Nubia Alpha: A smartphone with the fitting thought however the incorrect execution


The very first thing you discover concerning the Nubia Alpha is its lengthy, slender, curved display screen, which wraps round your wrist once you put on it. I had plenty of curious strangers ask me about it, some who thought it was a home arrest bracelet and others who thought it regarded like a watch Batman would put on. The Nubia Alpha has a ridiculous facade, which, actually, is a part of its attraction.

However the bigger existential query at hand is, What’s the Nubia Alpha? You put on it in your wrist like a watch, however it’s something however a standard watch. The watch is decked out with an even bigger show than most smartwatches and may make cellphone calls — type of. Whether or not I take into account the Nubia Alpha a watch or a smartphone actually depends upon your definition of what a cellphone is.

In China, the Nubia Alpha could make calls through an eSIM, however so can some Apple Watch fashions. And I do not find out about you, however I undoubtedly do not consider these Apple Watches as telephones. Nubia fashions within the US piggyback to your cellphone through Bluetooth.

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Nubia Alpha wearable smartphone evaluation


 After spending just a few weeks with what Nubia calls a “wearable smartphone,” I can say with certainty that it is not a cellphone — no less than not in the way in which we’re used to telephones. There is no Instagram, Google Maps, Uber or Lyft, not even an web browser.

Although it might be straightforward to dismiss the Nubia Alpha as an bold, ineffective gadget. I really like among the approaches to its design and options, even when Nubia misses on the general execution. The Nubia Alpha really represents a brand new form-factor for wearables that might redefine what we count on from telephones and watches, with a bunch of fixes to get there.

With a software program enchancment and adjustments made to the ergonomics of the show and digital camera, the Nubia Alpha can be price each penny of its $449 worth. However till then, probably the most you may get is a watch that is largely a dialog starter.

Versatile 4-inch show in your wrist

The defining function of the Nubia Alpha is the 4-inch bendable OLED show. It is mounted on a metal watch band that matches cosy and safe on the wrist. Think about lining up three Apple Watch screens end-to-end in a row — yeah that is a variety of show. Having a lot display screen actual property is particularly useful for studying a protracted string of textual content messages, which fairly actually wrap round my wrist. It is a disgrace Nubia could not determine a solution to allow you to view e mail messages on that display screen. It is simply crying for use that manner.


The Nubia Alpha embraces one thing cellphone makers realized a number of years in the past: Individuals like larger screens.

Angela Lang/CNET

One looming drawback is that there is at all times 1 / 4 of the show you could’t see with out twisting your wrist within the Olympic fashion type. If Nubia moved the show in order that extra of it was inside your wrist, you’d have the ability to get the utmost use out of it, assume asymmetrical however much more ergonomic.

It is price noting that I have never had a single sturdiness situation with the Nubia Alpha’s versatile show. When Samsung despatched out evaluation samples of its Galaxy Fold cellphone, many reviewers had hassle with the folding show.

Not a slap bracelet

I ought to dispel one fable concerning the Nubia. This is not a slap bracelet. One of the vital spectacular elements of the Nubia is a metallic hyperlink bracelet with a double clasp. You may simply add or take away hyperlinks to resize the watch to your wrist.

The Nubia Alpha is unapologetically chunky and hefty. In contrast to the silicone band of my Apple Watch, it felt stable and safe as I wore it day by day.

Contained in the Nubia Alpha’s girth is a battery that lasted me 48 hours and 44 minutes on a single cost.

The Nubia Alpha is rated IP65 for mud and water resistance. It survived water splashes, dustings of blue matcha powder and an exploding can of beer throughout an 8-hour barista shift I labored at a restaurant.

iPhone Four digital camera specs, iPhone 3GS photograph high quality

There is a 5-megapixel digital camera that sits on prime of your wrist. However due to the angle, I obtained the worst selfies. Generally I might stretch my arm and twist my wrist to get my whole head within the body, however this small act of contortion hardly ever yielded shot. Picture high quality is fairly dangerous by in the present day’s requirements. The standard of the pictures is like iPhone 3GS good. So, In order for you nice views up the nostril, the Nubia Alpha is the way in which to go.


Nobody seems good from this angle.

Patrick Holland/CNET

You can file video, however simply 10 seconds lengthy. I do not know, nonetheless, why you would not use a cellphone, the place you may get higher picture high quality and the power to file longer movies. The place’s that TikTok integration once you want it?

Just like the show, if Nubia moved the digital camera to the within of the wrist, it could really yield first rate selfies and movies. I notice transferring each the show and digital camera would imply the necessity for a left-handed and right-handed model, however that will make it much more helpful.

Additionally, I want I might use one of many two bodily buttons on the watch to set off the digital camera shutter. It is odd taking a photograph with the on-screen shutter button, as a result of my finger generally blocks the digital camera whereas urgent it.

Software program is a sequence of unlucky occasions

It is attention-grabbing that Nubia determined to deal with the software program on the Alpha. I actually like the corporate’s Purple Magic Mars gaming cellphone, which runs nearer to a inventory model of Android 9 Pie. However Nubia mainly began from scratch right here.

The software program on the Nubia Alpha is clunky and confounding to make use of. Making an attempt to get a track onto it’s insanely counterintuitive. There are a variety of tiny apps, from climate to health to at least one referred to as “Hello Marquee,” which helps you to sort phrases or phrases and have them scroll throughout the Nubia Alpha’s show.

“…me the world is gonna roll me, I ain’t the sharpest device within the shed.” The Hello Marquee app enables you to show phrases and phrases however limits you to 20 characters: dangerous information for Smash Mouth followers.

Patrick Holland/CNET

Navigating the apps is straightforward sufficient, with finger scrolls and swipes similar to you’d use on a cellphone. However there’s additionally a sensor that may detect hand motions type of like these on the LG G8. It is referred to as Alpha Gestures. I can transfer my hand above the cellphone in a wiping movement both up-and-down or side-to-side to navigate app screens. It is a neat thought, however in use, it labored intermittently. Even when it was good, I am undecided how typically I might use Alpha Gestures. It appears simpler to simply use the display screen.

There are some bugs and inconsistencies with the software program. Since notifications on the watch mirror what I get on my cellphone, a brand new e mail alert exhibits up twice, as soon as from Gmail and as soon as as an Android notification.


There are quite a few little apps that’re straightforward to navigate on the Nubia’s lengthy display screen.

Angela Lang/CNET

System dialog containers do not learn “OK” and “cancel.” For instance, when the climate app could not connect with the cellphone or through Wi-Fi, a dialog field popped up that learn, “Unable to get the situation and climate data, please verify the community.” To dismiss it I’ve to press a button labeled “I do know.” That is infuriating as a result of clearly I did not know — that is why I attempted opening the climate app within the first place. Had I recognized concerning the connection situation, I would not have tried to verify the climate.

If somebody on an iPhone messages me utilizing iMessage, I get a notification that it is a “multimedia message and must be learn on my cellphone.” You may reply to textual content messages utilizing a ridiculously small phone keypad direct from the early 2000s, however sadly there is no predictive textual content.

The Nubia Alpha has a bunch of health options, together with the power to trace steps, measure coronary heart charge, file exercises and even observe sleep. However generally the numbers appeared off. For instance, it mentioned I took 32,000 steps once I’d been seated for a lot of the day. My colleague at CNET en Español who’s testing one other Nubia Alpha one way or the other recorded -17,000 steps. Did he stroll backward?

On the finish of the day, I can see a lot potential for a big display screen wearable like this, particularly if it might really be a standalone cellphone. However presently, the Nubia Alpha simply is not there but.


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