Nubia Flip 5G Review: Cute, Cheap, and Flawed

Instead of zoom levels, Nubia lists focal length (the distance where lens and sensor converge) measured in millimeters, and smaller numbers mean a wider field of view and depth of field. The Flip 5G camera gives you an option of 50 mm or 26 mm. There is no telephoto lens, so zooming tends to wash out details. The processing is often heavy-handed, sometimes taking a second or two and resulting in an oil painting effect.

Most optional modes, including portrait, are poor, and the resulting photos never look natural, but you can achieve a reasonable bokeh effect with the regular camera. Rely on the automatic settings and you will be disappointed regularly. It works better if you turn off the AI and best if you are prepared to tinker with Pro mode, but there’s a lot of gimmicky fluff in the camera app. There isn’t much call to use the 16-megapixel front-facing camera outside of video calls, but it’s passable.

Software Worries

The Nubia Flip 5G gets off to a bad start on the software front, with the already outdated MyOS 13 on top of Android 13. It is fairly close to stock Android, but there’s some bloatware and pointless shortcuts to download apps and games you almost certainly do not want.

It’s important to note that the cover screen does not support third-party apps. It can display notifications, music controls, weather, your calendar, a pedometer, a stopwatch, or a voice recorder, and it enables you to take selfies with the main camera, but that’s about it. The “interactive” pets are super cute (my daughter loved the cat), but they aren’t really interactive; they are just animated wallpapers.

Nubia has a poor track record for updates. When I asked the company for clarity, it could not provide a definite timeline for Android 14 or subsequent updates. Based on past phones, you will be lucky to get three years, and that’s woeful when you consider Google is offering seven years for the similarly priced Pixel 8A.

Hand holding rectangular mobile phone with long screen showing news articles

Photograph: Simon Hill

The closest competitor is the Motorola Razr (2023) and, sadly, Motorola is also bad at software updates. There isn’t much to separate the two beyond the different designs. I prefer the look of the Nubia Flip 5G. It charges faster and comes with more storage. But the Razr supports wireless charging and scores an IP52 rating. One final consideration that might swing it for Motorola is network compatibility. The Flip 5G should be mostly OK on T-Mobile or AT&T in the States, but cross-check supported bands with your carrier before you buy.

If you can live without the fold, pick something better from the best cheap phones. If you are set on a folding flip phone, try to find an extra $200 or so for something like the Motorola Razr+ (7/10, WIRED Recommends) or Samsung Z Flip5, which both offer a more useful cover screen. Ultimately, I enjoyed using the Nubia Flip 5G, and it is cute enough that my 11-year-old daughter asked to trade it for her Pixel 6.

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