Following the explosion of awesome budget smartphones in 2015, we’re expecting even more in 2016, and that’s already happening. We’ve already seen killer releases like the Honor 5X, and we’re expecting more from companies like Alcatel OneTouch and Motorola Lenovo as the year goes forward. However if you look past the big names, sometimes you can find a decent device. That’s the case with the NUU Mobile X4, but is it worth buying? Let’s take a look.
- 5” IPS Display – 720p
- MediaTek 1.3GHz Quad-Core Processor
- 1GB RAM
- 16GB Storage (expandable via microSD)
- Dual-SIM Connectivity
- 13MP Rear Camera
- 5MP Front Camera
- Android 5.1 Lollipop
- 2,250 mAh removable battery
At $169, you probably wouldn’t expect much from the X4. However the hardware here is shockingly good. The back is built from a glossy plastic which, I’ll admit, I’m not a huge fan of, but the sides are made from a hefty metal chassis. This gives the phone a solid feel in the hand, albeit a bit slick.
The metal chassis gives a cool feel in the morning which I absolutely love and the buttons are also extremely tactile, a treat on a device of this price point. The microUSB port is found on top of the device, which while I don’t love, does have its benefits.
On the bottom front bezel of the device you’ll also find the capacitive navigation keys. I found these to be responsive and easy to use, but it’s a bit disappointing to see that they are not backlit in any way.
Overall it’s not bad, but I’d have preferred a grippy plastic on the back rather than the slick and slimey rear found here.
Software & Performance
Out of the box you’ll find Android 5.1.1, but the X4 is confirmed to get an update to Android 6.0 Marshmallow in March of 2016. It’s even Google Mobile Services-certified so it will get Android Security Patches just like Nexus smartphones. The build found on the X4 is extremely close to stock Android, with just a few minor changes. There are added features such as HotKnot which allows you to transfer data when you tap the screen of another device with the same service installed. There’s also an audio profiles shortcut in the quick settings menu to allow you to switch between mute, vibrate, medium volume, and loud with just a quick tap.
The X4 also packs the Air Gesture and Smart Wake features as well. Air Gesture allows you to swipe between images in your gallery without touching the display and Smart Wake allows for a collection of different screen off gestures to be used to turn on the display without using the power button.
Performance wise the X4 actually quick impressed me. While the MediaTek processor mentioned earlier probably made you cringe, things are actually OK on this phone. Day to day tasks perform fairly well and even games do just fine. Really the limitation here is in terms of RAM. Nuu Mobile, I know you’re reading this. 1.5GB of RAM. Minimum.
The 5” IPS display on the X4 is not what I would call awesome, but it’s pretty decent all things considered. Colors tend to be a bit washed out and viewing angles are a bit wonky at times, but overall it’s pretty good. Outdoor viewing is fine as well, but don’t expect to use it in direct sunlight.
As a side note, this isn’t Gorilla Glass, so you’re going to be at least somewhat vulnerable to scratches. I would highly recommend applying the included screen protector ASAP once you get it out of the box.
The X4 packs a small 2,250 mAh battery, but the battery life is pretty impressive, especially on stand by. This phone takes hardly any power at all when it’s on standby, so if you use it lightly, you’ll finish the day with 70% or more remaining. The battery is also removable, so you can swap it on the go if you pick up a spare from Nuu Mobile.
As far as charging goes, this device uses a microUSB port and it ships with a mere 1A charging brick. You shouldn’t expect fast charging, but if you want to speed things up just a bit, I’d recommend grabbing a more powerful charging brick on Amazon.
On the rear of the X4 you’ll find a 13MP camera and while it’s certainly not going to win any awards, but it gets the job done. Outdoor shots look OK but things get pretty bad in low light. There is an LED flash, but you should probably avoid using it if possible.
The Little Things
Nuu Mobile has done a solid job of the X4, but there are things to nitpick, as with every device. One thing to point out is the bottom firing speaker which is, well it’s pretty bad. At low volumes it’s fine, but at max volume it sounds like the artist you’re listening to is dying, exploding, or being attacked by a swarm of bees. Well, you get the picture. (Use the included headphones, they’re not bad).
There’s also another thing to mention about the rear cover. I’m glad it’s removable, but it’s tough to get back on. When you’re putting it back on just make sure that you get all the clips.
Overall, Nuu Mobile has created a good looking and feeling smartphone, but in order to bring it to a low price point of $169, they’ve sacrificed far too much. This device is begging for more RAM and better speakers. As an overall package it’s not a bad choice, but when there’s a sea of other budget phones out on the market that hit all the right notes, it’s tough for me to recommend something that only ticks half of them. To avoid finishing on a sour note however, there is a redeeming factor. Unlike many other smartphones at this price, the X4 will get updated to Android Marshmallow, it’s going to get regular security patches, and it has a two-year warranty where most other smartphones only offer a single year. Those are some huge redeeming factors, but do they save it? I’ll leave that up to you.