Android

Nubia Flip 5G review: Folding on a budget

Nubia and its sub-brand, Redmagic, are no strangers to AP. Now that Nubia is pushing to sell its devices worldwide, I was eager to see what the company had up its sleeves for its mid-range folding phone, the Flip 5G. This is especially true because the phone comes with radios that work best on T-Mobile, my carrier of choice.



While I was never personally hot on the folding trend in Android land, I definitely wanted to see what it was all about when Nubia approached us for this review. Surprisingly, I’m growing increasingly fond of the device as I use it, and while it is anything but perfect, it delivers something I haven’t experienced on Android in years. Fun. So, let’s get into why that is the case for Nubia’s new midrange folding phone.


nubia flip 5g showing fron face of phpne folded

Nubia Flip 5G
Staff pick
8/ 10

The Nubia Flip 5G is a midrange flip phone that punches well above its weight. Not only is performance good for the price, but you get a device that literally folds in half, with a UI reminiscent of stock Android for a well-rounded experience.

Pros

  • Most affordable flip yet
  • Hinge feels reliable
  • Outer screen is implemented well
Cons

  • The top wobbles a little
  • Top-heavy when open
  • Brightness could be better


Price, availability, and specs

An excellent price with fair specs that rarely falter

Nubia Flip 5G laying closed on rock with circular screen facing camera with clock on screen

The Nubia Flip 5G is available directly from Nubia’s store. The price starts at $500 for 8GB RAM and 256GB storage. If you prefer 12GB RAM and double the storage, you’ll have to come up with $700. At $500, the phone is a steal; you won’t find a folding phone that works in the US hitting this price point. Once you jump up to the model with more RAM, things get pricier, but compared to the more prominent flips on the market, you’ll still save hundreds when you go with Nubia.



Keep in mind that the phone’s radios will best support T-Mobile, and even then, it lacks some T-Mobile frequencies we use in the US. I can say my data speeds were just fine, and calls were loud and clear. At no point did I feel my mobile connection was suffering because of any shortage of radios in the phone, but your mileage may vary.

Specifications

SoC
Snapdragon 7 Gen1, Octa-core, 2.4GHz

Display type
OLED

Display resolution
2790 x 1188

RAM
8GB/12GB

Storage
256GB/512GB

Battery
4310mAh

Charge speed
33W quick charging

Ports
USB-C, SIM

SIM support
Dual

Operating System
Android 13

Front camera
16M FF

Rear camera
50M AF + 2M FF

Cellular connectivity
NR:n1/n3/n5/n8/n28A(703MHz-733MHz/758MHz-788MHz )/n41(2496~2690MHz)/n78(3.3~3.6GHz) FDD:B1/B2/B3/B4/B5/B7/B8/B12/B17/B20 TDD:B34/B38/39/40/41(B41为2515MHz-2675MHz) UMTS:B1/B2/B4/B5/B8 CDMA:BC0 GSM:B2/B3/B5/B8

Wi-Fi connectivity
Wi-fi 6E

Bluetooth
BT5.2

Dimensions
170*75.5*7.0mm (Open), 87.6*75.5*15.0mm (Close)

Weight
209g

Colors
Cosmic Black/Sunshine Gold/Flowing Lilac

Price
$500


What’s good about the Nubia Flip 5G?

It’s the most affordable flip yet, all without compromising too much



First and foremost, the price. Many of us at AP have been worried that the midrange market was shrinking, but we’ve actually lucked out this year with quite a few handsets coming in at that $500 sweet spot, and Nubia is surely hitting this spot in style with a folding phone. I’ve received nothing but dropped jaws every time I’ve told someone the folding phone I’m testing is so cheap; the bar test has been passed, and the phone is a stunner, which brings me to my next point.

Perhaps it’s because I’m sporting the Sunshine Gold edition, but every time I look at the Flip 5G when it’s folded, I can’t help but think it looks like some fancy jewelry. It looks like an elegant clock, thanks to the round screen on the outside. The cool thing is the screen works a bit like a Wear device, so I was swiping screens easily, like the weather screen or the step counter screen (you better believe it; there is a built-in step counting app).

Nubia Flip 5G slightly folded open face down in dirt showing logo and red power button


But what I appreciate the most is that Nubia’s software looks mostly stock, and what isn’t stock can be changed, like your icon shape and the system’s colors/animations in general. You will have to dip into the developer settings to lock the refresh rate to a static 120FPS.

There is no control over the automated refresh rate for the manufacturer’s settings. Still, at least the dev setting to lock the refresh rate is available, which means anyone can ditch the on-the-fly framerate and the slight stutter this causes. In my experience, locking the screen to the max framerate does chew through the 4310mAh battery, but I was still managing a day’s worth of uptime, even on my most hectic work days.

