launch, I get my hands on the ZUK Z1 to see if the latest Lenovo brand and start-up have what it takes to tackle the Chinese smartphone world.

The ZUK Z1, the first phone produced by the Lenovo backed start-up, was released on the Chinese market earlier this month in Beijing, and tomorrow we will learn what plans the company has for an international release.

Although nothing will be official until tomorrow, ZUK have been kind enough to give me a Z1 phone in the international packaging to get to grips with. As far as I can tell the hardware of the phone I have is the same as what ZUK will offer to customers outside of China, only the ROM will be different to the international market (but this will be revealed tomorrow).

ZUK Z1 Unboxing and First Impressions

zuk z1 hands on

Compared to the Chinese packaging, the ZUK Z1 for the rest of the world comes in a larger and more substantial box. The thicker box will mean peace of mind when having the phone shipped to you, but the large packaging doesn’t mean you get any additional accessories inside, in fact we are getting a little less.

zuk z1 hands on

While Chinese customers will get a pair of USB Type C earphones, the international packaging only includes a USB Type C cable, EU charger, warranty and quick start guide plus the phone itself.

zuk z1 hands on

The phone itself is of an alloy, glass and plastic construction. The glass being across the front 5.5-inch 1920 x 1080 display, plastic on the rear and alloy making up the rounded chassis. Speaking of which the chassis looks like plenty of other 2015 Chinese phones i.e similar to the iPhone 6 Plus.

In the base of the phone there is a speaker, microphone and USB Type C 3.0, so we can look forward to fast transfer speeds, in addition to fast charging and even audio support. The left side has space for dual nano SIM cards, there is no SD card support as the phone comes with 64GB as standard.

On the right we a power and volume rocker and in the top a 3.5mm headphone jack, so with a pair os USB Type C earphones and a standard pair, 2 people can enjoy audio from the phone at once.

zuk z1 hands on

The back of the phone is plastic (possibly removable but I have not tried) with ZUK logo, dual LED flash and 13 mega-pixel main camera. The camera also boasts OIS for steady imaging and an aperture of F2.2 which isn’t the largest, but thankfully doesn’t really hinder night performance too much either (see samples here).

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Back to the front there is a physical home button which built-in fingerprint scanner. The button also supports ZUK’s Utouch gesture control system. Sliding down on the button takes you back, and while in an app left and right swipes will take you to other apps running in the background (you can see this in action on the video). It’s a neat and well optimised system for multi-tasking.

zuk z1 hands on

Because of the home button and the larger than standard gap between the screen and button the ZUK Z1 is slightly longer than other 5.5-inch phones. Compared to the OnePlus 2 the ZUK Z1 is around 4mm longer and a couple of mm wider.

I’ve not had chance to see how well the 4100mAh battery lasts yet nor have I tested GPS or audio, but I have tested ZUI on the phone and it all runs very smoothly with no lag. The 2.5Ghz Snapdragon 801 really was a clever choice by ZUK, it kept costs down and means killer performance, not to mention the fact that the SoC is well understood by developers opening up the chance of plenty of custom ROM options.

Speaking of the ROM, my version of the phone runs ZUI which has English and Chinese but no Google app support, the final launch phones will ship with another ROM (which will be announced tomorrow) that will support Google services, and will please many Android fans.

ZUK Z1 hands on video

ZUK Z1 First impressions

Considering the 1799 Yuan retail price, 64GB RAM, OIS, fingerprint scanner, huge battery, quick charger, fast USB Type C and decent build quality the ZUK Z1 is a great first phone from the company. The choice of a Snapdragon 801 and a massive 4100mAh battery are very smart, and I think people choosing the phone will be more than happy with the performance (and I hope battery life).

zuk z1 hands on

I believe that tomorrow when we finally learn more about ZUK’s international launch, their mystery international ROM, and pricing we will have a better idea of how the ZUK Z1 will compare against it’s rivals, but so far I am more than impressed.

