Lenovo K5 review: an entry-level range with touches of aluminum

Last February Lenovo presented its new range of K5 and K5 Plus phones within the framework of the Mobile World Congress 2016. These are two devices with which the Chinese manufacturer intends to offer an economic alternative that does not lose integers in design, the experience of user nor quality, offering mid-range specs with an aluminum finish.

These are also the first Lenovo signed smartphones to officially go on sale in Spain, so we took the opportunity to spend a few days with one, the Lenovo K5. Will a mobile of less than 200 euros be able to offer a consistent experience for our day to day? Let's see it.

Lenovo K5 specifications

The Lenovo K5 tries to offer us hardware measured to be functional for most users, and an attractive exterior thanks to its aluminum finish, all with a well-adjusted price. But before entering to assess what our experience has been after several days using it as our main mobile, we will start by breaking down its technical characteristics.

Lenovo K5, technical characteristics Physical dimensions 142 x 71 x 8 mm, 142 g screen IPS 5 inches Resolution HD 1280 x 720 pixels Processor Qualcomm MSM8929 Snapdragon 415
64-bit, eight-core: 4xCortex-A53 at 1.5 GHz and 4xCortex-A53 at 1.2 GHz Graphics processor Adreno 405

RAM 2 GB Memory 16 GB
Expandable up to another 32 GB with microSD card Software version Android 5.1.1 Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11a / b / g / n, Dual MicroSIM, Bluetooth 4.1, GPS, microUSB v2.0, 3.5mm Jack Cameras 13 megapixels
5 megapixel front Battery 2,750 mAh lithium polymer Price The price is 179 euros on Amazon.

As we can see in the specifications table, if there is a word with which we can describe the hardware configuration of this device this is balance. They know what their site is, and they have not wanted to carry out experiments trying to attract attention with any characteristic that could unbalance the whole.

It has an elegant and simple design. Here they have also managed to position themselves one step above the mobiles without personality of the lower ranges, but without becoming one of those who, seeking to differentiate themselves, end up with an excessively striking design. A few surprising frames are surprising ahead, and inside we find an always valuable removable battery.

Processors are the Snapdragon 415 octa-core Cortex-A53 and 64-bit architecture

Lenovo has entrusted its K5 with the new Snapdragon 415 processors, with which Qualcomm wants this year's entry range to advance with a new leap in power. Eight cores with 64-bit architecture that should give you, but without excesses, enough power to fluidly carry out any of our daily tasks.

Taking into account the target audience and the processor, accompanying it with 2 GB of RAM is the logical decision. It is usually enough to get a good use of the Android multifunction, although perhaps it may suffer a bit from the fluidity of web browsing. In any case, it is not that you can ask for more considering its price.

720p resolution is a good alternative to try to increase autonomy.

The screen and the battery meanwhile also make a good tandem. In these times 2,750 mAh do not impress much, but the autonomy will be benefited from having settled for a 720p resolution with which to offer an HD definition without too much fanfare, but enough to make us enjoy multimedia content with guarantees.

As for the cameras, we have quite a few good sizes with 13 and 5 megapixels, although it will have to be seen how their components and their processing software behave. And to finish, of the rest of the components its Dual MicroSIM stands out, accompanied by a Bluetooth 4.1, MicroUSB 2.0 and an audio jack. As an operating system they comply with Android 5.1.1. A little outdated, but after all this is not a novelty in the entry ranges either.

Simple design and looking for elegance

Normally, one of the first things manufacturers sacrifice when trying to make their device cheaper is usually the design. Lenovo has tried to change this, but only halfway. It has equipped its K5 with a rear in which plastic and aluminum match quite well, although its front face is a little more conventional.

We started talking precisely from the front. Here we find an aspect without any distinguishing feature, although it must be noted that they have made an effort to contain the frames. It also helps that the Android control buttons are capacitive and integrated into the frame, helping to take better advantage of its 5-inch screen.

