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Lenovo K8 Note Review - A pound per pound GREAT?

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In case you missed it, Lenovo's promising K8 Note is currently priced at just PHP 8,990 until December 12, 2017 at Lazada's ongoing Online Revolution campaign.
Lenovo K8 Note Review - A pound per pound GREAT?
A heavyweight in specs for the price!

On paper, the Lenovo K8 Note has the very best specs you'll see on paper from any officially available smartphone in the Philippines at that price point today.

As a result, many are wondering if this handset can perform as good as it is on paper in real life.

To check that out, we used the phone as either our primary or secondary smartphone.

Here's our full review. Read on!


Display Quality

Lenovo K8 Note Review - A pound per pound GREAT!
FHD screen!

The Lenovo K8 Note boasts a 5.5-inch 1080p IPS panel w/ fine details at 401 pixels per inch.

The IPS panel renders colors quite well. It is slightly warm in tone even in the standard color mode. Considering that its not using AMOLED panel, saturation is there. Contrast and blacks are average.

Viewing angles are decent too. Brightness is rated at 450 nits, but it isn't that bright. It is enough, but it'll struggle a little outdoors.

Its adaptive auto-brightness is a bit erratic. There are times where it works nicely, but there are also occasions where it'll automatically adjust the lighting even if you don't need that adjustment.

It also has two color modes (standard and vibrant) and 10 points of touch.

Audio Quality

As an multimedia focused smartphone, we have high hopes on the audio quality of the K8 Note. On paper, it has this fancy Dolby Atmos audio effect that should give the users that "surround" sound feel.

Speaker output is pretty loud!

However, it only has a single speaker setup. So, the "surround" sound effect that it has is artificial. It won't really match phones w/ dual speakers.

But, don't get us wrong, the single speaker of the K8 Note sounded great for its low asking price! It's clean, crisp, and quite full. Just don't expect it to be HiFi grade and distortion free, but, this is a decent sounding speaker w/ nice loudness levels.
For headphones, output is balanced yet full. It can also play a wide range of audio formats including some lossless files like FLAC. Sound is quite clean and well layered most of the time too. It won't be just as full sounding and well layered versus higher-end smartphones w/ better internal DACs, but again, for the price, it sounding great. Driving power is isn't that loud though.

Microphone output is crisp! It's great for calls and decent for casual recordings and video recordings. Yes there's still noise, but it isn't as bad compared w/ most phones in its class and price range.

Battery Life

9 hours and 29 mins battery score

This handset boasts 4,000mAh battery. That's big for a phone w/ 5.5-inch screen and FHD resolution!
Battery is just average despite the large 4,000mAh battery

However, in real life, battery performance is just average for the screen size and this price point. In particular, our test recorded 9 hours and 30 mins of work battery life. That's decent!

But, it is just the same score that we normally get from phones w/ lower mAh of battery. Maybe, the Helio X23 chip has something to do w/ it. It could be a power hungry processor.

Fortunately, charging time is quite fast. This handset comes w/ 15W turbo charging power brick that can charge the phone from 0 to 100% in 2 hours.

Camera

Dual camera setup!

Behind, the Lenovo K8 Note has the highest dual camera specs at this price point yet. It has a 13MP f/1.7 + 5MP PDAF setup w/ dual tone LED flash. Normally, phones w/ bright and wide f/1.7 lens are found in the over PHP 16K price tag.
The camera interface

Moreover, it has a simple interface w/ easy to use and useful modes. In particular, we like that it has auto HDR, grids for guides, scene detection, and pro mode. The pro mode is a bit limited, but you can manually adjust the ISO up to 3,200, white balance, exposure value, and focus. Shutter speed can be adjusted too, but only from 1/600 to 1/3 of a second.

It even has depth effect for creamy background blurs or bokeh. It is adjustable from f/1.2 to f/2.8. Looks good right?

In real life, camera performance is just fine. But, it is inconsistent.

Focus is average in speed and can focus closely, but shutter speed is quite slow. Yes, even in daylight, shutter speed is slow. As a result, 1 out of our 3 shots are out of focused or blurred.

But, when you get it right, picture quality is GREAT! Like what we mentioned in our first impressions, the K8 Note delivered images w/ well balanced colors, fine details, good exposure, and decent dynamic range in daylight. HDR can also improve contrast and details when needed.

