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Nubia Flip 5G review

Our Verdict

The Nubia Flip 5G is currently the cheapest flip phone out there, and based on performance and camera quality, it’s not hard to tell why. Still, it’s a good-looking piece of kit that can manage most day-to-day tasks and charges very quickly. In terms of value, you can’t ask for all that much more.

Reasons to buy

  • Affordable
  • Attractive design
  • Vivid display
  • Rapid charging
Reasons to avoid

  • Average cameras
  • Mediocre performance
  • Plastic screen
  • Outdated software

If you’d told me ten years ago that there would be a flip phone resurgence in the early 2020s, I wouldn’t have believed you. Still, that’s where we are, with brands like Samsung, Motorola, and Oppo all offering their own clamshell devices with long screens and outer displays. Still, there’s a bit of a problem. They’re all quite expensive. That’s where the Nubia Flip 5G comes in.

The big draw of the Nubia Flip 5G is that it’s a flip phone for less than $500. That’s firmly in the middle of the mid-range price point, but of course, Nubia has had to make some sacrifices to bring the cost down. In this instance, we’re talking about camera quality and performance. So, how does it line up in general alongside the best flip phones on the market, like the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 and the Motorola Razr+? Let’s find out, shall we?

Custom image for Nubia Flip 5G review showing the unfolded phone with the main menu

Price and availability

You can pick up a Nubia Flip 5G for $499 via the official Nubia site. As a reminder, that’s essentially half the price of the Samsung Z Flip 5 and Motorola Razr+, with each retailing for just under $1000. The Flip 5G is available in three colorways – Sunshine Gold, Cosmic Black, and Flowing Lilac – with either 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, or, for an extra $200, with 12GB RAM and 512GB of storage. We tested the Sunshine Gold 8GB+256GB version.

Specs

Battery 4310 mAh
Display (main) 6.9-inch 120Hz OLED (1188 x 2790 pixels)
Display (cover) 1.43-inch OLED (466 x 466 pixels)
CPU Snapdragon 7 Gen 1
RAM 8GB / 12GB
Storage 256GB / 512GB
Front camera 16MP
Back cameras 50MP wide primary, 2MP depth
Weight 214g
Dimensions (folded) 87.6 x 75.5 x 15 mm
Dimensions (unfolded) 170 x 75.5 x 7.0mm
Colors Sunshine Gold, Cosmic Black, Flowing Lilac

Features and software

The Nubia Flip 5G uses ZTE’s MyOS Android 13 skin, which is a little disappointing considering other brands have offered Android 14 for a few months now. Still, it’s plenty usable, it just means you’re not going to benefit from some of the exciting AI features we’ve seen emerge in 2024.

Custom image for Nubia Flip 5G review showing the open phone in hand

Like most smartphones these days, the Flip 5G offers both fingerprint and facial recognition so you can skip putting in a passcode every time you want to use your phone. I have to admit, both the fingerprint sensor and facial recognition software work better than what I’ve experienced on much more expensive phones. Not once did I have to reangle my thumb or face to unlock the device. It’s only a little timesaver, but it’s something I appreciate nonetheless.

Other reviews of this phone have pointed to an issue with bloatware, but to be honest, I don’t think it’s much of an offender in that regard. For those who don’t know, bloatware apps are the ones that come pre-loaded on the phone, which often include all of the Google Workspace tools as well as a few random games and apps like Facebook and Booking.com. It would surprise you the amount of times I’ve had to delete Booking.com. That app comes with this phone, but not many others do, and it doesn’t take all that long to purge the unnecessary to make space for apps you actually use.

Design

The Nubia Flip 5G is a very attractive clamshell smartphone, let’s be clear about that from the outset. Despite its sub $500 price tag, it feels pretty luxurious to hold, with its matte finish and snazzy outer display. It certainly doesn’t feel cheap, though the foldable hinge does seem a touch flimsy, despite the promise of 200,000+ folds.

