After launching the Vibe K4 Note, Lenovo launched its high-end Vibe X3 smartphone in India at a competitive price tag of Rs. 19,999. For the price, specifications of the smartphone definitely look good on paper. How about the overall experience? Let us find out in the complete review.
We unboxed the Vibe X3 recently, check out the video.
- Lenovo Vibe X3 smartphone in Pearl White color
- In-ear earphones
- 2-pin charger (5.2V-2A)
- Micro USB cable
- SIM ejector tool
- Scratch guard
- Clear case
- Quick start guide and warranty information
Display, Hardware and Design
The Vibe X3 has a 5.5-inch display with a resolution of 1920 by 1080 pixels and a pixel density of about 400 PPI, similar to the K4 Note, but the display quality seem better compared to the K4 Note. It is bright since it has 1500:1 contrast ratio, offers vibrant color output, thanks to 100% NTSC color gamut reproduction and it has 178-degree wide viewing angle. The sunlight legibility is good and it doesn’t attract fingerprints easily. It also has Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection to prevent scratches. It has a screen-to-body ratio of 70.8%, almost similar to the K4 Note.
It has a 8-megapixel front-facing camera with f/2.2 aperture, which is good for selfies and video chats. Colors are vibrant and the images are sharp as well. The earpiece is present under the speaker grill. The usual set of proximity and ambient light sensors are present above the display. It also has a tiny notification LED on the right corner, but it glows only in white color, unlike the notification LED on the K4 Note which glows in blue and red colors. The phone also has gyroscope and magnetometer.
The capacitive touch buttons are present below the display. These are not backlit, but offer haptic feedback when pressed. The second speaker is present below these touch buttons. Thanks to stereo speakers, DAC chip, amplifier and Dolby Atmos, audio quality is brilliant.
The smartphone has a brushed metal finish on the sides and is 9.3mm thick. The volume rockers and the power button that are present on the right side also have metal finish.
The hybrid SIM slot is present on the left side, 3.5mm audio jack is present on the top, along with an infrared sensor for the remote feature and the micro USB slot is present on the bottom.
You need to use the bundled SIM ejector tool to remove the SIM tray, which also has metal build. The hybrid SIM slot lets you use two nano SIM cards or a nano SIM and a micro SD card.
It has a 21-megapixel rear camera with dual-tone LED flash. You can also see the tiny secondary microphone. The fingerprint sensor is present below the camera. The phone is 154mm tall and is 76.5mm wide, almost similar to the K4 Note. It is comfortable to hold, but it is not comfortable for one-handed usage, similar to most of the smartphones with a 5.5-inch screen.
The unibody metal build offers a solid feel when holding the phone. Even though the design of the phone is similar to the K4 Note, it weighs 173 grams, slightly heavier than the K4 Note, mainly due to the metal body. The metal back attracts dust easily since it is white in color, but it doesn’t attract fingerprints. Since the back is smooth, it is slippery to hold. You can use the bundled clear cover to avoid the phone from slipping out of your hands. The quality of the back cover is better than the one that comes with the K4 Note.
The smartphone has a 21-megapixel rear camera with f/2.0 aperture, dual-tone LED flash, PDAF, Sony IMX230 sensor and has 4K video recording, but it lacks OIS. The camera UI is simple, has toggles for flash, front camera and option to enable Smart Mode. It doesn’t have HDR option, instead the Smart Mode automatically detects the image capturing conditions and set the mode accordingly. The menu option lets you choose several options, including Pro mode, which is the manual mode that lets you adjust ISO (100 to 1600), shutter speed (1/3200 to 2/3), focus and white balance. Other options include, Panorama, Art Nightscape, Artistic HDR, Blur background, Panorama selfie, Slow-motion and Fast-motion video capture.
Coming to the image quality, daylight shots are decent, but some images seem dull if the condition is not bright and the colors are not vibrant. Macro shots are good and focus is quick as well, thanks to PDAF. Low-light shots have noise as usual, but the images are not too bad. Enabling Smart Mode offers ultra-low light mode during low lighting conditions by tweaking ISO and exposure time to offer brighter images, even if the images have noise. The dual-tone flash helps to bring natural tone and is not overpowering.
Overall the phone has a good camera, but it could have been better for a phone with a 21MP camera sensor.
Check out some camera samples below (Click the image to view full resolution sample.)
Check out the complete set of Lenovo Vibe X3 camera samples here. It can record videos at 4K (3840×2160 pixels) UHD resolution at 30 fps. Video is pretty good with a lot of details. Audio is crisp since it has a secondary microphone. It also has slow motion recording at 720p HD resolution, but the video doesn’t have much details. Check out the video samples below.
Coming to the software, the smartphone runs on Android 5.1 (Lollipop) with Lenovo’s own Vibe UI on top, similar to the K4 Note. The company has not announced when it plans to roll out the Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) update for the smartphone.
Quick setting has several features including Secure Zone, Flashlight, Cast Screen, Wide Touch, Super Power, Dolby and Turbo Hi-Fi. It also has brightness adjustment slider. You can edit these notification bar icons. You can launch the dialer or the camera directly from the lockscreen.
It has Wide Touch option that lets you create a floating bar for accessing utility apps like camera, music, calculator and more. Smart scene lets you create scenes for different time period or places. Since the phone has NFC feature, you can use NFC tags to activate a scene. You can enable ‘Knock to light’ option from the settings to enable double tap to wake the screen up when it’s locked.
Out of 3GB RAM, 2.84GB of RAM is usable, out of which about 1.9GB of RAM is free when the phone is idle with just system apps running in the background. Out of 32GB of internal storage you get about 23GB of usable storage.
