Nubia Flip 5G review: A Galaxy Z Flip-like experience for half the price

A cheap phone that folds, rather than a foldable phone that's cheap

The Nubia Flip 5G's cover display, with the lock screen visible
(Image: © Tom's Guide)

Tom's Guide Verdict

Nubia's first flip foldable is strikingly cheap, which makes it more accessible for more would-be owners. But you’ll find key features of the Nubia Flip 5G to be limited, especially when compared to similar devices from Samsung and Motorola. Still, as the low-cost flip phone out there, the Flip 5G still shines as a budget alternative.


  • +

    Incredible value for a foldable

  • +

    Fast charging

  • +

    Attractive and unique design


  • -

    Photography is limited in scope and quality

  • -

    Lacks performance power

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    Likely to receive few Android updates

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The arrival of Nubia Flip 5G heralds the birth of a new kind of phone — a device that could feasibly count as both one of the best foldable phones and best cheap phones of the year at the same time. But you have to question if this is a melding of two categories that users, or indeed the available tech, is ready for.

It's certainly an attractive offer. For the price of a Google Pixel 7a, Nubia will sell you a foldable phone that matches up to the Galaxy Z Flip 5, Motorola Razr 2023 and Motorola Razr Plus in several ways, while costing almost half as much. But the money you save on the Nubia Flip 5G comes at the expense of some key luxuries like an ultrawide camera, a flagship-grade chipset and a long guaranteed slate of updates.

You should probably go for one of the above foldables, or wait for a Galaxy Z Flip 6 or Razr Plus 2024 if you want to get the best possible flip phone experience. But if that's not an option with your budget, the Flip 5G is at your service, offering an experience that no other phone in its price bracket can match right now. 

Nubia Flip 5G review: Specs

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Starting price$499/£499
Outer display6.9-inch FHD OLED (2790 x 1188)
Inner display1.43-inch diameter OLED (466 x 466)
Refresh rate120Hz inner, 120Hz outer
Outer cameras50MP main, 2MP depth
Inner camera16MP selfie
ChipsetSnapdragon 7 Gen 1
Battery4,310 mAh
Charging33W wired
SoftwareAndroid 13 with MyOS13
Open size6.69 x 2.97 x 0.28 inches (170.0 x 75.5 x 7.0mm)
Closed size3.45 x 2.97 x 0.59 inches (87.6 x 75.5 x 15.0mm)
Weight7.35 ounces / 208 grams
ColorsSunshine Golden, Cosmic Black, Flowering Lilac

Nubia Flip 5G review: Price and availability

The Nubia Flip 5G is on sale globally from April 23, though U.K. customers will have to wait until the 29th for pre-orders to open. But the interesting thing about this phone is its price.

At a starting price of $500/£500, the Nubia Flip 5G’s price falls within the same range as the Pixel 7a, Galaxy A55 or OnePlus 12R. More importantly, you’ll pay $200/£300 less than you would for the next-cheapest foldable, the Moto Razr 2023. There is a $700/£700 edition of the Flip 5G with more memory too, but a large part of this phone's charm is its affordability.

Nubia Flip 5G review: Design and display

As you pick up the Nubia Flip 5G for the first time, it feels just as special as any other foldable despite its much lower price. The matte textures of the glass back panels and aluminum frame help the phone stay smear-free even after you've been handling it for hours, as well as making it more pleasing to hold.

I like the bright yellow color of my review unit, but the lilac and black versions of the Nubia Flip 5G also look attractive in the renders I've seen. 

The Nubia Flip 5G's side rail, including its bright red power button

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Dominating the design is the metal-edged circular bump in the top half of the phone, containing the two main cameras and a round 1.43-diameter external display, about the size of a smartwatch screen. It's smaller, and less regularly shaped, than what you get on the Galaxy Z Flip 5 or the Motorola Razr Plus, but it is similarly versatile, as we will see later.

The Nubia Flip 5G from the back, half open

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The illusion of luxury starts to crumble as you open the Flip 5G’s hinge, which has a less-refined action, feeling almost crunchy to operate unlike the wonderfully smooth articulation of the Galaxy Z Flip 5's display. Fortunately on the inside, Nubia's done just as good of a job as Samsung in keeping the crease in the display to a minimum. You'll still feel it if you swipe a finger along the screen, but I never felt that the crease got in the way when I was using the Nubia Flip 5G.

