Lenovo today holds the second place in terms of smartphone market share in India, according to IDC data for Q3 2016. The Chinese company has been one of the few companies that has been launching 4G-enabled smartphones in India for a long time.
In 2015, the company claimed it had a 30 percent share of the 4G smartphone market in the country. Lenovo's dominance however has been challenged by other vendors, even as the market grows thanks to Reliance Jio's 4G network and other telcos making big investments in 4G as well. Lenovo has been dealing with solid competition from other Chinese counterparts including Xiaomi, which has for the first time made it into the top five in India.
The recently unveiled Lenovo K6 Power tries to further strengthen the company's portfolio in the sub-Rs. 10,000 price segment. The company already offered a slew of models in this segment including the Lenovo Vibe K5 (Review), Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus (Review), and the now-dated Lenovo Vibe K4 Note (Review). The new Lenovo K6 Power features an all-metal body and comes with a fingerprint scanner. One of its highlights is a large 4000mAh battery which also supports reverse charging, which means it can charge other devices connected to it.
There are other models in the same price bracket that offer similar features, such as the Xiaomi Redmi 3S Prime (Review), Coolpad Note 5, and Asus ZenFone Max (2016) (Review). In our first impressions, the Lenovo K6 Power looked like a solid competitor in its price segment, but will it be able to live up to our expectations? Let's find out.
Lenovo K6 Power design and build
At first glance, the metal-bodied Lenovo K6 Power looks strikingly similar to the Xiaomi Redmi 3S Prime. The two are more similar when seen from the front than from the back, as the rear has some differences in terms of the camera placement and antenna bands. The camera is placed in the middle alongside an LED flash and the fingerprint scanner, similar to the arrangement on the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3.
Lenovo branding can be seen on the lower back, along with dual speaker grilles. The phone is available in Dark Grey (which we got for review), Gold, and Silver. The front of the K6 Power is dominated by a 5-inch screen, with capacitive navigation buttons below. We wish that the navigation buttons had been backlit, as we struggled to find them in the dark.
At 9.3mm and 145 grams, the Lenovo K6 Power is definitely thicker but barely heavier than the Redmi 3S Prime, which measures 8.5mm thick and weighs 144 grams. The physical button placement on the K6 Power is ergonomic. The power and volume buttons are on the right, while the left has the SIM slot. The 3.5mm headphones socket and Micro-USB charging port are on the top. A notification LED is hidden in the earpiece grille.
The fingerprint scanner is sensitive and unlocks the phone quickly. Lenovo has included app lock functionality which can be set up to use the fingerprint sensor.
The all-metal body gives the K6 Power a premium feel, though it also makes the phone a bit slippery. It could slip out of a hands if not held carefully. However, it was easy to use with just one hand thanks to the manageable 5-inch screen. We liked some of the UI additions made by Lenovo including the shortcut of double-pressing on a volume button to launch the camera app quickly. This works even with the phone locked.
The 5-inch screen on the Lenovo K6 Power has a full-HD resolution, for a density of 441ppi which makes text appear quite sharp. Brightness is good and colours are punchy. Viewing angles and sunlight legibility are also decent. The display on the K6 Power is one of its biggest highlights. The Lenovo K6 Power's retail box includes a regular charger, a data cable, a SIM ejector tool, and instruction leaflets.
Lenovo K6 Power specifications and features
The Lenovo K6 Power is powered by the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 processor that we've seen in the Xiaomi Redmi 3S Prime. This octa-core SoC is clocked at 1.4GHz and is coupled with 3GB of RAM. The phone has 32GB of inbuilt storage and supports expansion using a microSD card (up to 128GB). Dual Nano-SIMs are supported, but unfortunately, the K6 Power uses a hybrid SIM slot which means users have to chose either two SIMs or one SIM with a microSD card. Connectivity options include 4G with VoLTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.2, FM radio, Micro-USB, and GPS/A-GPS.
The Lenovo K6 Power runs on Android 6.0 Marshmallow with Lenovo's Vibe Pure UI on top. The company has been reducing the bloatware on its smartphones, and the UI on the K6 Power definitely felt smooth. There are two default home screens with app icons scattered across them. It's worth mentioning that there is no default Gallery app on the K6 Power, which might be slightly confusing for new users. Google Photos is preinstalled but not set as the default photo handler. Lenovo however provides access to all kinds of files through a File Manager app.
The dropdown shade offers quick settings along with notifications. The preloaded Themes Center app offers several customisation options for wallpapers, icons, lock screen settings, and more.
Two of our favourite software features on the Lenovo K6 Power are the app lock functionality, which allows users to lock any app with a fingerprint, and the Dual Apps mode that allows apps to be used with two different accounts on the same phone. We tested the feature and it worked as described. The second instance of the app is marked with blue SIM tag.
