Umidigi Z2 Pro Review – Decent Price for a Decent Phone

Intro

There was a time when good smartphones would set you back at least $500-$600. High-end smartphones are still quite expensive and they actually started to get a bit more expensive as manufacturers tend to put more and more features in them. The progress of technology had another good impact on the market. Mid-range smartphones actually started to get good. Yes, they are not as good as flagships, and that is understandable. But gone are the days when a $250 phone was barely usable. One device that stands proof for this statement is the Umidigi Z2 Pro, however, there are certain aspects that could be improved and the corner cut by the manufacturer to reach a price of under $270 are visible. Read on for more details.

As always, let’s start with the hardware specifications. The Umidigi Z2 Pro comes with a Helio P60 chipset and 6GB of RAM. This CPU is Mediatek’s offering that wanted to go head-to-head with Qualcomm’s mid-range device. It is good considering the price, but don’t expect to beat the SD820, not to mention the SD845. However, because hardware has progressed far more in the past few years, for almost all the tasks that a normal user does on a smartphone, it should be enough. Also, thank’s to the 6GB of RAM found on the device, the phone can keep multiple apps in the background without any problems. Yes, the RAM does not have the same speed as high-end devices do (measured speed was 6411MB/s, less than half of what the Mi Mix 3 got), but it is still decent and under normal usage, I did not see any issues.

Internal storage is also big, even for 2018 standards. The Umidigi Z2 pro comes with 128GB of space and supports microSD cards up to 256GB. This should be more than enough for all your photos, videos, and music. As for the RAM, speeds are slower compared to high-end devices. The Z2 Pro got only 208MB/s read and 198MB/s write while the Mi Mix 3 managed an impressive 735MB/s read and 218MB/s write. Are the results bad? Not really, especially considering that two years ago mid-range devices rarely got more than 150MB/s in these tests, however, loading times for certain apps is slightly longer.

On the bright side, this phone comes with all the connectivity options you want. It has dual 4G connectivity, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC and wireless charging. The headphone jack is missing on the device but Umidigi did include an adapter in the box. Wireless charging is also a nice addition, something that was missing on devices in this price range. On the back of the device, we get the fingerprint sensor (with about 70% accuracy) as well as a dual-camera setup consisting of a 16MP sensor and an 8MP sensor. On the front of the device, we have a similar dual-camera set-up, with the same 16MP+8MP camera. At the bottom, we have a single speaker and a USB Type-C connector used for charging the 3550mAh battery (with support for fast charging). Wireless charging also supports fast charge and the device comes with a glass back to allow this. There is also a ceramic edition available that is slightly more expensive.

The only thing we did not talk about yet is the screen. Umidigi Z2 Pro comes with a FullHD screen that covers almost the entire front of the device. The company went the notch route, in an attempt to copy other smartphones released this year. The LCD has a cutout at the top to hold the speaker, light and proximity sensors as well as the selfie cameras. There is also a chin at the bottom that is bigger than what high-end devices usually have, but decent in size. With the exception of the notch, which I am not a fan off, the only major complaint that I have is the fact the corners are too round for my taste. Also, don’t expect to have double-tap to wake here.

Screen quality is good. Not as good as top AMOLED displays, but still good. It has good viewing angles and it is brights. With display production getting cheaper, I think that gone are the days of very bad screens. Yes, sub $150 smartphones may still come with only HD resolution, but as we see here (and in other places), the FullHD+ is becoming a standard even at mid to low range smartphones.

All in all, the device is really well balanced considering the price and has all the features you would expect. Also, the fact that Umidigi offered a case in the box as well a screen protector (already applied) was nice.

Umidigi Z2 pro comes with stock Android 8.1. This is great news for performance, especially since mid-range smartphones (especially from B-brand manufacturers), usually come with buggy and unoptimized skins. The fact that stock Android is present on the device is something that I appreciate and the lack of bloatware is also a big plus. You get the standard Google apps (email, Drive, Chrome, etc.), the essential apps like SMS, call, contacts and three applications that are most probably installed by Umidigi: an FM Radio, a Flashlight app, and a file manager. None of these three apps can be uninstalled, which is quite sad. The file manager, in particular, is very basic and with a dull design. Also, I don’t see why they added a flashlight app since there is a quick-launch action in the notifications panel for this.

A limitation that I found to be very annoying was the fact that in some cases the notch was in the way. Most applications did not have a problem with this, especially since it is not taller than the top bar, however, because of the width, there was little room for anything there. On the right, you have the battery indicator (sadly, no percentage is shown, just the icon) as well as the network and Wi-Fi indicator. On the left, there was only room for the clock. Bluetooth indicator, NFC indicator or any other notification from the installed apps were not shown. For me, this was a problem. The phone has no notifications LED, so in order to see if I have a new email or message, I had to open the notifications drawer all the time. I know this is not Umidigi’s fault, being a limitation of the notch design adopted by manufacturers this year, but it was something worth mentioning.

