Lenovo K4 Note first impressions: all the makings of a blockbuster sequel

“The K4 Note has upped the stakes in the budget phablet category”

The past year turned out to be great for Chinese brand Lenovo, with many of its devices ranking high on the popularity charts. But if there’s one device which was the star of its portfolio, it’d be the K3 Note (review | FAQs) – a device which remained in the top spot for five months straight, in terms of user searches. That’s also why we nominated the device in our best budget phone of the year 2015 awards category, since it brings forth a solid combination of a full HD display, powerful innards and decent snappers – all at the affordable price tag of Rs 9,999.

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In a bid to start 2016 with a bang in India, Lenovo has today taken the covers off its successor, the K4 Note, even before its global unveiling. Priced at Rs 11,999, the phone aims to repeat the blockbuster success of its predecessor. While time will tell whether it’s able to do that, our initial impressions do suggest that it certainly has what it takes to achieve this. So, without further ado, here’s a first look at the Lenovo K4 Note.

Being a budget offering, the K3 Note focussed on the hardware aspect, and its design was nothing to write home about. Well, that’s not the case with its successor, as even though it’s priced affordably, it manages to offer an impressive design, thanks to the use of metal on its edges. The metal not only adds sturdiness to its frame, but also lends it a premium look and feel. Helping the ergonomics factor further are the dual curves at the back along with rounded corners.

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Another interesting change in the design language of the phablet is that it features dual speakers at the front, similar to HTC’s BoomSound setup. The speakers offer a rich sound experience, thanks to the use of Dolby ATMOS tech – a first for any smartphone speakers, which will surely please multimedia enthusiasts.

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Along with the speakers at the front, you’ll also find the secondary camera at the top and a row of capacitive buttons at the bottom, with the display being the centerpiece. The capacitive keys follow the usual Android guidelines, with the first key used to access recent apps, the home button at the center and and the return key at the end.

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The power button as well as the volume rocker can be found towards the right, while the left edge is bereft of any functional elements. Up top lies a 3.5mm audio interface, whereas the micro-USB port is present at the base.

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Lenovo has also jumped in on the latest trend of fingerprint sensors, since as soon as you flip the K4 Note over, what will catch your attention is a fingerprint module. Here you’ll also find a primary camera supplemented by a dual-tone LED flash, along with company’s branding towards the middle. The polycarbonate back can be pried open to access a pair of micro-SIM slots as well as a microSD card slot. Unfortunately, the rear panel is prone to smudges despite its matte finish.

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The brand is also highlighting the personalisation aspect of the K4 Note, as it will soon launch leather covers as well as replaceable wooden back covers for the device.

The display on the Lenovo K4 Note remains a 5.5-inch affair, the same as its predecessor. The display bears a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels, resulting in a rich pixel density of 401ppi. Unlike the K3 Note, its successor also gets a protective layer for the screen in the form of Corning Gorilla Glass 3.

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Under the hood, the Lenovo K4 Note draws power from MediaTek’s MT6753 SoC. The chipset offers eight cores running at 1.3GHz, and is paired with a Mali-T720 GPU. Lenovo has ensured that its latest offering doesn’t disappoint power users, since the processor is mated with 3 gigs of RAM. The combination is surely powerful – and we’ll be testing out its capabilities in our review soon. But what struck us as odd was that the Chinese brand has actually downgraded the clock speed of the SoC, as the K3 Note is equipped with a faster 1.7GHz octa-core processor (MediaTek MT6752).

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For storage, the K4 Note ships with 16GB of memory onboard, out of which around 8.7GB is available to the end user. You can also make use of the expansion slot, to extend the storage up to 128GB.

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On the software side of things, the K4 Note comes with Android 5.1 Lollipop. Like all Lenovo offerings, the OS is layered with brand’s custom Vibe UI, although it runs a lighter version. The difference is noticeable as the UI is a lot smoother, and you’ll also get a dedicated app drawer to access all the installed apps and games, instead of scrolling through the homescreens. There are only a couple of preloaded titles such as EzCast, SyncIt, and ShareIt among others.

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In the camera department, the Lenovo K4 Note sports a 13-megapixel shooter featuring an aperture of f/2.2 at the back. The camera boasts fast focussing capabilities thanks to the use of phase detection autofocus tech. It also gets help from a dual-tone LED flash for uniformly illuminating low-light environments. At the front, the device gets a 5MP snapper. While the rear camera is capable of recording full HD videos, the front-facing camera can shoot in 720p.

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The K4 Note scores high on the communication front, thanks to support for 4G on both its SIM slots and NFC, as well as the usual options like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS. It sips power from a 3,300mAh battery, which also supports Quick Charge tech.

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While the K4 Note surely offers bumped-up specs compared to its previous iteration, Lenovo is trying to move beyond spec wars with the phablet. Taking a leaf out of some other Chinese companies, the manufacturer is building an entire ecosystem around its products. That’s why it has partnered with Skullcandy to launch ANDO earphones, which are optimised for Lenovo’s smartphones, and are available as a separate purchase for Rs 1,299.

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That’s not all, the brand is also venturing into the currently-hot VR space by partnering with AntVR. The headset is compatible with the Lenovo K4 Note and offers an immersive experience, thanks to a split-screen mode on the phablet, dubbed as TheaterMax. What’s interesting about Lenovo’s implementation is that it can turn even normal content into virtual reality content.

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Following in the footsteps of its predecessor, the K4 Note offers killer hardware, at an attractive price point of Rs 11,999. With its multimedia abilities, it easily beats other large-screen options such as the ASUS ZenFone 2 (review | FAQs) and Panasonic Eluga Mark, available in this price band. While the VR headset can be purchased separately for Rs 1,299, as part of an introductory offer, it’ll be available as bundled with the K4 Note for a total price of Rs 12,499. Unfortunately, getting your hands on Lenovo’s latest offering will be easier said than done, since the company has opted for weekly flash sales on Amazon starting January 19th. We hope to bring you our review before that. 

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