Lenovo K3 Note first impressions: a power-packed phablet

“A first look at Lenovo’s affordable, yet loaded phablet, the K3 Note”

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Lenovo’s had a very successful run with its A-series of 4G smartphones this year, selling over a million units through online sales alone. While the A6000 (unboxing | first impressions) has already moved to offline channels, Lenovo plans to follow suit with the A6000 Plus (review) and A7000 (first impressions). To take their place, Lenovo has introduced its new online-only K-series of devices today, beginning with the K3 Note. The power-packed phablet is priced very affordably at Rs 9,999, and will be available through the flash sales model exclusively on Flipkart, with the first sale scheduled for July 8th. Before the launch event, we got a chance to spend some quality time with the device, and here’s what we thought.

From the outset, the K3 Note looks like any other large-screen smartphone. The device will initially be available in white and black hues, but at the pre-launch event we got our hands on a bright yellow unit, which looks very attractive with its pearlescent finish. Despite its size, the K3 Note is really comfortable to hold, thanks in part to its slim 8mm frame.

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The smartphone features a 5.5-inch display, but what really makes a difference is the full HD resolution, equating to a pixel density of 401ppi. Most other budget phablets, including the Lenovo A7000, offer only HD resolution, which when combined with the screen size results in a low pixel density. You can really make out the different on the K3 Note’s screen, which is sharp and clear with high brightness levels. Icons and text are clearly defined, and coupled with the good viewing angles, it’s ideal for watching videos and playing games. Our only complaint is the lack of any protective coating like Gorilla or Asahi Dragontrail Glass.

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Above the screen you’ll find the front 5MP camera, alongside the earpiece and sensors. Below the screen is a row of non-backlit Android capacitive keys. On the right side of the smartphone you’ll find the chrome-tipped volume rocker and power button. The micro-USB port and 3.5mm audio jack are located on the top edge, while the bottom features only the primary microphone. 

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At the rear, you’ll find the primary 13MP camera alongside the dual-LED flash on the top left, and the secondary microphone and loudspeaker on the right. The back panel is removable, and reveals the user-replaceable 3,000mAh battery, dual micro-SIM card slots and microSD card slot. The K3 Note features the same dimensions as the A7000, and Lenovo says you can use any of the interchangeable back panels of the latter (there are several available online) on the smartphone.

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The K3 Note is powered by an octa-core MediaTek MT6752 processor, the same chipset that powers the A7000. However, it gets a higher clock speed of 1.7GHz. The memory department comprises of 2GB of RAM and a generous 16GB of internal storage. You can expect around 10.5GB of available space on a free reboot, and if you require more, you can add a microSD card up to 32GB in size. USB OTG is supported as well. The K3 Note features Lenovo’s Vibe UI 2.5, with Android 5.0 Lollipop as its underlying operating system. We’ve explored Vibe UI in detail in our review of the A6000 Plus, but the latest version of the UI brings in a few changes, notably through its cleaner interface and elimination of the Security app. In terms of connectivity, the K3 Note supports both 4G bands in India. In addition, it offers Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS.

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The K3 Note features a ceramic piece vibration speaker at the rear, and to take advantage of this, Lenovo sells a special Teana edition of the device in China. This version is priced slightly higher, and the phone you get in the box features a rear panel with a circular ring in the middle. The retail box can be assembled to form a ‘music box’, and when the phone is placed on top it with the ceramic speaker turned on, it amplifies the audio output. We were able to check out the Teana version during our hands on experience, but it’s unclear if Lenovo plans to release this variant in India. 

Until now, the budget phablet segment in India has been dominated by the Redmi Note 4G (review), Honor 4x (review) and the Lenovo A7000. The K3 Note ups the ante by offering a full HD display, generous storage and the latest Android version, and at its price, its only real competitior is the MEIZU m1 note (unboxing and first impressions). For more on the K3 Note’s performance and capabilites, stay tuned for our full review.