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Nubia Flip 5G review: All style, no substance

Sacrifices aplenty plague this budget-friendly foldable.

Nubia Flip 5G
3 out of 5 stars
3
Display
6.9-inch + 1.43-inch OLED
Processor
Qualcomm Snapdragon 7 Gen 1
Storage
256GB
Georgia Dixon
Jun 21, 2024
Icon Time To Read4 min read
Quick verdict: Nubia Flip 5G

The Nubia Flip 5G marks a new chapter for affordable foldables, but even so, it lacks the performance, camera quality and refined software we'd expect at this price point, with its uncertain future of software updates making it an even tougher sell.

pro
Pros
pro Delightfully pocket-sized
pro Both displays are bright and beautiful
pro Under $1,000 is crazy for a foldable
con
Cons
con Underwhelming performance
con Mediocre cameras
con Uncertain update schedule

I’ve had a soft spot for flip phones ever since I got my first one (rest in peace, LG C1100) almost 20 years ago. So, you can imagine how much my inner preteen jumped for joy at the idea of them making a comeback all these years later. The only problem? 2024-era foldables are expensive. Like, multiple thousands of dollars expensive.

That’s where the Nubia Flip 5G comes in. At under $1,000, it’s one of the cheapest foldables available in Australia. Unfortunately, that budget-friendly price tag comes at a different cost, and I’m not sure it’s one I’m willing to pay.

How much does the Nubia Flip 5G cost in Australia?

Af-fold-able
Golden Nubia Flip 5G half-unfolded on a straw placemat

The Nubia Flip 5G retails for $999, putting it on par with the Motorola Razr 40 as Australia’s cheapest foldable smartphone. To put into perspective just how crazy cheap that is, flagship foldables like the Samsung Galaxy Flip5 with 256GB storage (the same found on the Nubia Flip) retail for $1,649.

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Nubia Flip 5G - Design and features

Feels and looks the part

The form factor of the Nubia Flip 5G is the best thing about this phone. It’s cute, compact when folded, and the gorgeous shimmery finish (available in gold or black) is essentially fingerprint-proof. Overall, it looks and feels like a much more expensive device. There’s also a phone case included in the box, which is great since I imagine finding a third-party case wouldn’t be easy.

The circular 1.43-inch external display is visually striking albeit limited in its usability. There are only eight widgets available to use on the front screen in addition to the home screen, which displays an image, the time, battery percentage, and any notifications. The widgets are basic, allowing you to check the weather, control music, set a timer, see your calendar, check your schedule, record a voice memo, and monitor your daily steps. The widgets are also ugly as hell. My colleague Anula at WhistleOut said “they look like they fell out of Canva’s backend” and I couldn’t agree more. Although the camera widget is handy for taking higher-quality selfies using the main camera, there’s not a whole lot else you can do with the external display.

The main 6.9-inch OLED display does sport a pretty noticeable crease, but that’s the case for some foldable phones almost twice its price, so we won’t hold it against the Nubia Flip. Crease aside, it’s big, bright and boasts a smooth 120Hz refresh rate—nothing to complain about. The hinge, too, is surprisingly smooth, and according to Nubia, should be durable enough to withstand over 200,000 folds in its lifetime.

Nubia Flip 5G - Performance and battery life

Sacrifices aplenty

While the Nubia Flip 5G gets props for its design and price tag, that’s unfortunately where most of the benefits end. Although it looks and feels premium on the outside, it’s another story entirely under the hood.

The 50MP main camera and 2MP depth lens sound fine on paper, but in reality, the results are much the same as what you’d get from any other mid-range Android device. That is to say, it manages quite well in settings filled with natural light but struggles in low-light and artificially-lit environments. Throw in a bit of motion, and it struggles even more.

I did manage to capture a few nice snaps, but the Nubia Flip has a habit of making most subjects look washed out and details muddy, almost as if someone’s turned the saturation way down and smeared a bit of Vaseline on the lens (and not in the cool ‘80s glam rock way). All in all, I wouldn’t rely on it to deliver anything worth putting on the grid.

Although the Nubia Flip houses a capable mid-tier Snapdragon 7 Gen1 chipset (the same processor found on the Motorola Razr 40) with 8GB RAM and 256GB storage, its performance is let down by multiple factors. First up, it ships with Android 13, which is already outdated, and ZTE’s MyOS skin, which is filled with bloatware. The skin also gives you the “Z-Board”, which is similar to the Google Discover feed found on other Android devices and can be accessed by swiping right from the home screen. I don’t have words for how bad the Z-board is. It’s filled with AI-generated clickbait junk and even full-frontal nudity—not exactly what you expect to see when browsing headlines.

There’s no word from ZTE on when (or even if) the Nubia Flip will be receiving an upgrade to Android 14, and the company has yet to announce how many security updates the phone will receive, which leaves its lifespan in limbo. Even budget Android devices generally provide a couple of years of security patches, so we’d expect at least that much, but at this point, who knows?

Perhaps the clunky MyOS skin is to blame for the less-than-smooth transitions and animations between (and within) apps. The lag was worse than what I’d seen on much cheaper Android devices, and it made for a pretty lacklustre gaming experience—particularly in more performance-intensive and competitive mobile games. Although the Nubia Flip is cheap for a foldable, it's not cheap, and certainly not cheap enough to get away with such poor performance.

Battery-wise, I got a full day of use on average, though on a few particularly busy days I found myself needing a quick afternoon recharge to get me through until bed. Nothing to write home about, and the lack of wireless charging, though somewhat to be expected in a mid-range phone, wasn’t ideal. On the bright side, the Nubia Flip is fast to charge (going from flat to full in about three-quarters of an hour), so top-ups are quick and easy.

Is the Nubia Flip 5G worth buying?

A mid-ranger in disguise

I’m a sucker for a gimmick, and while some foldables are executed so well that they shake off that label, the Nubia Flip 5G is not one of them. While the external screen can come in handy, once the novelty wears off, you’re left with what feels like any other mid-tier Android device. While I don’t think the Nubia Flip 5G is worth buying over a similarly-priced non-foldable, I do like what it represents—a not-too-distant future in which foldables are affordable.

How does the Nubia Flip 5G compare?

Product
Our score
Price
Processor
Screen size
More info
Nubia Flip 5G
3 out of 5 stars
3
From
$999
Snapdragon 7 Gen 16.9-inches
4 out of 5 stars
4
From
$849
Tensor G36.1-inches
4 out of 5 stars
4
From
$699
Exynos 14806.6-inches
4 out of 5 stars
4
From
$1399
Exynos 24006.2-inches
4.3 out of 5 stars
4.25
From
$649
Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processor6.8-inches
4.3 out of 5 stars
4.25
From
$1649
A16 Bionic6.7-inches
4.3 out of 5 stars
4.25
From
$1949
Snapdragon 8 Gen 26.8-inches
4.3 out of 5 stars
4.25
From
$1299
A15 Bionic6.1-inches
4 out of 5 stars
4
From
$1499
Snapdragon 8+ Gen 16.7-inches
4 out of 5 stars
4
From
$1399
Snapdragon 8886.55-inches
4 out of 5 stars
4
From
$1249
Snapdragon 8 Gen 16.1-inch
Georgia Dixon
Written by
Georgia Dixon has over seven years' experience writing about all things tech, entertainment and lifestyle, with bylines in TechLife magazine, 7NEWS and Stuff.co.nz. In her spare time, you'll find her playing games and daydreaming about good food, wine, and dogs.

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