They have altered the position of the triangle and square buttons. As in the devices of other manufacturers that, such as Samsung, decide to alter this order, it can lead us to the occasional confusion at first, although we will soon get used to it.The earpiece and the front camera are in the central part of the upper frame, and on the right edge we find the volume keys and, below them, the on and off key.

As for the back, Lenovo has opted for a two-piece design. The upper and lower frames are plastic, and in the middle we have an aluminum plate with which they try to give it a little plus of elegance. The difference in color between the two materials is noticeable, but it does not look excessively bad. Of course, both parts are united in a single piece, so there is no problem when removing the entire cover to change the battery or insert MicroSIM and MicroSD cards.

The 13 megapixel camera and LED flash are located on the upper left side of the rear, leaving the Dolby speakers below. An unfortunate decision, because although these dual Dolby Atmos speakers are important in the box, the fact that they are both on one side ends any threat of offering stereo sound.

Design

Lenovo K5

BQ Aquaris X5

Alcatel Idol 3

Xperia M5

Samsung Galaxy A3 (2016)

Dimensions

142 x 71 x 8 mm

144.4 x 70.5 x 7.5 mm

152.7 x 75.1 x 7.4 mm

145 x 72 x 7.6 mm

134.5 x 65.2 x 7.3 mm

Weight

142 grams

148 grams

141 grams

142.5 grams

132 grams

Screen size

5 inches

5 inches

5.5 inch

5 inches

4.7 inches

As we can see in the table, if we compare it with similar devices we see how well contained its size is. At least in its height, because we also see that in width it does not stand out as much among other devices with similar screens as those of renowned brands such as BQ or Sony.

In my opinion, its worst flaw in terms of design is that it is also a little thicker than the other devices with which we have compared it. This would not matter if Lenovo had given it an even greater battery capacity, but unfortunately this has not been the case. A missed opportunity to take advantage of those extra millimeters to stand out. It also doesn't convince me that the charging port is port at the top.

As for the weight, it is quite on par with Sony's proposal and greatly improves what is offered by BQ. But it is still in the queue if we compare it with an Alcatel that has achieved almost the same with a larger screen size. In any case, the tone is clear: it does not stand out too much, but it does not come out wrong from the comparatives either.

By the way, I did not want to stop talking about the design without one thing that I liked about the packaging. Lenovo has included a plastic case and a plastic screen protector. They are not very striking, but it is something very appreciated if we want to save ourselves upset until we find others that we like something else. Many manufacturers should take note of this.

Low resolution screen, but good visibility

The screen is perhaps one of the least outstanding aspects of the mobile. A resolution of 720 pixels is usually considered too low by today's standards, but in my opinion it offers enough HD quality for the 5 inches it has. And the fact that lower resolution favors greater autonomy makes this an acceptable sacrifice.

As for the finish of the screen, nothing new in the sun. Its material is strong enough so that it has not been scratched in the week and I have been using it, but as it almost always happens, it is a real magnet for fingerprints. It is not the dirtiest screen I have seen, but it does assure us to have our finger marks marked within a few minutes of using it.

The colors that it achieves are clear and sharp, and the automatic brightness adjustment is well balanced so that we do not leave our eyes because it is too light or too dark. When we lower the brightness to the minimum it is enough to be able to read without problems, and raising it to the maximum allows us to interact with it in any condition.

And with any condition I include the exteriors. Contrary to what I have come across in the past with other input ranges, the K5 offers good visibility when in direct light on particularly sunny days. It is not that it looks perfect, that is almost impossible, but it is enough to be able to use it without problems.

Its excellent viewing angles are also very positively surprising. Turning the mobile up and down and sideways maintains perfect visibility, and you have to play at looking at it from the upper corners so that it resents. A very good news therefore for those who like to show photos and videos to their friends.

VibeUI does not convince, but it is expendable

Although several months have passed since the release of Android 6.0 Marshmallow, we already know how fragmentation works on Android. For this reason, as expected, this Lenovo K5 comes equipped with the Android 5.1.1 Lollipop operating system, an outdated operating system but which is still a standard in the releases of the lower ranges.

