There has been a sudden increase in the number of powerfully-specced smartphones in the sub-Rs. 20,000 market, and the new Lenovo K8 Note is the latest to join them. The new Lenovo device is targeted at buyers who love entertainment on the go and don’t want to compromise with performance or camera quality. The Lenovo K8 Note sports dual cameras at the back, a feature that has become very popular among Android manufacturers after the launch iPhone 7 Plus (Review) last year. There are already quite a few Android smartphones with dual cameras in the Indian market including the Coolpad Cool 1 Dual (Review), OnePlus 5 (Review), and Honor 6X (Review). We’ll find out how well K8 Note fares against its competitors.
Ever since completing its acquisition of the Moto brand, Lenovo has been on a roll in terms of smartphone shipments. Industry reports show that Lenovo has managed to become one of the top five smartphone vendors in India thanks to its vast portfolio of products. At the India launch of the K8 Note, Lenovo claimed that it has managed to sell 8.5 million K-series devices in the country so far.
With the Lenovo K8 Note, the company is also switching to a stock Android experience, ditching the Vibe Pure UI entirely, which is big move. On paper, the Lenovo K8 Note has some decent specs and features, but competition is stiff. Does it manage to strike a good balance between pricing and features? We find out.
Lenovo K8 Note look and feel
The Lenovo K8 Note’s metal body feels sturdy when you hold the phone for the first time. The Aluminium 6000 material offers a premium feel and a soft touch. While there’s no doubt that the K8 Note is one of the better looking phones in its category, the design is far from original, and strongly reminds us of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4. It has 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass spread across the front edges, which looks neat. Lenovo has used an anti-fingerprint coating on the screen which means you shouldn’t have to bother cleaning it very often.
The Lenovo K8 Note has capacitive navigation buttons at the front, which aren’t backlit. We often had trouble using them in the dark. The front camera has its own LED flash which has been a popular demand lately, according to Lenovo. The rear has the dual cameras which are placed one above the other, accompanied by a dual LED flash. The fingerprint sensor is right below the cameras, and was easily accessible at any point. The overall size and placement of physical buttons makes them easy to use. We liked the fact that power and volume buttons have been slightly low to easily fall under a thumb or forefinger depending on which hand you’re holding the phone in.
There are the familiar antenna bands on the top and bottom of the handset’s rear. The bands will match the phone’s colour, making them blend in. The Lenovo K8 Note will be available in Fine Gold and Venom Black, which we received for our review. Lenovo has gone with minimalistic branding on the K8 Note, which is good. You can find a logo at the back.
The left panel has a dedicated “Music key” which is customisable for any purpose. Users can customise it via Settings > Music Key for playing/ pausing audio or video, toggling the flashlight, launching the camera, taking a screenshot, or opening a specific app. The Music Key has a red colour accent to make it stand out, with play and pause icons above it. There are also dedicated slots for two SIMs and a microSD card, which Lenovo stressed is one of the most demanded features in this segment. There’s a Micro-USB port at the bottom, with a speaker grille on either side. Unfortunately, there’s only one functional speaker, but this phone does support Dolby Atmos Audio enhancement. The other grille is just for show, much like on many other budget phones. The top has a 3.5mm audio jack.
We had no trouble using the K8 Note with just one hand. It measures 154.5×75.9×8.5mm and its rounded edges make it fit well in a palm. At 180g, this phone is a bit heavy compared to the likes of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (175 grams) which should be seen as direct competition. Additionally, the Lenovo K8 Note has a water repellent design which help it survive light splashes, but don’t consider it to be equivalent to actual water resistance. Lenovo clearly points out that liquid damage will not be covered under the warranty.
When compared to the Lenovo K6 Note, the Lenovo K8 Note has a lot of improvements in terms of design that make it feel more premium for its price. In the box, you get a transparent plastic case, a USB cable, a 15W rapid charger, a SIM ejector, and instruction manuals. The Lenovo K8 Note is the company’s first smartphone to ship with a rapid charger. However, there are now no bundled earphones which might be a bit of disappointment for some buyers.
Lenovo K8 Note specifications and software
The Lenovo K8 Note features a 5.5-inch full-HD (1080×1920 pixels) display. Under the hood, it is powered by a deca-core MediaTek Helio X23 (MT6797) SoC with four cores clocked at 1.4GHz, another four cores at 1.85GHz, and two cores at 2.3GHz. The K8 Note has been launched in India in two storage and RAM variants: 3GB of RAM with 32GB of storage, and 4GB of RAM with 64GB of storage. We received the latter for our review. Storage expansion using a microSD card (up to 128GB) is supported.