Custom image for Nubia Flip 5G review showing the phone unfolded and flat on a table

This hinge can also be a bit irritating at times as, while it’s fine at 90 and 180 degrees, it’s a fine art to find a middle ground, with anything more than around 120 degrees forcing the top half of the thing to snap down and lay flat. I prefer a viewing angle of around 150 degrees, so this wasn’t ideal when I wanted to stream some YouTube content while eating my lunch, but it’s not exactly the end of the world.

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room when it comes to flip phones – the crease. The crease on the Nubia Flip 5G is pretty obvious to the eye, and very obvious to the touch. If you swipe your finger across the whole screen, you can feel the dip. This isn’t an issue unique to the Flip 5G – in fact, its crease is no more or less prominent than that of the Z Flip 5 – but it’s something to note.

Custom image for Nubia Flip 5G review showing the phone half folded with a video on screen

Finally, while on the subject of design, we have to point out that the Nubia Flip 5G doesn’t have an official IP rating, so you should be especially wary of using it near water. While it’s not uncommon for flippable and foldable phones to have a low IP rating or lack one entirely, it’s still a little concerning if you live in a country where rainfall is pretty common like I do. The lack of dustproofing is also a worry, but fortunately, you get a transparent plastic case in the box that helps keep the dust away.

Display

The 120Hz 6.9-inch OLED display of the Nubia Flip 5G is one of the phone’s highlights. It’s vivid, there’s a depth to the colors and blacks on-screen, and it’s plenty bright. It is plastic, though, which makes it feel both a little cheaper and a touch less responsive than your average mid-range smartphone. Still, it is cheaper, much cheaper in fact, and this use of plastic might be one of the things that makes it so affordable.

Custom image for Nubia Flip 5G review showing a YouTube video running on the screen

The cover display is also an OLED, but it’s substantially smaller, around the size of the screen on a smartwatch like the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 or Xiaomi Watch 2 Pro. It’s got plenty of uses, though, from accessing your camera to your calendar, with a pedometer, recording function, timer, and weather app all for good measure. It’s not quite as interactive as some of the larger flip phone outer displays, but it suits the overall design.

Cameras

Let’s be clear from the off here, the Nubia Flip 5G’s cameras are not the best. With a smartphone as cheap as this, something has to give. In this instance, it’s camera quality.

It’s a pretty meager offering in terms of cameras on the Flip 5G, with a 50MP wide primary, 2MP depth sensor, and 16MP selfie camera. Even for a mid-range phone, that’s not the most dazzling list. The star of the show is the 50MP primary, which offers some nice enough shots in ideal lighting conditions, just like the one of my fluffy boy below. They lack a little in terms of detail and depth when compared to those taken on a Z Flip 5, but they’re by no means bad, and shots you take on this phone won’t look out of place on your social media channels.

Custom image for Nubia Flip 5G review with an example of the photo quality of Floyd the Border Collie dog in a garden

The 16MP selfie camera is pretty average too. It’s better than some we’ve tried out at this price point, but the beauty filter is automatically set to two and makes me look a little bit more like one of the Kens from Barbie than I’d like. Take that AI beauty filter off and you look like yourself again, but the quality is very middle of the park even for a mid-ranger.

Performance

Based purely on the fact that the Nubia Flip 5G utilizes a Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 chipset, I didn’t go into this review anticipating top-quality performance. For those who don’t know, this is a pretty outdated SoC in 2024, with last year’s Z Flip 5 utilizing the newer Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. Outside of flip phones, we’ve seen plenty of mid-rangers in 2024 opt for either the 8 Gen 2, like the OnePlus 12R, or a more modern Mediatek alternative, so it’s pretty obvious why we weren’t expecting incredible performance and why it wasn’t a shock when we didn’t get it.

To be clear, day-to-day performance is pretty seamless, but that makes sense considering this is an outdated chip powering a slightly outdated Android operating system. However, the gulf between the performance power of this phone and its competitors becomes much more apparent when you boot up a game.