Lenovo has decided to decorate Android with its VibeUI personalization layer, which for my taste is one of the great defects of the device. It does not have an application drawer (some will give you the same, but I need it), and some of the core apps move around when updating instead of staying where we left them, especially the SIM services one.

It's also a bit disconcerting to me that the capacitive button on the Android square doesn't show running applications, but the same menu that appears when you touch and hold the screen instead of showing. To access this menu you have to keep the button pressed, which is a little less intuitive than if they had left it as it was.

But there is a positive part that makes you forgive your defects, and that is that it gives us the option to remove the customization layer to keep Android bareback. Just press the square or press and hold the wallpaper and give preferences to find an option Default launcher in which we can choose the layer we want.

Otherwise, there are not many new features in the Android options, except perhaps the addition of being able to program the device's on or off times. It is a good idea that we have already seen in other sites, but it does not stop showing when we have to enter the PIN so that the mobile is finished starting.

Includes a Dolby Atmos app to manage sound settings

As for the pre-installed applications, Lenovo has included some useful ones such as Dolby Atmos to manage sound settings, one of themes to completely change its appearance, and the classic coreo apps for mail, music and video. It also has Google's repertoire, since there are so many, at least they have all been placed in a folder.

There is also the classic manufacturer's own application, Lenovo Companion in this case, with FAQs, hardware tests, forums and warranty. Finally, it offers SHAREit and SYNCit to synchronize and share our content, two expendable applications that we will hardly use if we already have accounts and use other cloud storage services.

Good performance if we are not demanding

Lenovo's mobile is one of the people in charge of releasing Qualcomm's new range of Snapdragon 415 processors. These give a new air to the entry range offering a very good fluidity in most cases, but that does not mean that from time to time we are going to encounter some limitations.

The most obvious we will run into right at the beginning, when we are releasing the mobile and we start to configure it for the first time. And it is that when we download or update various applications, while the process lasts the entire mobile will go quite slow, and we will meet the always unpleasant lages almost in anything we do.

In any case, once the downloads and updates are finished, the rest of the time the mobile works really well. The desktop changes are done at full speed, there is no lage when it comes to consulting the notification bar, and we change from application to application with no problem. A true canyon for most of our day-to-day activities.

As for navigation, I was very pleasantly surprised to find a very good fluidity. Ok, the pages take a while to load, nothing new in the input range, but once they have, we can navigate and scroll at full speed.

Still, I have ever come across some sudden crash and reboot of the device. It has only happened to me a couple of times during the more than a week that I have been using it on a daily basis, so it is not a nuisance, but it is a sign that Lenovo still has a bit of work to do in terms of optimization.

But of course, we are dealing with a range of input, and although for day-to-day operation is impeccable, the limitations of the processor greet us as soon as we give it a little cane, for example, with games. Already with occasional games in the style of Threes we notice that everything is not going as smoothly as you would expect, and although it does not behave badly with more demanding games such as driving, we will find some slowdown.

Benchmarks

Lenovo K5

BQ Aquaris X5

Alcatel Idol 3

Xperia M5

Samsung Galaxy A3 (2016)

Antutu

28.243

26,432 (32-bit)

29.123

30.471

36.390

Quadrant

17.709

12.478

14.483

23.676

14.764

Vellamo

Chrome Browser: 1986
Multicore: 1,142
Metal: 813

Chrome Browser: 1,928
Multicore: 1,193
Metal: 715

Chrome Browser: 2,184
Multicore: 1,274
Metal: 880

Chrome Browser: 2,136
Multicore: 2,047
Metal: 1,199

Chrome Browser: 2,793
Multicore: 1,585
Metal: 1,043

As we see in the test benches, the mobile is located in the humble part of the entry range. It equals and even surpasses in some respects mobiles such as the Alcatel Idol 3 or the BQ Aquaris X5, but it remains far from more serious aspirants to the reign such as those of Sony or Samsung.

