Lenovo Vibe K5 Review: A Reliable Budget Smartphone

Lenovo Vibe K5 Review: A Reliable Budget Smartphone

Lenovo Vibe K5 Detailed Review

Lenovo’s K-series smartphones reached new heights of popularity when the company launched the K3 Note: – a smartphone that quickly gained popularity based on smooth, reliable everyday performance. Then came the K4 Note, which, despite attempts to look different and present good audio and a beginner’s experience with Virtual Reality, failed to deliver the ideal, seamless smartphone experience.

The Vibe K5 here, meanwhile, is remarkably not in the same league as Lenovo’s budget ‘Note’ series. Lenovo has treated this particular lineup as its kind of budget flagship, and the Vibe K5 is noticeably built to be a notch below the recently launched Vibe K5 Note. For starters, it has a smaller screen than Lenovo’s budget Note devices, uses more plastic in its construction, and lacks a fingerprint scanner. And while the K Note smartphones are usually priced between Rs. 10,000 and Rs. 15,000, the Vibe K5 costs just Rs. 6.999. Is this budget smartphone worth what you pay? This is what we found.

Build and design

There is nothing that particularly stands out to you about the Lenovo Vibe K5, and the design is very simple. That’s not bad though. The Vibe K5’s candy bar form factor makes it very similar to the Xiaomi Redmi 3s Prime, but instead of rounded edges on the back, the Vibe K5 has more rectangular edges and a wider metal bezel runs around the edges of the front panel. Both the microUSB and audio ports are on top, something I’m not used to. Ergonomically, while the 5-inch shape ensures that the Vibe K5 remains fairly easy to hold and use, the top-hosted charging port means you pick up the smartphone in an inverted position when charging it from the socket next to your bed. It’s not a major deterrent, but it does cause minor annoyance.

The Vibe K5 is also one of the few devices where the two micro SIM slots and the dedicated memory card slot are located under the rear case and the battery is removable. Inserting/removing SIMs and memory card, and the lack of hot-swappable SIM slots seems to be a thing of the past. In terms of construction, the Lenovo Vibe K5 has a reassuring quality, which makes it very pleasant to hold. The plastic feels slippery and while it doesn’t look great, the simplicity is noticeable. The device weighs 150 grams and is 8.2 mm thick, which is quite standard for a contemporary 5-inch smartphone.

The only thing that is really wrong with the Lenovo Vibe K5 is the screen protector, which can crack the screen if you accidentally drop it. The phone also lacks a fingerprint scanner, but for its price we would have been more surprised if it had one. All in all, the Vibe K5 is decent for a budget smartphone, and while there’s nothing notable about it, there’s nothing really wrong with it either.

Display and user interface

The 5-inch IPS LCD has a screen resolution of 720×1280 pixels, which is normal for this price. The screen doesn’t really look bad and does a pretty good job with color accuracy. At 340 Lux, the display is not the brightest of all, and the Xiaomi Redmi 3s Prime presents a brighter display panel. Despite the relatively lower brightness level, the Vibe K5 offers bright colors and good contrast and saturation levels.

While this essentially means viewing in direct sunlight is somewhat compromised, watching movies indoors is quite enjoyable. Lenovo has also featured Dolby Atmos powered speakers on the Vibe K5, further enhancing the movie viewing experience. The screen is fairly smooth and the touch response is fairly accurate, although I’m not much of a fan of Lenovo’s proprietary user interface. While the interface feels cleaner and lighter than its predecessors (K3 Note, Vibe K4 Note:, etc.), but the tweaks don’t really add to the ease of use. It is easy to spot and some pre-installed apps like McAfee Security and UC Browser can be uninstalled. Overall, the Vibe K5 does a pretty good job here again, especially considering the pricing.

