This is commoner than most of us will seriously conclude… there are more tourists anywhere in the world who lose their phone and then remain restless as they watch everyone else in the group go click-tap-tap-click for no apparent reason! These are the sort of tourists who find a DSLR too difficult to understand, point-and-shoot devices too much of an accessory to carry all the time, and so they just stick to the camera on their phone. As if they’d understand the constantly evolving smartphones, play-stores, and the apps that are getting more demanding than even tour guides who never seem to miss talking of the stern expression of Qutub-ud-din Aibuk as he sat and supervised the construction of the Qutub Minar. They are the sort of guides who may not even know that Aibuk supervised only the basement. The first three storeys had Iltutmish snorting away and then Firoz Shah Tuglak took over the task for the final two storeys. It is so much like a modern-day bridge where the plans are made and passed when one political party is in power and the foundation stone is laid by another… but hey! we’re not discussing history here. Nor are we talking about tourism. We are talking about tourists losing phones because their next logical step is to go for a new smartphone.

Well, a smartphone that isn’t expensive has a reasonably good camera and comes with a fair amount of internal storage. You see, these tourists never carry laptops and so any phone with less than 32 GB of storage is really insufficient. Let me try and visualize this tourist… this one doesn’t have sharp eyes and so would need at least a 5.5 inch full HD IPS LCD display – come on, how else will his wonderful shots be viewed in the evening. The phone battery obviously has to be better than what one gets in most phones today. Needless to say that this kind of tourist needs a phone with a battery that recharges fast enough, isn’t revolutionary enough to have done away with the 3.5mm audio jack, and that doesn’t cost a bomb. After all, he is in a strange place and stranded without any means to capture all the joy he experiences… and has to get accustomed to his new device fast.

I seriously thought of a lot of devices and then zeroed-in on the Nubia N1. You see, this phone has a 5.5-inch full HD IPS LCD display, an octa-core Mediatek MT6755 Helio P10 processor that comes with a 3GB RAM and a 32GB/64GB storage. The 13 MP front camera + 13MP rear camera with a dual-SIM facility is heart-warming. The phone runs on Android 6 Marshmallow and comes with a 5000 mAh battery with USB Type-C and is priced just right at Rs 11,999. The phone accepts microSD cards of up to 128GB in size. The Full HD display of 1080×1920 pixel resolution is precisely what such a tourist needs. By the way, the phone weighs 190 gms and though this is slightly more in times when other phones are losing weight, it does have the advantage of making a user feel he is carrying a device that feels important… and beefed up! As I was writing this article, a friend said that the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (4GB+64GB variant) could be appropriate enough and I told him that the Redmi wasn’t as intuitively helpful to a tourist who wanted to get some great experimental pictures to be shared on Instagram. ‘Yes, they’re both Chinese,’ I replied, ‘but the Nubia N1 charges much faster from 0-100 per cent in just 2.5 hours. And listen, the N1 has a camera with tons of settings to play around with like Panorama, slo-mo, Pro mode (with some manual settings), time lapse and camera-family.’

‘Camera family?’ he asked, ‘what’s this?’

Well, I patiently explained to him that with the Nubia N1 around, one need not struggle with a zillion instructions in multiple apps for great experimental pictures. The camera in this phone came with effects like multi-exposure, light painting, electronic aperture, slow shutter, star track, video-maker, trajectory, and clone camera. Now that’s what makes it feature rich and tourist-ready, right?

And I have been talking of the camera features so much that I forgot to mention the absolutely charming ‘edge gestures’ and ‘touch gestures’ besides screen split-up and supersnap… and all they need is a ten minute reading up and activation through the phone’s settings. Let me add here that after activation, all I had to do was to swipe up or down from both edges to adjust the brightness of the screen… so helpful while reading an ebook sitting in the bus. I mean, you could be outside and want to adjust the brightness even while the camera is open… these gestures help you hop on to the desktop or go from one app to another in a jiffy. These gestures are really like magical fairies and I loved all of them.

What else did I love in this phone? Well, a red-coloured circle lighting up every time you use it calls itself the Home key. That does go well with a tourist perched on his seat in a jerk-free Volvo. Yes, the UI is a trifle slow but then tourists aren’t speed junkies anyway, are they? The only thing that I did not like is that the phone needs only its own charging cable as none other will connect. ‘Size matters!’ I muttered angrily, but then smiled when I thought of no one else borrowing my charging cable. There is a silver lining to every cloud! By the way, the Nubia N1 wasn’t eager to share pictures that I had clicked on it because it simply refused to transfer them on my brilliant Microsoft Surface Pro4. Even Bluetooth connectivity, though paired, didn’t work. I had to finally email them to myself and that is one massively tedious process. But then if you’re a tourist who has lost his phone and bought this one for sharing pictures on the social media, you need not worry… because this one is a nice device at a price that doesn’t hurt. Some cons are there but then I’m sure you will accept them and keep moving. The phone is definitely not for those who are looking for perfection.




Nubia N1 - the phone that serves the purpose for most

Nubia N1 – the phone that serves the purpose for most


Nubia N1 - multi-exposure works well

Nubia N1 – multi-exposure works well


Nubia N1 - The clone feature in the phone's camera has interesting results

Nubia N1 – The clone feature in the phone’s camera has interesting results


Nubia N1 - Inside of a mug... dark interiors... captured well

Nubia N1 – Inside of a mug… dark interiors… captured well… a slow shutter shot


Nubia N1 - the camera has an interesting collection of filters

Nubia N1 – the camera has an interesting collection of filters


Nubia n1 - a normal shot in daylight has clarity and details captured nicely

Nubia n1 – a normal shot in daylight has clarity and details captured nicely


Nubia N1 - even screenshots can be given a fancy guise

Nubia N1 – even screenshots can be given a fancy guise




Arvind Passey
13 April 2017