Keep posted for more ZUK news tomorrow, and the full ZUK Z1 review soon.

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98 Comments

  1. True_Neutral
    August 20, 2015

    I have to say, based on the looks alone, it looks incredibly cheap. More like Redmi-ish territory, and actually to be honest below that since my Redmi 2 looks more premium than that.

    • Flaat
      August 20, 2015

      I agree, i also really hate the black borders inside the already thick bezels. For me it is or bezelless design and black borders(the smaller the better) or bezels and no black borders. This just seems cheaply designed.

      I mean my 2 year old lg g2 has smaller bezels and no black border inside of it. How come only 1 phone maker (sharp) beats the display to phone size ratio of the g2 in the sub 5.6 inch catagory after 2 years anyway? Seems to me like that should be a good selling point, but it is clearly not a focus of the big brands.

      • balcobomber25
        August 20, 2015

        I didnt even notice the borders till I read your comment. Dont know how I missed them now lol. This is something I expect from Doogee or Elephone not from Lenovo.

        • Rob
          August 20, 2015

          This is surprising from Lenovo as last year’s z2 pro has no black borders and incredibly slime bezels all round. This is using the same SoC but design wise it’s seems to have gone backwards.

          • balcobomber25
            August 20, 2015

            The last few Lenovo’s have been very good phones. This is kind of shocking to see.

  2. justyfier
    August 20, 2015

    So cyogenmod for iternational users

    • August 20, 2015

      maybe wink wink

      • irebel
        August 20, 2015

        pretty sure since CM are attending tomorrow.

    • August 20, 2015

      I received an official notification yesterday regarding CM and ZUK

  3. David
    August 20, 2015

    If there is official eu support and cm this is my new phone.

  4. Roberto Ravone
    August 20, 2015

    Do you know specifications about audio chip or dac integrated? Has hi fi audio or some others functions inside the software about the audio?

  5. fido futte
    August 20, 2015

    Andy . could you please test the Doogee F3 Pro and the samsung 3M2 camera quality ( night photo )

    • balcobomber25
      August 20, 2015

      Knowing Doogee i would expect something like this:

      • fido futte
        August 20, 2015

        The 3M2 camera is actually used in Galaxy S5 – i havent heard any complain to the camera on S5 !! Also i have seen some photo taken from the F3 and it looks OK- but i would like to hear Andy what he thinks

        • balcobomber25
          August 20, 2015

          The 3M2 camera is excellent, but we are all taking Doogee’s word that is the actual sensor they are using. They are known to lie about specs.

          • Rob
            August 20, 2015

            AND we need to consider the fact that the software is well optimized to use it AND the lenses are good AND its Doogee we’re talking about. There are 2 many variable here giving them plenty of opportunity to screw it up!

            • Buck Danny
              August 20, 2015

              I’d say , the main variable implying screwing up is … prolly Doogee

          • Fly agaric
            August 20, 2015

            Beside many already mentioned lies, I’ll just add that I only read a comment on their Valencia 2 phone and it’s widely advertised Gorrilla Glass screen. A user on a different forum accidently put the phone in the pocket with his keys. Let’s just say, that now he’s sure that GG screen was a big fat lie too.

      • mf1gt3r
        August 20, 2015

        Lol!

      • bro-reac
        August 22, 2015

        Lolest. Hihihihi

  6. kdokma
    August 20, 2015

    Andy, when can we expect review of umi iron?

    • August 20, 2015

      when they give me one that’s working properly

      • King
        August 20, 2015

        Lol. What about the tip on Swipe Elite. Indian startup but I am sure the phone is Chinese. 😉 Here is the link. Pass it to Yash http://goo.gl/QT2hvT

  7. Charlles Costa
    August 20, 2015

    I call this phone ugly!!!

