Of all the methods that phone manufacturers have used to remove bezels and avoid notches, the second screen may have been the most time-consuming. Who needs a selfie camera if you have a display on the back of the phone that you can use as a viewfinder? The most prominent example so far has been the Vivo's Nex Dual Display Edition from 2018, though the company's return to pop-up selfie cameras with the Nex 3 suggests that the experiment may not have been considered a success.
ZTE spin-off Nubia, however, is driving the idea forward. After experiencing a low-key release in China last year, the Nubia X is now working with the Z20 on a dual display concept, the latest iteration in the Z Series. And unlike many technically distinctive Chinese cell phones, this is available in the West ̵
With a pure price-performance ratio, the Z20 would be quite competitive even without the second display. The phone costs $ 549 / € 550 / £ 499 and includes a Snapdragon 855 Plus processor, 8GB of RAM, 128GB of memory, a triple-camera setup with Sony's ubiquitous 48-megapixel IMX586 sensor, and a 4,000 mAh battery , and a curved 6.4-inch 1080p OLED screen. So far, 2019 Chinese flagship phone, except that it runs more or less with barebones on Android 9.
Then you turn it over.
The back of the Nubia Z20 has a shiny metallic finish that picks up fingerprints when you just point it out. But in a strange way, it's thanks to Nubia that this is the most obvious criticism, as the panel also hides a full-featured 5.1-inch 720p OLED display. With the exception of the most difficult lighting conditions and viewing angles, the screen appears to be almost seamlessly integrated into the frame of the phone.
Honestly, it's really cool. I have never been one for on-screen screens, but it is quite another thing when it appears that Betta fish are swimming on the surface of the device itself. Even in use, the second screen is actually quite nice. You can use it for anything you can do on the main display, not just as a camera viewfinder. If you've always wanted a small Android phone for one-handed operation, without having to compromise on the times when you want a bigger screen, this phone might be right for you. Unlike the rear panel of the Nex Dual Display's 5.5-inch 16: 9 display, the Z20's second screen looks narrower and looks more like a miniature version of a modern phone.
The Nex Dual Display had a confusing system that needed to switch between screens with opposite sleep / wake buttons. I never got used to it, but the Z20 does a better job. While sleep / wakeup buttons are still on both sides of the phone, it uses motion gestures to identify which screen you want to watch, and I thought it worked well. Each key also has a built-in fingerprint sensor so you can unlock the phone in the same way regardless of the way you hold it.
Compared to the Vivo Nex Dual Display, I prefer almost everything on the Z20 design. It's aesthetically slimmer, there are more reasons to use the second screen behind the camera, and it's easier to switch between the two. This is certainly the best iteration of the previous basic concept.
Still, I'm still not convinced that the concept is a great idea for anyone interested in full-resolution selfies. Pop-up selfie cameras have been around for almost two years now and there do not seem to be too many reports of dead engine phones. Notches are still not an issue for tens of millions of people buying new iPhones every year, not to mention the Hole Punch designs that Samsung has adopted for the 2019 product line.
The Z20 also has catches. The rear screen has an unusually warm white balance and never matches the main screen, which is strange because the warmer night mode on the larger screen is very weak at maximum setting. After this and my experience with the LG G8X, I wonder what challenges it brings to controlling the color temperature on Android devices on multiple screens. The Z20 also achieves the typical quadrilogy of missing features on Chinese mid-range phones: no wireless charging, horrible feel, no nominal waterproofness, and a single monaural speaker. Unlike many devices in its class, however, there is no headphone jack.
The Nubia Z20 is a cool-looking phone with good specifications and a pretty competitive price, but I think you really need to opt for the dual-screen concept so it's your best bet. Most people in Europe would get better value for something like the Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro for 399 GBP / 399 EUR, and even in the US I would recommend the extra 50 USD for a OnePlus 7T for 599 USD with its better (albeit single) video and software experience.
However, if you're looking for a phone that stands out or sometimes appreciates the smaller screen, the Z20 may not be a bad buy. I can not complain about the data sheet, nor can I deny the attraction of the shimmering OLED back.