Lenovo Vibe S1 Review


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Lenovo introduced Vibe S1, its first selfie-focused smartphone with dual front-facing cameras at the IFA back in September. It was launched in India exclusively on Amazon.in last month for Rs. 15999. Even though the main highlight of the smartphone is selfie, it has powerful internals and comes with premium build. Is the smartphone worth the price? Let us find out in the review.

Unboxing

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We unboxed the Vibe S1 recently, check out the video.

Box Contents

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  • Lenovo Vibe S1 smartphone in Dark / Midnight Blue color
  • 2-pin charger (5V-1.5A)
  • Micro USB cable
  • Clear protective cover
  • SIM ejector tool
  • Scratch guard
  • User guide and warranty information

Video Review

Display, Hardware and Design

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The 5-inch 1080p display at a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels and a pixel density of about 440 PPI is good. It is bright with vibrant color output, sunlight legibility and the viewing angles are good too. Even though the display is glossy, it doesn’t attract fingerprints. It also has Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection to prevent the display from scratches. It has a screen-to-body ratio of 67.9%, which is decent. Even though it is just 70.8mm wide, it is 143.3mm tall, making it slightly taller than some smartphones with a 5-inch screen.

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It has a 8-megapixel front-facing camera, along with the secondary 2-megapixel camera on the top. There is an earpiece in the center, along with the usual set of proximity and ambient light sensors. Sadly it doesn’t have a gyroscope and magnetometer. We will discuss about the camera quality and depth sensing feature later.

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The capacitive touch buttons are present below the display. These are not backlit, but offer haptic feedback when pressed.

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The smartphone has a brushed metal finish on the sides. The volume rockers and the power button that are present on the right side also have metal finish.

The 3.5mm audio jack is present on the top along with a secondary microphone. The micro USB slot is present on the bottom along with loudspeaker grill on the right side and a microphone on the left side. You can also see the cut outs for the antenna.

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The hybrid SIM slot is present on the left side. You need to use the bundled SIM ejector tool to remove the slot, 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.

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It has a 13-megapixel rear camera with dual-tone LED flash and phase-detection auto-focus (PDAF). There is a VIBE branding in the center.

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The back has Corning Gorilla Glass protection as well, but it attracts fingerprints easily and is reflective. The smooth metal finish on the sides and the glass back also makes the phone slippery to hold, so it is recommended to use bundled clear case to prevent it from slipping out of your hands. Even though the phone is slippery, it has good ergonomics and has solid build quality.

Camera

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The camera UI is simple with front or rear camera toggle, flash toggle and HDR options on the top left corner. Apart from auto mode it also has HDR mode. It has touch and timer mode and option to adjust ISO (100 to 1600). You can enable Quick Snap option in the settings lets you double press any one of the volume keys to quickly snap a picture by launching the camera, even when the screen is locked.

The front-facing camera has beauty mode (0 to 7 scale) and the dual camera lets you blur someone’s face after the image has been captured. It has simple, spiral and fast blur modes and also lets you increase the blur level. The cut out option lets you cut out your image separately and swap the background.

Coming to the image quality, the 13-megapixel camera is decent. Some images look dull even in bright conditions since the white balance is not perfect. Macro shots came out well with vibrant colors, but it is hard to focus even with the phase-detection auto-focus (PDAF). HDR shots look good, but it is too bright. Low-light shots are good with less noise and images with flash are good too, thanks to dual-tone flash that maintains the original colors.

The 8-megapixel front-facing camera is pretty good for selfies and video chats even in indoor conditions. The dual camera is a nice addition, but it doesn’t improve the image quality to great extent. The blur feature is not much useful since it reduces the image resolution to 0.6MP.

Check out some camera samples (Click the images for the full resolution sample).

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HDR OFF
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HDR ON

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Check out the complete set of Lenovo Vibe S1 camera samples here. It can record videos at 1080p resolution at 30 fps. The video quality is good, thanks the secondary microphone, the audio is crisp. Check out the full HD video sample.

Software

Lenovo Vibe S1 Home and Device Info

The smartphone runs on Android 5.0 (Lollipop) with Lenovo’s own Vibe UI on top. Android Lollipop brings several new features, including Material design, Multi user support, battery saver and lots more features. The company has not announced when it plans to roll out the Android 5.1 (Lollipop) update or Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) update for the smartphone.

Lenovo Vibe S1 Quick Settings and Lockscreen

Quick setting has several features including Secure Zone, Flashlight, Cast Screen, Wide Touch and Super Power. It also has brightness adjustment slider. You can launch the dialer or the camera directly from the lockscreen.

