Lenovo Vibe Z review : What’s your Vibe?
Lenovo Vibe Z K910
Lenovo entered the Smartphone market very recently and have launched few if not many interesting phones. The K800 and the K900 were one the first few phones to be running on Intel’s Atom processor. In January 2014 the company bought Motorola from Google. The company was also recently listed as the world’s fourth largest Smartphone manufacturer. The future for world’s largest PC maker in the Smartphone market is, I must say, looking very bright.
The company’s flagship model the Lenovo Vibe Z was announced last year and comes with all bells and whistles to battle the likes of the Samsung S4 and the HTC One. So let’s find if this flagship will match up to the segment leaders.
Quick look at the specs
- Operating System – Android 4.3
- Dimension – 149.1 x 77 x 7.9 mm, 145.2 g.
- Camera – Sony IMX13513 MP f1/1.8, 4128 x 3096 pixels, autofocus, LED flash, 1080p video at 30fps. 5 MP front facing camera.
- Display – IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors. 1080 x 1920 pixels, 5.5 inches with 401 ppi pixel density.
- Processor – QualcommSnapdragon 800.
- Memory & Storage – 2 GB RAM + 16GB storage. Non-expandable.
- Battery – 3000 mAh Li-Po, i.e Lithium Polymer, battery rated for 33 hours of talk time on 3G and up to 26 days stand by on 3G.
- Colours – Silver and Titanium.
Design and Handling
The Lenovo Vibe Z has a massive 5.5” 1080×1920 display and is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3. The phone is pretty large and is not comfortable for one handed use. The bezels on the sides and the bottom could have been a little thinner for better handling. But this is not really a deal breaker. The phone is really light for its size at just 145.2 g, other 5.5” phones like the Galaxy Note 3 weighs 168g and the LG G Pro weighs in at 172g. Some of its weight can be credited to its battery, Li-Po batteries are believed to be thinner and lighter when compared to standard Li ion batteries.
Lenovo have put in a lot of effort to make the phone look good and we really appreciate the effort. The back panel is finished either in Titanium or Black and I should say that both feel really good and premium.
The power button is placed on the top right hand corner and the volume rocker is on the left hand side. The phone uses a micro SIM and the tray for the same has been placed on the right hand side. The microphone is at the bottom of the screen, just below the glass area. The 3.5 mm headset jack is placed on the top left corner and the micro USB charging port is placed at the bottom. All in all, the phone feels really good to hold and gives you a premium and expensive feeling. A micro SD port will be sorely missed.
There are three capacitive keys placed at the bottom for navigation. The home button is placed at the center, the back button to the right and the options menu to the left.
Display and User Interface
The 5.5” display has a resolution of 1080×1920 with a pixel density of 401 ppi . While, this may not be on par with the 441 ppi of the Galaxy S4, the difference is minimal. The fonts in the browser look very crisp and so do the pictures.
The phone comes bundled with a heavily modified Android 4.3 and the layout is clean and simple. The colors of the icons and the system wide features are pleasing to the eyes. There are a lot of customizable options to make your phone distinguishable. The phone comes inbuilt with a Theme Center, where one can choose from an array of themes. Each theme comes with its own set of icons and widget designs, to suit everyone’s taste.
Once you switch on the phone, it’s not difficult to notice that the App Drawer is missing. This means that every app installed will be added on to the desktop and as apps increase in number it becomes a must to sort out your apps into folders.
The Multi Window feature enables one to make full use of the 5.5” screen and toggle between two apps on the home screen. This lets you read a book and browse the internet in parallel without having to switch between the apps. Lenovo have included a lot nice features to play around with, Smart Answer automatically answers an incoming call when placed near your ear. Smart Call, makes a call to the person whose contact or message you are viewing without having to hit the dial button. Smart Dial is a feature which alters the size of the dialer keys based on the angle of the phone to favor one handed use, a useful feature considering the size of the phone.
Wide Touch is a one-shortcut access to all your favorite apps and system toggles. It basically provides you with an ease of access shortcut window where you can organize all your favorite and frequently used apps. As mentioned it also provides you with a shortcut to all the system toggles like wifi, Bluetooth etc. It is similar to Apple’s own AssistiveTouch feature.
The phone comes inbuilt with a lot of Lenovo proprietary apps, Lenovo calls it the DOit series of apps. The SHAREit enables you the share photos, videos, apps and other data to a paired devices or a group of devices. The CLONEit feature in this app lets you import all your files to a selected device. This is a nice addition provided the receiver device also has SHAREit installed which is available in the Google Play Store. We tried SHAREit with a Lenovo – Non Lenovo pairing we found data transfer to be considerably faster than normal bluetooth transfer.
SECUREit protects your phone from viruses, spam and malware. SYNCit helps you backup or restore your contacts, messages and call logs. SNAPit is your Camera and SEEit is your Gallery. Although on our device, SNAPit and SEEit came preinstalled as Camera and Gallery.
Lenovo have tied up with Gameloft to provide some very popular paid games at a discounted price. The Amazing Spiderman 2 for instance regularly available at Rs 390 is available for Rs 20 in the Gameloft store.
