As smartphone designs are all pretty similar these days, manufacturers will occasionally come up with something a little different to stand out from the competition. One such handset is the ZTE nubia Z20. Initial examination appears to show little to make it stand out, but it is when you turn it over and realise there is a second full-size screen on the back of the phone, that you know this is something different.
We have seen this approach before with the Xiaomi Mi Mix Alpha which had screens on all 4 sides, but this was just a concept phone. The ZTE nubia Z20 is for real though and is available in pretty much all the major markets worldwide. So, what’s it like?
Dual AMOLED screens
The obvious place to start is the screens. Both are AMOLED, the main one is 6.42” whilst the rear is 5.1”. Whilst the main screen boasts decent specs (1080 X 2340 pixels, 401 PPI and 600 nits brightness) the rear one is very much the poor relation (720 X 1520 pixels and 300 nits brightness). The phone ships with a transparent silicone case through which you can use the rear screen, so it is well protected.
However, because the glass of the back is coloured (black or blue), this gives the rear screen display a blueish-yellow tint. The good thing is that there are no interruptions to either screen as selfies are taken using the main camera and rear screen. Both screens also support always on display.
Let’s look at the internals next and they’re pretty good as well. The processor is the Snapdragon 855+ with 6 or 8GB of RAM and 128 or 512GB of non-expandable storage. This is powered by a fast charging 4000 mAh battery. It has no 3.5mm headphone jack but does come with a USB adapter so you can use wired headphones. However, there is no stereo separation. So, if you are an audiophile, this phone is probably not for you.
Access is secured with 2 button fingerprint scanners, one on either side of the frame. The side frame is also pressure sensitive, so you can assign different tasks based on the length of your squeeze.
Triple camera array
Moving onto to the cameras. As mentioned above, there is no selfie camera, as the rear screen means you can use the main camera array for your selfies. This is a triple array with a 48MP f/1.7 wide main lens backed up by and 8MP f/2.4 telephoto and a 16MP f/2.2 ultrawide lens.
This setup takes good daylight photos with great detail and contrast. Switching on night mode gives you good quality images in the dark as well.
The Z20 is available in 2 colours – Twilight Blue and Diamond Black and with a recent price drop can be picked up for around the £450 mark.
Is it for you? I think that will depend on whether you see an on-going use for the second screen. That is because, although it is a nice-looking smartphone and has premium specs, the second screen is the only thing that really sets it apart from similarly priced and specified handsets. If you can’t see a use for it once the novelty wears off, you might be better looking elsewhere.