Performance

Powered by the octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 415 SoC clocked at 1.4GHz, the Vibe K5 now presents 2GB of RAM to make up for performance slowdowns. This works to a great extent, and the Vibe K5 is indeed one of the better performing budget smartphones at the moment. This system-on-chipset (SoC) is already about a year and a half old and the graphics chip Adreno 405 takes care of the visual tasks. In real life, the smartphone delivers fairly smooth daily performance and even fairly reliable gaming performance.

When it comes to multitasking, apps like WhatsApp, Facebook and email load without too much delay. There’s a noticeable split-second lag when opening and switching almost any app, but for its price, performance doesn’t show a major dent as expected. In fact, the phone feels quite snappy and is quite reliable in terms of general usage. I was able to load up to six apps easily and the phone didn’t lag unnaturally. Even on the gaming front, in heavy games like Asphalt 8: Airborne, while navigating in-game menus shows notable lags and stutters, the gameplay itself is quite smooth. There are dropped frames, but games are smooth to play here. After about 15 minutes of gaming with Wi-Fi on and apps updating in the background, the smartphone rose to a body temperature of 39.1 degrees Celsius. The body is quite warm in the hand, but the device also cools down fairly quickly.

It’s also important to note that heavy games occasionally crash, especially if you get stuck between game menus and cause multiple touches in your haste. Overall, though, the Lenovo Vibe K5 is a pretty good performer when it comes to core performance. With an emphasis on audio, the Dolby Atmos engine-powered speakers sound clearer and healthier than the usual smartphone speakers. The speakers are loud enough and the placement of the dual speakers allows for stereo sound, which is excellent for its category.

The quality of calls and network retention is reliable, although the in-ear call quality is not that great. It could be a device-specific issue, but in-call audio seemed to fluctuate time and again in terms of audibility and quality. Everything else in terms of network retention and performance seems pretty standard, and overall the Lenovo Vibe K5 is certainly one of the best performing budget smartphones available in India right now.

Camera

The 13-megapixel primary shooter is actually quite impressive, and for its price, the Vibe K5 is one of the best budget smartphone cameras you can get. It takes a split second to open the camera app, and there’s a notable delay between tapping the shot and the photo being taken and saved to your device.

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Aside from that, the Vibe K5 takes impressively balanced photos and does particularly well with colors, white balance, and saturation. The level of detail isn’t great, and there’s noticeable pixel noise even in shots taken in bright daylight, but for easy capturing impromptu moments and posting to social media, the Vibe K5 is adequate, especially for its price.

By default, the Vibe K5 takes slightly weaker photos, but the fairly flat colors allow you to perform marginal post-processing without the images looking burnt or completely grainy. The camera suffers in low light and the noise level displayed is a little too high to use photos for anything. It’s a bit clunky, but for what you pay, it’s almost as good as it gets.

The 5-megapixel front camera isn’t too impressive and shots are a little too softened to improve skin tones. While we weren’t expecting really sharp details and stunning colours, a little more controlled softening of the skin edges would have been better.

battery life

The 2750 mAh battery offers fairly reliable battery life, and with plenty of IMs, social media and web browsing, 10 minutes of navigation, 15 minutes of video streaming, an hour and a half of music streaming, and 30 minutes of gaming, the Vibe K5 lasted from 10 a.m. until midnight. On average you can easily get 12 hours of battery life and battery consumption seems well optimized to ensure you don’t run out of battery in the middle of the day. The Vibe K5 lasted 9 hours 15 minutes on the PCMark battery test, while the Xiaomi Redmi 3s Prime, our leading battery performer in the budget segment, lasted around 9 hours 30 minutes. The Redmi 3s Prime lasts longer in real life, but the Vibe K5 is also reliable enough.

bottom line

The Lenovo Vibe K5 is actually quite reliable, with a simple layout with fairly reliable performance, a good camera and a fairly good battery life. At Rs. 6,999, while the Xiaomi Redmi 3s Prime is indeed the better smartphone for the whole budget, the Lenovo Vibe K5 is also a good alternative to consider.

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