Now comes my biggest complaint related to software. Yes, Umidigi Z2 Pro runs Android 8.1 out of the box…and that’s it. There are no updates available at the moment even though the last security patch is from July 2018. Also, the chances that this phone will ever see Android 9 (at least officially) are very slim. I think that companies should focus a lot more on updates. I know it is a mid-range device, but it should not be too hard to offer an update for the device at least once every two months for bug fixes and security improvements. Also, Umidigi will soon launch another device with very similar hardware (the exact same chipset) that does come with Android Pie. Sadly, most Chinese brands that only fight for the mid-range market choose to release phone after phone, instead of focusing on the devices they have. I hope that Umidigi will prove me wrong and will release updates for this device.

When using the phone, everything was snappy. Thanks to stock Android paired with a sufficient ram and decent CPU, the Umidigi Z2 Pro works like a charm under normal circumstances. Even in games, including demanding ones, the phone managed to hold on and run everything smooth. I tried, like before Asphalt 9 and PUBG set to high settings. I did not encounter lag or frame drops. Many smartphones at this price range that I tested in the past had ‘hiccups’ when running more demanding games. I am happy to see that hardware and software got a lot better and for most people, a mid-range device will be sufficient. I won’t recommend gaming a lot since the device does seem to heat quite a lot during longer gaming sessions.

When it comes to benchmarks, the Umidigi Z2 Pro scored a little below half of what high-end smartphones do. Most of the score was decreased because of the GPU. As seen in the AnTuTu benchmark, where the total score was almost 140000, the GPU part only received 30500 points. The memory was also worse than flagship devices, but not as bad though. In Work2.0 benchmark, the Umidigi Z2 Pro got an impressive 7547 score. to put this into perspective, the Mi Mix 3 got 8172 points. Computer vision score was also very good, at 5222 points (5479 points for the Mi Mix 3). In Slingshot benchmark though, one designed for 3D, the device only got 778 (OpenGL) and 924 (Vulkan) respectively. Disappointing, but then again, this is a $270 smartphone.

The camera was the biggest disappointment for me. The pictures are not necessarily bad, but they are not as good as the rest of the phone. Even in good light, the images had a watercolor feeling when looked really close. They lacked the sharpness that I expected to get from a smartphone camera. This may have given a worse impression than it actually is because the phone was really good up until now and because all the other phones I had for comparison (OnePlus 5t, Ziaomi Mi Mix 3 and Samsung Galaxy S8) are high-end devices. Now, I know that I can’t expect a $270 phone to have the same quality as a $600 one. But I want to believe that camera technology will reach the point where other specs currently are: for normal usage, there is no big difference. And maybe we did actually. When outside or when there is enough light, the pictures are good for social media accounts or for a quick snap of your surroundings. The color reproduction is good (even though maybe a little dull), and here I think that the AI inside helped.

When it comes to darker environments, things get even worse. There is no much noise in the images, but this is because the AI does its job to remove it as best as it can. This, however, does result in the same watercolor effect from earlier, but a lot more pronounced. If you really want to, you can use the images, but low-light photography is not this phone’s best attribute. Selfies were also quite disappointing. Again, they are good enough for Facebook, Instagram and so on, but lack the details for something more ‘professional’. Honestly, I hope that in the next couple of years manufacturers will work on getting low and mid-range smartphones better at this chapter. There is nothing more to be done on other fronts.

When it comes to the battery for the Umidigi Z2 Pro, I have some good news and some bad news. Let’s start with the good. The 3550mAh battery charges fast. The phone supports quick-charge and this really helps. Again, I am happy that fast charging is something even cheaper phones have. Furthermore, this device also supports wireless charging. There was no wireless charger in the box, but if you have one around (or want to buy one), you will be pleased to hear this. Wireless charging also has support for fast charge.

Sadly, in my usage, the phone only lasted a day on a full charge. This is the bad news I was talking about. With Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and mobile data turned on, the device managed to get through the day, but no more. Not a big deal for me, however, I am sure that there are people that would love a phone that can last longer on a single charge. Also, bear in mind that I am a heavy user, so your results may vary.

The Umidigi Z2 Pro is a low to mid-range device that comes with nice specs. The Helio P60 CPU is powerful enough to handle most tasks and the 6GB of RAM help a lot for multitasking. Yes, the RAM and the internal storage are not the fastest, but the speed difference is not noticeable for most users. Don’t get me wrong, the phone does not compare to a flagship device. The materials used in the case of the device, the quality of the build and the picture quality are proof of this. But the Umidigi Z2 pro is not a bad smartphone. In day-to-day use, it will work really well and unless you are a heavy gamer or a hardcore photographer, you may not need something more.

Photos are decent, but not great. Battery life is mediocre, but it does have quick charge and wireless charging. It runs stock Android 8.1, but there are little chances of a major update. Screen quality is good, but there is a big notch. As you can see, there are some ‘buts’ in every sentence. However, the $280 price tag (or even lower during sales) is a fair price. I recommend the Umidigi Z2 Pro for anyone that is looking for a cheap device that will work well out of the box and that will have all the features and connectivity options that you need.

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