Lenovo Vibe S1 Wide Touch and Smart scene

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. For example you, can set the profile to silent at a particular time, turn off GPS when you connect to Home WiFi and more. You can also create different scenes manually. You can enable ‘Knock to light’ option from the settings to enable double tap to wake the screen up when it’s locked. There is a ‘screen off unlock’ option that lets you slide left or right on the bottom of the screen to unlock.

Lenovo Vibe S1 RAM and Internal Storage

Out of 3GB RAM, 2.8GB 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 23.55 GB of usable storage since the OS takes up 7GB of space. Even though it has a hybrid slot that lets you expand the memory, this storage it more than enough if you are not going to install large games.

Lenovo Vibe S1 Default Write Disk and Move to SD

You can also set the default write disk to SD card when you insert one, and move the apps to the SD card once the write option is changed to the card.

Apps

Lenovo Vibe S1 Apps

Coming to apps, 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, Skype, Twitter, WeChat, UC Browser, WPS Office, Truecaller, Guvera Music and Tap the Frog HD game.

Music Player and FM Radio

Lenovo Vibe S1 Music Player and FM Radio

It doesn’t have a separate music player, so you have to use Google Play Music. It can play a range of audio formats and it has FM Radio with recording. The loudspeaker output is brilliant and clear even in full volume, and audio output through headphones is good too.

Dual SIM and Connectivity

Lenovo Vibe S1 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 has WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0 and GPS. It has USB OTG support, but lacks NFC. We did not face any call drops or any other issues.

Performance and Benchmarks

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It is powered by a Octa-Core MediaTek MT6752 processor with eight ARM Cortex A53 CPUs clocked at 1.69GHz per core processor. Performance is just good without any lags in the UI even though the UI consumes more RAM. Thanks to 3GB of RAM multitasking is smooth too. Check out some synthetic benchmark scores.

Quadrant Benchmark

Lenovo Vibe S1 Quadrant Benchmark

It scored 21263 points in the Quadrant benchmark and lies above the K3 Note that is powered by the same processor.

AnTuTu Benchmark 5

Lenovo Vibe S1 AnTuTu Benchmark 5

It tops the AnTuTu benchmark 5 by scoring 45677 points.

3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited

Lenovo Vibe S1 3D Mark Ice Storm Unlimited

It topped the 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited GPU benchmark by scoring 10644 points.

Basemark OS II

Lenovo Vibe S1 Basemark OS II

It topped the Basemark OS II benchmarks too by scoring 1063 points. Check out the complete set of Lenovo Vibe S1 Benchmarks here. It has 700 MHz Mali T760-MP2 GPU. We tested some high-end games on the smartphone. Both graphics and the performance were good. Overall it scored 4 out of 5 stars. Check out the gaming review below to know more about the gaming performance of the smartphone in detail.

Battery life

Coming to the battery life, the 2500mAh built-in battery (Typical) / 2420mAh (Minimum) doesn’t offer good battery life. On full charge it lasts for less than a day on 4G with both the SIM cards on use. It has power saver mode that reduces the screen and GPU power consumption, but the battery life doesn’t improve much even with power saver enabled. It also has ultimate power saver mode that enables only calling and messaging for several days of standby.

Lenovo Vibe S1 FA One Charge Rating Pie Chart

It achieved One Charge rating of just 7 hours and 45 minutes, which is not impressive, mainly due to the average scores in the WiFi and browsing tests.Check out the complete set of Lenovo Vibe S1 battery lite test results here.

Conclusion

Overall, the Lenovo Vibe S1 is a decent smartphone for the price of Rs. 15,999. It has a good display, brilliant design, solid build quality and a good enough front-facing camera, but it disappoints when it comes to battery life. 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, but it lacks gyroscope and magnetometer that are present in most mid-range smartphone and even in some budget smartphones. You can’t even use Google Cardboard in this smartphone which requires a gyroscope.

If you can manage with average battery life for a smartphone with a compact and elegant design, you can go for the Vibe S1, otherwise you can go for the Vibe P1 with huge 5000mAh battery that offers a great battery life and dedicated SIM slots for the same price.

Pros

  • Good display
  • Great Ergonomics and Design
  • Good front camera
  • 32GB of internal storage with expansion slot

Cons

  • Average battery life
  • Slippery back
  • Hybrid dual SIM might not be useful for everyone

Author: Srivatsan Sridhar

Srivatsan Sridhar is a Mobile Technology Enthusiast who is passionate about Mobile phones and Mobile apps. He uses the phones he reviews as his main phone. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram