Hands on and first impressions of the $299 Cyanogen packed ZUK Z1

zuk z1 cyanogen

What an amazing different a ROM can make to a phone! After a few days of using the ZUK Z1 with ZUI I finally got to feel the full potential of the device with Cyanogen 12.1 installed.

Just a few days ago I attended the international announcement of the ZUK Z1. The event was less of a launch than a “hi, we are here and coming for you” with most the attendees being from Shenzhen based E-sellers.

However the event did see a few members of the international press take part, and it was the first time we got to hear from ZUK in English about their company and phone, but the main highlight of the show was getting the confirmation of CyanogenOS and trying the phone with CM12.1 for the first time.

We’ve seen plenty of Chinese phone makers claim to have CM for their phones, but the difference with ZUK is that they have an official partnership with Cyanogen OS (the same company OnePlus worked with) so development and OTA updates will all be handled by the official Cyanogen company. Smaller brands like Elephone etc run CyanogenMod on their phones which requires the time and hard work of hobby developers, who might not always have the passion to keep up the good work.

ZUK Z1 running Cyanogen OS first impressions

zuk z1 cyanogen

After using the Z1 for a few days with ZUI it was a real wake up call to try it with CM12.1. It’s amazing what a difference a well optimised and lightweight ROM can do to a phone. With CM12.1 you really feel like the ZUK Z1 has more of it’s potential unleashed and we can actually make the most of the hardware on the inside.

zuk z1 cyanogen

With a Snapdragon 801, 3GB RAM, and vibrant 5.5-inch display, the ZUI powered Z1 is not slouch, but with Cyanogen on the inside the phone feels like it has a real tune up and has come to life.

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zuk z1 cyanogen

Not only does Cyanogen bring the phone a new lease of life but it also bring a more feature rich camera application to the ZUK Z1 getting more out of the rear 13 mega-pixel sensor, and with Google services installed, international customers can easily set the Z1 up as you want and really begin power using.

Incidentally the Chinese and International version of the ZUK Z1 phones are identical, which is fine for plenty of European users, but it means that U.S fans of CM who want the Z1 will either have to do without LTE compatibility or wait for a U.S specific version to go in to production.

zuk z1 cyanogen

Although ZUK Z1 phones running Cyanogen were at the event we were not able to get the ROM on to our phones yet as the system isn’t final yet. Apparently we have around 3-4 weeks to wait for a stable release to be launched, which gives the development teams time to get the excellent U Touch up and running (The CM version of the phone relies on a standard Android navigation arrangement rather than the innovative swipe mechanism).

zuk z1 cyanogen

3-4 weeks is also how long we will need to wait until the actual official launch date for the phone is announced where it should go on sale for just $299!

ZUK Z1 feature highlights

  • Vibrant 5.5-inch FHD display
  • Snapdragon 801
  • 3GB RAM, 64GB memory
  • Fingerprint scanner
  • HIFI Audio
  • 4100mAh battery
  • Quick charge
  • USB Type C 3.0
  • 13 mega-pixel main camera
  • CyanogenOS
  • $299 price point

As soon as I have CM on my ZUK Z1 I will make a hands on video for you to take a look at. Also keep your eyes open for the full ZUK Z1 review coming in a few weeks.

[ ZUK.hk ]
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