“Thanks to its metallic body, the VIBE K5 Plus is able to bring premium design attributes at a budget price point”
While the K3 Note was the breakout product of the year 2015 for the Chinese brand Lenovo, the company also achieved success with its budget offerings such as the A6000. As part of its new brand strategy, where it’ll bucket its affordable and mid-tier devices under the Vibe branding and premium offerings under the Moto brand, the Chinese giant has introduced the VIBE K5 duo at the ongoing MWC in Barcelona.
Dubbed as the VIBE K5 and K5 Plus, it's hard to tell the siblings apart as they’re pretty much the same, both in terms of design and internals, barring a few aspects. We managed to get our hands on the more loaded variant, the VIBE K5 Plus and here are our first impressions. These remain valid for the Vibe K5 too, and we’ll highlighting the differences as we go along.
The Lenovo VIBE K5 Plus is a compact handset, thanks to a 5-inch display adorning its front. However, unlike the previous phones from the manufacturer– the K3 Note (review), which was built using plastic and even the K4 Note (review), which only featured a metallic frame, the K5 Plus is made of metal entirely. Available in gold or silver hues, the mobile looks gorgeous. It’s also quite slender with a frame measuring 8.2mm and weighing 142g.
If you think that the metal body means a non-removable battery, then you'd be wrong, since Lenovo didn’t opt for a unibody construction. The Lenovo VIBE K5 Plus offers a removable back panel letting users access the battery as well as a pair of SIM card slots and a microSD card slot.
The VIBE K5 Plus’ fascia is mainly covered by the display, along with an earpiece, a couple of sensors and a secondary snapper above and an array of capacitive keys at the bottom for navigation.
The right spine holds the power switch as well as the volume keys, while the left edge is bereft of any controls. Up top lies a secondary microphone, while the base is home to both the micro-USB port and a 3.5mm audio socket.
The rear cover holds the primary camera along with an LED flash. Towards the bottom, it features speakers which are Dolby certified. Sadly, the metal back is extremely slippery.
The 5-inch display on the Lenovo VIBE K5 Plus is a 1080p affair, offering crisp text and good colours. The viewing angles were also fine, though the screen seemed to be reflective, which might be because of the indoor lighting. Providing protection to the display against scratches and minor knocks is a layer of Corning Gorilla Glass. The slightly lower priced VIBE K5 sports a resolution of 1,280 x 720 pixels, instead of full HD.
Qualcomm's Snapdragon 616 chipset takes care of the performance department of the Lenovo VIBE K5 Plus. It offers an octa-core processor clocked at 1.5GHz. It’s combined with 2GB of RAM, and the hardware should be powerful enough to handle graphics-intensive games or multitasking. During our brief usage, the phone showed no trace of lags which navigating between screens or switching between apps. The Lenovo VIBE K5 on the other hand, comes with the lower-rung Qualcomm Snapdragon 415 octa-core CPU humming at 1.2GHz.
For memory, the VIBE K5 Plus features 16GB storage on board, out of which around 8.1GB is available to the end user. It can also be expanded further up to 32GB with the use of a microSD card.
The software side of things consist of Android 5.1 Lollipop topped with Lenovo’s custom skin called Vibe UI. It seems a bit odd that Lenovo has opted for Lollipop, which getting outdated now, though the brand has promised an update to Marshmallow 6.0 soon. The interface is similar to other devices from the manufacturer – a unified homescreen, custom icons, and the ability to change themes, among other things. While there aren’t any special features, the phone comes with quite a few preinstalled titles such as Evernote, UC Browser, etc. along with Lenovo’s popular apps like ShareIt and SyncIt.
The Lenovo VIBE K5 Plus flaunts a 13-megapixel sensor at the back and is supplemented by an LED flash. For selfies, it offers a 5MP front shooter. The primary camera has a fast shutter speed, and offers decent images, though we’ll reserve our judgment till we test out its capabilities thoroughly.
Juicing up the VIBE K5 Plus is a 2,750mAh battery, which the company claims, offers a day’s worth of backup. The dual-SIM smartphone supports 4G on both the SIMs along with standard set of connectivity options – Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1 and GPS.
Lenovo would be bringing the VIBE K5 Plus and VIBE K5 to Indian shores by next month. While the Indian pricing for the duo hasn’t been announced, the VIBE K5 Plus costs $149 and its lower-priced sibling has an asking price of $129, which means that both the smartphones should be priced around Rs 10,000. This price range is among the most competitive segments, though Lenovo’s brand pull, premium design attributes and features like dual 4G and Dolby speakers might be able to sway users towards its latest offerings. We’ll of course test their mettle to see how they stack up against the competition when the two land in India.