And finally we have the question of autonomy. This mobile will not give us any problem to spend a whole day doing our conventional operations such as visiting social networks, taking photos, sending messages or watching some videos, even if we do not give it much cane we can have a little extra for the second day. But I have to say, due to the capacity of its battery and the low resolution of the screen I was expecting a little more, maybe it could last a day and a half.

A camera well below average

When it comes to saving money to offer a mobile phone as cheap as possible, cameras are usually one of the big ones sacrificed in the entry ranges. The case of the K5 is no exception, and therefore it is not surprising that the one it equips is by far one of the components that are below the rest.

The normal thing in the cameras of the devices of these ranges is that with good light the camera goes well and with bad it is not good for much. But already when we take the photos with a lot of light the camera handles it quite badly and tends to burn them. The effect is especially noticeable with shadows or dark colors, since when trying to illuminate them it burns the areas with sun. To top it off, between pressing the button to take the photo and the camera shooting can easily pass a long second.

If we have the sun against us, we will also have problems, since halos of light can appear illuminating everything behind us. In addition, if we are one of those who take the typical photos of our food dishes, we will also be disappointed, since they end up having quite a little definition and some noise may appear even if there is good light.

Sometimes it may seem that a photo has turned out well, but if we then zoom in on it we will realize that the camera has eaten up many details. And this happens with good light conditions, an aspect in which the cameras usually shine, so you can imagine what happens when it starts to get dark.

When the light starts to go down, the noise becomes more and more evident. The low definition, the details disappear even more and everything is more blurred and less focused. In addition, if there are streetlights or strong lights, flashes worthy of J.J. Abrams. The front camera is not better either, so we can summarize by saying that both are anecdotally, and that nobody should expect great things from them.

As for the application of the camera, at first glance it seems quite simple, but as we get tangled in it we see that it has much more than it seems. Apart from the visible buttons to activate or deactivate the flash, HDR or timer, the application has a manual mode in which to adjust all the parameters that we need.

The size of the image, the ISO, the White Balance or the actions to be performed when we press the volume buttons, we can adjust everything to our liking. It also lets us disable the capture sound or choose where we store the photos. Finally we will have capture modes such as normal, panoramic or with effects and filters. As for the video, we can configure it to record with a quality of up to 1080p and with a maximum duration of 30 minutes.

See complete gallery »Photos taken with the Lenovo K5 (13 photos)

In short, the software of the camera has surprised me very pleasantly, although what Lenovo achieves with this is to leave a bad taste in my mouth to think how much it could have given itself if the camera and the processing software had been to the height.

Xataka's opinion

Being in front of a mobile of less than 200 euros, we must admit to Lenovo that it has done quite well. Gone are the times when for this money you had a little functional mobile, and with the Lenovo K5 we will have good fluidity, decent autonomy and the possibility of running any application without problems.

If we value the whole we are facing a well balanced mobile

Okay, it is true that they have tried to make a careful design and have stayed a bit along the way, and that the camera has ended up being one of the weak points that throws back more than one buyer, but if we value the whole set we are facing a well-balanced mobile to give you the majority of our day-to-day operations.

Apart from the camera, the subject of offering a slightly more careful UI is also pending, at least in our opinion. Fortunately Lenovo has predicted that it would not be liked by everyone, and has had the good idea to include a native option to use pure Android without having to install any extra software.

6,4

Design6.25 Screen6.5 Performance7 Camera5.5 Software6.25 Autonomy7

In favor

  • Price not too high.
  • Acceptable performance.
  • To be able to change the UI without problems.

Against

  • Very upgradeable customization layer.
  • A below average camera.
  • On paper the battery should give more of itself.

The tablet has been loaned for testing by Lenovo. Can inquire our policy of relationships with enterprises

Lenovo Vibe K5 - Free Android Smartphone (5 "screen, 13 Mp camera, 16 GB, Octa-Core 1.5 GHz, 2 GB RAM), silver color [Imported]

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