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Lenovo K8 Note Review: Best value for money mid-range Android smartphone you can buy
The mid-range smartphone segment is undoubtedly one of the most competitive and interesting one in the Indian market. There are several smartphone makers, both domestic and global, trying to tap a bigger chunk of Indian consumer base with their spec-heavy products. The most recent entry in the segment is Lenovo K8 Note.
- Sturdy metal design
- Crisp 5.5-inch 1080p screen
- Smooth stock Android UI
- Dedicated microSD card slot
- Good for multitasking
- Audio and camera performance could have been better
- No earphones in the package
- Heats up a bit during strenuous tasks
The successor to the last year's Lenovo K6 Note, the new Note smartphone is available in two variants- 3GB RAM + 32GB internal storage and 4GB RAM + 64GB internal storage at Rs. 12,999 and Rs. 13,999 respectively.
Lenovo says that the new K8 Note is two generation ahead of the previous Note device and takes care of all basic things such as storage, connectivity and software experience. It is company's first smartphone with stock Android experience marking a big change in company's software strategy.
Lenovo K8 Note runs the stock Android 7.1.1 and also comes with a dedicated microSD card slot, which is another solid and basic feature for smartphone users.
Another highlight feature is the big battery unit and a dual-lens camera setup to offer bokeh effects.
The on-paper specs do sound interesting but the real performance is evaluated only with everyday testing. That said; let's find out how Lenovo K8 Note performed in our review duration.
Tried and tested Sturdy unibody metal design
The sub Rs. 15,000 and even handsets priced around Rs. 20k price tag are following a similar design pattern. Almost all the handsets boast metal construction and have 2.5D curved glasses at front that seamlessly blends into the metal edges of the phone's frame. The same goes with the Lenovo K8 Note. While the smartphone is not a head turner, it will not disappoint you in terms of look and feel and ease of use.
Lenovo K8 Note brings a sturdy design and looks quite appealing in the Black color. The smartphone is mostly made out of metal and glass, 6000 Series Aluminium to be precise. The round edges and corners make sure you don't struggle with one-hand use. Lenovo also says that the handset has an oleophobic coating and is also splash-resistant. However the company also mentions that liquid damage is not covered under warranty.
The power button and volume rockers are place on the right side while the left side is used for SIM card tray and a dedicated microSD card tray. Moreover, you also get a customizable hardware key on the left side that can be used to launch a particular app, flashlight, camera, play/pause music, etc. You can also use this key to change music tracks. The 3.5mm headphone jack is placed on the top.
Dual-camera Module and a fingerprint sensor at rear panel
The rear side of the handset follows a symmetrical design where the microphone, dual-lens camera module, fingerprint scanner and the Lenovo log are placed in the centre. The speaker units are placed at the bottom along with the microUSB charging port. It is worth mentioning that only one of the two speaker units is functional. The one on the left is placed to add symmetry and to house a microphone.
Overall, Lenovo K8 Note is a good looking budget handset with a sturdy and ergonomic design. You can also check out Moto G5S Plus that looks a bit more stylish and is priced at Rs. 15,999.
Display-Full HD screen with Gorilla Glass 3 protection
The video playback and gaming experience was good on the handset, thanks to its 5.5-inch Full HD screen. The display offers a resolution of 1080x1920p and churns out a pixel density of 441ppi. The display is very responsive and offers vibrant colours. It is also protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3 and has a 2.5D curved glass to make for good viewing angles.
Moreover the display also has an oleophobic coating to offer protection from scratches and smudges. You will enjoy watching movies and playing game on this screen.
Dual-lens rear camera setup with real-time Bokeh effect
Dual-lens camera setups have suddenly become a trend, even in sub Rs. 15,000 price-point. Everyone wants to tap the opportunity of delivering better pictures in mid-range price-point by implementing two-lenses in place of one. Companies like Huawei, Coolpad, OPPO and Nubia have already showcased what their handsets are capable of and it's time Lenovo challenges them with the new K8 Note. The smartphone sports a 13MP+5MP rear camera and has a depth mode that allows you to change aperture value from f/1.2 to f/1.8. The 5MP secondary camera is provided to capture depth information in the images you capture.
The rear camera captures detailed images and the colours look quite vibrant on the 5.5- inch Full HD screen. The 5MP secondary camera is able to capture a good depth information which is also customizable in real-time from within the camera app.
The Bokeh effect created by dual-lens combination is not the best one we have seen but it does a decent job of recognizing foreground and background subjects. But then, the unnatural blurriness on the edges of the subject becomes quite evident and spoils the images. Besides, the depth-mode makes the camera app quite sluggish and you have to be little patient and set the aperture value correctly to get the preferred results.
As far as low-light performance is concerned, the noise is visible in the images you capture and camera performs just like most of the mid-range devices.
For selfies, Lenovo K8 Note has a 13MP front facing camera with CMOS sensor and f/2.0 aperture. The front camera is also accompanied by an LED flash light and does a decent job in selfie department.