  8. balcobomber25
    August 20, 2015

    I dont mind the design, if there was no branding on it I would guess it is a Vivo by the design. It is simple but classy at the same time. Personally I love that they are using the 801, it is still an excellent SoC and can handle 99% of what the Play sore has to offer.

  9. Fly agaric
    August 20, 2015

    I’ll repeat – I love the idea of coming back to Snap801, too.
    ZU button – it just doesn’t seem to be handy enough. Operating with the gestures over such small surface just cannot be comfortable and it looks so on the video.

  10. True_Neutral
    August 20, 2015

    I have to say, based on the looks alone, it looks incredibly cheap. More like Redmi-ish territory, and actually to be honest below that since my Redmi 2 looks more premium than that.

    • Flaat
      August 20, 2015

      I agree, i also really hate the black borders inside the already thick bezels. For me it is or bezelless design and black borders(the smaller the better) or bezels and no black borders. This just seems cheaply designed.

      I mean my 2 year old lg g2 has smaller bezels and no black border inside of it. How come only 1 phone maker (sharp) beats the display to phone size ratio of the g2 in the sub 5.6 inch catagory after 2 years anyway? Seems to me like that should be a good selling point, but it is clearly not a focus of the big brands.

    • balcobomber25
      August 20, 2015

      I didnt even notice the borders till I read your comment. Dont know how I missed them now lol. This is something I expect from Doogee or Elephone not from Lenovo.

    • Rob
      August 20, 2015

      This is surprising from Lenovo as last year’s z2 pro has no black borders and incredibly slime bezels all round. This is using the same SoC but design wise it’s seems to have gone backwards.

    • balcobomber25
      August 20, 2015

      The last few Lenovo’s have been very good phones. This is kind of shocking to see.

  11. balcobomber25
    August 20, 2015

    Now it all makes sense as to why Elephone is marketing this phone internationally, they are the kings of ugly black borders!!

  12. justyfier
    August 20, 2015

    So cyogenmod for iternational users

    • Guest
      August 20, 2015

      This comment was deleted.

    • irebel
      August 20, 2015

      pretty sure since CM are attending tomorrow.

    • Shanos
      August 20, 2015

      I received an official notification yesterday regarding CM and ZUK

  13. Guest
    August 20, 2015

    If there is official eu support and cm this is my new phone.

  14. Lawrence
    August 20, 2015

    any disadvantages that it is not a 64-bit SoC? Also there is a video circulated showing that it is a Cyanogen ROM and the elephone partnersip is no surprise being that if you check the Zuk facebook page, you will see that the invitation for tomorrows international event is sponsored by Lemo and includes elephone contact information

    • Muhammad Yasir
      August 20, 2015

      im also interested in knowing ANY demerits regarding this big guy having a 32 bit (UGH!) soc

      • intruda
        August 20, 2015

        The disadvantage is marketing. Think of it like retina display for 99% of smartphone users.

    • Lazar Prodanovic
      August 22, 2015

      Let’s say it’s on pair with X10 @2.2GHz wile gpu is still faster. 64 bit is not really needed in phone or for that matter consumer grade equipment. Still ARM’s V8 (64 bit) instructions set dose bring some important improvements (for enterprise, server & cetera usage) like full compliant double precision NEON (SIMD) suport. Some things are much faster on 64 bit V8 mostly the multimedia operations.

  15. SPLEND1D
    August 20, 2015

    why are all the phones rectangular? they just copy a brick. Unfortunately, it can’t sue 😀

  16. Roberto Ravone
    August 20, 2015

    Do you know specifications about audio chip or dac integrated? Has hi fi audio or some others functions inside the software about the audio?

  17. fido futte
    August 20, 2015

    Andy . could you please test the Doogee F3 Pro and the samsung 3M2 camera quality ( night photo )

    • balcobomber25
      August 20, 2015

      Knowing Doogee i would expect something like this:

    • fido futte
      August 20, 2015

      The 3M2 camera is actually used in Galaxy S5 – i havent heard any complain to the camera on S5 !! Also i have seen some photo taken from the F3 and it looks OK- but i would like to hear Andy what he thinks

    • mf1gt3r
      August 20, 2015

      Lol!

