Thursday, 13 March 2014

Lenovo Vibe Z (K910) : Good Looks, Advanced Features, Good Battery

Laptops, tablets or mobile phones—devices from the $34-billion Chinese IT and communications major Lenovo are widely known for their sturdy build and good performance. I can vouch for these traits from close quarters. I have owned the company’s Y500 laptop, which I purchased almost nine years back; the notebook is definitely heavy like a piece of rock, but is a fantastic mix of hardware and software that offers a good work and entertainment experience. Believe me, the aging laptop still rocks!

You’ll get the power vibe with the Beijing-headquartered company’s Vibe Z phone too. This is the latest addition to the Lenovo Vibe series of smartphones and is an ideal combination of striking looks, good design, captivating performance and latest technology to help you to do more in lesser time. We’ll talk about its performance later, first it is pertinent to throw some light on the broad trends emerging from the country’s mobile landscape.

The overall India phone market stood at close to 257 million units in CY 2013—an 18% increase from 218 million units in CY2012. India was one of the fastest growing countries worldwide in terms of smartphone adoption in 2013. According to IDC, in 2013 the smartphone market surpassed 44 million units shipped, up from 16.2 million in 2012. While this surge has been mainly powered by home grown vendors which have shown a tremendous and consistent growth over the past four quarters of 2013, the established MNC handset makers such as Samsung, Nokia, Lenovo, BlackBerry and LG have understood the importance of creating a diverse portfolio of devices at varied price points. Especially Lenovo, which has secured its leadership in the laptop market and has now set sights on the fast-growing smart devices sector.

Back to the Vibe Z, a 5.5 inch screen phone with full high definition display and a whole lot of interesting features. For instance, it is equipped with high-speed LTE (4G) connectivity (the first LTE enabled smartphone from Lenovo, if my memory serves me right) and a fast Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor that helps you run all your apps and multitask at a flashing-speed of 2.2 GHz. The processor brings to this device a much stronger performance and better battery life than the previous generations of the same make.

Once in hand, the device feels a lot less clunky than its predecessors. It measures 7.9 mm in thickness and weighs just 147 grams despite a large 5.5 inch display. A solid metal frame and a laser-itched polycarbonate back enhance the premium feel of this R34,999-a-piece phone.

Switched on, the 5.5 inch IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen shows bright colours and provides a great video experience. Vibe Z is powered by the latest Android 4.3 operating system which the company has reworked with flat design in mind resulting in a less stuffy and more organised interface. The phone also comes packed with advanced optics; it sports a 13 mega pixel rear camera with BSI sensor and dual LED flash. Let me elaborate a little bit here. Lenovo has fitted the Vibe Z camera with a large f/1.8 aperture lens. With the largest aperture lens available on a smartphone, the Vibe Z promises an enhanced exposure to low light for better imagery when the conditions are not optimal. It also sports a 5 mega pixel front camera with 84 degree wide viewing angle allowing you to capture all your memories in crisp clarity and in vivid colours. In my opinion, the 5 MP wide-angle front camera is over-average compared to smartphones of the same category; it is an obvious effort to tap the growing number of selfie enthusiasts.

To handle all these functions and to ensure that you easily get by your day, the Vibe Z is powered by an integrated 3000 mAh battery. The smartphone also sports USB OTG that enables you to access data from the pen drive while on the go or even charge other smartphones. This exceptionally thin, blazing-fast device complete with gesture controls, photo enhancement software and a plethora of relevant apps, is sure to steal the limelight in the premium smartphone category.

In terms of performance, Vibe Z is a smooth and fast phone with no observable screen lagging. Movies and video can be played in good quality with its sharp high definition display. Lenovo has introduced a cool smart touch cover worth R2,039 for Vibe Z that helps you to accept or reject calls easily and access time and weather related notifications even without even having to open the case.

In short, Vibe Z is just the right choice for people, who want the best of everything; be it work or play.

Review in-short!

The successor to the Lenovo K900, the Vibe Z is Lenovo’s new flagship smartphone, decked with top-of-the-line hardware to take on the big boys. But is that enough to make you buy this over a Samsung or Sony?

Look and Feel
The Vibe Z trades in its predecessor’s brushed aluminium and sharp edges for a plastic body with rounded edges. In looks, it’s not as gorgeous as the K900 and doesn’t ooze a premium feel. On the other hand, it’s much lighter and the rounded edges are more comfortable. It’s approximately the same size as the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. So you won’t be able to use it with one hand.

Screen and Sound
With such a huge size, you should hope for a large screen and the Vibe Z doesn’t disappoint. The 5.5-inch IPS display has FullHD resolution (1920x1080pixels) for sharp images and impeccable colour reproduction. The viewing angles aren’t great and the sunlight legibility could be better, but neither are deal-breakers. Unlike many smartphones in this range, the Vibe Z has a particularly loud ringer that you’ll easily hear two rooms away. The K910’s audio output is clearly better than its rivals. Fair warning though: the packaged earphones start distorting at high volumes, so you’ll be better off using your own headset.

The camera is the highlight of the Lenovo Vibe Z. On the back panel sits a 13-megapixel sensor that takes photographs with the most amount of detail seen on any handset besides the Nokia Lumia 1020. The colours are good even in low light. It takes a while to focus, but it’s worth it. The front camera, is a 5-megapixel sensor with a wide-angle lens, which makes it easier to shoot selfies with people around you. Special mention should be made of Lenovo’s superb Camera app. It’s far superior to the stock camera app—easy enough for amateurs, but also offers tools for advanced shutterbugs. You can set the white balance, play with light metering, make GIFs, and shoot from the front and back cameras simultaneously.

The rest of the device’s software are a disappointment. The custom user interface is a departure from Android, to an extent where it stops feeling like Android. The changeable themes are gaudy or outdated, the icons don’t have a uniform look with other Android apps you download. Moreover, the rounded edges on all app windows look out of place and jar against the flat lines of the notification bar. We wish we could switch to the regular Android look, but alas, you’re going to be stuck with the customisation.

With a 2.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, the Vibe Z is capable of running any app and game at its optimum settings. And with 2GB of RAM to back it up, multi-tasking is a breeze. The problem lies in the limited 16GB of memory, since there’s no microSD card slot to expand it. Of the 16GB, only 12GB is available to the user, which fills up fast.

Battery Life
The 3000mAh Lithium-Polymer battery can’t be replaced, but you’ll probably never need to do that. It easily lasts for a full day’s worth of usage, and charges pretty quickly too. The only problem is FullHD gaming, which rapidly drains the battery.

Final Verdict
The Lenovo Vibe Z K910 certainly has all that can make it a challenger for other flagship smartphones. The only problems are the limited built-in memory and the ugly UI. But if you can deal with those two, then you get a big-screen handset with fantastic hardware, a great camera and a long-life battery, for 34,999/-. Not too shabby!


Dimensions: 149 x 77 x 7.9 mm

Display: 5.5 inches IPS multi-touch display

CPU: Qualcomm 8974 quad-core 2.2 GHz

Operating system: Android 4.3

Camera: CMOS 13 MP (back); 5 MP (front)

Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.0/ WLAN/ LTE, WCDMA, GSM

Weight: 147g

Estimated price of Lenovo Vibe Z: INR 34,999


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