UMiDIGI Z2 review: beauty and the notch


In early 2018 Huawei took over the world by announcing their premium P20 series with astounding photographic abilities. P20 arrived with a full notched display copying iPhone X, and shiny gradient colours, borrowed from its sub-company Honor. Copying, borrowing and even cloning, is a method all smartphone companies use. It is a fast way to capture trends and at the same time promote the company that provides the design – a win-win scenario for most. Everybody does it and hopefully will be doing it in the future. If you are looking for a P20 series lookalike that costs way far less than the original flagship while packing as much value as possible at a low price, Umidigi Z2 is your next phone.

This is the second smartphone from Umidigi that arrives in my hands after the amazing UMIDIGI A1 Pro this year and i just can’t believe how well the company is upgrading its products year after year. While A1 Pro is the undisputable winner in the entry level category, Z2 comes at the middle one, a place where Xiaomi rules with the Redmi series during the past couple of years. So Z2 has to stand its ground and prove its worth and value. It has a full notched display, 6GB of RAM, stock Android Oreo, a large 3850mAh battery with 18W fast charge, four cameras and an amazing array of global band support. Face Unlock and a shiny gradient coloured back with a fingerprint sensor complete this excellent set of characteristics.

Umidigi Z2 Technical Specifications

  • OS: Android 8.1
  • CPU: MTK6763V Octa Core 2.0GHz
  • GPU: ARM Mali-G71 MP2
  • ROM: 64GB ROM, TF card up to 256GB
  • RAM: 6GB LPDDR4x RAM
  • Display: 6.2 inch, 1080 x 2284 pixels
  • Front Camera: 16.0MP + 8.0MP dual front camera
  • Back Camera: 16.0MP + 8.0MP dual back camera
  • Network: GSM / WCDMA / FDD-LTE
  • Bands: 2G: GSM B2/B3/B5/B8 CDMA BC0/BC1, 3G: WCDMA B1/B2/B4/B5/B8, 4G: FDD-LTE B1/B2/B3/B4/B5/B7/B8/B12/B13/B17/B18/B19/B20/B25/B26/B28
  • SIM: 2 Nano SIM Cards, Dual standby
  • Bluetooth: 4.0
  • Battery: 3850 mAh
  • Extras: Accelerometer, Ambient Light Sensor, Geomagnetic Sensor, Gyroscope, Proximity Sensor, GPS
  • Size: 153.4 x 74.4 x 8.3 mm
  • Weight: 165g

 

Unboxing

The smartphone arrives in a dark gray to black, hard paper box, with an extra half-cover and crafted texture to prove to you that they care even for the small parts – It is the same package that A1 Pro arrived in. The brand name is written in a gold-copper colour in the box- same colour is used in the logo “Link to the World” typed in the instructions envelope inside.

A thank you card is added inside, with details on how to enter a giveaway competition.

The bottom of the box has a black sticker with white letters describing the characteristics, the package contents, a warning not to use non approved batteries and the brand’s email address. The box has dimensions 180 X 90 X 35 mm and weights 430 grams. Inside you will find:

  • 1 X UMIDIGI Z2
  • 1 X Power adapter
  • 1 X USB cable
  • 1 X USB to 3.5mm audio jack adapter
  • 1 X SIM card eject tool
  • 1 X Screen protector
  • 1 X Silicone Case
  • 1 X Manual in English, Italian, Spanish, German and French

The retail box is excellent and complete according to my… taste. I really liked the silicone case as it has a leather type texture with an excellent grip and protection from fingerprints. Another nice touch is that the usb cable is in red – a color that UMI usually choses for some of their models from time to time.

Design

There are three color versions, Phantom (black), Twilight and Twilight Black. I had the latest version in my hands, yes the Twilight Black. It is bluish and black on the top turning purple at the bottom. I prefer this colour to the other two and it looks astonishingly good in the sun. (look below)

In the front we can see a huge 6.2 inch display with a 19:9 aspect ratio. The notch in the top resembles the one used in Huawei P20’s display. There is no protection here that i know of, except from the plastic cover attached to the display. The plastic film will be too scratched in the future, will look bad and will downgrade the – in all respect- clean nice looking panel. Don’t think about it, go and buy a tempered glass to replace the film and enhance the panel’s protection. The notch is the place where you can find the microphone, the front-facing dual camera and the usual pack of sensors. There is no LED flash here so your selfies will suffer in low light conditions. Unfortunately there is no notification light either.

There are very small bezels on the side and a bigger one on the bottom. This is a full view display with excellent ratio to body of approximately 90% (according to UMI that is). There are no physical keys on the lower bezel. Bezels are smaller than OnePlus 6 but Z2 has a larger notch.

