Lenovo is holding its second open sale of its K5 Plus note today at 12 PM on Flipkart.
However, user reviews of the product by those who bought the phone in the first sale have highlighted three irritating problems with the phone — poor camera, poor battery and heating.
On the positive side, display and sound quality have not disappointed most users.
Performance of the phone, which comes with an octa-core Snapdragon 616 chipset and (only) 2 GB of RAM, has been reported as average — neither very fast like the LeEco Le 1s, nor laggy enough to be a ‘deal breaker’.
The Snapdragon 616 is a slightly updated version of the Snapdragon 615, which is found inside most of the mid- and high-end smartphones brought out by Reliance’s LYF brand. LYF is selling models like Earth 1, priced at Rs 21,000, with the same chipset, while the Lenovo K5 is priced just Rs 8,500.
Still, it should be noted that Snapdragon 616 is based on the older and low-power Cortex A53 core design, while the Snapdragonn 652 — found in the upcoming LeEco Le 2s — has twice the power due to the inclusion of Cortex A72 core designs.
Another way to look at the chipset inside the K5 Plus is to compare it with MediaTek MT6753, found inside models such as the upcoming new models from Yu and Lenovo K4 Note. Like in these cases, we can place the performance of the SD 616 as exactly middle of the scale — nothing great, but not too shabby either.
In comparison, a model like LeTV Le 1s — at a price of Rs 2,500 more — offers almost twice the performance (80% more) compared to the K5 Plus.
But in practice, users are not complaining of lags, though one person felt the phone had become slow after installing 20 apps.
More than the performance, it is the camera and fast-draining battery that have bugged users more, with nearly all reviews making a mention of these points in the cons section.
The battery on the K5 is not too shabby at 2.75 Ah, but it looks like the combination of a full-HD display and an octa-core processor is stretching it to its limits.
As buyer Manoj said “everything is gud except heating issue and battery life… It drains very fast.”
But it could also be a case of misplaced expectations, as at least one of those who have reported disappointment with the battery have also said that it last for over 5 hours of continuous usage — which is what you’d get from most smartphones in the market today.
Sunnyhith N, who gives the phone 4 out of 5 stars, said: “Battery gets charged in less than 2 hrs and 1.5 A output charger does its job fine, but not that great. Battery life is something which should be improved. Continuous usage of 5 hours reduced the battery from 100 to 25%.. Hope lenovo releases an update for improving performance of battery and camera.”
It should also be noted that most people who connected the phone to a wireless network were able to immediately install a small update after purchase.
The second big problem highlighted in the user reviews is poor camera quality.
Of course, even in the case of other recent launches — such as LeTV Le 1s and Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 — users had poor reviews of cameras. However, LeTV pushed out an update that seemed to address the most glaring of problems. But K5 Plus users continued to be disappointed with picture quality even after installing the first update.
“Camera quality is not up to mark as mentioned for both the cameras (Front and Rear)!!! It didn’t feel like it was a 13MP Camera or 5MP one,” said Ajit Upadhyay. “Very Disappointed. Also I couldn’t find any option in the Camera Settings to change the resolution of the image. It is very disappointing.”
Another user Sunil Yadav too had a similar view: “Camera is not too good. (It) means, there is blur effect while moving camera slightly, and the front camera is also not fine as I am having Lumia 640 with 9 MP and (it) is beating my new K5.”
The Coolpad Note 3 — which is also priced at the same rate — has better reviews for its camera, despite it being termed average.
Another problem, by no means exclusive to the K5, is heating. This has been a pet peeve in reviews of all recent metallic phone launches, including those of LeTV Le 1s and the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3.
To some extent, the problem is with the users, as they expect a metallic phone with an octa-core processor to remain as cool as a plastic phone with a quad-core chipset.
Not only does an octa-core phone produce more heat, this heat is quickly radiated out to the atmosphere using the phone body to keep the performance of the device high.
The downside of such a design is that the user feels that the device has become too hot.
“While not using simple data connection is on phone gets also heated. It feels like you holding some hot thing in your hand,” said Manoj in his review.
One thing to note is that the K5 Plus is not a unibody device like the LeTV Le 1s and Xiaomi Redmi Note 3. Instead, it uses a metal casing.
The difference is that a unibody device is created by carving holes inside a single metal block, while a metal-casing phone is built by covering the entire assembly in a metal case. Unibody metal structures are supposed to be stronger and more compact, but are more difficult to manufacture and therefore more expensive.
Most reviews of K5 Plus had only good things to say about the Dolby audio on board, with most including audio as a plus for the model.
One of them was Kislaya Kumar. “Dolby sound gives a different feel to the ear. Just have a good pair of headphones and you are set.”
However, Nandita Kurve seemed to be disappointed with the bass levels. “I bought Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus only for Dolby but very much disappointed (too much Treble and low Bass — not good enough),” she said.
Of course, this can probably be addressed by using a high-bass earphone.
Overall, audio is a strong point for the device.
Finally, it has to be said that — going by the user reviews — the new phone from Lenovo has some good things — display, audio — while also having some weakpoints — camera and battery.
So, whether to purchase this phone, or put in an extra Rs 1,500 and go for the Redmi Note 3 16 GB depends primarily on three things:
One – screen size preference, and two – how easy it is for you to get that Rs 1,500, and most importantly, what kind of a user you are.
If you are okay with, or want, a bigger display and the extra Rs 1,500, perhaps you should consider the Redmi Note 3 (though even that one has been reported to have a disappointing camera.)
This is all the more important if you spend a lot of time on your phone, for example, if you are student who likes to explore various new apps and hacks. However, it the purpose is to gift the device to a non-tech-savvy user, then perhaps you don’t need to spend that extra Rs 1,500. Again, if you have small hands, the K5 Plus is a better fit compared to LeTV Le 1s or RN3.
But if you are someone who really likes to do a lot of experimentation and try out new apps — get a 32 GB model with 3 GB of RAM and a more powerful processor — either the LeTV Le 1s or the Redmi Note 3 32 GB.
Or as Sunnyhith says: “Overall Its a decent phone for its price, it performs good for normal usage and not recommended for heavy users.”