Lenovo K8 Note first impressions: Doesn’t really let you miss the K7 Note
Instead of introducing the K7 Note, Lenovo skipped right to the K8 Note in India. So, is this phone two generations superior to the predecessor? Let’s find out.
I never really had any qualms about custom user interfaces (UIs) running atop Android, but I do know many who don't care for them. And, to be fair, not all companies have succeeded in pulling off fluid UIs - instead delivering phones that slow down with time.
Micromax probably figured this out long ago with handsets produced under its YU sub-brand. Lenovo is the latest smartphone company to wise up, officially bidding adieu to its Vibe UI and moving towards stock Android.
The first smartphone coming under the manufacturer's new strategy is the Lenovo K8 Note, launched in India on Wednesday. The company has also promised regular updates for the smartphone - something Nokia has been highlighting for its new devices.
But stock Android cannot be the sole USP of a smartphone, at least not in 2017. In my opinion, a balance of software and hardware - coupled with an appropriate price point - are essential for any smartphone to succeed. I have spent a brief time with the Lenovo K8 Note, and here are my first impressions.
At the very first glance, the Lenovo K8 Note seems like any other smartphone in the sub-₹15,000 category (not counting the dual-rear camera setup on the back panel). The face of the smartphone is dominated by the display, with a front camera and flash light on top and capacitive touch navigation buttons at the bottom. The volume and power buttons are located on the right edge, and the left houses SIM and microSD slots along with a dedicated music key. While the base features a microUSB port, there is a 3.5mm audio port on top.
Even though the Lenovo K8 Note is a 5.5-inch smartphone, it feels fairly large on the palm. But then, this is probably because I am used to handling the smaller iPhone 6. At 180 grams, the smartphone is quite heavy.
I have used quite a few Lenovo phones in the past, and as far I can see, the Vibe UI undergone significant improvement over the years. I really liked the interface on the K5 Note, launched in August last year. But stock Android is a different experience altogether (in a good way). The smartphone runs smoothly on the 7.1.1 Nougat. As far as customisations go, the Lenovo K8 Note come with TheaterMax technology, which can be launched by long-pressing the power button on the side. It comes preloaded with a slew of Microsoft apps such as Outlook, Skype, PowerPoint and Word - all of which are uninstallable.
The K8 Note uses a 64-bit 2.3GHz MediaTek deca-core Helio X23 processor. While I did not spend enough time with the phone to give you my take on its performance, I do hope it is good enough to take on the Snapdragon 625 processor that powers the top-selling Xiaomi Redmi Note 4. Lenovo claims that Helio X23 can beat the Snapdragon 625, Helio P20 and Snapdragon 430 processors hands down. I was satisfied with the UI during the brief period I spent with the phone, but do wait for our final-verdict review to know more.
The dual-rear camera is another highlight to look out for. The K8 Note comes with a 13-megapixel primary sensor and a 5-megapixel depth sensor, with dual LED flash. It is good to see budget smartphones joining the likes of Honor 6X on the dual-rear camera bandwagon.
That being said, I did struggle to take DSLR-like "Bokeh-effect" images. I will probably need more time with the K8 Note to capture bokeh images like a pro. The camera UI is fairly simple. To take depth-of-the-field photographs, tap the icon on the extreme top-right and select depth-sensing. Images, even taken in HDR mode, are processed in a jiffy.
The Lenovo K8 Note seems to have achieved the right balance between software and hardware. And with a price tag starting at ₹12,999, the Lenovo K8 Note does raise my expectations.
So, can it help Lenovo dent Xiaomi's supremacy in the budget category? We'll know that soon enough. Until then, stay tuned for our detailed review.