With such frequent launch of handsets, Lenovo is looking to dominate the mid-range smartphone market. A segment which has already been seeing a lot of attention by the big brands has got another handset today. Lenovo has launched their metal body handset, the Vibe K5 Plus, the device that was unveiled at the MWC Expo in Barcelona has seen a quite aggressive pricing in India. The handset was released at $149 price couple of weeks ago, but the company has decided to market it at a lower price of Rs 8,499, which is approximate at $126. By that, you can understand how clear-cut the Indian smartphone market is, especially the mid-range segment. Technically, it can be said as the most budgeted handset with a metal body.
Our readers have been asking for the comparison between the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 and the Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus, but before it actually launches in the country we were skeptical that would be a good competitor in mid range. But with such pricing, Lenovo might have nailed it. Let’s find by doing a comparison shall we.
They both sports metal construction design and from the first looks of it, the Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus might be a sturdy handset. As well as it measures at 142 grams, quite lighter than Redmi Note 3 at 164 grams. And to be honest, the Xiaomi handset doesn’t feel that heavy for a full metal bodied handset. Of course, the display size that Lenovo offers is 0.5-inch smaller in size, but you have to look at the bright side, it’s a lighter handset, much sleeker and offers a sturdy feel. It provides the capacitive buttons like Redmi Note 3, but they aren’t lit up in low light. Thus, making it difficult to operate in the dark light. One thing that I would like to address is that it has a feather finish, so on the rear side, so you will not have the same slippery situation while holding this handset. It was of the few things that Xiaomi forgot to perfect. They both come in three color variants, gold and silver is common color among them. Do make a note that Lenovo handset comes with aluminum casing, but isn’t a fully metal bodied handset.
Talking about the displays on these handsets, we are yet to do an extensive review of the Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus, unlike Xiaomi Redmi Note 3. Despite spending a short time with the K5 Plus at MWC event and the launch venue in India, we had a good experience. It has a 5-inch 1080p screen resolution, which is like a premium feature for a sub 10K priced handset. Lenovo has so many devices in the range that this handset directly competes with them, such as A7000, A6000 Plus, and the K3 Note, although, out of these three handsets two are phablet. And with a small screen size at full HD resolution, means more pixel density. So, when compared with 5.5-inch full HD display on the Redmi Note 3, it has a pixel density of 401 PPI (Pixel Per Inch) against the 441 PPI. Meanwhile, it also supports TheatreMax widescreen cinematic experience using the VR headset. This additional accessory will cost you extra bucks. If you’re into such new things, it’s good to have support for virtual reality. We can’t comment on the sunlight legibility and viewing angles currently, but we hope they are pretty good. Lenovo hasn’t specified what kind of protection the display has while Xiaomi offers just an oleophobic coating. It might not be as useful as a Corning Gorilla Glass, but at least, we have clearance on what is protecting the display there.
Both the handsets are powered by a Qualcomm chipset; one is an Octa-core chipset while the other one is Hexa-core. Now you might be wondering that more cores mean more horsepower, well, it doesn’t exactly work like that. See the Snapdragon 616 on the Lenovo smartphone has eight cores they all are Cortex A53s, but four of them clock at 1.2GHz while the remaining four at 1.5GHz. But the Snapdragon 650 on the Redmi Note 3 comes with six cores; four of them are A53 while the remaining two are A72. And that’s what make the performance on Xiaomi handset such powerful as you might have read on my detailed review. Such kind of horsepower that even came close to beating the Exynos 7420 and Qualcomm’s own SD 810 chipset on the OnePlus 2 wouldn’t you say it’s more than just a mid-range performance. Moving on to the RAM & internal storage, Lenovo houses 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage, while the Xiaomi device comes with two options 2GB RAM/16GB storage or 3GB RAM/32GB storage. It’s pretty daunting performance on the Redmi Note 3 when compared with any other mid-ranger. On top of that, the Lenovo lacks a fingerprint sensor.
In term of the software experience, they both run on their different custom skins, while Lenovo has a Vibe UI, Xiaomi has MIUI. These two skins are based on the Android Lollipop 5.1 but don’t expect it to offer similar user experience. The MIUI is known for its frequent software updates and ever growing community on MIUI forum, so you get plenty of support just for the software. Interestingly, Xiaomi has more people working on their software team than their hardware team. They both doesn’t have an app drawer, which is so iOS-like. The Vibe UI feels like at very basic level of customization, while MIUI has a ton of customization features, starting from appearances. It’s not just about how these UIs look, but rather should offer a feel of intuitiveness. That can be experienced on the Xiaomi software but not on the Lenovo.
Apart from the performance, there is a significant difference between these two handsets regarding the camera package. The Lenovo phone comes with a 13-megapixel OmniVision module with f/2.2 aperture number and LED flash support. The Xiaomi phone comes with a 16-megapixel unknown sensor with f/2.0 Aperture. The brand recently released an OTA update that made already good camera into a better one by bringing in the enhancement for daylight captures. Xiaomi has certainly upped its game for the mid-range, it is probably the only handset in sub 10K to sport a 16MP module on the rear side. I can absolutely say; the winner is the Redmi Note 3, no doubt about it. But if you’re looking to see some camera samples of the Vibe K5 Plus, you would be seeing that in a detailed review, which we would be posting soon enough. What’s more interesting is that you can find 4K video recording on the Xiaomi handset with Google Camera app, which I’m sure is not even supported by the Lenovo’s camera module.
This is the third major difference and win for Redmi Note 3; you ask why? Well, because it has a large 4050mAh battery, which is the high-density battery capable of fast charging as well. While on the other hand, there is a 2750mAh capacity battery. Though, Lenovo being smart in marketing is touting its small battery as an interchangeable one. But how many of you actually like to carry an extra battery. No, one! We have been using the Xiaomi handset as our primary device doing heavy usage, and it still manages to give more than 5 hours of battery life. I’m sure, that K5 Plus, wouldn’t able to do the same despite a smaller display size because Vibe UI and SD 616 isn’t efficient enough to offer such kind of optimized battery life.
The deal breaker is a camera, battery, and performance on the Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus when compared with Redmi Note 3, the K5 Plus just doesn’t have much to offer. But don’t mistake it for being a weak device; if you remove Xiaomi handset from the question, it has a lot to offer for its pricing. While Indian audience has many options to choose some of the most popular mid-range handsets hasn’t seen the day of light in European or even in the United States. I guess that is something we should be happy about. So, what is your choice? Shoot your queries in the comments section below.