[Update in March 2015] After using the Lenovo Vibe Z for over a year now, I want to update the readers on what happened after this full year of usage. Battery wise, now it takes longer to charge the battery to 100%, 4+ hours and increasing. The phone used to last more than 2 days on full charge, now it can’t complete a day and a half of normal use. The screen is not as responsive as it used to be. The overall speed is less now, because of the updates that came out after its release. Still, this phone has served me well.

The Lenovo Vibe Z K910 is a smartphone (or cell phone for our American readers) from Chinese electronics giant Lenovo. The phone was released in late 2013 and at the time of writing those lines it lists for around $549.99 (or 1600 AED in Dubai, United Arab Emirates). It weighs 145.2 grams, or about 5 ounces, and is 149.1 mm (5.87 inches) in length, 77 mm (3.03 inches) in width, and 7.9 mm (0.31 inches) in height. Although it’s considered a BIG size phone, it uses 2 micro SIM cards.

That makes it still small enough to fit into a pocket easily, despite the fact that the previous elegant Lenovo Vibe X (reviewed earlier) line is smaller. Finally, the Lenovo Vibe Z runs on Android and it used to ship with Android OS, v4.3 (Jelly Bean), which can be easily upgradable to v4.4.2 (KitKat).

Before starting to use the Lenovo Vibe Z – Get A Cover!

This mobile / cell phone is HUGE. When I first received it, I found it hard to use as any normal phone. It would stick out from my shirt’s pocket, I’d feel worried if I tuck it in my trouser’s pocket, be it front or back. I’ve witnessed first hand how the screen’s glass resists scratches and smudges, but I’m afraid I can’t say the same about the back of the phone, which got bruised after some normal daily usage.

I had to buy a cover before I start using this phone. I searched the local market and found none. Turns out that the local dealer starts offering covers in the market 3-6 months after the launch of the phone. The online store AliExpress came to the rescue. I looked up covers for the Vibe Z, and lo and behold, I found plenty of good covers on offer. Did some searching, read some feedback and decided on buying the Mofi Flip Stand Leather Case as shown below.

A cover is a must-have for the Lenovo Vibe Z

A cover is a must-have for the Lenovo Vibe Z

For less than $9, that was a steal, specially that it was offered with Free International Shipping!! I picked the brown color, as I liked it more than the other colors. The cover arrived in the mail after around 21 days, and it was far better than I expected. Sturdy, leathery, and elegant. I love the Flip Stand option, as it allows me to watch videos and read eBooks, eMags, PDF files easily. In fact, this cover made me love that phone even more.

Lenovo Vibe Z – Features:

In terms of features, the Vibe Z K910 has a 5.5 inch IPS LCD touchscreen capable of 1080 x 1920 pixels with multi-touch. The screen is of the type Corning Gorilla Glass 3, which resists scratches and fingerprints to a great extent. The memory capacity of the device is 16BG (of which only 2GB for RAM), and this cannot be extended with an SD card, as there is no port for one. The phone has all the usual wireless connectivity features, but most importantly the 4G support.

Lenovo Vibe Z front and back.

Lenovo Vibe Z front and back.

Lenovo Vibe Z – The Tale of 2 Cameras

In the back, the Vibe Z pits a 13 megapixel primary camera with auto-focus and supported by a LED flash, and then there is a 5 megapixel secondary camera in the front. That secondary camera is significantly better than the industry standard of 2.1 megapixels, so applications like video chatting will be crisper than on other phones.Nothing great can be said about the back camera, apart from the fact that it shoots good photos when light conditions are good. If not, quality deteriorates quickly. Below you shall find 2 photos, same location, shot after each other, the first one taken by the Lenovo Vibe Z camera, the second – for comparison’s sake, was shot using the LG G2 phone.

This photo was taken with the camera of the Lenovo Vibe Z in the Normal mode.

This photo was taken with the camera of the Lenovo Vibe Z in the Normal mode.

The same photo taken with the camera of the LG G2 phone, again in Normal Mode.

The same photo taken with the camera of the LG G2 phone, again in Normal Mode.

