Lava Z25 Review: Slightly Overpriced Smooth Operator
Well, not so 'slightly'...
The Z25 is Lava’s attempt to win back lost ground in the mid-segment smartphone market. However, it has its task cut out in the face of some very stiff competition from spec heavy and price light competitors, mainly from China. Can the Z25 hold its own against them? We look at various aspects of the phone to find out if it is actually ready to compete in the market.
Build, Design & Display
The Z25 delivered quality experience throughout our usage. We really loved the ergonomics, the curves, and the build quality. It does resemble the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 a lot, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. While the Z25 does not do anything out of the ordinary, anybody buying this phone should have no complaints in this department. The front display has 2.5D curved glass which makes the swiping experience awesome.
Coming back to the technical part, the handset features a Series 5 metal back cover, premium chrome lining, and diamond cut finish providing a premium aesthetic that the price tag demands. The phone is hand polished for complete uniformity which you will love. The weight of the phone is 163 grams, and it does not feel heavy.
The Z25 comes with a 5.5-inch HD (720p) 2.5D curved glass IPS display with Oleophobic coating and just 2 mm bezels on both sides. At this price range, we did expect the phone to come with a 1080P display, but the overall experience was not bad. The display is pretty bright even in sunlight and the oleophobic coating made sure that your touch experience is not spoiled. We tested the phone in a city which has 90 percent humidity in summer, and you can trust us when we say the oleophobic coating does work.
However, we found the ambient sensor to be slower than normal. Taking the phone out of the pocket in sunlight to brightening up the screen took almost 10 seconds which is bad and noticeable. The wide angle view and daylight readability, though, is much better than some of the phones we have used at this price range.
The technical specifications of the Z25 are as follows:
- Dimensions: 151.5×76.4×8.5mm; Weight: 163g
- 5.5-inch (1280 x 720 pixels) HD 2.5D curved glass IPS display
- Octa-Core MediaTek MT6750 64-bit processor clocked at 1.5 GHz, Mali T860 GPU
- 4GB RAM, 32GB internal memory, expandable up to 128GB via microSD slot
- Android 6.0 Marshmallow, Star OS 3.3
- Hybrid Dual SIM, 4G VoLTE, WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
If we have to put in simple words, the performance is fantastic. We were surprised that even though powered by the good old MediaTek MT6750 64-bit octa-core processor clocked at 1.5 GHz, the Z25 which runs on Android 6.0 with Lava’s Star OS, delivered a decent performance.
App switching is very fast, and so are the first time launches. As a matter of fact, when we compared this phone with the Oppo A57, with 21 apps, the Lava Z25 takes down Oppo by 50 seconds, which is a noticeable difference. The fingerprint sensor is definitely fast. While Lava claims to be the fastest in the industry, the difference is clear when you take a couple of selfies shot one after the other.
The speakers which are located at the bottom edge are, however, disappointing. The audio is not clear to deliver quality music, and it just sounds bad when put on high volume. Not what the music lovers ordered.
The Lava Z25 houses a 13-megapixel f2.0 aperture rear camera with single LED flash. It uses the Sony IMX258 Exmor RS sensor (5 layer lens) with Bluelight Filter and PDAF technology. The camera software offers features like Bokeh, Night Pro, HDR, Panorama, Wide Selfie, and GIF mode.
Lava has put in a lot of effort in the camera, and the results speak for themselves.
Shots in broad daylight:
The picture quality is up to the mark. The color tones are neutral, the skin tone came out close to actual (Lava has done software optimization for this specifically), and the bokeh is impressive. As a matter of fact, you also get these features in the Z10 as well. There is no lag between shots. We would give 8/10 for the quality.
Shots in low light:
The camera struggles to focus a little even with PDAF. Most of the time we had to manually set the focus, and the pictures have grains in the final result. We would give 4/10 for the quality in low light.
This is one place where we all love to click pictures. With decent lights at home, the pictures came out good. We would rate it 7/10 for quality.
The front camera in Z25 is of 8 megapixels with LED flash and f/2.0 aperture. The selfie does offer great detail in the picture, with balanced color tones. In broad daylight, it is just fantastic, but for low light, it has the same issue as the rear camera – it is not bad but it’s far from perfect. We would give 4/10 for the quality in low light, and 7/10 in daylight.
Both the front and rear flash of the Lava Z25 support spotlight mode i.e. it stays on when taking selfies or normal pictures. This definitely helps when you are really low on light. However, the front flash does hurt eyes if you take pictures in a row.
Overall the results are great. Have a look at the pictures below to decide yourself.
With its own Start OS version 3.3 on top of Android 6.0, the Z25’s customization are at a bare minimum. The UI is more like a theme on stock Android, and it performs well without lag or slow animations. This also means that there are many features missing because the OS is still on the previous version. One of UI implementations we did not like is that of the multitasking button – it opens the menu, and there is no way to change it. Only a long press on the menu button will get you an option to switch between apps. This is super old school and Lava is stuck in it.
We tested the phone with Asphalt 8, that too on high settings. The performance was not an issue on the phone, nor was the heating. The phone did warm up a little after 45 minutes of gameplay, but that is acceptable. The colors were oversaturated, but there were no frame skips. The transition between Car crash, in-video, and resume back to the game was seamless. This was a bit of surprise to us as the Mediatek Processor and GPU combination do not have a great reputation, but we guess it worked pretty well here. Other games like Candy Crush and Clash of Clans also worked well.
We tested the phone in two conditions – when we were in town, and when on roaming. Surprisingly, the phone has an excellent battery life. The 3020 mAh battery survived for a full day of roaming with three hours of Talk time, WhatsApp and Facebook Usage. On my home network, the phone lasted for 18 hours plus with heavy gaming, a lot of camera shots and other usages.
Cellular Network, In-Call Audio, and Sim Slots
We have made a number of calls on this phone. The experience was smooth and in-call audio was spot on. However, over speaker, things get disappointing. The phone houses a hybrid SIM slot which means you can either have two SIMs or one SIM and one MicroSD card. Even though it has 32 GB of internal storage, many dual SIM users who store all their data on SD card would want to skip this. The Z25 supports VoLTE and has all the Jio apps pre-installed.
The Z25 works great. Despite being run-of-the-mill design, the phone is ergonomic and build quality is top notch. The overall performance (including multi-tasking and gaming) is very good and the camera is above average as well. Except for the ancient 720P display, we really did not have any major complaints on the hardware side. One of the biggest drawbacks of the phone is that it is still powered by Android 6.0. Most of the phones in the market have started getting the Android 7.0 update, and new phones are coming with it installed. And the fact is that there are competitive phones in the market which offer great value at a lesser price, like the Redmi Note 4, Honor 6X, Moto G5 Plus and others. Lava’s decision to slap a higher price tag of Rs 18,000 (with actual selling price around Rs 16,500) to compete only in the offline market is unlikely to work in the long term.