The phone has an inbuilt FM radio with a recording option. We did record a song over the radio and the quality of the recording was far from impressive.
Drive mode gives users only those essential apps that one might need while driving, without the use of hands ofcourse. The user interface is pretty simple and and gives you access only to Navigation, Messages, Music and Telephone. Voice recognition is not upto the mark, but we were able to get what we needed after certain trials.
The 3000 mAh battery that powers the Lenovo Vibe Z is pretty powerful. We threw everything possible at it, gaming, browsing, extensive camera use and we were still able to manage more than day’s usage on a single charge. The Power Manager lets you toggle between various settings to squeeze the most out your battery.
Running really low on charge? Don’t fret, the Ultimate Saving Mode, will turn off all data connections making available only messaging, dialer, contacts and clock to access the screen also turns mostly black with white and blue to conserve power.
The Camera unit is a Sony IMX13513 MP f1/1.8, as you can see it is a pretty fast lens. The camera is pretty quick to take photos. Though it is a 13 MP unit, you will be able to capture a maximum of 12 MP at 4160×3120 pixels at a 4:3 ratio. For a 16:9 ratio one will have to settle for a maximum of 9 MP at 4160×2340 pixels. The volume keys can be used for digital zoom.
The camera offers a lot in terms of feature, if you are not an auto camera mode kind of person there are options to alter ISO, White Balance, Metering and the likes. Here is a list of other features available.
- HDR for photos
- Dual shot mode with the front and the rear camera.
- Macro mode.
- Smile shot.
- Super night mode, for nice night shots.
- Burst mode.
There are also other useful features like
- Eraser – This erases unwanted objects in your picture.
- Normal Gif
- Magic GIF – Capture a GIF and make edits with some coloured markers.
Apart from these there is huge list of filters available at your fingertip. Oh and by the way they give you a live preview too.
The HDR mode works pretty well for those pictures where the light hits the lens directly. In the attached pic you can see that the detail captured around Jerry is pretty commendable, the colors look natural too. We also captured an outdoor picture in HDR, in the picture 2 you can clearly see that we get more blues in the sky but the reds and the greens don’t look natural.
The Camera is capable to capturing full HD videos at 30 fps. Sadly, there is nothing more to write about the video capture, unlike the Galaxy S4 you don’t get an option to shoot at 60 fps, neither there are any slow motion options. There is no HDR mode for the video either. So all you get is a straight forward 1080p video at 30fps.
The 5MP front facing camera can be described as selfie oriented and why not? We were really impressed by the detail and the quality of the photos taken by the front camera. The lens fills in enough light and is quick to capture photos. The front snapper is also capable to capturing full HD videos. We have to say that it is one of the best front facing cameras we have ever used.
The Snapdragon 800 processor is a tried and tested processor and we didn’t encounter any lags or glitches in heavy usage. The onboard 2GB RAM does help smooth and speedy performance. We were able to comfortably able to switch between applications while playing games. One problem we encounter though is that the phone does heat up when subjected to heavy usage. This is not that uncomfortable, but it is definitely noticeable.
The graphics are pretty impressive, we threw a couple of action games like Frontline Commander and Real Steel and the detail of the imaging were on par with its competitors.
Connectivity and Browser
The default browser was satisfactory in all aspects. We threw whatever possible at it and it renders content smooth and fast. Zooming into content renders smooth and crisp fonts and images, thanks to the 1080p screen. Videos too ran smooth and we didn’t encounter any sorts of lag during browsing.
Telephony , Gallery and Music player
The phone comes with Active noise cancellation with dedicated mic and does a really good job of cutting out noise. We didn’t encounter any voice related problems or disturbance on either side of a call.
The Gallery is given a really nice touch. You can view photos and videos either through albums or all at once. The photos are nicely spaced out and thumbnails appear as squares or rectangles. These thumbnails also act as live tiles, which is really nice touch.
Jigsaw is an inbuilt gallery extension where you can choose photos and arrange them in predefined collage templates.
There is a very clever option to view only portraits or landscape photos. The gallery automatically filters out only portraits or landscapes based on option chosen.
The phone doesn’t come with any proprietary Lenovo music player. We tested its music capabilities with the Play music app. We were really blown away with the performance of the bundled earphones, the sound is crisp and clear. The bass boost is accurate and not overdone. We also like the build quality of the earphones, they are definitely built to last. The loudspeaker is placed at the back at the bottom, the surface of the phone is slightly curved here making sure the speaker is not blocked when placed on its back. This also helps in reflecting sound and the final result is pretty good.
The Lenovo Vibe Z definitely has the vibe of a flagship smartphone, there’s not really much to not like about the phone. The build quality is excellent, though the camera has its downsides it still performs well for everyday use. It’s also priced pretty well at around Rs 30,000, the Exynos Galaxy S4 is priced about the same, but it’s not a Snapdragon. There is a lot to like about the phone, we really loved the 5 MP front facing camera, the sound clarity is crisp. All in all, the Lenovo Vibe Z gets a big Thumbs Up from My Portable World.