The depth effect for bokeh is interesting. It blurs the background deeply and can produce nice portraits. But, Lenovo needs to clean its edges to deliver more natural looking background blurs. It will also downsize the pixel size to just 7MP.

Since it has an f/1.7 aperture size, lowlight shots are decent! It delivered slightly better details and dynamic range than most phones w/ f/2.0 or higher aperture. Yes, it still has noise, again, it isn't that bad. Just don't expect it to perform like higher-end smartphones in the over 20K price range. Use the flash when needed.

Overall, to our eyes, this type of camera output quality can even compete w/ some over PHP 12K phones.

However, Lenovo badly needs to improve its software to make it more consistent and make the shutter speed faster.

Rear Camera Samples

HDR against the light
HDR against the light
Daylight shot
Daylight shot
Close-up auto
f/1.2 daylight
f/1.2 daylight
f/1.2 indoor
f/1.2 indoor
Giant lasagna at Buca di Beppo Philippines
Giant lasagna at Buca di Beppo Philippines
Giant meatballs close-up at Buca di Beppo Philippines
Giant meatballs close-up at Buca di Beppo Philippines
Lowlight sample
Lowlight sample

In front, this handset highlights a 13MP f/2.0 selfie shooter w/ auto HDR, pro mode, scene detection, and softlight LED flash. It also has a decent type of face beauty mode w/ auto or manual mode.
Selfie camera interface
Selfie camera interface

Quality and colors are fine as long as you are in daylight. In lowlight, it'll struggle, so make sure that you'll use the flash.

Selfie Camera Samples

Daylight groufie
Daylight groufie
Selfie w/ auto face beauty
Selfie w/ auto face beauty
Blurry lowlight selfie
Blurry lowlight selfie
Lowlight selfie w/ flash
Lowlight selfie w/ flash

For videos, both the main and front cameras can shoot up to 1080p 30 fps in quality. As expected, the dual main cameras was able to record the better videos w/ nicer color reproduction, contrasts, and less shakes. It is still shaky due to lack of stabilzation like OIS, but quality is fine. 
Video performance in front is good enough for video calls and casual recordings in daylight. Just don't expect much from it.

Video Samples


Performance

Antutu and Geekbench scores

Performance is not perfect, but at this price point, this phone is arguably the speediest for the price! It's the only handset we know packed w/ 64-bit Helio X23 deca-core processor clocked at 2.3GHz. Yes, it has 10-cores!

Highest specs at this price point!

It is paired w/ Mali-T880MP4 GPU that's good enough for heavy gaming, 4GB RAM for silky smooth multitasking, and 64GB expandable storage (that's large enough for the price).

In real life, this phone is blazing fast for the price! Hiccups are rare on casual opening, closing of apps, and even switching from an app to another. As expected, due to its 4GB RAM, multitasking is great. You can open multiple apps w/ ease.


Gaming is also great. It can run most of the heavy 3D games on all high settings! But, when then phone gets warm, throttling would be present. Thermal management should also be better.

Stock Nougat OS
Stock Nougat OS

Software is clean! It almost have no bloats. Interface is stock so it is easy to use in general. It even has TheaterMax VR split-screen mode that supports VR apps, videos, and even games.

The best part? Lenovo promised that this phone will receive the new Android 8.0 Oreo update sometime early next year.

The rest of the phone experience is seamless. Fingerprint scanner is accurate, LTE is present (it has no 700MHz though), Bluetooth is stable, OTG is present, gyroscope for AR and VR works, WiFi signal is stable, and GSM signal is mostly strong.

Pros - Sturdy metal build, splash resistance, speediest processor for the price, 4GB RAM, 64GB expandable storage, decent lowlight camera performance, softlight LED flash in front, LTE
Cons - Average battery life, slow camera shutter speed, thermal management could be better

Verdict

The Lenovo K8 Note is a must consider if you are looking for a power house phone in the sub PHP 10K range. At its current PHP 8,999 price point, the bang per buckness is almost unbeatable for now.

However, Lenovo needs to improved on the above-mentioned weaknesses. The camera should have speedier focus and thermal management should better.

Other than that, this is phone is a beast!

Build / Design - 4
Display - 4
Audio - 4
Battery - 4
Camera - 4.25
Performance - 4.25
Average - 4.083 / 5
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