The K6 Power's Settings app has a section called "Feature" which includes various quirky customisations from the company. Quick Snap lets users take an image by double pressing a volume button; Knock to Light wakes the phone with double-tap on the screen while it is off; Wide Touch offers one-touch shortcut access through a floating button; Fingerprint Snap lets the fingerprint sensor act as an alternative shutter button; and Quick Flashlight lets you toggle the flashlight by long-pressing the Home button. Lenovo has also incorporated a VR Mode with its switch hidden inside the "Feature" settings page.
We found several third-party apps preloaded on the K6 Power including Evernote, Flipkart, McAfee Security, Skype, Shareit, Truecaller, Syncit, and UC Browser.
Lenovo K6 Power performance
The Lenovo K6 Power was able to handle most everyday jobs and we had no complaints with the octa-core processor. Even visually demanding games like Need for Speed: No Limits worked smoothly. Multitasking on the K6 Power was fine, and apps launched quickly. While using the device, we noticed that there was over 1GB of memory free at any time, and we experienced no lags in terms of system performance during the review period. There was no problem with overheating either.
The display on the Lenovo K6 Power is great for media consumption. It was a treat watching videos, and playing games on this device. The dual speakers at the back are loud enough to fill a small room with decent audio quality. The phone also supports Dolby Atmos to tweak audio settings. The quality of the bundled earphones however was awful.
The Lenovo K6 Power, despite being powered by the same Snapdragon 430 processor as the Redmi 3S Prime, returned much lower scores than its competitor in several benchmarks. It managed 27,372 on AnTuTu, 19,718 overall in Quadrant, 5,603 in 3DMark Ice Storm Extreme, and 15fps in GFXBench's T-Rex test. In contrast, the Xiaomi Redmi 3S Prime managed 40,250 in AnTuTu, 21,253 overall in Quadrant, 5,714 in 3DMark Ice Storm Extreme, and 24fps in GFXBench's T-Rex test.
The Lenovo K6 Power sports a 13-megapixel rear camera with a Sony IMX258 sensor, PDAF (phase detection autofocus), and an LED flash, plus an 8-megapixel front camera with a Sony IMX219 sensor and a wide-angle lens. The K6 Power's rear camera can lock focus quickly thanks to the PDAF. The camera took some decent close-up shots that exhibited good colour accuracy, though on zooming in we found noise towards the corners.
The biggest problem with the camera on the Lenovo K6 Power is that it requires a good amount of light around. Low-light shots tended to have a lot of noise, and unfortunately, even the otherwise helpful Smart Composition tool couldn't fix that. The K6 Power's rear camera was unable to capture objects in motion well, something we also experienced with the Lenovo Vibe K5. The K6 Power can record videos at full-HD resolution. and these came out looking good. The front camera took decent selfies in well-lit situations though a screen flash would have helped in the dark.
There is support for 4G with VoLTE, and call quality was impressive. The K6 Power was able to latch onto mobile networks in areas with poor connectivity quite well.
The non-removable 4000mAh battery on the K6 Power managed to last for 14 hours and 30 minutes in our video loop test, which is not bad for a battery of this size. The Redmi 3S Prime with a slightly larger 4100mAh battery managed 14 hours and 50 minutes under the same conditions, but it's worth noting that the K6 Power sports a full-HD screen while the Redmi 3S Prime has a lower-resolution i.e. less power-hungry HD screen.
With heavy usage, the Lenovo K6 Power easily managed to last over a day, which was impressive. There's also an Ultimate Powersaver mode which extends battery life by disabling all functions other than calls and SMS messaging. We also tried the reverse charge functionality using our own Micro-USB adapter, which doesn't come bundled in the box. The ability of the K6 Power to be used as a power bank could can come handy in emergency situations. We however wish that the device supported fast charging as it took nearly three hours to fully charge the handset.
At Rs. 9,999, the Lenovo K6 Power is a smartphone with a lot of promising features, and we commend Lenovo for paying attention to the little details. The metal body feels premium, and the fingerprint scanner is a nice bonus. The light Vibe UI was smooth throughout the review process, while the Snapdragon 430 processor turned out to be enough for our everyday tasks. We however felt that the camera on the Lenovo K6 Power is not up to the competition's level and might be this device's Achilles heel. The battery life and display are no doubt the biggest notable features of the K6 Power.
Considering that the sub-Rs. 10,000 price segment has some of the most popular handsets, it will be interesting to see how the Lenovo K6 Power fares against its competition. Those looking for alternatives can consider the Xiaomi Redmi 3S Prime, if they like MIUI more than Vibe UI and need a better camera.