Lenovo Vibe Z – The Camera and the Night Mode

Let’s just say that Lenovo has a long way to go before it can master night mode with its current line of cameras embedded in its mobile phones. The noise level and lack of sharp edges leave a lot to be desired. The following photos will explain why, and a picture is worth a thousand words. (The following photos were not re-touched by any photo-editing software).

Lenovo Vibe Z - Dubai, Burj Khalifa, Super Night Mode

Lenovo Vibe Z – Dubai, Burj Khalifa, Super Night Mode

Lenovo Vibe Z - Dubai, Fireworks on the beach, Super Night Mode

Lenovo Vibe Z – Dubai, Fireworks on the beach, Super Night Mode

Lenovo Vibe Z - Dubai, Fireworks on the JBR beach, Super Night Mode

Lenovo Vibe Z – Dubai, Fireworks on the JBR beach, Super Night Mode

Lenovo Vibe Z - Dubai City Line at night with Burj Khalifa , Auto Mode

Lenovo Vibe Z – Dubai City Line at night with Burj Khalifa , Auto Mode

Lenovo Vibe Z – The interface

The Lenovo Vibe Z K910’s chipset is the powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 800, which can handle games and other applications that are heavy on graphics and computing power without difficulty.

The Vibe Z has a different user interface than other Lenovo phones. Gone is the app tray and the ability to organize apps alphabetically- instead, the phone makes use of 18 customizable home screens to store apps or app folders. This takes some getting used to for users who liked the old interface. The UI also has some changes to the lock screen and notification panel, mostly cosmetic.

The Lenovo Vibe Z has some interesting usability features. The dialer will move to make one-handed dialing easier depending on the phone’s orientation, and the SmartCall feature answers the phone automatically when the user holds it up to his or her ear.

The ringer volume is louder when the phone is in the user’s pocket as it senses its surrounding automatically, and then becomes quieter when the user takes it out. The phone comes with a variety of security and data transfer apps as well as a few games. The GPS feature is worth mentioning as well, although a connection to the internet is a must, at least in the first few times of use.

How does it fare in the direct sun light? Well, for one, you need to disable Auto Brightness in direct sunlight situations as it won’t cope as good as it can be. Then you shall need to set Brightness to MAX to be able to use the phone under the sun, although it will do better in the shades. But who does use his / her phone under direct sunlight for long intervals anyway?

Lenovo Vibe Z – The Battery Life

The battery life is good- it can last for about eight hours when in 4G mode, which is the most demanding setting. 3G or standby modes will have longer battery life. That means the phone should be able to last through a day’s worth of use without needing a charge- a good benchmark.

The phone has some new features compared to previous Lenovo smartphones, most of which seem to be chosen for their coolness factor than convenience. The Vibe Z shows that Lenovo is trying to portray themselves as a long-term contender in the smartphone market by releasing this updated Android phone.

How long does it take to charge the Lenovo Vibe ?

As for charging the battery f the Lenovo Vibe phones, I found out that to gain a 1% of charge, it would take a full minute of charging. A full charge from a flat out battery should take 100 minutes, but it doesn’t as the phone slows down charging when it crosses around 90%. Something to do with enhancing the performance and expected lifetime of the cell phone’s battery. Still, that’s a decent performance in my book.

Lenovo Vibe Z – The Verdict

While it does not offer any groundbreaking innovation, the excellent secondary camera is a unique advantage for the Vibe Z. It might not have many special features, but neither does it have any particular weaknesses. It might be difficult to justify getting a smartphone for $449.99 from Lenovo, a brand that’s still considered new in the market.

I’ve been using this phone for few months now, and I can’t find a certain aspect to complain about, yes the camera is not that great in night time, yes the battery needs charging every 2 days, but then again majority of phones share those same ‘flaws’.

On the other hand, it’s considerably fast, the screen is still shiny and without a scratch. I love this phone, mainly because it allows me to watch videos on the move, which comes really handy when you have to wait for 30 minutes for a meeting or a cab.

Disclaimer: This phone was given to me for review by Lenovo Middle East, through their PR agency: Hill+Knowlton Strategies. Same thing for the LG G2 phone.