Lenovo is fast turning out to be a force in the smartphone market as well. Early this year they eclipsed LG to become the fourth biggest smartphone OEM, and more recently, they bought Motorola Mobility from Google at a great bargain, thereby paving way to the high profile North American market. But this isn’t anything to do with Motorola, but everything to do with Lenovo’s in-house flagship, the Lenovo Vibe Z.


The Lenovo Vibe Z was launched here in India yesterday for an MRP of Rs.35,999 (~USD 575), and we already had the pleasure to unbox it, the video of which you can find below. The Vibe Z is a successor to the Lenovo Vibe X smartphone, which we saw at IFA 2013 in September last year. The Vibe Z was announced at CES 2014 in Jan 2014, and has now launched in markets like China and India. It’s one of the first smartphones from Lenovo to carry the high profile Snapdragon 800 processor from Qualcomm. The Vibe X was running a Mediatek processor, while the K900 was running an Intel processor.

So here are the basic specs of Lenovo Vibe Z:

– 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 SOC with Adreno 330 GPU
– Android 4.3 Jelly Bean
– 5.5-inch 1080p IPS touchscreen (401 PPI)
– 16GB internal storage
– Single SIM
– 13MP rear camera, 5MP webcam
– 3000mAh battery
– 7.9mm thin and weighs 147g
– BT 4.0, WiFi 802.11ac support

Now that we have got rid of the specs, let’s talk about the actual things that matter. In the past few hours of testing, the Lenovo Vibe Z has managed to impress us a lot. The phone feels really light and nice to hold in hands, except that at 5.5-inch, it can be problematic for those with not so big hands. The Full HD IPS display looks sharp and bright, and Lenovo has provided some software options to adjust the color saturation to suit individual tastes.

The phone comes with Android 4.3 Jelly bean out of the box and looks heavily skinned. It carries the same Lenovo Smart UI which we saw on the Vibe X, and hence provides a lot of customization options. The look and feel is nothing close to the stock android, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Lenovo is adding their own suite of apps like SecureIt, ShareIt, SyncIt, Power Manager, and third party apps like Kingsoft Office, Cam Card, Cam Scanner etc. Looks like Lenovo is still wearing their PC maker cap, as they are loading a lot of bloatware into Vibe Z. Apps like Navigate 6 are freemium apps and come with 30-days trial.

There are lot of bells and whistles when it comes to theme customization. Unlike Vibe X which seemed to lag a bit when pushed to the limits, the Vibe Z doesn’t seem to break a sweat while navigating and multi-tasking between apps. As you’d expect, the Camera app has a lot of features as well (which we forgot to mention in our hands-on). Every possible camera mode and filters you can think of, are made available over here. We haven’t had a lot of time to put the 13 MP camera to proper test, but from whatever we have seen, this one is a decent shooter, and carries forward the good things we saw in Lenovo K900.

So, isn’t there anything which we don’t like in Lenovo Vibe Z? Well, we found the looks to be bland. Unlike the Vibe Z and K900 which had a unique design tough to them, the Vibe Z falls flat on its face with its tablet-ish look. The back cover is made of poly-carbonate and has a nice finish to it, which keeps away those annoying fingerprints, but the choice of silver grey is a bit of a letdown. Lenovo, for some reason likes this silver grey, but we feel they’d do better with white instead. To be fair, the Titanium Black version of the Vibe Z looks stunning in comparison.

Another thing to note is the positioning of the sleep/wake button. It’s located on the top right corner of the phone, but for a big (5.5-inch) screen, it’s almost unreachable at first try for most people. They could have instead placed it on the right or left sides, like what Samsung has done with the Galaxy Note 3. Single handed usage might be an issue on the Vibe Z. (Update: Nimish Dubey notes that one can use the volume buttons to unlock the display. Brilliant!)

We shall be taking a detailed look at the battery life and overall performance over the next few days. The phone is expected to be available in the Indian market by end of this month, so we should be having the review ready by that time. Of course, we shall be comparing it with the competition – like the LG G2, Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and many others. Meantime, if you have any questions related to the Vibe Z, let us know, and we’ll be more than happy to address those in our upcoming review.

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Raju is the founder-editor of Technology Personalized. A proud geek and an Internet freak, who is also a social networking enthusiast. You can follow him on Facebook and on Twitter. Mail Raju PP. Follow rajupp