Lenovo K5 Plus review: How good is Lenovo’s latest budget smartphone? review

Decent for the price-point.

TODO alt text

Our Verdict

A good overall budget smartphone that does not disappoint in day-to-day performance.

For

  • Compact design
  • Decent camera performance
  • Swift performer

Against

  • Aluminuim body
  • Feels plasticky
  • Battery life could have been better
Scores in depth

Design 4/5

Features 3.5/5

Performance 3.5/5

Usability 4/5

Value 3.5/5

Chinese smartphone maker- Lenovo has given a number of smartphones to the Indian market in last few months. The company's product line-up features smartphones in budget and mid-range price brackets, which includes the popular Vibe K4 Note, Vibe X3, Vibe Shot, A7000, A7000 Turbo, etc.

The latest one to join the team is the Vibe K5 Plus that tries to strengthen the company's smartphone portfolio in the sub-Rs. 10,000 category, which is ruled by handsets from Xiaomi, Coolpad, Honor, Micromax and other brands. It was first showcased at MWC 2016 and as per Lenovo, India is the first market that they are launching this phone in.

The budget smartphone packs almost all the ingredients that consumers are looking in a value for money Android smartphone, but does it a good performer in real life? Let's find out.

Specifications

Display   : 5.0-inch full HD 1280x1080p display, 294ppi   
OS   : Android Lollipop 5.1 with Lenovo's UI   
CPU   : 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 616 octa-core SoC, 2GB   
Storage   : 16GB inbuilt storage, expandable upto 128GB via microSD   Cameras   : 13MP (rear with LED flash), 5 MP (front)   
Connectivity   : Wi-Fi, 3G/4G/2G, GPS, Bluetooth, microUSB charging port, USB OTG   
Battery   : 2,750mAh   
Dimensions   : 142 x71x 8.2 mm   
Weight   : 142 grams   
Price   : Rs 8,499

During the launch event, Lenovo stressed a lot about the company's efforts to offer a metal design in the budget price-point. While, the smartphone sports a sturdily built, it does not feel like that it has been entirely crafted out of metal. The material used in the construction feels very plasticky and does not give a premium feel that someone would expect from a metallic phone, especially from the front, which is quite boring and resembles a number of budget offerings from Chinese and domestic smartphone makers. The three touch capacitive buttons sits at the bottom of the display and the top has the camera, earpiece and the light sensor.

The rear manages to offer a subtle and elegant feel with its matte finish symmetrical design. The centre has the Lenovo branding embossed in centre, a 13MP sensor with LED flash at the top right corner and two speaker units at the bottom. A good thing about the design is the removable rear panel that houses a 2750mAh removable battery, a microSD card slot and a pair of SIM card slots. You can use 4G LTE on both the SIM card slots and the smartphone also supports USB OTG.

The right side has the power and volume rockers and top houses the microUSB charging slot and the 3.5-mm headphone jack. What we really liked about the design of the K5 Plus is the fact that how nicely it fits in one hand and feel light at the same time. The smartphone has rounded curves at the rear that makes it easy to hold and the handset will definitely please consumers who are not fond of large screen devices and are looking for smartphone fit for one hand operation.

Hardware

Lenovo has packed the Vibe K5 Plus with a Qualcomm's Snapdragon 616 64-bit octa-core processor paired with 2GB of RAM. This is not the best combination as we do now have smartphones sporting 3GB of RAM available at this price-point, however 2GB RAM serves the basic tasks of running multiple applications without any major issues. We will talk about the performance later in the review.

The smartphone has an internal storage of 16GB, which can be expanded by up to 128GB via microSD card. As far as the connectivity goes, the dual-SIM smartphone supports 4G LTE on both the SIM cards. Besides, all standard features are provided such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and OTG support.

Besides, Lenovo is also offering Dolby ATMOS audio with the twin speakers of the K5 Plus, which is a good addition at this price-point.

Display

Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus flaunts a 5-inch full HD (1920x1080 pixels) display. The display is fairly responsive and the level of brightness is good and colours also looked punchy.

We used the smartphone under harsh sunlight (Typical Delhi weather during the fag end of March) and we found it to be decent read text and watch images and videos. However, the viewing angles of the display are not as good as that of Xiaomi Mi 4i, which is currently selling at Rs 9,999. But overall, the display does a decent job at the price-point K5 Plus comes at.