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And I’m personally coming hot off of using a ROG Phone with top-of-the-line specs, yet the Snapdragon 7 Gen1 in the Flip 5G never once let me down. The Flip 5G isn’t a gaming powerhouse, but it performs respectively well on that front, rarely buckling under my daily game testing. The included 7 Gen1 is a midrange chip through and through, no doubt about it, but I can barely tell I’m using a midrange phone when it comes to performance, which is exactly what you want to see.

Nubia Flip 5G folded open screen down showing camera bump

Then there are the cameras, which are fine for the price point this phone is hitting. You won’t be confusing most shots with images taken with a Pixel 8a, but in good lighting, you’ll capture some fine shots, and even the front-facing cam is okay for selfies, even if you’re not in the best lighting condition.


While I can’t say I would go out of my way to buy the phone for its cameras or camera software, what you get is good enough, and much like software support, is an area for Nubia to save money that can be used to provide a flip phone so cheaply. I’m okay with this, though you may not be, which is why I’ve provided a bunch of photos for you to scrutinize and make up your own mind.


What’s bad about the Nubia Flip 5G?

If you shake it while open, the phone rattles

Nubia Flip 5G camera hald open indoors with camera app open



Okay, I’m sure the one question on everyone’s mind is how good the hinge is and whether it can withstand abuse. I am confident the hinge will stand up to time and wear. But it isn’t perfect; there is a little bit of play when the phone is open, and since the phone is rather large (I kid you not, the footprint is slightly larger than my ROG phone, which is a behemoth), you’ll likely hold if from the bottom half like me.

This allows the top half to rock forward and back slightly, like half a millimeter. It isn’t much, but it creates an audible sound, and worse, you feel it; it almost feels like the phone is vibrating when both halves come together, to the point I have confused the ever-so-slightly wobbly hinge with phone vibrations. Not often, but it’s happened.

And while I enjoy the software on the device and how I have control over how it looks, there is no doubt updates will be few and far between when it comes to Nubia. You pay for a midrange phone, well, you also get midrange software support, and that’s just how it is; it won’t get better. Three years of software and security updates is it. I personally don’t mind the lack of updates and support. Sure, a whopping seven years would be nice to see, but as long as I get a deal on hardware punching above its weight, I’m pretty happy.


Nubia Flip 5G half folded home screen showing fold and plastic

Another issue with the hinge is that there are plastic protrusions in each corner of the fold. So, not only is there a visible seam you can feel, but its edges also have plastic that sticks out. This protects debris from getting into the fold, something you will want to be there, but if your thumb just so happens to interact with that part of the phone when unfolded, you’re going to feel that plastic. More or less, you’ll never forget you are using a folding phone.

Also, the screen could be brighter. It is not always easy to see in direct sunlight. Perhaps this has to do with the folding glass more than anything else, but the screen can be washed out when used outdoors.



Nubia Flip 5G showing crease in screen

This brings me to one last issue. You can’t open the device with one hand, at least not easily. You have to ask yourself if you really want to risk dropping the device just to try to open it with one hand. I know I’ve had a couple of close scares, which is why I stopped trying.

So even though you gain versatility and room in your pocket with the folding action, with an outer screen that works fine to read text or check an email, ease of use flies out the window when you have to unfold the sucker for your more detail-oriented actions like pecking out an email reply to the boss.


Should you buy it?

If you are on T-Mobile, it’s worth considering

Nubia Flip 5G laying open on a bed of grass with screen on


This recommendation comes with the caveat that you are a T-Mobile user. With that in mind, I wholeheartedly recommend the Nubia Flip 5G for those looking to spice up their Android lifestyle. I’ve had more fun using and theming the Flip 5G than I have in ages, calling back to my rooting and romming days. The phone feels fresh while pulling from years of Android zaniness. Plus, the sucker folds in half, and it only costs $500. It’s a marvel folding phones have come this far, and I’m absolutely here for it.

That’s not to say you won’t be better served picking up a Pixel 8a, especially if you demand great cameras. While the Nubia Flip 5G is no slouch when it comes to photos, you’ll be hard-pressed to beat what Google is putting up at the exact same price point.

But if photos aren’t a primary concern, and long-term support doesn’t even register because you’ll inevitably be using a new phone next year, the Flip 5G is quite impressive. And that’s coming from someone hot off using gaming phones exclusively; I’m pretty amazed at how well Nubia’s folding mid-ranger stacks up at half the price.


Related

I’ve finally used a foldable phone, and I’m sold

It turns out all I needed was the right price

nubia flip 5g showing fron face of phpne folded

Nubia Flip 5G
Staff pick

The Nubia Flip 5G is a midrange flip phone that punches well above its weight. Not only is performance good for the price, but you get a device that literally folds in half, with a UI reminiscent of stock Android for a well-rounded experience.




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