The Nubia Flip 5G's hinge, closed

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

For its main screen, the Nubia Flip 5G uses a 6.9-inch FHD OLED panel that’s capable of an adaptive 120Hz refresh rate (by default, the screen’s display rate is set at 60Hz for some reason). You also get 2160Hz PWM dimming for reduced eye strain on this panel, an uncommon feature on mainstream Android phones in some parts of the world, but one you find on more and more Chinese devices.

The Nubia Flip 5G's main display, open at a right angle

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Measuring nearly 7 inches across, the Flip 5G's display is larger than the Galaxy Z Flip 5, and the same size as the Motorola Razr and Razr Plus 2023. The Nubia's cover display is rather dinky in comparison to the respective 3.4- and 3.6-inch outer screens of the Galaxy Z Flip 5 and Razr Plus, and still smaller than the 1.5-inch outer strip on the basic Razr 2023.

Nubia Flip 5G review: Cameras

The Flip 5G's limited camera loadout consists of a 50MP main camera and a 2MP depth camera on the outside, plus a 16MP inside camera for taking selfies. 

The Nubia Flip 5G from behind, fully opened

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

That's a more limited selection of sensors than its rivals from Samsung and Motorola, both of which offer an ultrawide camera. The Nubia's 50MP sensor does allow for 2x lossless digital zoom for some added versatility even if there’s no dedicated telephoto lens.

For our main camera face-off, with the Galaxy Z Flip 5 taking on the Nubia 5G, we have shots of a birdhouse floating in water. The Nubia's clearly got a cooler color profile than the Samsung does, but that doesn't justify its image being flatter and drabber, and failing to capture the detail in the ripples.

Zooming in at 2x reveals the same defects for the Nubia Flip’s shot — they’re just closer up. You could perhaps argue the clearer reflection in the Nubia's shot is preferable to having the additional water movement visible in the Samsung shot, but it's less accurate to what I could see through my own eyes when I stood at the edge of Paddington Basin.

There are fewer ripples to get in the way of this shot of a colorful narrowboat. So it's undeniable how much more lively the Samsung's image looks, even with some areas getting a little too dark due to the intense colors.

We now jump to the 16MP inside camera, the one you'll most likely use for capturing your selfies most of the time. Perhaps this is just because we're using a Samsung phone (famed for their highly saturated images) as a comparison point, but the Nubia Flip 5G's shot looks flat and lifeless next to the Galaxy Z Flip's.

Lastly, we've got another selfie, but this time taken with the main camera with the phone closed. This lets us sample how the Nubia's depth sensor assists with the portrait effect, and it turns out it helps quite a lot, making the bokeh effect nice and sharp. The Nubia Flip image is also much brighter than the Samsung shot in a surprise reversal, and it takes a full 4:3 image, rather than a square one as the Z Flip does. 

However, capturing this self-portrait with the main camera was a little more difficult on the Nubia Flip 5G than it was with the Galaxy Z Flip 5, since using a circular window instead of a rectangular one to line up the shot is means it's hard to judge where the edges of your photo are.

Nubia Flip 5G review: Performance

Nubia picked the Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 chip to drive the Flip 5G. It’s the same chip found in the Motorola Razr 2023, but it’s a lower-grade offering than the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 inside the Galaxy Z Flip 5. It also trails the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 used by the Razr Plus.

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Nubia Flip 5G Galaxy Z Flip 5 Motorola Razr 2023 Motorola Razr Plus 2023
Chipset Snapdragon 7 Gen 1Snapdragon 8 Gen 2Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1
Geekbench 6 (single-core/multicore score) 1,074 / 3,074 1857 / 5,115 1,053 / 3,053 1,817 / 4,635
3DMark Wild Life Extreme Unlimited (score / average fps) 833 / 4.99 3,010 / 18.03 826 / 4.95 2,763 / 16.57
Adobe Premiere Rush time to transcode (mins:secs) 1:44 0:42 1:47 0:44

Unsurprisingly, the Nubia matches up with the Razr 2023 in terms of scores, but trails behind the two more powerful foldables. While the gap is hard to ignore across the CPU and GPU tests, uou also again have to consider how much less the Nubia costs than these other foldables, with the chipset being one of the most expensive components and an obvious place for Nubia to cut costs with.

