Saying that the Indian smartphone market, especially the sub-Rs 10,000 segment, is crowded will be an understatement. If you have been closely following the smartphone launches for last couple of years, most of the smartphones in the budget segment follow one philosophy – offer relatively high-end specifications at affordable prices. From customers’ point of view, it’s actually not a bad thing to have so many choices, mostly good ones. But at the same time, it has almost become difficult for brands to offer something “new” each time they are offering a new smartphone, considering that price and specifications no longer have the same pull. Lenovo, which has been in fray for quite some time, is now looking to move beyond the specifications war and focus on experience, which perhaps could start off a new trend in a segment that currently appears to be mundane. Also Read - Tablet sales rose drastically in 2020, e-learning demands cited as reason
Earlier this month, Lenovo launched the K6 Power smartphone, which is priced at Rs 9,999. Just like with some other competing smartphones in this segment, the K6 Power comes with the tried and tested Snapdragon 430 processor and 3GB of RAM along with popular features like VoLTE support and a fingerprint scanner. The K6 Power, however, isn’t just about specifications. Aimed at multimedia hungry millennials, the smartphone comes with Dolby Atmos for superior audio, TheaterMax for widescreen virtual cinematic experience and a full HD display with pixel density of 441ppi, 450-nit brightness and 178-degree viewing angles. Living up to its ‘Power’ moniker, the smartphone has a large 4,000mAh battery as well. Also Read - Lenovo Legion 5 AMD review: A gaming laptop that nails the basics
The Lenovo K6 Power takes on the current budget champions, the Redmi 3s Prime and Redmi 3 Note from the house of Xiaomi. I have been using the Lenovo K6 Power for over a week as my primary smartphone. Let’s find out whether the K6 Power is actually a standout device that finally brings something “new” to the table, or just another high-specced smartphone in the crowded market. Read on. Also Read - Today's Tech News: Lenovo Tab P11 Pro launched in India, Samsung Galaxy F62 specs confirmed
Lenovo K6 Power Design
Even though the popular trend is to have a big screen smartphone, Lenovo believes smaller is better. Having spent quality time with the smartphone, I believe Lenovo has gotten it mostly right.
Let’s begin with what’s good. Since it is a 5-inch smartphone, it has that compact look and feel. Keeping up with the trend, the Lenovo smartphone has a metal body with gently curved corners, and thin antenna lines at the back. Following the design language of the Vibe K5 Note, the Lenovo K6 Power too has a symmetrical design with the camera lens, flash and fingerprint scanner followed by Lenovo branding at the bottom falling in one line.
The front is dominated by the display, front camera and LED notification light on top whereas the capacitive touch buttons for navigation are at the bottom. The volume and power buttons are located on the right while the left side houses the hybrid slot for the microSD and SIM cards. Oddly enough, the 3.5mm audio jack and micro-USB ports are located at the top while the base is plain. The smartphone easily fits in your palms with the volume and power buttons at the side, and fingerprint sensor at the back within easy reach. You can comfortably perform single-handed tasks on this phone.
But then there some low points as well. Besides a compact screen size, the Lenovo K6 Power doesn’t really look very different from a lot of Chinese smartphones featuring metal bodies. Also, at 144 grams, the smartphone feels pretty heavy and is actually fairly thick at 9.3mm.
Lenovo K6 Power Display, UI, and features
As said earlier, the Lenovo K6 Power aims to woo users who like to extensively consume multimedia on the go. The 5-inch full HD display has a pixel density of 441ppi, 450-nit brightness, and 178-degree viewing angles. All of this in a smaller screen gives fairly a better experience while watching high resolution videos or even playing graphic intensive games. However, the experience is best when you are indoors. Under direct sunlight, you may struggle to see the content on device as the display gets a bit reflective and you may need to manually increase brightness. The auto-brightness doesn’t quickly adapt itself to the light conditions you are in. Fortunately, these are not issues grave enough to mar the overall experience.
Speaking of experience, one of the biggest strengths of the smartphone is the bouquet of features that let you further personalize the experience. The Lenovo K6 Power runs on Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow-based Pure UI. The interface is plain cold stock Android with some added customizations. It’s fluid and easy to get familiar with.
While it retains Marshmallow’s core feature likes Google Now on Tap, it comes with a slew of custom features like knock to light, which lets you double tap while the screen is off to light up the screen. It has a Smart Scene mode, which lets you customize volume and other features such as GPS and Bluetooth according to the place you are in. For example, you can customize it to Office mode, selecting weekdays and a time period between 9am to 10pm, where it will keep all settings tuned to suit the office environment. This could include keeping your phone on silent, or turning off the GPS inside the office where you’re unlikely to need it.
Another major feature is ‘Dual app profile’, which lets you set up two accounts of specific apps, such as WhatsApp or WeChat, simultaneously. This feature has already made its way to a lot of phones from brands such as Xiaomi and Coolpad in this segment. All of these features can be accessed by going to Settings > Feature.
The fingerprint scanner on the Lenovo K6 Power can read up to five stored fingerprints. It is fairly easy to set up and can also be used as a shutter button for the camera. It isn’t as fast as I would have liked, as the display takes its own time to switch on after I’ve already activated it.
There’s an App Lock feature that lets you lock apps such as Gallery and WhatsApp via the fingerprint scanner. To start, you need to go to Settings > Security> scroll down to App Lock > set a pattern or pin. The apps that have been locked will appear with a lock icon on the front end.
