Lenovo has been aggressively pushing itself into the mobile space with a plant in Wuhan, China that can manufacture 30 to 40 million devices a year. With K900, Lenovo gained traction with its unique stainless steel unibody design in India. Now Lenovo aims to bring some unique propositions to top range smartphone to sub-10k phone. But with the space already dominated by the likes of home-grown players like Micromax and newer Chinese rivals like Xiaomi, can Lenovo make an impact?
Lenovo K3 Note
Lenovo K3 Note is Lenovo’s first offering in the online only range of smartphones. With K3 Note, Lenovo is trying to set a new benchmark for sub-10k devices. With the K series, Lenovo is focusing on high-quality specs but at an attractive price.
Specs: 5.5-inch (1080x1920p, ~401 ppi) LCD display | Octa-core 1.7 GHz Mediatek MT6592 processor | 2GB RAM | 16GB storage (expandable up to 32GB) | 13MP rear camera + 5MP front | Li-Ion 3000 mAh battery | Android Lollipop OS | Lenovo K3 Note full specs
Price: Rs 9,999
Our review unit features a black front and white back. This design feels less obstructive than the yellow back version. Lenovo K3 Note feels extremely solid in hands even though it doesn’t feature any metal element.
The device feels extremely large because of its 5.5-inch display and a screen to body ratio of 71.7% but at 8mm, it’s surprisingly slim for its size. Lenovo K3 Note is basically a rectangular piece of hardware with no curves that will fit into your hands well.
The back panel is user replaceable and gives access to dual SIM slots, SC card slot and a removable 3,000 mAh battery. Below the display are Home, Back and Recent Apps buttons. Had Lenovo opted for Android’s on-screen buttons and thus shrunken the phone a little in dimension, it would have looked even better.
The rear is home to 13MP camera placed at the top left hand corner (a traditional Lenovo fashion), below which is the dual LED flash. Also there are finely drilled speakers grills.
Overall Lenovo K3 Note is nothing unique when it comes to design and is more about the specs.
This is the USP of Lenovo K3 Note. The 5.5-inch screen with Full HD (1080 x 1920) resolution is a huge departure for this price point. You get a display that is bright and offers stunning picture quality at 401 pixels per inch. The blacks aren’t really deep but whites shine on this panel.
Lenovo K3 Note’s display packs solid balance with colours. It is neither extremely saturated nor warm. The viewing angle is good enough to take this phone out and watch movies with friends in the subway. I kept the display in auto-brightness mode and it kept the things kicking for most part. Only while playing Asphalt 8, I preferred to crank up the brightness to make up for my apartment’s lack of natural lighting.
In my opinion, the Lenovo K3 Note sets a new benchmark for smartphone display in the sub-10k range.
Lenovo K3 Note comes loaded with Android 5.0 Lollipop with Vibe UI on top. K3 Note offers a custom weather and time setting at the home screen. Also there are a few selections of themes that can turn you K3 Note that give a total new look to the phone. It’s all up to an individual whether you like it or not. I would have stuck to stock Android any day.
One good thing about Lenovo K3 Note is that it’s not bloated with apps one would dismiss immediately. It does come with Facebook, Twitter, UCBrowser, Skype and WeChat. Lenovo has also added Evernote which is my favourite note-taking app. Another app called Navigate allows download of maps for offline access which is a neat addition.
The audio quality on Lenovo K3 Note is mediocre but added Dolby Atmos settings lets you tweak the equaliser settings for game, movie, music. Activating Dolby from the notification tray did make it sound better.
Lenovo has been packing decent cameras in its smartphones regardless of budget. The 13MP shooter on Lenovo K3 Note is a capable performer. The camera focuses fast and images are captured almost immediately at the release of shutter button. The pictures taken in daylight were mostly sharp and detailed nicely.
The colour reproduction was extremely good considering that this is a sub-10k smartphone. The problem appears when you start zooming all the way to take shots. The pictures end up grainy with little details. The HDR sharpens the image a bit but I preferred to shoot without HDR most of the time. It doesn’t take great shots at night but no other phone in this range does any better.
Lenovo K3 Note Camera Review: Check out the sample images here
The camera app is simple. You can easily switch between front and rear snappers, easily enable or disable flash or HDR and quickly switch to video. You can tweak the aspect ratio, white balance in settings. There is also an option to manually set the ISO which comes handy while shooting in dark.
Performance and Battery Life
Thanks to the octa-core CPU and a sixteen core GPU, Lenovo K3 Note has lot of power for most smartphone tasks. Lenovo K3 Note turned out solid numbers in most synthetic benchmark. In Antutu, it returned good score of 45471 which is a little shy of Asus Zenfone 2. On Geekbench, it scored 806 which puts it right below Google Nexus 5 and topples even Galaxy S5 in multi-core benchmark.
Games like Dead Trigger 2, Asphalt 8 run smoothly here. As noted before I did max out the display while gaming. Playing these games did turn the device warm but it never got too hot. For most of the basic stuff like surfing the web, conversing on WhatsApp, tweeting or commenting on Facebook, Lenovo K3 Note offers no lag at all. Even with multiple Chrome tabs open, Lenovo K3 Note comes out like a champion.
On Geekbench battery test, Lenovo K3 Note lasted a solid 8 hours and 23 minutes which would easily translate to a full-day of normal use. For my daily usage which includes occasional YouTube videos, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and Asphalt, it managed more than 15 hours before entering battery saver mode. There are few other battery saving options but it can easily get past a work day with heavy use and full day with moderate usage.
Should you buy?
If your budget is penny shy of Rs 10,000 then look no further, Lenovo K3 Note is your best option. The significant competition here is the Yu Yureka Plus which also has a full HD display and is cheaper than K3 Note at Rs 8999.
The other competing devices include Moto G (2nd Gen) and Honor 4X but neither of them boast a full HD display. Moto G gets hardware-software integration absolutely right while Honor 4X features an absolutely great camera but none are deal-breakers here.
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