    • balcobomber25
      August 20, 2015

      The 3M2 camera is excellent, but we are all taking Doogee’s word that is the actual sensor they are using. They are known to lie about specs.

    • Rob
      August 20, 2015

      AND we need to consider the fact that the software is well optimized to use it AND the lenses are good AND its Doogee we’re talking about. There are 2 many variable here giving them plenty of opportunity to screw it up!

    • Buck Danny
      August 20, 2015

      I’d say , the main variable implying screwing up is … prolly Doogee

    • Fly agaric
      August 20, 2015

      Beside many already mentioned lies, I’ll just add that I only read a comment on their Valencia 2 phone and it’s widely advertised Gorrilla Glass screen. A user on a different forum accidently put the phone in the pocket with his keys. Let’s just say, that now he’s sure that GG screen was a big fat lie too.

    • bro-reac
      August 22, 2015

      Lolest. Hihihihi

  18. kdokma
    August 20, 2015

    Andy, when can we expect review of umi iron?

    • Andi Sykes
      August 20, 2015

      when they give me one that’s working properly

    • King
      August 20, 2015

      Lol. What about the tip on Swipe Elite. Indian startup but I am sure the phone is Chinese. 😉 Here is the link. Pass it to Yash http://goo.gl/QT2hvT

  19. Charlles Costa
    August 20, 2015

    I call this phone ugly!!!

  20. balcobomber25
    August 20, 2015

    I dont mind the design, if there was no branding on it I would guess it is a Vivo by the design. It is simple but classy at the same time. Personally I love that they are using the 801, it is still an excellent SoC and can handle 99% of what the Play sore has to offer.

  21. August 20, 2015

    It would be hilarious if the international ROM is from Elephone through their new partnership ;).

  22. Fly agaric
    August 20, 2015

    I’ll repeat – I love the idea of coming back to Snap801, too.
    ZU button – it just doesn’t seem to be handy enough. Operating with the gestures over such small surface just cannot be comfortable and it looks so on the video.

  23. balcobomber25
    August 20, 2015

    Now it all makes sense as to why Elephone is marketing this phone internationally, they are the kings of ugly black borders!!

    • french harp
      August 23, 2015
  24. Lawrence
    August 20, 2015

    any disadvantages that it is not a 64-bit SoC? Also there is a video circulated showing that it is a Cyanogen ROM and the elephone partnersip is no surprise being that if you check the Zuk facebook page, you will see that the invitation for tomorrows international event is sponsored by Lemo and includes elephone contact information

    • Guest
      August 20, 2015

      im also interested in knowing ANY demerits regarding this big guy having a 32 bit (UGH!) soc

    • intruda
      August 21, 2015

      The disadvantage is marketing. Think of it like retina display for 99% of smartphone users.

    • Lazar Prodanovic
      August 22, 2015

      Let’s say it’s on pair with X10 @2.2GHz wile gpu is still faster. 64 bit is not really needed in phone or for that matter consumer grade equipment. Still ARM’s V8 (64 bit) instructions set dose bring some important improvements (for enterprise, server & cetera usage) like full compliant double precision NEON (SIMD) suport. Some things are much faster on 64 bit V8 mostly the multimedia operations.

  25. SPLEND1D
    August 20, 2015

    why are all the phones rectangular? they just copy a brick. Unfortunately, it can’t sue 😀

  26. 10basetom
    August 20, 2015

    It would be hilarious if the international ROM is from Elephone through their new partnership ;).

  27. Jimbo053
    August 20, 2015

    The only thing I require to know now before I buy it is – Where can I buy this device officially for shipment to the UK? Zuk.hk doesnt look too official to me…

    • Mark
      August 21, 2015

      Shenzhen Chigon Technology Co., Ltd. are in the list of trusted shops selling the oneplus 2 here on gizchina and they also have stock of zuk z1. I have ordered and should be receiving mine next week and will give you an update if you want.