You can set the SD card as the default write disk. When set, you can move the compatible apps to it.
It has built-in split-screen mode that lets you view the whole UI using the VR glasses, similar to the K4 Note. After enabling this option from the ‘Feature’, you can press and hold the power button to turn on this mode.
The ANTVR headset is priced at Rs. 1299, which is slightly costly for what it offers. Currently the VR headset is sold only as a bundle with the K4 Note at an offer price of Rs. 12,499, so there is no way to get it separately to use with the Vibe X3. Even though the headset offers similar functions as the Google cardboard, it has better build quality and supports phones from 4.5 inches to 6 inches. The experience is also better than the Google cardboard in terms of viewing, along with the audio experience.
The fingerprint sensor is present on the back, below the camera, which is perfect, since it is where your index finger rests when you are holding the phone. It is quick to unlock the phone most of the times, immediately after you place your finger on the sensor. It gives haptic feedback only when it doesn’t recognize your fingerprint and also lets you quickly unlock the screen, when the option is enabled. It doesn’t recognize your finger properly if it’s wet. You can only add 2 fingerprints, while some phones offer option to store up to 5. This is acceptable since most will just use the index finger to unlock the phone.
The phone comes pre-installed with a lot of apps and games. Apart from the usual set of Google apps and utility apps, it comes pre-loaded with Evernote, Facebook, Gamestore, Guvera Music, McAfee Security, Peel Smart Remote for controlling your TV, Shazam, Skype, Step Counter, Truecaller, Twitter, WeChat, UC Browser, WeChat, WPS Office, and Tap the Frog HD game. Wish Lenovo had reduced the number of pre-loaded apps.
It doesn’t have a separate music player, so you have to use Google Play Music. It can play a range of audio formats. Sadly the phone doesn’t have FM Radio. Thanks to Dolby Atmos, Cirrus Logic Wolfson 8218 audio codec, ES9018K2M DAC chip and TI’s OPA1612 amplifier, audio experience is brilliant. Loudspeaker output is clear even in full volume and audio output through headphones is brilliant as well. In addition to Dolby Atmos option with custom equalizer option, it also has Turbo Hi-Fi option that offers enhanced audio experience through the headset.
Dual SIM and Connectivity
It has 4G support with support of 4G LTE bands (TDD B40 2300MHz and FDD B3 1800MHz) for India. Both the SIMs support 4G, but you can enable 4G only in one SIM at a time, while the other goes to 2G. You can set the default SIM for voice call, messaging or data connection. It also has Inter SIM call forwarding option that can forward an incoming calls automatically from one SIM to other when it is busy on other call. Call waiting is free but operators charge for call forwarding.
It has dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, NFC and USB OTG support. We did not face any call drops or any other calling issues.
Performance and Benchmarks
It s powered by a Hexa-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 (MSM8992) 64-bit processor that has two bigger ARM Cortex A57 cores clocked at 1.88GHz per core and four smaller ARM Cortex A53 cores clocked at 1.44GHz per core. The performance is smooth without any lags, mainly there is no heating issues. Of course it gets a bit warm when using 4G in hot outdoor conditions, mainly due to the metal body, but it doesn’t get too hot.
The processor is more than enough to power a 1080p screen. 3GB of RAM is more than enough to run several applications in the background, even though Vibe UI takes a lot of ROM. Check out some benchmark scores.
AnTuTu Benchmark 5
It scored 52378 points in the AnTuTu Benchmark 5.
3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited
It scored 18937 points in the 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited GPU benchmark.
Basemark X 1.1
It managed to score 24900 points in the Basemark X 1.1 benchmark.
Basemark OS II
It scored 1636 points in the Basemark OS II benchmark. Check out the complete set of Vibe X3 benchmark scores here. The 600 MHz Adreno 418 GPU offers smooth gaming performance and good graphics. It scored 4.5/5 stars in our gaming review. Check out the gaming review below to know more about the gaming performance of the smartphone in detail.
Coming to the battery life, the 3500mAh (Rated) / 3600mAh (Typical) built-in battery offers impressive battery life. On full charge it lasts for the whole day even on heavy usage with 4G enabled most of the day and both the SIM cards on use. It has power saver mode that reduces the screen and GPU power consumption and also has ultimate power saver mode that enables only calling and messaging for several days of standby. Even though it doesn’t come bundled with a quick charger, the phone supports Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0, so you can get any Qualcomm Certified quick charger if you need to charge the phone faster.
It achieved One Charge rating of just 10 hours and 42 minutes, which is better than the K4 Note’s rating of 9 hours and 01 minute. Check out the complete set of Lenovo Vibe X3’s battery lite test results here.
Overall, the Lenovo Vibe X3 is a value-for-money smartphone packed with features for the price of Rs. 19,999. Even though the MRP of the smartphone is Rs. 25,000, Lenovo has thoughtfully priced it at under Rs. 20,000. Unlike the K4 Note, which is available through flash sales, the Vibe X3 is available through open sale exclusively through Amazon.in.
It offers brilliant audio experience and performance, better than most other smartphones in the price range, has a solid build quality and a good battery life as well. Even though it captures 4K videos will clear details, the images could have been better.
Slippery back can be managed using the bundled back cover and the hybrid dual SIM is also acceptable since it has 32GB of internal storage with 23GB of user storage. If you are looking for a smartphone under Rs. 20,000, but can mange with hybrid SIM slot, this is the phone you need. To summarize, here are the pros and cons of the smartphone.
- Good display
- Good performance
- 4K video recording
- Solid build quality
- Brilliant audio output
- Good battery life
- Hybrid dual SIM might not be useful for everyone
- Slippery back
- Slightly heavy