Smartphone designs have reached a plateau. Most of them are rectangular blocks built using plastic, metal, or some exotic materials like bamboo or leather. But hardly any innovation has happened in terms of core design in the last few years. Lenovo is trying to change this.
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In its latest phone, the Vibe X2, the company is using a new design that has layered frames made of magnesium alloy. It also is powered by a new octa-core chip with LTE support which on paper makes it very powerful. We have been testing the phone for a week, read on for our review.
The Lenovo Vibe X2 is the world’s first smartphone to sport a layered design. This means the chassis of the Vibe X2 is made of three magnesium layers in different colours — Red, orange and copper. It looks nice. The phone also feels very solid. Thanks to the use of magnesium, it weighs just 120 grams, which makes it lighter than the iPhone 6. It is also pretty sleek at 7.3mm. While the build of the phone is very good, ergonomically the Vibe X2 fails to impress. It has a blocky geometric shape,
Which means it has sharp edges that dig into the palm of the user when you are holding the device. Lenovo has managed to put a 5-inch display in a rather small body. The borders around the sides of screen are very thin. This makes the Vibe X2 almost as small as the iPhone 6 and the Samsung Galaxy Alpha, while offering a slightly larger screen. The back of the phone has matte finish, which feels nice in the hand. Lenovo also throws in a nice pair of earphones, a protective cover and screen guard in the package.
The 5-inch screen on the Vibe X2 has a 1080P resolution and it uses IPS technology. The screen is pin sharp and offers great colours and viewing angles. It is also quite bright and its legibility under direct sunlight is good. The Vibe X 2 screen packs in more pixel than the iPhone 6 and the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact, but that really does not convert to much of a difference in real world usage.
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However, that does not mean the screen is not very good. On the contrary, perhaps, the Lenovo Vibe X2 has the best screen in a smartphone that costs less than Rs.20,000. Videos and games look great on it as the phone is able to show vivid colours. Text looks sharp on the screen due to its high resolution.
The one area where the Vibe X2 falls short is the camera performance. The 13-megapixel camera on the back is not the best in the business. It is slow to lock focus and often does not lock focus properly. Frankly, focussing is unreliable and is a bit of a “hit or miss” affair. Even when the focus is right, the images are bland. We found that the images shot with the Vibe X2 had washed-out colours. Images clicked in low-light shots show lots of noise and graininess. The camera interface allows for a lot of granular control which is nice, but we felt at times it became overbearing. The 5-megapixel front camera too is a bit of a disappointment.
The 5-megapixel resolution hypes the quality of the camera, which is not the best. Generally, front facing cameras don’t have the best optics and that ways the Vibe X2 is no different. But if you thought the 5-megapixel camera would deliver great imagery, you are in for a reality check – its performance is just ‘par’ for the course. The phone can shoot 1080P video but the quality is average at best. The videos are relatively stable, but in low light hardly anything is visible. The quality of the recorded audio is also bad and the sound often starts clipping. Clearly, this is not the phone to take videos with inside a night club.
Running Android 4.4.2 KitKat, the Vibe X2 comes with a custom user interface (UI). This UI is similar to what several other Chinese companies put in their phones. It has no app drawer, but rather an iOS-style springboard which offers pages and pages of apps and widgets. It clearly feels like a lovechild of Android and iOS, something that vendors like Gionee and Xiaomi also offer.
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The UI works well and is simpler to use compared to the stock Android. Lenovo, like Xiaomi, has made provisions for themes and by default the phone is preloaded with four themes. These themes change the look of the core Android UI as well as icons. The UI is also full of flamboyant animations, which look good, but also give the impression of the system having odd performance issues and lag.
Battery and connectivity
Inside the svelte 7.3mm frame, the phone packs in a 2,300mAh battery which lasts through a day. The phone will not wow you in terms of battery life, but it lasts around 15 to 17 hours on a single charge. Our usage involved 2 hours of phone calls, lots of web browsing, a bit of gaming, around 15 minutes of YouTube videos, 45 minutes of streaming music on Google Music while in transit, and 15-20 photos. The battery life can be further enhanced using the built in battery saver mode. Lenovo also offers a battery layer which adds another 2,300mAh unit for Rs.1,990, making the Vibe X2 a roadrunner.
The other big deal regarding this phone is the connectivity. Unlike most phones at this price, the Vibe X2 supports LTE bands in India thanks to the new Mediatek SoC. While we did not test LTE connectivity, general call quality was good and the phone always managed to retain strong signals. Like most, Lenovo phones, it is also a dual-SIM dual-Active device with a nanoSIM and a microSIM slot.