      • August 23, 2015

        they were damn fast too

        • Mark
          August 23, 2015

          If you don’t mind me asking, where did you get the cyanogen rom from? I’ll want to flash that instead of using the zui rom – not sure what rom will be installed on the device I’m getting.

    • August 23, 2015

      It actually is the real site, but I totally get what you mean. Looks the site was thrown together in a few minutes.

  28. Muhammad Yasir
    August 20, 2015

    64 GB RAM ?!
    what year is this , Typo-Master Andi ?

    • August 23, 2015

      I don’t sleep much 😛

      • Muhammad Yasir
        August 23, 2015

        lol … that explains it , Mr.Night Owl 😀

        bet u spend those sleeping hours swiping the latest touchscreens on offer 😀

      • Muhammad Yasir
        August 23, 2015

        hey bro .. whats with the RIDICULOUSLY low Update density ???

        are u guys like all the institutions , switching off on weekends … or was this just a OTT (one time thing) ?

  29. George
    August 20, 2015

    For me metal chasis is a metal structure where others parts are attached to the chasis,not a metal mini frame….
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=78Kwo3v8qoQ

  30. Guest
    August 20, 2015

    The only thing I require to know now before I buy it is – Where can I buy this device officially for shipment to the UK? Zuk.hk doesnt look too official to me…

    • Antimatter
      August 22, 2015

      Shenzhen Chigon Technology Co., Ltd. are in the list of trusted shops selling the oneplus 2 here on gizchina and they also have stock of zuk z1. I have ordered and should be receiving mine next week and will give you an update if you want.

    • Andi Sykes
      August 23, 2015

      It actually is the real site, but I totally get what you mean. Looks the site was thrown together in a few minutes.

    • Andi Sykes
      August 23, 2015

      they were damn fast too

    • Antimatter
      August 23, 2015

      If you don’t mind me asking, where did you get the cyanogen rom from? I’ll want to flash that instead of using the zui rom – not sure what rom will be installed on the device I’m getting.

  31. Guest
    August 20, 2015

    64 GB RAM ?!
    what year is this , Typo-Master Andi ?

    • Andi Sykes
      August 23, 2015

      I don’t sleep much 😛

    • Guest
      August 23, 2015

      lol … that explains it , Mr.Night Owl 😀

      bet u spend those sleeping hours swiping the latest touchscreens on offer 😀

    • Guest
      August 23, 2015

      hey bro .. whats with the RIDICULOUSLY low Update density ???

      are u guys like all the institutions , switching off on weekends … or was this just a OTT (one time thing) ?

  32. George
    August 20, 2015

    For me metal chasis is a metal structure where others parts are attached to the chasis,not a metal mini frame….

  33. Sam
    August 21, 2015

    How much for that ?? about $330 in gearbest. worth to buy it? http://www.gearbest.com/zuk-z1-_gear/

    • Fianna Hill
      December 8, 2015

      I do not think so! Now only $309 from antelife Spain warehouse

  34. Sam
    August 22, 2015

    How much for that ?? about $330 in gearbest. worth to buy it? http://www.gearbest.com/zuk-z1-_gear/

    • Fianna Hill
      December 8, 2015

      I do not think so! Now only $309 from antelife EU warehouse

  35. Richard
    August 22, 2015

    Looking really good. Too bad it doesn’t have a SD-Slot… since I’m using my phone as an mp3 player it’s a must for me

  36. Guest
    August 23, 2015

    Looking really good. Too bad it doesn’t have a SD-Slot… since I’m using my phone as an mp3 player it’s a must for me

  37. zukshop
    August 24, 2015

    it’s 3G ram and 64G rom

  38. zukshop
    August 24, 2015

    it’s 3G ram and 64G rom