The frame is metallic with a dark grey colouring. In the right side it has two metallic buttons, the volume control and the power/lock button. There is a small rattling noise and partial movement when you move your fingers on them but nothing serious to complain about. On the top there is a noise cancellation microphone. In the left you can see double SIM tray. On the lower part you will find the USB type C port and the speaker trays on the left and right of it. As you understood from the retail box content there is no 3.5 mm audio jack. I know this a trend that keeps the width smaller but I believe that Umidigi should include an audio port. It would be an advantage over the competition. Any way the company wanted a 2018 flagship look and there are very few flagships that keep a 3.5mm port. At the side, near the top and bottom a small part of the antenna bands is visible, having the same colour with the SIM tray, a darker tone or gray.

The back panel is made from curved glass, something that we don’t easily see in the category except from medium to premium devices that cost a couple hundred US dollars more. The way the back panel and the side panel join together is perfect. The shiny gradient coloring is just amazing as I have already told you. Surely the glass is a fingerprint magnet and if you don’t like the black silicone case that comes along in the retail box, a transparent case would be just perfect as you could enjoy the glass panel to all its glory. In the center of the panel you can find the double camera. On its left there is a LED flash and on the bottom a fingertip sensor. I really like that the sensor is larger in diameter from the two equally sized lenses – it makes my finger easier to reach and unlock.

I also like that there is no bulge in the camera setup. I use my smartphone a lot on my desk and I simply hate bulges. Whenever I try to write something most of the smartphones slide like a boat. Not Z2.

I was really astonished the way Umidigi A1 Pro looked and at this price tag I can’t but admire what Umidigi has done again!

This is an excellent exterior that easily outperforms in beauty any other plastic or metal smartphones in the price category. Not only that! With the colour gradient it is better looking than double-prized flagships – I can confirm it by having a OnePlus 6 in my other hand. The quality is equal to the “flagship-killer” and that is an amazing accomplishment for half the price.

Hardware

The screen is the main selling point with a 6.2 inch, 2.5D curved, 19:9 display. It has a FHD+ resolution (2246 X 1080) that covers 90% of the front with 403 ppi. I don’t know who builds this panel but Umidigi keeps a close partnership and usually buys from SHARP. The display is bright and vivid and has good contrast. It is visible under the midday sun but not as much as I wanted. Viewing angles are good and since this is a good panel, I suppose this is another SHARP product.

This smartphone comes with the MTK6763V SoC known also as Helio P23. It is an 8-core processor with 8 Cortex-A53 cores working at a frequency of 2.0GHz. It is accompanied by a ARM Mali-G71 MP2 GPU working to help with the graphics. Helio P23 and Snapdragon 625 have stellar performance in stability and power usage, and they are still used today by many companies. There are 6GB of LPDDR4x RAM to assist and the G71 proves to be a good GPU. My opinion is that a newer chip could be found here at the expense of having less RAM/ROM.

The daily usage should not suffer, however as I had no issues in any task. Of course heavy gaming or multitasking stress the SoC. Benchmark results are the same as in any other Helio P23 driven smartphone.

There are 64GB of ROM in the phone. The internal storage can expand up to 256GB with an external SDcard placed in the SIM tray.

It supports dual SIM functionality with two nano-SIMs or a nano-SIM and the aforementioned micorSD card.

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Connectivity is exceptional. It supports Dual 4G LTE, and nearly all available bands, thus is an excellent tool for people that travel a lot. Is supports 2G: GSM B2/B3/B5/B8 CDMA BC0/BC1, 3G: WCDMA B1/B2/B4/B5/B8 TD-SCDMA B34/B3, 4G: FDD-LTE B1/B2/B3/B4/B5/B7/B8/B12/B13/B17/B18/B19/B20/B25/B26/B28, TDD-LTE B34/B38/B39/B40/B41. The only caveat here is the lack of NFC.

The smartphone has a good sensor pack having GPS (A-GPS, Beidou, GLONASS, GPS), Accelerometer, Ambient Light Sensor, Geomagnetic Sensor, Gyroscope, Proximity Sensor, and FM Radio. Bluetooth has the 4.0 Specification. Navigation works fine with satellites being found fast and having a good precision.

Audio is based on a single external speaker at the bottom. It is clear and loud and much better than expected for the price range. Wifi is able to connect to 802.11 a/b/g/n, 2.4G/5GHz Dual-band.

Call quality is excellent and video calls are good without any issues. Selfie cam has no LED so keep in mind to have a light source near in video calls.

Software

The operating system found in the smartphone is stock Android 8.1. I don’t know whether Z2 will be updated to Android 9 Pie. On the first power-on I had an OTA update of 106.43MB! Constant upgrades is the safe path to compete against software oriented companies like Xiaomi or Android One smartphones. So let’s all hope that Umidigi keeps updating Z2, because we cannot say the same for most of their previous models.

