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Nubia Alpha hands-on: the amazing foldable smartwatch
Nubia Alpha Wearables MWC 5 min read No comments

Nubia Alpha hands-on: the amazing foldable smartwatch

Nubia had teased this device during the last IFA, but it took advantage of the Mobile World Congress to make it official. The Nubia Alpha is the new flagship of the Chinese manufacturer. Equipped with a flexible screen, this wearable is halfway between a smartwatch and a foldable smartphone.

Nubia Alpha release date and price

Yes, the Nubia Alpha is not ordinary by any means, and it has the merit of bringing some originality to the tech market. While the device offers a flexible display, its price is fortunately much more affordable than that of the latest Galaxy Fold and Mate X. The smartphone watch hybrid is expected to arrive in Europe and North America in the second quarter of this year at a global price of 449 euros (around $510) for its black Bluetooth variant. A version with an eSIM at 549 euros will arrive the following quarter in other countries (awaiting agreements with operators). Finally, Nubia also offers an 18K Gold eSIM version for 649 euros.

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The Nubia Alpha is one of the most unusual devices at MWC. / © AndroidPIT

Smartwatch or smartphone?

Is it a smartwatch? Is it a smartphone? A smart bracelet? These are the questions that come to mind when you first discover the Nubia Alpha. Even after about ten minutes spent in its company, I don't have a concrete answer to them. The Nubia Alpha is a hybrid device which can be used as a smartwatch, but also has smartphone features.

A smartphone screen

This watch, which has all the features and functionalities of a phone, wraps neatly around the wrist thanks to a flexible 4-inch OLED display. Its definition of 960 x 192 pixels ensures good readability, even for multimedia use. The brightness is excellent and the colors are bright.

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Visually, it's a pretty original smartwatch. / © AndroidPIT

The reactivity is also great, and Nubia offers fun features to navigate and scroll through the menus. Like the LG G8, it is possible to do so with gestures and without touching the device. This allows you to swipe to the sides, up and down. All this was made possible thanks to the OS developed by the Chinese manufacturer for its device.

Of course, while the performance is to be welcomed, the fact remains that the Nubia Alpha isn't as impressive visually - the aesthetic result is strange. In my case, with a particularly thin wrist, the look leaves something to be desired. You can end up thinking it's more of an electronic surveillance bracelet than a watch. On the other hand, the weight is bearable.

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It's hard not to notice the Nubia Alpha on the wrist. / © AndroidPIT

However, it may also be a matter of habit. After all, a few years ago people were laughing at the Galaxy Note when it was launched, but large screens have triumphed and are now enjoying great popular success.

Nubia also had the good idea to make it easier to adjust the bracelet. It is indeed enough to manually unclip one of the elements of the bracelet to adjust the length.

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You can easily adjust the bracelet. / © AndroidPIT

What can it do?

Of course, like any watch, the Nubia Alpha allows you to check the time. However, you can also use it to make phone calls and send SMS messages. Various applications, such as WeChat, are included too. A web browser is also available. The watch has a Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connection, and the eSIM variant will allow you to make calls without having to use another smartphone. You can also watch videos or listen to music, either directly or via Bluetooth.

There also are fitness features (the watch is waterproof, IP65) to monitor your activities (steps, calories, heart rate, sleep monitoring).

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It's possible to make calls with the Nubia Alpha. / © AndroidPIT

Technical specs

Under the hood, however, the Nubia Alpha does not shine with its technical characteristics. This includes a Snapdragon wear 2100 processor, 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal memory. On the battery side, 500 mAh is available. We look forward to testing the endurance of the device in our final test to learn more. If the capacity may seem sufficient at first glance, intensive use of the OLED display could lead to unpleasant surprises. Nubia promises 1 to 2 days of autonomy if used regularly, and one week in standby.

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Despite its large screen, the Nubia Alpha remains light enough to wear. / © AndroidPIT

Interestingly, the Nubia Alpha also has a camera. A 5 MP sensor has been implemented. As expected, the photo quality seems quite low, but people will likely not be looking for amazing camera performance from this product anyway.

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A gold version is also available. / © AndroidPIT

Early Verdict

The Nubia Alpha is a bit of a UFO in the smartwatch and smartphone landscape. Admittedly, the device attracts curiosity, but its usefulness remains highly debatable. The flexible screen is great, but at the moment it's rather difficult to image wearing this object on a daily basis. A complete test will allow us to know more and to remove all the doubts and questions that remain.

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