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Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 vs Lenovo Vibe K5 Note vs LeEco Le 2 vs Lenovo ZUK Z1: clash of the VFM titans

|August 4, 2016 |Android Phones, Mobiles, Android, Xiaomi, Smart Phones, Lenovo, LeEco, Comparisons, ZUK

"Wondering which smartphone to go for in the VFM segment? You're at the right place"

The smartphone industry is churning out powerful yet affordable devices faster than ever and options such as the LeEco Le 2 (first impressions), Lenovo ZUK Z1 (review) and the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 (review) have already taken the market by a storm. With the recent unveiling of the Lenovo Vibe K5 Note (first impressions), we might just have another potential candidate in our midst. So which one of these options is the perfect choice for you? Let's find out. 

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Although all four smartphones offer similar features, customers are bound to feel overwhelmed when it comes to choosing one. To set things straight, here is our comparison of these value-for-money smartphones.

Design

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Most devices nowadays flaunt sleek, metal body designs and the aforementioned devices are no exceptions. Apart from the ZUK Z1, which uses a metal frame around the edges and a polycarbonate rear panel, all the others sport a full metal construction. The ZUK Z1 is also the only device which has integrated the fingerprint sensor into the home button out of these options, as the rest have opted for a rear implementation of the same.  The LeEco Le 2 is the slimmest of the lot measuring just 7.5mm around the waist, and the Lenovo Vibe K5 Note is the lightest weighing 152g. That said, all the devices look attractive in real life. 


Display 

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When it comes to the quality of the display, there is little to demarcate the four options. The smartphones come equipped with 5.5-inch full HD displays with a pixel density of 401ppi. The IPS LCD panels are crisp, and display a good amount of detail thanks to the high pixel densities. The Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 however proves to be more legible under sunlight thanks to its Sunlight Display technology which automatically brightness the colours on screen when its sensors detect excessive light. With a screen-to-body ratio of about 74.2 percent, the LeEco Le 2 offers the most screen real estate in the least amount of space. It is closely followed by the Redmi Note 3 which has a screen-to-body ratio of 72.9 percent.


Performance

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Today's fast-paced lifestyle calls for equally fast performance on our handheld devices. Thankfully, processors are not only becoming faster but also more affordable as time passes. While all the options mentioned offer great price to performance ratios, the LeEco Le 2 takes the throne with its insanely fast octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 processor (quad-core ARM Cortex-A72 + quad-core ARM Cortex-A53). Not far behind in terms of performance benchmarks is the Redmi Note 3, the prodigious offering from Xiaomi which flaunts the hexa-core Snapdragon 650 processor (dual-core ARM Cortex-A72 + quad-core ARM Cortex-A53), followed by the dated quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 SoC on the ZUK Z1 and the octa-core MediaTek Helio P10 SoC on the Lenovo Vibe K5 Note. The Vibe K5 Note maintains the lead when it comes to the amount of onboard RAM with a 4GB RAM model being offered, along with a more common 3GB RAM model, which is also the amount of RAM one can find on the other devices. Do note that the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 also comes in a more affordable 2GB RAM model. 


Software And Connectivity

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Currently, only the Lenovo Vibe K5 Note and the LeEco Le 2 run Android 6.0 Marshmallow out-of-the-box. While the former gets is visual aesthetics and tweaks from VIBE UI, the latter sports eUI 5.6 to overlay the stock Android experience. Talking about VIBE UI, it brings a slew of features and customisation options for users in an effort to increase the functionality of stock Android. But with it comes tons of bloatware filling up valuable space on your smartphone. Among the features included in VIBE UI, there is a one-hand mode and Wide Touch, allowing the users to use their smartphone easily with a single hand. The Redmi Note 3 runs the popular MIUI 7.0 user interface developed by Xiaomi and is based on Android 5.1 Lollipop. The Lenovo ZUK Z1 runs Cyanogen OS 12.1 which is also
based on Android Lollipop, and is a popular alternative ROM to stock Android. LeEco's eUI isn't as feature-rich as the other offerings in terms of tweaks, but its highlight is the subscription to streaming services like Eros Now, Hungama and YuppTV, which offer music, movies, and TV shows to users. On the connectivity front, all phones feature 4G LTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, mobile hotspot, Bluetooth, and GPS. While the Lenovo Vibe K5 Note and the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 have stuck to the more familiar microUSB 2.0 ports for connectivity, the Lenovo ZUK Z1 and LeEco Le 2 have both graduated to USB Type-C ports. The LeEco Le 2 has also skipped the 3.5mm headphone jack on the device in favour of CDLA USB Type-C earphones, which it claims can offer better audio quality. 


Storage and Battery

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All the smartphones pack mammoth non-removable batteries under their chassis. The Lenovo ZUK Z1 leads the pack with a 4,100mAh battery, closely followed by the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 with a 4,050mAh unit. The Lenovo Vibe K5 Note offers a relatively lower capacity 3,500mAh battery, whereas the LeEco Le 2 settles for a modest 3,000mAh battery pack. 

In terms of storage, the LeEco Le 2 and ZUK Z1 are limited to just 32GB and 64GB of internal memory respectively, while the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 and Lenovo Vibe K5 Note let you add up to 32GB and 128GB microSD cards respectively over the 32GB of onboard storage with their hybrid SIM trays.


Camera 

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Smartphone cameras have come a long way since their inception with higher megapixel counts, faster focus speeds, and improved stabilisation. The Redmi Note 3 and the LeEco Le 2 come with 16MP rear snappers with phase detection autofocus. This gives them a slight edge over the remaining two, which flaunt 13MP cameras. Interestingly, the Lenovo ZUK Z1 managed to pack OIS (Optical Image Stabilisation) at a budget price making it a great choice for photobugs. The Lenovo Vibe K5 Note is the only device in the lot devoid of a dual-tone LED flash which would have lit up dimly-lit surroundings in a more natural tone. However for selfies, it is an impressive option with an 8MP wide-angle sensor allowing users to fit more objects into a single shot. The ZUK Z1 and the Le 2 too possess 8MP front facing shooters while the Redmi Note 3 settles for a 5MP snapper. 


Pricing And Availability

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The Redmi Note 3 is more elusive when it comes to availability due to its high demand. However, it can usually be acquired on Mi.com, Snapdeal and Amazon.in for Rs 9,999 for the 2GB RAM / 16GB variant and Rs 11,999 for the 3GB RAM / 32GB variant. The Lenovo ZUK Z1 can be bought from Amazon.in at a price of Rs 13,499, which is also the cost of the 4GB RAM variant of the Lenovo Vibe K5 Note. The 3GB RAM K5 Note variant is up for grabs at a more affordable price of Rs 11,999 and joins the list of Flipkart exclusive devices, including the LeEco Le 2, which would also leave your pockets lighter by Rs 11,999. The LeEco Le 2 can also be purchase on the official LeEco e-store, LeMall.com. 


Verdict

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In a nutshell, all these smartphones make a strong case for themselves with nifty features. As it’s clear from the comparison, all the device are great choices and you couldn’t go wrong with any of them. The Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 still checks out as one of the best overall options with a great build, stellar battery life and swift performance. The LeEco Le 2 is perfect for entertainment with the bundled-in multimedia streaming options and the best processor in range. However the lack of a dedicated microSD card slot and 3.5mm headphone jack might sway your mind to the other options. For those who want an exceptional camera performance and at the same time want absolute control over their device with a no frills android experience, Lenovo’s ZUK Z1 takes the throne for you. Lastly, if you are looking for an option with great looks, brand reliability and ease of multitasking, seal the deal with latest offering on the block, the Lenovo Vibe K5 Note.



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