Besides these personalization features, the Lenovo K6 Power comes with Dolby Atmos for an ‘enhanced’ audio experience. The stereo speakers are pretty loud while the sound quality over the bundled headphones is also quite good. I played a few bass-heavy tracks on the phone, which I think is satisfactory, though slightly flat. However, vocals-based songs were pretty well handled. Unlike a few others in this segment, the K6 Power has a decent speakerphone that is very usable on its own. Lenovo lets you further customize the experience with a dedicated app for Dolby wherein you can choose from different pre-loaded sound modes such as Movies, Music and Voice. If you aren’t a fan of Dolby’s audio tweaks, you can simply turn it off.
Even though virtual reality is in nascent stages, and perhaps there aren’t enough takers for VR headsets, Lenovo has continued to put its faith in TheaterMax technology, which delivers widescreen virtual cinematic experience on the smartphone. This technology has been on some of the previous Lenovo phones such as the Vibe K4 Note and Vibe K5 Note. To experience this feature, you need to have a VR headset. Just like the previous Lenovo phones, you can activate the TheaterMax mode by simply long pressing the power button, and choose VR mode. If you are into watching movies on your phone, you should definitely try this feature out.
Personally, I liked TheaterMax because it doesn’t make me nauseous, as is the case after watching 360-degree videos through VR gear. Another good thing is that you don’t need to separately download content as this is natively built onto the phone, and converts all existing content into the widescreen cinematic experience.
Lenovo K6 Power Performance
The Lenovo K6 Power runs Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 processor coupled with 3GB of RAM. We have seen this combination work very well on the Redmi 3s Prime. Unsurprisingly, the Lenovo K6 Power is a pretty good performer as well. During my usage, I didn’t come across any lag while multitasking, and never needed to kill a few apps to keep the phone functioning smoothly. At most, I had 10-15 apps running in the background. The Lenovo K6 Power can also deal with some graphic-intensive games like Marvel Clash of Champions and Real Racing 3. Basic games like Subway Surfers or Temple Run are pretty fluid on the phone. Extensive gaming sessions slightly heat up the device but never to an uncomfortable level.
One of the biggest highlights of the Lenovo K6 Power is the 4,000mAh battery. And it is pretty impressive as well. The battery can easily see you a day with single full charge despite medium to heavy usage. I started off the day around 9am with 100 percent power, and by midnight it was still going strong with 15 percent battery. My usage included extensive messaging through WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, video streaming, social networking, a bit of photography, phone calls, as well as having apps such as Facebook and Slack always running in the background. The phone delivered about 7 hours of usage time. For power users, they can easily get through the day with one single full charge whereas light and moderate users can get roughly one-and-a-half day’s of usage.
Even though the smartphone offers you a large 4,000mAh battery, you can still further optimize the battery life via different modes. There’s a Battery Saver mode, which reduces device’s performance and limits vibration, location services, and most background data. Email, messaging and other apps that rely on syncing go into sleep mode unless you open them. You can set battery percentage at 5 or 15 to automatically turn on this feature.
The ‘background app management feature’ lets you restrict apps from auto-starting on power-up and background auto-start. After the screen turns off, these apps will close if they are not active in the background. With Ultimate Power Saver, you can restrict the phone to just key functions such as calling and messaging.
The smartphone comes with 32GB of onboard storage and a microSD card slot for additional storage. The K6 Power comes with a hybrid SIM slot, letting you either go for dual SIMs or one SIM and microSD card. Connectivity options include 4G with VoLTE support, Wi-Fi 802.11n, USB OTG support, Bluetooth 4.1 and GPS.
Lenovo K6 Power Camera
The Lenovo K6 Power comes with a 13-megapixel Sony IMX258 sensor camera with LED flash, Pro-mode, PDAF support, slow motion and time lapse. The smartphone does take pretty decent photos outdoors when you have ample of light, say in morning or afternoons. Image processing is pretty fast when not using any specific mode. The camera did take some interesting macro shots as well. Though the colors and white balance are pretty underwhelming, but looking at the price point, it can be forgiven. The smartphone does come with a few customization features to help you take photos according to your preferences.
It has a Pro mode which lets you customize white balance, ISO and brightness among others. There’s also a mode called art nightscape, which is supposed to improve low-light photography. I did try out a few modes, which didn’t really radically change the quality, but pictures looked slightly better nonetheless. Speaking of low-light photography, the smartphone doesn’t really blow your mind in such conditions. It struggles to get the focus right, giving you very shoddy results with noise and underwhelming white and saturation balance. One of my favorite modes was the ‘Artistic HDR’, which has a ‘Still Life’ feature, allowing you to take photos with depth of field.
The 8-megapixel front camera is pretty satisfactory and gives you Instagram-worthy selfies. Like other smartphones in this category, it comes with a beautification mode. For low-light selfies, it has a fill light feature that brightens up the screen with white light when taking selfies, to provide some amount of illumination. The experience isn’t what I would call ‘awesome’ and could have been much better.
Overall, the camera quality on Lenovo K6 Power is pretty average, and you have to be quite meticulous and careful to get the photos right if lighting conditions aren’t ideal. But again, don’t forget that this is just a Rs 9,999 smartphone.
With the K6 Power, Lenovo has done a terrific job at delivering the right balance between hardware, software, and more importantly, experience. While ensuring it has high-end specifications, the smartphone stands out in the crowd with its solid performance and features such as Dolby and TheaterMax technology, and reliable battery life. It certainly isn’t the perfect phone and has its own low points, such as the mediocre camera, but looking at the price point, you can easily accept some of these flaws.
If you are looking for a value-for-money smartphone at a budget of Rs 10,000, the Lenovo K6 Power is definitely worth considering for its interesting feature set and strong battery. If you are just interested in top-end specifications, then you may also consider the Redmi 3s Prime, which is available at around the same price.