Lenovo K8 Note Review: Striking a balance between the spec-sheet and real world usage
Reviews
Throughout the year, Lenovo has concentrated all its effort on flooding the market with Moto phones. So much so that it was after a long wait of 11 months that Lenovo launched one of its own phones, one from its popular Note series - The Lenovo K8 Note. At the launch, Lenovo justified the long break saying it was out there finding out what users are really looking for in a phone. So is the Lenovo K8 Note the answer to all that people have been asking for in a phone?


On paper, this phone is packed with features usually seen in mid-range and flagship devices. Dual cameras, high-definition audio, the latest stock Android, bright display and a 10-core processor. The spec-sheet itself should convince anyone to go for the phone. However, specs tell only part of the story. It's the user experience at the end that determines whether a phone is worthy of your money. With stalwarts like the Redmi Note 4 and the Moto G5 prowling the market, does it have what it needs to beat the heat and come out on top?

The Good


The Lenovo K8 Note is everything at once. It doesn't shy away from offering all the things one needs from a phone. A good-enough camera. Long battery. Fast performance. Good looks. A decent display and what not. Lenovo has positioned the phone to be an entertainment device and for the most part, it is quite entertaining.

The most noticeable aspect of the phone is of course the twin cameras on the back. At a price of Rs 12,999 this is a steal of a deal. The Honor 6X and the Coolpad Cool 1 are the only phones at that price range to offer the same. And just like them, the K8 Note also leverages the 13-megapixel + 5-megapixel dual sensors to allow the control of depth of field in photos. The result is a blurred background with the object in focus. The K8 Note goes a step further and offers some post-production abilities like 'Selective B&W', 'Replace Background' and 'Selective Focus'. These help bring a refreshing change to the way you can compose photographs.

Lenovo K8 Note

The phone boasts of Dolby Atmos enhanced audio. This is leveraged using the Dolby app in the phone where you turn on the knob and tweak the equalizer to get a well-balanced output. There are individual optimisation for movies, music, games and voice and then there is a dynamic setting that automatically detects the kind of media playing and adjust the audio accordingly. The feature is useful if you have a good pair of headphones to go with the phone.


The look and feel of the phone is also quite premium. While it won't get any points for innovation, the design is functional at best. The K8 Note uses 5000 series aluminium for its unibody chassis and sports a minimalist look with a polished matte back. We received the Venom Black variant for review and it does look quite classy. The dual cameras are vertically arranged in the center with the LED flash beside it and the fingerprint sensor just below it. The K8 Note also comes with a dedicated music button that can play/pause music even when the screen is off. It's useful if you remember it's there.

The phone is powered by a raging deca-core processor by MediaTek. The processor has three power clusters, each designed to handle different types of tasks. Consider the processor as a car and the core clusters as its gearbox. Depending on the workload, the processor engages the right core cluster to get the most efficient output much like shifting gears to achieve more speed. Because of the hardware, this phone demands that you play the most graphically intensive games. So we did. We raced in Asphalt 8 and the performance was impeccable. Fast loading times. No drops in frame rates. We worked on our articles and researched on Chrome and kept a lot of apps running in the background. Nothing. Still as fast. We are curious to see how the phone holds up over the long term.


And while we are talking about performance, it would be injustice to not praise Lenovo's decision to adopt stock Android. Finally. Perhaps it's the time the company spent with the Moto team, but something made Lenovo ditch the clunky Vibe UI for a vanilla Android experience. The K8 Note runs on Android 7.1.1 Nougat with minimal modifications. The stock Android combined with the fast processor makes the phone feel super fast and snappy. We are also hopeful that Lenovo will not hold back the Android updates in the future especially with Android Oreo right around the corner.

The phone doesn't shy away from VR as well. Lenovo's TheatreMax technology mirrors the phone screen into two which gives a VR-esque experience when viewed through the AntVR headset introduced with the Lenovo K6 Note.

The Bad

As we stated in the beginning, the spec-sheet is only part of the story. It's only when you actually get down to using the device as your daily driver will you start noticing certain quirks and lapses.


The K8 Note banks heavily on its dual cameras. A 13-megapixel PureCel sensor to capture the colours and a 5-megapixel BSI sensor for the depth information. It promises those fancy blurred portraits like the iPhone 7 Plus but like an over enthusiastic amateur, it goes overboard with the depth of field. There tends to be heavy blurring around the edges of the object so much so that it renders the shot quite artificial. The camera app also takes its own sweet time to focus on objects, often going back and forth wasting precious time. While it'd be easy to boast about having a dual-camera on your phone, you wouldn't get the satisfaction out of this one. The front camera too isn't all that great. It comes with its own LED flash which we recommend never to turn on unless you want a noisy memory of your night out with friends.

Now, the K8 Note is quite the performer no doubt. A 10-core processor will assure you that. But what we look for in a phone is sustained performance. And if you continue playing Asphalt 8 on this phone for more than 30 minutes, you better have heat resistant gloves with you because the K8 Note is likely to singe your hands. There's considerable heating in the phone and that happens even when you are doing mundane tasks like recording a video, browsing the internet or watching a movie.


Despite boasting a Dolby Atmos certified audio, the loudspeaker on the K8 Note is meh. We tested the sound inside our newsroom and we had to struggle to hear what's playing. There's too much optimisation at play here and the result is quite inaudible in a noisy environment.

Because of the supercharged processor, the 4,000mAh battery on the phone isn't quite enough. The processor draws a lot of power even when it's idle which allows the phone to plough through just about a day. The Turbo Charger does makes things a bit easier though.

Should you buy it?


The Lenovo K8 Note isn't a bad phone per se. But it promises a lot and fails to deliver. As a daily driver, the phone will just about do its job. It won't stutter or lag and will take you through the day. But anything over and above that, you will start facing issues. With the budget segment giving a lot of options, we recommend you spending your Rs 13k on a phone like the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 or even the recently launched Coolpad Cool Play 6.