Custom image for Nubia Flip 5G review showing the phone running Honkai Star Rail

So, let’s talk about gaming performance. The best word to describe the Nubia Flip 5G in this regard is capable. It’s capable in the same way that I’m capable of loading a truck full of washing machines. I can do it, but there are definitely better contenders for that role. It has no issue with casual games like Monopoly Go or Candy Crush, but when playing more demanding games like Honkai Star Rail or Diablo Immortal, it’s a bit of a different story.

In our testing, I played a decent amount of Honkai Star Rail and found that the Nubia wasn’t quite up to the job. As I’ve said, it’s playable, but it’s pushing performance to the limit at just medium settings, with laggy animations and more-than-occasional frame rate dips. Unless you’re playing at low settings, you’re in for a frustrating time, so it might be best to stick to the casual games if you’re thinking of picking this phone up.

It’s also worth pointing out here that the Flip 5G can get a little toasty while gaming. I was grinding away on PUBG Mobile for around an hour and felt the temperature begin to rise on the back of the device. It wasn’t so hot that I couldn’t still hold the thing in my hands, but it did make me think twice about another hour of gaming.

Battery

While the Nubia Flip 5G might be well behind the other big-name flip phones in terms of gaming performance and photo quality, the 4,310 mAh battery is a big selling point. With casual use, this thing is easily capable of around two days without plugging in your charger. Gaming and streaming drain the battery a bit quicker, at a rate of around 10% every hour, but that’s still pretty noteworthy for a phone under $500 and equates to around a day of gaming with a couple of little breaks.

Custom image for Nubia Flip 5G review with the phone's lock screen on

While the battery life is impressive, the Flip 5G’s 33W charging speeds really take the cake. This thing juices up fast, charging from flat to 50% in just over 20 minutes or 100% in just under 45. That’s significantly quicker than the alternatives, like the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 or Motorola Razr, which each take at least 30 minutes to get you back up to 50%. Unfortunately, there’s no wireless charging, but we’ll take lightning-fast wired speeds over wireless functionality any day.

Should you buy the Nubia Flip 5G?

While the Nubia Flip 5G is nice looking and has all the performance power you need for daily tasks, it lacks the flagship prowess of other flip phones on the market. It’s a reminder that even in the smartphone market of 2024, you get what you pay for, and while it’s nice to see a mid-range flip phone alternative for those who can’t afford to pick up one of the more expensive options, we have to reiterate the point that it’s a fairly different experience if you’re an eager smartphone photographer or gamer.

Ultimately, it all comes down to what you’re willing to sacrifice for a flip phone. There are plenty of other mid-range devices out there that have better cameras and gaming performance, but none that you can fold in half. If that compact form factor comes before everything else, or you’re not one for a bit of Honkai Star Rail on the train, you should find that the Flip 5G meets all your requirements.

Alternatives

If you’re not convinced by our Nubia Flip 5G review, check out some alternative options below.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5

The most obvious alternative to the Nubia Flip 5G is the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5, the premium clamshell flip phone on the market at the time of writing. The trade-off depends on whether you’re willing to spend more for better performance and higher-quality cameras. While the Nubia charges a little quicker, it doesn’t offer the flagship experience of the Z Flip 5, and the Samsung OS is a little cleaner than ZTE’s Android 13 skin with more AI tools. For more of our thoughts on this one, see our Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 review.

OnePlus 12R

Okay, this isn’t a flip phone, but hear us out. The OnePlus 12R is one of the best mid-rangers out there, with better performance and cameras than the Nubia Flip 5G as well as some exciting AI features. That’s all for the exact same $499 price point as the Nubia. Ultimately, it comes down to whether you value the clamshell design or hardware more, but this is a solid option if you’re working on a defined budget. If you’re looking for more details, check out our OnePlus 12R review.

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