Hardware: First smartphone with the new Deca-core MediaTek X23 chipset
The review unit shipped to me boasts 4GB RAM and 64GB internal storage. The ample RAM made sure that several apps run smoothly without any performance issues. I had more than 15 apps running in the background at any point of time and Lenovo K8 Note did not show any sign of poor multitasking performance.
Besides, K8 Note is the first smartphone to feature the MediaTek Helio X23 chipset. The deca-core CPU comprises of four A53 cores clocked at 1.4GHz, another four A53 cores at 1.53GHz and two A72 cores running at 2.2GHz to manage strenuous tasks. The processor is pretty much capable to handle everything without any performance issues but it tends to heat up a bit when you subject it to strenuous tasks. Thankfully, it also cools down quickly. I have used Lenovo K6 Note and when compared with the new K8 Note, the latter feels much faster and smooth in everyday usage
The graphics performance is also improved and you can run even some of the most demanding games without any major performance hiccups. The graphics performance is handled by ARM Mali T-880 MP4 GPU.
Dedicated MicroSD card slot
One of the most notable hardware features of Lenovo K8 Note is the dedicated microSD card. Besides the 32GB and 64GB inbuilt storage, you also get a dedicated microSD card slot so that you don't have to compromise on storage and connectivity. The smartphone can be used to run two nano SIM card and one microSD card at the same time. The internal storage can be expanded by up to 128GB via microSD card.
Audio performance could have been better
The only thing that seems missing here in making this handset the near perfect multimedia handset is Stereo speakers and a good pair of headphones. The smartphone has two speaker grilles at bottom, out of which only one holds the speaker module.
It delivers good audio but cannot match up the performance of dual-stereo speakers. Moreover, you also don't get a pair of earphones in the package and you have to spend some extra bucks to tune in to your music library. Lenovo's signature Dolby Atmos support is provided that can help you manage sound profiles for a better audio performance.
Software: Stock Android 7.1.1 Nougat experience
Lenovo this time ditched the customized software layer and is offering the stock Android Nougat experience to users. It is one of the biggest changes you will notice in the upcoming Lenovo handsets that are bound to make a couple of things easier and better.
There are no unwanted pre-loaded apps, just some important Microsoft productivity apps and nifty software touch-ups to enhance user-experience. Besides, Lenovo also says that the company will be fast to manage software bugs and will aggressively push the software updates to further improve the user experience on Lenovo devices.
Minimal and clean UI
In everyday usage, the new UI feels much more smooth and responsive than the company's previous Vibe UIs we have tested in past. You can interact with the app's icons right from the home-screen by just long pressing them. The home screen icons resemble the ones on Moto handsets and the company has also cut down all the gimmicky stuff to offer a seamless lag free everyday performance. The keyboard also supports GIFs.
There are no unwanted pre-loaded apps and users can simply download the applications they want from the Google Play Store. And you have the useful Google Assistant, Split screen, MS office suite apps, etc. for a better smartphone experience. All of these apps worked just fine on K8 Note. Lenovo K8 Note also comes equipped with Theater Max technology that allows you to view all the content on your device on a VR headset.
Overall, the pure Google UI on K8 Note makes the overall experience much more fluid and responsive, something Xiaomi, Coolpad and Honor devices fail to offer with their share of products.
Battery and Connectivity: Big 4,000 mAh battery unit and all required connectivity features
Lenovo K8 Note delivers an impressive battery backup. The smartphone is backed by a non-removable 4,000 mAh battery unit that easily lasted for a day even on a heavy dosage of social networking, gaming, audio/video playback, camera, etc.
The company is also shipping a 15W Turbo charger in the box to quickly recharge the big battery unit. If you are an occasional gamer and mostly use the handset for everyday tasks such as music, camera, social networking, emails, etc. then you can manage to squeeze a day and half and even more in some cases on a single charge.
As far as connectivity is concerned, Lenovo K8 Note offers dual-SIM, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, FM and GPS as connectivity features.
Until now Xiaomi has enjoyed a great success in sub Rs. 15,000 price-segment with its popular Redmi Note 4. However, this time around, Lenovo has managed to produce a better overall handset in the same price-point. Lenovo K8 Note goes one step ahead of Xiaomi's budget sensation and come out as a better overall Android handset for price-conscious consumers who don't want to compromise on features and performance.
K8 Note offers everything that you would expect from a mid-range handset in the year 2017. It has a good dual-lens camera, lag-free stock Android UI, capable hardware and long-lasting battery department. The decision to offer a dedicated micro SD card slot and a no-nonsense pure Android UI makes K8 Note a reliable and future proof handset in terms of storage and software updates.
In our opinion, Lenovo K8 Note is a worthy update over its predecessor and offers good return of investment for your money in the form of user experience, features and everyday performance as a sub Rs. 15,000 smartphone.
But this does not ends here; the company has now also announced Moto G5S and Moto G5S Plus, which are also value for money deals. However, you will not get a dedicated microSD card slot with the new Moto handsets. If that matters to you most, then Lenovo K8 Note makes more sense.