Back in 2005, Lenovo acquired IBM's PC division to strengthen its position in the computers business. Today, it's the numero uno PC manufacturer beating biggies such as HP and Dell. After buying out the Motorola's phone device decision from Google, the Chinese manufacturer will definitely want to replicate its success story in the smartphone space. It has recently launched the Vibe Z2 Pro that has potential to take on most flagship phones.
Design Lenovo's recent premium phones have uncanny resemblance with Sony's Xperia line-up. The Vibe Z2 Pro is not exception — from front it looks like the Xperia Z3. That said, I must admit that the Vibe Z2 Pro's metallic unibody feels relatively better when compared to Sony's slippery glass back. Another noteworthy thing is the thin bezels. It reduces the handset's footprint, but adversely affects handling. Due to small bezels you unknowingly end up clicking objects on the touchscreen.
At 7.7 mm, the Vibe Z2 Pro is impressively thin. It does have a protruding camera lens though. And at that point, the handset is around 1 cm thick. However, thickness is not a problem here. It's the sheer size that hampers this mobile phone's portability. Forget one-handed use, the phone doesn't properly fit in the pocket. Oh and whatever Lenovo has done around the camera looks weird. The red contour, black metal, and four screws look completely out of place.
The phone has capacitive navigation keys with back-lighting. Lock button is on the right hand side. SIM slot sits besides that. On the opposite side is a volume rocker. Speaker grille and a micro-USB port are on the bottom side. Since it's a unibody design, the battery is non-user replaceable.
Display The Vibe Z2 Pro comes with a 6-inch Quad-HD display. With the screen resolution of 1440x2560, it has impressive pixel density of 490 ppi. Needless to say, the screen is very sharp. If you are wondering if it is any better than those Full HD screens, the answer is 'No'. Unless you use magnifying glass, you cannot tell a difference between the Full HD and Quad HD one. Since it is an IPS panel you get good colour reproduction and wide viewing angles. Thanks to Lenovo's software, you get three viewing modes namely default, comfort, and super bright. You also get an option to manually adjust tone, saturation, and contrast. Lastly, there's a Gorilla Glass 3 for scratch resistance.
Specifications Lenovo's Vibe Z2 Pro comes with a quad-core Snapdragon 801 chipset clocked at 2.5 GHz. There's Adreno 330 GPU to handle gaming. Multitasking is taken care off by 3 GB RAM. In the photography department, you get a 16 megapixel autofocus camera with OIS (Optical Image Stabilisation) and 5 front-facing snapper for selfies. The dual-SIM phone supports 4G LTE. Other connectivity options include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, micro-USB 2.0 port, and NFC. The phone lacks a microSD card slot, but the onboard 32 GB of internal storage is more than enough. To keep this powerful phone running, there's a huge 4000 mAh battery.
Software The Vibe Z2 Pro ships with Android 4.4 (KitKat). Like most Chinese brands, Lenovo has heavily modified the user interface, and the result is hideous. The Vibe 2.0 UI, as Lenovo likes to call it is mess that combines garish interface elements and bad selection of colours. The phone comes with six themes — DaVinci, Pulse, Age, Ribbon, Less is more, and Mirage (the default one). Of these, not a single one is pleasant to look at.
If you think the Koreans were bad at software design, you have to see what this Chinese brand has done here. The icons and folder view are a cheap imitation of Apple's iOS. To stand out, Lenovo has added a feature that lets you change a wallpaper using the page flip gesture. It's great, if you want to impress some 12 year old kids.
Like any high-end Android phones these days, the Vibe Z2 Pro comes with obligatory gesture controls. As usual, all these call gesture, video gesture, shake lock are a hit and miss affair. In addition to that, they make you look silly. Another thing worth mentioning is the micro screen. Draw a 'C' from the edge of the screen and the screen area shrinks in a weird way. Rather than explaining it in words, I'm posting screenshots.
Fancy features take a toll and resources. So I was not shocked to see almost 2.4 GB of Random Access Memory hogged without any app running in the background. While I didn't like the user experience, the phone is incredibly powerful. If you are into gaming, you should buy console this phone won't disappoint you.
Media Apart from gaming, the Vibe X2 Pro shines when it comes to content consumption. Movies look amazing on this handset. The built-in video plays many popular formats. If in case you want advance controls, you can download quality third-party video players from Google's app repository.
After making so many unnecessary changes to Android, Lenovo seems to have forgotten to develop its own music app. So you have to count on Play Music app to look after your songs collection. The phone ships with decent earphones. More importantly, the phone's sound output is very good. When paired with good IEMs from Sony, I was happy with the depth in sound.
Camera The Vibe Z2 Pro comes with a 16 megapixel camera with dual-LED flash. The camera assembly features OIS (Optical Image Stabilisation). Lenovo camera app offers two ways of snapping photos — basic and professional mode. The latter is a shameless copy of Nokia's (Microsoft) Lumia camera app introduced with the Lumia 1020. Lenovo has taken the liberty to copy every aspect of the Lumia camera.
The camera produces good results in daylight. The images contain impressive amount of detail. However, the colours don't look accurate. What's disappointing is that the low-light shots disappoint you with rampant visual noise.
Video recording is where you the OIS actually makes the difference. The camera skilfully cancels minor hand-shakes. It records QHD videos at 30 fps.
Cellular During my week's usage, the phone's network reception was very good. In the messaging department, you get Swype + Dragon along with the standard Google keyboard.
Battery Supporting pixel-packed screens and absurdly powerful processor takes a toll on the battery life. Under normal use the juice only lasts for over a day. I know what you are thinking. The thing has a 4000 mAh battery right? Well, without optimisation that's just a number.
Verdict The Lenovo Vibe Z2 Pro is proof that smartphone makers are running out of ideas. For most of these brands innovations mean big screen and fast processor. So yes, the Vibe Z2 Pro scores well in terms of fire-power. However, Lenovo has sidelined ergonomics and user experience. And if I'm spending around 33 grand, I would not put up with a phone that features tasteless interface.