First boot and set up was fast. I am using Oreo since December so the experience is typical with no issues. In the settings Umidigi has added a few touches here and there. Smart Assistant has options to hide the navigation bar, and flip the buttons, there is a Flip to Mute option for calls, alarms or music and a Sweep QR scanner. Face unlock works properly while having a nice option to lit the display as to brighten up the user’s face in low light conditions. In the Fingerprint setup there are a lot of options to use the fingerprint sensor. For example you can answer a call or take a screenshot. In the System settings you will find the Android System Update and in the About Phone the Umidigi Wireless Update. The latest Google Security patch level is the one from May – it’s turning a bit old I guess. There is also the well known DuraSpeed setting here as well. This setting allows fine-tuned control over foreground and background apps on a toggle based system. If you want more performance you can toggle your prefered application and it will stop running in the background – there will be no updates or notifications on it.

Face Unlock worked in a decent way, it is fast and works most of the time in low light environments with its lit-display option. As always I repeat that it is not a 100% safe method to use and one should prefer the fast and reliable fingerprint sensor. Having said that, I must admit that this is the first phone that Face Unlock is faster to unlock the phone when compared to the two biometric sensors. While the fingerprint sensor works flawlessly the time to lit the display is almost 2 seconds. This is something that Umidigi needs to fix.

Multitasking works as long you won’t open 100 apps – the software tends to kill them, so the SoC can handle the latest processes.

Gaming -considering the SoC- is doable with low graphic settings. Due to the 6GB of LPDDR4x RAM and ARM Mali-G71 MP2 GPU this smartphone is better at gaming than any other Helio P23 or Snapdragon 625 handset. PUGB is playable at medium graphic settings but the experience is lower than Snapdragon 625 smartphones – there are a lot of lags.

Sound is good and loud. There is a single speaker. This is not a phone for audiophiles, but for daily usage I was satisfied with the volume and clear sound. My opinion is that is a bit better from the competition in the price range.

The back of the phone gets warm even after average usage but nothing more than that. Don’t worry it won’t melt 😉

Camera

The quad cameras are made from Samsung and consist of a main pair in the back with a 13MP main shooter from Samsung with f/2.0 aperture and a 5MP, f/2.4 aperture lens for the the bokeh effect. A dual LED supports night shots. Facial recognition and selfie countdown are possible from the front camera.

The camera application has all the basic stuff you expect these days. There is a Picture and Video main menus with the settings. HDR is seen in a prominent place at the top, while in Picture you can alter with a left to right gesture from the left side between Normal or Bokeh pictures.

I can’t tell you that I felt happy with the application. It looks and feels very basic and below this price range. You need to swipe to the left or right to access the settings which is typical these days but there is no mark or clues to do so.

Having said that, the Z2 is a decent camera phone. It is really good in bright light but suffers in low light something usual in this price range. HDR worked properly without losing details or sharpness. Bokeh effect is much better than that of the competition.

Taking pictures with the main camera or selfie camera is an enjoyable experience – as you can see from the samples the results are a bit better than that of the competition in the category. In good lighting conditions or outside in bright weather pictures are good. Nightly or low light shots have a lot of noise and details are blurry at least. HDR worked properly without losing details or sharpness.

Video recording is up to 1080p. The results are ok, mediocre in bright light, extra noisy in low light. The smartphone has no OIS or EIS and the image is shaking. At least the noise recording is clear and loud.

Considering the price I am happy with the whole experience and results.

Battery

Z2 has a Li-Pol, non removable, 3850 mAh battery. With medium usage the battery is more than capable to keep the phone lit all the day as with continuous video playback I got 6.5 hours of screen-on-time.

The company advertises the “quick charge” functionality with the 18W charger. It takes 80-90 minutes for a full charge and the device gets a bit warm in the procedure. I didn’t see any battery drain in any application or gaming.

Conclusion

What Umidigi did here was to take the typical medium category smartphone and successfully incorporate all the 2018 trends into it. Big full-view bezel-less display, notch, shiny gradient coloring, 6GB RAM, stock Android, quad cameras, face unlock and fast charge, are ALL there in UMIDIGI Z2. The quality of build is very good – i have to stress that.

UMiDIGI Z2 review

Daily usage is effortless and the battery can keep up until the end. In case of heavy usage the phone has limitations on its SoC even with the existence of high quality RAM.

There is no protection or audio jack and you need to consider this by buying a tempered glass and bluetooth headsets. There is no notification light either – something that I find unfortunate.

This phone makes a good first appearance in the middle category. Will Umidigi keep supporting this device? If yes, this smartphone is a great buy as long you don’t play games on it. If you need more power for games, Umidigi Z2 Pro comes with Helio P60, better camera but smaller battery. 😉

  • Build Quality - 90%
    90
  • Display - 85%
    85
  • Audio - 74%
    74
  • Battery - 80%
    80
  • Software & Performance - 84%
    84
  • Connectivity - 79%
    79
  • Camera - 62%
    62
79.1 %
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