Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus review: Hands-on with Lenovo's mid-range smartphone

With so many flagship smartphones being released at MWC 2016 including the Samsung Galaxy S7 and LG G5, it’s easy to understand why some may overlook Lenovo’s latest smartphone offering. While it’s a mid-range phone instead of a high-end flagship, the Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus features a fairly impressive spec – especially when compared to its price tag. We spent some time with the device at MWC 2016, and here’s what we thought. Also see: Best new phones, tablets, laptops & more at MWC 2016.

Lenovo K5 Plus review: Release date and price

The Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus is an interesting beast – featuring specs like a 5in HD display and a rear-facing 13Mp camera, you’d expect the K5 Plus to cost around £200-300. However, this isn’t the case as Lenovo has announced that the K5 Plus will only set potential customers back $149. It makes it a mid-range phone with a budget price tag, and although UK pricing has yet to be confirmed, we’ve got our hopes up that it’ll translate to a cheap phone in the UK too.

Now, in terms of release date, it gets a bit sketchy. Both the Lenovo Vibe K5 and K5 Plus will only be going on sale in emerging markets like Asia, India or South America, which will make it pretty hard to get a hold of in the UK – although if you have the will power, it’s a pretty decent, cheap option to have. With that being said, the company has confirmed that the Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus will be available in March 2016.

Read next: Best budget smartphones of 2016

Lenovo K5 Plus review: Design and build

The Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus is a fairly nice looking phone, sporting an aluminium body with fairly small bezels around the edges of the display. The main design feature that stood out to us during our time with the smartphone was that it was lighter than we imagined, weighing only 142g and measuring in at only 8.2mm thick. While it isn’t exactly as thin as an iPhone or a Samsung Galaxy, it costs a fraction of the price.

In terms of colours, it’ll be available in three flavours – silver, grey and champagne gold, which is similar to the iPhone lineup).

On the rear of the device you’ll find Dolby Atmos speakers, which should provide users with decent sound quality without the need for headphones. Although with this being said, the company claims that the technology will also improve the quality of audio when using headphones, so, if true, it’s a win win situation.

Lenovo K5 Plus review: Features and spec

The Lenovo Vibe K5 and the K5 Plus are both the same size, which makes them pretty hard to differentiate. The only real difference is in terms of spec, as the K5 Plus is the beefier option of the two. The K5 Plus features a 1080p HD 5in IPS display that we found to be pretty crisp, although it isn’t the brightest screen we’ve ever seen.

As well as a full HD display, the Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus features a 1.5GHz Octa-core Snapdragon 616 processor coupled with 2GB of RAM. We found the phone to be extremely responsive during our time with it, with apps opening instantly and no complaints in the gaming department; although we’d need to confirm its processing power by performing benchmark tests back at PC Advisor Towers. You’ll only get 16GB of internal storage (which is understandable when marketing a phone for emerging markets) but potential customers will be happy to know that the K5 Plus features a MicroSD card slot, offering up to 32GB of external storage.

The Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus also features a 2750mAh battery, which should provide users with decent battery life, although we’d need to confirm this with tests. However it doesn’t really matter too much, as Lenovo has given users the option to swap out the dead battery for a new one. It’s a feature that many Android fans love, as it will give them more battery life without having to buy an expensive charging case/power bank, only a cheap replacement battery.

In terms of cameras, the K5 Plus features a rear-facing 13Mp camera with auto focus and an LED flash, although the front facing camera is a little more disappointing. While it’s still 5Mp, it’s only fixed focus so you won’t get perfect selfies from the smartphone, but it’ll be fine for the likes of Skype.

The Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus also features a dual-SIM setup, although the feature is only going to be available in “certain markets” so we’ll have to wait and see if a UK-compatible version becomes available.

Lenovo K5 Plus review: Software

In terms of software, the Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus comes running Android Lollipop 5.1, although it isn’t quite stock Android. Those with a keen eye will notice that the operating system features a Lenovo-themed ‘skin’, although this is mainly cosmetic and doesn’t add/remove any features of the Android operating system.

Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus: Specs

  • 5in 1080p HD display
  • Octa-core Snapdragon 616 processor
  • 2GB RAM
  • 16GB internal storage, expandable by 32GB
  • Removable 2750mAh battery
  • 8.2mm thick
  • 142g
  • Dolby Atmos speakers
  • 5in 1080p HD display
  • Octa-core Snapdragon 616 processor
  • 2GB RAM
  • 16GB internal storage, expandable by 32GB
  • Removable 2750mAh battery
  • 8.2mm thick
  • 142g
  • Dolby Atmos speakers

OUR VERDICT

Though the Vibe K5 Plus won't stand up to the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S7, we think that for a price of only $149, it's fairly impressive. Featuring an octa-core Snapdragon 616 processor coupled 2GB of RAM, 13Mp camera and Dolby audio, it's not a smartphone to be sniffed at. We'll give the smartphone a more thorough review and verdict once we get it back to PC Advisor Towers and put it through its paces.

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