Lenovo has kicked off 2016 with the new Vibe K4 Note smartphone. Those familiar with Lenovo’s Note series might get puzzled with the addition of the Vibe moniker to the name, especially given the success of Lenovo K3 Note last year. Head of Product and Marketing at Lenovo Smartphones in India, Anuj Sharma, clarified that the new K4 Note has been integrated with the Vibe series of smartphones. While we are not sure if this has anything to do with the rumours that Lenovo may discontinue its Vibe range to prevent cannibalisation of Motorola sales, Sharma yet again asserted “Vibe” range is not going anywhere.
Lenovo at the Delhi launch event on Tuesday also showed some statistics to show how popular theLenovo K3 Note really is in the country. The handset was the third most searched phone in 2015, based on Google’s release data for India, and the company had sold around 1.2 million units. While announcing the K4 Note, Sudhin Mathur, Director Smartphones, Lenovo Group, stressed the fact that the Vibe K4 Note was not a mere upgrade to the Lenovo K3 Note.
The Chinese company has thrown several features into its new “bumped” Lenovo Vibe K4 Noteincluding dual front firing speakers powered by Dolby Atmos, fingerprint scanner, and an all new TheaterMax VR technology. Lenovo at the launch event also announced the Ant VR headset that will (optionally) come bundled with the Vibe K4 Note and will also retail separately for a standalone price of Rs. 1,299.
At the launch, we got to spend a little time with the new Lenovo Vibe K4 Note and the Ant VR headset. We will come to the handset in a while but to start off, the Ant VR headset looks promising. The overall build of the Ant VR headset for Lenovo handsets was definitely better than the one seen on the Google Cardboard, which is also an inexpensive VR headset. The company in one of its presentation slides compared the Ant VR to other headsets such as Oculus VR. Lenovo with the Ant VR headset definitely wants to tap to the new Indian consumers who haven’t had a chance to experience virtual reality. Unfortunately, at the launch Lenovo declined to name any of the content partners it was working with especially for the TheaterMax technology and Ant VR headset.
The company kept stressing that the TheaterMax technology that comes built-in on the new Vibe K4 Note bundled with the Ant VR headset will allow consumers to experience media content such as movies, games, and other content in a cinematic experience. On usage, the Ant VR headset combined with Lenovo’s new TheaterMax technology looked refreshing and basically changed any multimedia content into a virtual reality experience offering a 100 degree diagonal field of view. The Ant VR headset packs an aspherical lens and sports a folding design. The device weighs 160 grams and has 100 degree viewing angle. The company without naming any of the handsets has confirmed that the Ant VR headset will be compatible with all new Lenovo phones with 5- to 6-inch display. Of course the real test will come when we use the Ant VR headset in the real world as part of our detailed review process and share our findings with you.
Coming to the Lenovo Vibe K4 Note, the handset doesn’t look anything like its predecessor, the K3 Note. The company claims that the K4 Note was built from scratch. It will be available in India in Matte Black colour only.
For those unaware, here are the full specifications of the Vibe K4 Note.
The phone is comfortable to hold with just one hand despite the large 5.5-inch screen size. The company has added a soft touch back which gives a good grip to the rear panel during regular usage. The front panel is mainly dominated by the display but the dual front speakers do add boldness to the handset. We tried the speakers on the Vibe K4 Note at the launch event and they did sound exciting and definitely different from regular speakers seen on mid-range handsets. The phone ships with metal frames on the sides that give the device a durable feel.
The front houses three capacitive buttons for recent apps, home, and back options. The company at the launch said that the Vibe K4 Note will ship with a light version of the Vibe UI based on Android 5.1 Lollipop. The unit we used for limited period came with nearly stock Android UI with some tweaks made by Lenovo. The handset’s home screen came with a Theme centre app that included various options to customise the theme on the handset.
The right panel houses physical buttons for volume rocker and power. The front comes with no branding while the rear sports a Lenovo moniker on the middle panel while the Dolby Atmos is present at the bottom. The newly added feature – fingerprint scanner – has been placed just below the rear camera and is square in shape. Unfortunately, we couldn’t test the fingerprint sensor on the phone at the launch. The rear panel opens up to offer dual-SIM slots and microSD card slot.
In our limited time spent with the Lenovo Vibe K4 Note, we noticed that it handled all the multitasking and switching from one app to another pretty easily without any lag. The 13-megapixel rear camera on the Vibe K4 Note clicked images in normal indoor lighting to be vibrant with proper colours showing up. Low light shots also seemed above average. The front 5-megapixel camera also looked fine.
We will however reserve our verdict on Vibe K4 Note’s performance and camera until we get a chance to put it through its paces for a detailed review.
With the VR play in Vibe K4 Note, Lenovo has risen the bar for other smartphones in the same price segment. For the Indian market, 2016 may be the year when handset makers moved beyond just the specifications.
The Vibe K4 Note has been priced at Rs. 11,999 and will be available exclusively from Amazon India in a flash model starting January 19. The company in an attempt to make the overall package even interesting has also announced a Vibe K4 Note bundle with AntVR virtual reality headset priced at Rs. 13,299. Lenovo has said that the first few flash sales will only feature the Lenovo Vibe K4 Note VR Bundle, which will be available at a special price of Rs. 12,499 for a “short time”. Considering the fact that the Vibe K4 Note has been launched first in India and will be available only in India for initial few months, the Chinese company is definitely betting heavily on the popularity of its Note series.
At this price point, one of the biggest competitors of the Lenovo Vibe K4 Note is the company’s ownMoto G (Gen 3) (Review).