ZTE's bezel-less phone tosses away black border for more touchscreen function

The Nubia Z9 has an edge-to-edge screen and will arrive in China later this month

Nubia Z9, while bezel-less, is a bit heavy and covered in glass.

Nubia Z9, while bezel-less, is a bit heavy and covered in glass.

Will bezel-less phones be the next big thing?

China's ZTE certainly thinks so. On Wednesday, the company's Nubia brand unveiled the Z9, a product that comes without the black border found on so many smartphone screens.

I had a chance to try out the device, and found both pros and cons with the product. On the plus side, the Z9 truly is a bezel-free device. The 5.2-inch screen extends across the glass surface from edge to edge, where it curves down to meet the phone's protective metal frame.

As a result, the phone does feel a bit more compact in terms of its width, which measures 68.3mm (2.7 inches). Some might be concerned that the lack of bezels will make the phone hard to use. Touchscreens, after all, tend to be sensitive, and any over-gripping could be misread as actual inputs.

However, in the short time I tried the Z9, I didn't have any problems with the touchscreen. The Nubia team said during the product unveiling it anticipated challenges, and instead has tried to turn them into an advantage.

It's done this by incorporating certain touch controls that work by placing fingers along the curved edge of the screen. For example, a user can alter the phone's brightness, by simultaneously sliding two fingers down on the opposite sides of the display.

Users can even automatically switch to camera mode, by flipping the phone horizontally, like they're ready to take a picture. The phone's software will activate and move into photo-snapping mode, when it reads that four fingers are holding the screen at its edges.

The Nubia team said these features are part of its "Frame Interactive Technology," which will be expanded to include an array of other gesture controls. When I tried these features, I found that they worked most of the time, but not always. It's still simply faster to do these functions manually, rather than rely on the software to wait and hopefully read your fingers.

Overall, the phone looks very polished, with its 1080p screen and premium build. But on the negative side, ZTE's bezel-less phone feels a little heavy. The Nubia team covered both the front and back in glass, and it weighs in at 192 grams (6.7 ounces). The iPhone 6 Plus, in contrast, comes in at 172 grams.

The back side of the Z9 also felt warm after using it for while. This might have something to do with its Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor, which has spurred concerns about overheating.

In terms of specs, the Z9 is a high-end 4G handset loaded with cutting-edge phone technologies. The "classic" version of the phone, which is priced at 3499 yuan (US$574), comes with 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, and a 2900 mAh battery. In the back is an 16-megapixel camera, and in the front is an 8-megapixel camera. On the right side of the phone there's an additional physical button dedicated to snapping pictures.

During my time with the phone, the software ran smoothly, and the camera generally produced clear and sharp photos. As for the bezel-less screen, the Z9 could be a preview of the future, but the phone isn't any kind of game-changer.

Although it looks nice, the lack of bezels doesn't really add anything, and can easily be forgotten. However, in a market already crowded with competition, it might just be a way for ZTE's Nubia brand to gain some more visibility.

The Z9 will go on sale in China on May 21. This year, the Nubia brand also plans to expand more international markets such as the U.S., but its unclear when the Z9 will be shipped outside of China.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags smartphonesAndroidconsumer electronicsZTE

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Michael Kan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?