ZTE's Nubia 5s and 5s mini show off premium, yet playful design (hands-on)

Aside from the Grand S II, ZTE also took the opportunity at CES to show off a couple of other handsets that have so far only made an appearance in China. Both the Nubia 5s and the 5s mini are essentially follow-ups to the Nubia 5 we saw a few months ago, with slightly different designs and specs. The 5s has a very similar look to the 5, with a 5-inch 1080p display and a slim chassis that marries a plastic back with aluminum sides. Measuring 137 x 68.8 x 7.6mm and weighing in at 126 grams, the 5s has a surprisingly premium feel thanks to the cool, sharp edges on the front and curves on the back. Unlike the 5, the 5s has a dedicated camera button.

Another nice upgrade is that the 5s comes packed with a 2.3GHz Snapdragon 800 SoC, which is certainly an improvement over the S4 Pro on the 5. We didn't notice any discernible lag while navigating the phone and it feels quite zippy overall, though admittedly we only tried it out for a few minutes. Other specs include a 5-megapixel front camera, a 13-megapixel rear one with optical image stabilization, a 2,300mAh battery, 4K video capture, 2GB of RAM, DLNA, Bluetooth and NFC support. As far as software goes, the Nubia 5s runs a custom ZTE version of Android 4.2. We're especially intrigued by the camera software, which allows you to fine-tune the exposure, focus and even white balance by dragging certain shape icons across the screen. And of course, there are built-in camera filters a la Instagram as well.

While the 5s is positioned as a higher-end consumer handset, the 5s mini is aimed at a slightly younger audience. This is evident the moment we turned on the screen -- the UI was adorned with adorable cartoon animals as shortcut icons. A ZTE rep tells us that this can be customized to the users' delight via a Nubia store where you can purchase such skins. Also, the back covers come in an array of different sporty colors and can be swapped out if you wish.

Even though it's called the "mini," it really isn't too much smaller than the 5s. Indeed, the 5s mini has a 4.7-inch display, which is just 0.3 inch smaller than its bigger brother. With the measurements of 134.8 x 65.8 x 7.6mm and a weight of 120grams, the 5s mini has a relatively slim bezel and sports a microSD card expansion slot. Features include a 13-megapixel rear camera, a 5-megapixel front shooter, a 2,000mAh battery, Bluetooth 4.0 and DLNA. The UI is fairly similar to the 5s, and as it sports a 1.7-GHz Snapdragon 600 chip, navigation felt snappy enough. It has the same camera software as the 5s, but it lacks the ability to fine-tune the white balance as easily.

So far, the phones are only available in China, though ZTE seems to hint that it could come to the US at a later date. Until then, avail yourself to the gallery photos above to see what you're missing out on.