“The compact K8 Plus borrows several features like dual cameras and a 4,000mAh battery from its brother”
As the old adage goes, it only takes a spark to start a fire, and if there is one field where the statement stands absolutely correct, it has to be the smartphone industry. All it took for the VFM smartphone category to be revolutionised is the launch of the likes of Coolpad Cool 1 Dual (review) and Honor 6X (review) boasting dual snappers at the back. And it’s evident that 2017 is the year of dual-camera smartphones. Once the trend was set, it was only a matter of time before the heavyweights of this segment, like Lenovo and Xiaomi, also jumped on to the train. Lenovo recently debuted the affordably-priced dual camera-toting K8 Note (review), which managed to woo us with its prowess. Now the brand has gone ahead and launched a toned-down variant of the device with an even more competitive price tag, in the form of the Lenovo K8 Plus. The handset landed in our labs recently and here’s a quick unboxing and first impressions.
It seems that the Chinese handset maker is aiming for a branding overhaul. The bland white boxes of the past are gone, and the new packaging is a refreshing change with its attractive blue and black tones. Upon opening the box, you are greeted by the phone with a familiar design that we have already seen on the K8 Note. Under the top tray, the 2A charger and micro-USB cable nestle in their respective compartments. You will also find the documentation and a SIM-ejector pin inside the top tray.
Now, as soon as you take the device in your hand, it feels pretty solid owing to its metal unibody chassis, and ergonomic thanks to the slightly curved back. Though the handset is slightly bulky for a device of its size, the one-hand operation was pretty easy and there was no sign of any hand fatigue during the short time that I spent with it. The fascia is dominated by the display with earpiece, sensors and 8MP secondary camera with LED flash above, and the usual capacitive keys below the display. Turn it over and you will see the same 13MP + 5MP dual camera setup as on the K8 Note, with a dual tone LED flash and a circular fingerprint scanner below it. Speaking of the display and cameras, the 5.2-inch full HD display looked quite vivid and legible, whereas both set of cameras didn’t leave much to desire in our initial shots.
The button and port placement on this handset is pretty standard with power/volume buttons on right edge and sim slot on the left. The top and bottom edges are home to a 3.5mm audio socket and micro-USB port flanked by loudspeakers on either side, respectively. The textured pattern on the power button made it easier to locate it, which is convenient. However, what caught my attention is the extra button just below the SIM slot, symmetrically opposite to power button. The red highlighted button has play/pause marking on it, but it also has a dedicated section in settings under Music Key. Users can assign a long press to the button to open the flashlight, launch the camera, or take screenshot or open any other desired app, apart from the usual music functions. This is how the Android world wanted the Bixby Button on Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ (review) to work, but Lenovo beat Samsung to it and I personally am loving it.
Moving on to the spec sheet, the Lenovo K8 Plus features a MediaTek Helio P25 processor mated to 4GB of RAM and since the device runs stock Android, usually over 1GB is free. During my brief stint with the smartphone, it handled whatever was thrown at it including heavy multitasking to couple of hours of treading water in Riptide GP 2, without breaking into sweat. However, the handset did get warm during prolonged gaming sessions and by prolonged, I mean 30 to 40 minutes. The power reserve is pegged at 4,000mAh, which is ideal for a day’s worth of usage. The on-board storage on this handset is 32GB, of which around 22.5GB is available to the user. However, what comes as a welcome surprise is that the brand is now taking the stock Android route and the K8 Plus, just like the K8 Note, comes with stock Android Nougat. What this means is an uncluttered, smooth user experience and speedy OS updates. It is a surprise that it took the brand this long to get stock Android since it also owns Motorola, which has been launching stock Android smartphones for a while now.
Long story short, the Lenovo K8 Plus comes across as a strong contender in the budget segment. However, the sub-Rs 12k category currently resembles the Mr. Olympia event, where all the giants are bringing their A game and nitpicking is the only way to pick the best. Now that Xiaomi has launched its Android One device in the form of the Mi A1 (review) and Motorola has come out with Moto G5S Plus (first impressions), the competition has intensified. It would be interesting to see how the Lenovo K8 Plus fares amidst the titans. The handset goes on sale exclusively on Flipkart with a price tag of Rs 10,999 and will be offered in Venom Black and Fine Gold hues.
Photos by Raj Rout