Scores in depth
Lenovo is keen on grabbing a larger pie of the flourishing smartphone segment in India and that explains why the Chinese giant has adopted a slow and steady approach. After acquiring Motorola from Google, Lenovo has improved its ranking in Indian smartphone market considerably. Its new releases indicate a trend towards offering the users better value for money than contenders without compromising on performance and style. Nothing reflects this better than the recently unveiled Vibe S1 from its stable.
Build and design: Class and sophistication
From the first glance, it becomes apparent that Lenovo wants the Vibe S1 to stand apart from the crowd of mid-range Android rivals. It does look more classy and stylish than any Lenovo smartphone launched in the last one year. The curved back design is pleasing and use of aluminium instead of plastic does lend it a premium look. There are no sharp edges. Vibe S1 is available in two shades- Midnight blue and Pearl White- of which the former looks more enticing but also catches more fingerprints. Both the rear and front sides have Corning Gorilla Glass 3 coating-which adds to durability. To ensure the glass exterior does not get smudged or slips from your palms easily, Lenovo bundles in a plastic cover. It weighs about 13 grams.
InserDisplay: Good for its classt heading here
The Vibe S1 features a 5-inch screen with Full HD resolution. This translates into 441ppi pixel density- impressive for its segment. As a result, the colours look vibrant and images sharp on its IPS LCD screen. Sunlight legibility may not be the best, but for most users it should be just fine. The viewing angles are also quite good. Under the screen there are three buttons for hack, menu and home and these are not back-lit. Of course, it is only a matter of time before most people get used to sensing placement of keys.
Hardware: Bang for the buck
A lot of smartphone manufacturers are opting for MediaTek's multi core CPUs these days. Lenovo usually sticks with Mediatek units and the Vibe S 1 is no exception. It is powered by a MediaTek MT6752 chipset- comprising of an octa-core 1.7GHz processor and Mali T760 GPU. The CPU coupled with 3GB of RAM makes the device capable of handling pretty much everything. You get 32GB internal storage and after OS installation 25GB is left. As expected, there is support for a microSD card.
The device has dual and hybrid Nano SIM card slots. So, you have to give up either the second SIM option or external memory. Usual wireless connectivity options like Bluetooth 4.0, GPS and Wi-Fi 802.11n are all present.
Software: Mixed bag
The Vibe S1 runs Android 5.0 Lollipop OS upon which sits the proprietary Vibe UI of Lenovo. As is the case with any Overlay, you will come across some apps you are less likely to use. While the UI does not look bad as such, stock Android lovers may find it less appealing. The Lenovo apps cannot be discarded, as expected. There is no app drawer, but the saving grace is the skin can be highly customised. Privacy conscious users will appreciate the UI's Secure Zone feature.
Performance: Near the top
Users seeking top performance from their devices without straining the wallet will be quite happy with the Vibe S1. The MediaTek 6752 Chipset featuring octa core CPU tasks all tasks with aplomb. Even heavy multitasking does not make it feel like a slouch-owing to 3GB of RAM. There is a trade off though. While the Vibe S1 manages to run graphically heavy games with the settings cranked up, doing so makes it perceptibly hot. In synthetic benchmarks, the scores given by the device outshines rivals with Snapdragon 615 CPU. In fact, in these benchmarks its scores came close to that of pricier rivals like OnePlus X. In Antutu for example, it beats both OnePlus X and Moto X Play by a significant margin.
The sound output from the phone is quite clear and loud. The call quality is reasonably good though there are better performers in its range. However, it features a single speaker.
Camera: Some hits and some miss
Those with the perception Chinese brand smartphones are lacklustre in imaging may change their mind after trying the camera in Vibe S1. Well, it is not certainly the best but it will impress you. There is a 13MP camera at the back of the device which offers good performance in daylight and its phase detect auto-focus helps improve image quality. On the front there are 2 sensors- one 8MP and another 2MP. Not many rivals have devices with two front cameras in this price range.
The camera interface is not complex and the app is not exactly fast. The selfie camera setup comes with some interesting features. The sensors, both at the rear and front of the device perform pretty well as long as lighting conditions are good. In low light, both focusing speed and image quality take a nosedive. But, then that is what you get with most phones in this range.
Battery: Better than expected
Numbers are not everything- they say. It is true about synthetic benchmark scores achieved by a phone as well as its battery capacity. The Vibe S1 is equipped with a 2420mAh battery. Now, that sounds rather basic considering most phones come with a 3000mAh battery. Surprisingly, the Vibe S1 offers better than expected battery life and that too with heavy usage. Of course, gaming takes a toll on battery life.
Overall, the VibeS1 is an interesting offering from Lenovo and it may attract various types of users. It impresses with a classy design and robust build. Apart from the elegantly built OnePlus X-there is hardly any rival in its segment that can outshine Vibe S1 in looks. It ticks the boxes in key areas like speed, performance and ease of use. While the camera is not category best-the dual front sensor setup does give it a competitive edge. Even the battery life offered by the device leaves little to grudge about. If you can live with a few niggles like Hybrid SIM/storage and limitations of Vibe UI- the Vibe S1 is definitely worth a try.