Performance

With 2GB RAM and an octa-core CPU, K5 Plus easily handled day-to-day tasks of running social networking applications, image editing apps, camera, and multiple tabs in Chrome. The accompanied Adreno 405 GPU is good and gives a decent gaming experience with casual games such as Candy Crush, Subway Surfer, Cut the Rope, etc. You can also play Temple Run 2, Spiderman Unlimited and games of similar graphical requirements with no major lags. But expecting the K5 Plus to run 15 applications simultaneously and heavy games such as Asphalt 8 or Injustice will be slightly unfair.

Besides, the smartphone comes with twin stereo speakers that are equipped with Dolby ATMOS audio. The speakers are loud and audio quality is also acceptable.

The smartphone also features TheaterMax technology, which allows you to pair up the smartphone with ANT VR virtual reality headset and converts the content such as videos and games into a large screen virtual screen experience.

What seems missing here is a fingerprint sensor, which has become a feature to flaunt these days and a nifty addition for those who are privy about their sensitive data. Lenovo is offering the added security with its K4 Note, but not with the K5 Plus. If you fancy the feature, you can consider the Coolpad Note 3, Coolpad Note 3 Lite or the recently launched Xiaomi Redmi Note 3, which is selling at Rs 9,999 for the 16GB-2GB RAM variant and is also a great deal.

Software

Like most of the previous smartphones from the company, the K5 Plus runs Lenovo's custom user interface on top of Android 5.1.1. This is the same UI we have tested on the Vibe X3, which has no app drawer and comes loaded with a number of pre-installed applications and handy tweaks. For instance, you have Syncit app to backup your contacts, SMS and call log on Lenovo's cloud storage. Lenovo's companion app takes care of your complains, smartphone's updates and hardware diagnostics. You also have Shareit, McAfee Mobile Security and a Theme centre to customise the look and feel of the smartphone. You can tweak the display's colour levels, set permissions for individual applications and customise the notification LED light for missed calls, unread texts and emails.

The smartphone also supports ANT Virtual Reality headset and a long press on the power button will give you the option of 'Split screen' that divides the display in two equal parts so that you can use the smartphone to experience the virtual reality.

The overall software performance was good and we did not experience any performance issues while running the basic tasks such as camera, dialer, notes, screen navigation, switching from one app to another, etc.

Camera

On the camera front, the smartphone has a 13MP rear camera with F2.2 aperture and a 5-piece lens system. The front has a 5MP F2.8 sensor. We took a number of shots in daylight and found the results quite satisfactory in terms of detailing and colour reproduction. However the camera feels a bit sluggish in post processing. There's a lag after it takes a shot, save it and get ready for the action. This amplifies while you take HDR shots, but that's understandable as even the high-end flagships take their sweet time to process such images.

The performance in the low-light is just average and noise is evident in most of the shots. Overall, camera is good for taking images when you have ample lighting and the subject you are shooting is not moving. The images come out to be decent enough to post on Facebook and Instagram.

Here are some sample shots

Battery

A 2,750mAh battery unit handles the 1080p display and an octa-core CPU. While the smartphone can last for a day with moderate usage, the battery is not able to suffice the needs of users who are fond of playing games and watch videos on their smartphone. At least a 3,000mAh battery unit should have been provided to meet the demands. You have to keep a power bank or a charger handy with you.

Likes

We liked the compact design of K5 Plus, which makes it a perfect fit for one-hand operation. The display is vibrant and the smartphone does a decent job of performing day-today tasks without any major issues.

Dislikes

While the K5 Plus is built out of aluminium as per Lenovo, we are not much pleased by the built quality. Besides, the 2,750mAh battery unit is not going to last for a day with a heavy usage.

Verdict

Lenovo has given a number of successful products in the past and the latest K5 Plus also manages to impress us with its good overall performance. While the smartphone fails to offer something unique, it packs in almost everything a user would like to see in a budget handset. Buy it for its compact design, sharp display and decent camera performance. However you have got the options in the form of Redmi Note 3, Coolpad Note 3 if you fancy a fingerprint sensor and a large battery unit.