Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus First Impressions

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March 16: Lenovo on Tuesday launched the Vibe K5 Plus smartphone in India. The company has stressed that India is its first launch market for this phone, which was announced last month at the MWC 2016 trade show along with the Lenovo Vibe K5.

At the launch event, we got some time to play with the new Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus and here are our first impressions.

To start off, the Vibe K5 Plus is not strictly a successor to the Lenovo Vibe K4 Note (Review) which only launched in January. Instead, it is an upgrade to the popular Lenovo A6000 and Lenovo A6000 Plussmartphones. Lenovo has stated that the new Vibe K5 Plus will strengthen its smartphone portfolio in the sub-Rs. 10,000 category.

When quizzed about the naming of the Vibe K5 Plus, Sudhin Mathur, Director – Smartphones, Lenovo India, explained that the “Vibe” name has been used because of the company’s new branding strategy following its acquisition of Motorola. In January, Lenovo revealed that higher-end smartphones launching in 2016 will carry the Moto name, while the budget handsets will have Vibe branding. Further, Mathur added that the company plans to manufacture half of the smartphones it sells in India this year locally. He however declined to confirm whether or not the first batch of Vibe K5 Plus smartphones going on sale in India has been manufactured locally.

The first thing we noticed when we held the new Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus was its plastic body, which has a finish that feels metallic. Mathur told us that the company has worked on various minor details such as the colour-matched accents on the front and rear of the handset, such as the ring around the camera lens. While these little touches don’t make the handset stand out, they do make it feel polished. The Vibe K5 Plus will be available in Champagne Gold, Platinum Silver and Graphite Grey. The unit we used was a Platinum Silver model.

With a 5-inch screen, the Vibe K5 Plus fit perfectly in our palm and was comfortable for single-handed operations. In front, you’ll see a camera, earpiece, and sensors above the display. Right below it sit three capacitive buttons for Recents, Home, and Back. The rear panel has a large Lenovo logo in the middle, while the camera sits in the top right corner, accompanied by an LED flash. There are stereo speakers on the rear, with Dolby Atmos enhancement, which is now seen on almost all Lenovo phones. Mathur revealed that the Vibe K5 Plus uses a PM8916 Audio codec for sound clarity. We couldn’t test the speakers at launch due to the noisy environment.

The Vibe K5 Plus’s physical power and volume buttons are on the right, while the charging port and headphones socket are on top. The bottom and left panels do not have any ports or keys.

The back is removable, which is not surprising considering that the Vibe K5 Plus features a removable 2750mAh battery. This phone also features two standard Micro-SIM slots and a separate microSD card slot for expandable storage, as against the current trend of hybrid slots which force you to choose between a second SIM and additional storage.

Under the hood, the smartphone packs a 64-bit octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 616 processor (four 1.2GHz cores and four 1.5GHz cores) with an integrated Adreno 405 GPU and 2GB of LPDDR3 RAM. The smartphone packs 16GB of storage and supports microSD cards of up to 128GB. During our limited time with the handset, the Vibe K5 Plus seemed to handle multitasking and app switching pretty easily without any lag. We will reserve our verdict on its overall performance till we get the chance to put it through our detailed review process. For connectivity, the Vibe K5 Plus supports 4G on both SIMs. It comes with LTE Cat 4 for download speeds of up to 150Mbps and upload speed of up to 50Mbps. Other connectivity features include Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.1 LE, A-GPS, and Micro-USB.

In the camera department, the smartphone sports a 13-megapixel rear camera with an f2.2 aperture and LED flash. There is a 5-megapixel front camera, which has an f2.8 aperture. Lenovo detailed that the rear camera uses an OmniVision (OV13850) camera sensor on the back, while the front features auto beautification through software. In our brief camera tests, we found images taken with the Vibe K5 Plus in normal indoor lighting to be crisp with decent colour reproduction on the phone’s screen. The front camera was able to take good selfies. Even so, do stay tuned for our detailed Vibe K5 Plus review, when we will really get a chance to test the camera under varied conditions.

The Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus comes with Android 5.1 Lollipop and a light version of the Vibe UI running on top, which looked pretty much identical to that of Lenovo Vibe K4 Note. The smartphone comes preloaded with an app called Theme Centre which offers various options to customise the look and feel of the UI.

Much like the Vibe K4 Note, the Vibe K5 Plus also comes with TheaterMax VR technology which converts standard content into a split-screen format in order to look like VR when using the optional ANT VR headset accessories. Consumers have to buy this headset separately to experience it.

Priced at Rs. 8,499, the Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus goes head-on with a number of devices in the sub-Rs. 10,000 category, many of which could give it a hard time. The Coolpad Note 3 (Review) is priced slightly higher at Rs. 8,999, but packs in a fingerprint scanner. The Meizu m2 note, priced at Rs. 9,999, could also pose some competition. The Yu Yureka Plus, priced at Rs. 8,999, might be slightly outdated but still offers a great camera and performance.

The Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus will go on sale starting March 23 exclusively on Flipkart, and will be available without having to register in advance.

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