The Nubia Flip 5G playing Asphalt 9

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Nubia offers the Flip 5G with an 8GB RAM and 256GB storage memory package by default, just like the Galaxy Z Flip 5 and Moto Razr Plus have. There's also a 12GB RAM and 128GB storage model up for grabs if you're happy spending another $200.

Nubia Flip 5G review: Battery and charging

A battery capacity of 4,310 mAh gives the Nubia Flip 5G more room for power than any of its rivals — the Galaxy Z Flip in particular, as Samsung’s phone runs on a diminutive 3,700 mAh capacity. 

The Nubia foldable doesn't seem to take full advantage of the extra space, though. It saw a 32% battery drop over 3 hours of YouTube video playback. On the same test, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 drained by 25%, a large-enough difference to suggest that Samsung's using its battery a little more efficiently as well as benefiting from using a smaller display. (The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 powering the Z Flip 5 also has a well-earned reputation for superior power management.)

The Nubia Flip 5G stood on its edge, showing the cover screen

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Offering 33W charging and a compatible charger in its box, the Nubia Flip 5G again looks stronger than its rivals on paper. Fortunately in this case, the numbers match up to the performance. The Nubia Flip 5G charged to 40% after 15 minutes, 73% after half an hour and 100% at the 47-minute mark. The Galaxy Z Flip 5 and its 25W charger power up to 52% in 30 minutes, and the Razr Plus to 66% with its 30W system.

One unfortunate absence from the Nubia Flip 5G is wireless charging support, something the Z Flip and both Razrs feature. Perhaps you can forgive the absence given the Nubia Flip 5G’s price, but it's a handy feature to have.

Nubia Flip 5G review: Software and special features

It's weird to see the Nubia Flip 5G running Android 13 in the form of parent company ZTE's MyOS 13. This software is in line with what its competitors run out of the box, but only because they launched last year. It would be good to see an Android 14 update for the Nubia Flip soon; otherwise it'll be inarguably outdated by the time we see the next Samsung and Motorola foldables later this year.

Nubia hasn't gone all-in on foldable-specific features for the Flip 5G, but there's enough to differentiate it from other Android phones. You can split the screen between two apps, or open some in a unique layout when the phone's partially open. The camera app in particular benefits from this, since it offers the all-important front screen preview function to help the subjects of your photo see how they look before you hit the shutter button.

The Nubia Flip 5G half open, playing a YouTube video in Flex mode

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

With the Nubia Flip 5G closed and locked, you still get your notifications coming through on the cover screen, along with your choice of several app widgets and shortcuts you can swipe between. Yet, there's no quick settings access, nor keyboard access for quickly replying to messages. The Nubia Flip 5G also doesn’t offer the option to run third-party apps on the cover screen like comparable flip foldables, meaning it's hard to try and keep the phone closed when trying to complete basic tasks.

The Nubia Flip 5G's cover display showing the notifications shade

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

At least you won't have to turn the phone to a specific orientation to use the cover screen. Perhaps the best quality-of-life feature offered by the Nubia's outer display is that you can use it facing up or down, making it easier to check things no matter how you happen to pick the phone up out from your bag or pocket. 

As for the future, we don't hold out much hope for the Nubia Flip getting many Android upgrades. Even ZTE's most expensive phones aren't guaranteed any number of updates in particular, so you could find certain apps start to misbehave or even refuse to function

It’s definitely something to consider if you want to keep the phone running for as long as possible.

Nubia Flip 5G review: Verdict

The Nubia Flip 5G succeeds in its mission to be a cheaper foldable than you've ever seen before. But beyond the price tag, there's not much else that'll blow your mind with this phone.

The Nubia Flip 5G's cover display, with the lock screen visible

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

If you've been curious about a foldable phone, but reluctant to spend close to $1,000 on one, this could be the device you're looking for, even if saving up for a Motorola Razr or Razr Plus, or a Galaxy Z Flip 5 would deliver a more polished experience. The anticipated Galaxy Z Flip 6 could shake things up, but assuming Samsung’s phone stays the same price as the Z Flip 5, the Nubia still offers quite a bargain for a foldable phone, in exchange for performance, photography acumen and some foldable-specific features. 

For the price, you may also want to consider if you'd be better off with a Pixel 7a or Galaxy A55, even though those phones aren’t foldable. Still, for all its flaws and limitations, I've had great fun testing the Nubia Flip 5G, and that makes up for a lot.

Richard Priday
Assistant Phones Editor

Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.