Lenovo’s newest smartphone, the K8 Plus, is yet another step in its journey with stock Android. Looking at the demand for smartphones running on vanilla Android, including its own Moto lineup, Lenovo has chosen to ditch its Vibe UI. The Lenovo K8 Note (Review) was the first phone to get this treatment, and to further strengthen its stand, Lenovo has now added the K8 Plus to the list.
While the K8 Plus is not a part of the Android One family like the Xiaomi Mi A1 (Review), it many of the same boxes in terms of software. However, is the the only interesting thing about the K8 Plus? Let's find out.
If you have used Lenovo smartphones recently then the K8 Plus will look and feel familiar. Like most other options in the market, the K8 Plus has a metal body. One of the first things that will strike you about this phone is its small size. The K8 Plus slots in between the K8 and the K8 Note, making it comfortable for one-handed use. It has a 5.2-inch display with capacitive Android navigation buttons below it. Lenovo has opted for non-backlit buttons instead of on-screen ones, and we found them hard to hit in the dark.
The power and volume buttons are on the right, and the power button has a different texture which makes it easy to distinguish. On the other side there's another physical music button which is set by default to play/ pause music and switch tracks. The button can be remapped to other functions such as taking a screenshot or launching an app, which makes it useful.
The Lenovo K8 Plus is a dual-SIM device that has a tray on the left side. There are slots for two Nano-SIMs as well as a dedicated slot for a microSD card.
At the back, the K8 Plus has two cameras and a dual-tone LED flash. Below these is the fingerprint scanner which is easy to reach. It is quite responsive and we did not have trouble when unlocking the phone. The metal back is a fingerprint magnet which was very evident on our Venom Black review unit. The phone has a Micro-USB port at the bottom with grilles on either side, while a 3.5mm headphone jack is positioned on the top.
The K8 Plus is relatively thick, measuring 8.99mm and weighing 165g, which might feel bulky to some people. One reason is the 4000mAh battery that Lenovo has crammed into this phone.
The Lenovo K8 Plus sports a 5.2-inch full-HD display with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 for protection. Viewing angles are good and colour reproduction is decent. If you like punchy contrast then you have the option to switch the colour mode of the display. Brightness is good enough indoors but you might have to avoid direct sunlight at times to see things clearly outside.
At the core of the hardware is a MediaTek Helio P25 processor, which is an octa-core chip clocked up to 2.5GHz. The K8 Plus gets 4GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage. A dedicated microSD card slot lets you expand the storage by up to 128GB.
The Lenovo K8 Plus has one 13-megapixel camera and another 5-megapixel camera at the back. The latter is used to measure depth. At the front, there's an 8-megapixel selfie camera along with a selfie flash. In terms of connectivity, the smartphone has two Nano-SIM slots and supports 4G as well as VoLTE on both. Apart from that there is Bluetooth and WiFi b/g/n.
Android enthusiasts will be happy with the stock UI which is clean and brings some unity to Lenovo's lineup of Motorola phones as well as its own. Other than a few preinstalled Microsoft Office apps, this phone is pretty much free of bloatware. Lenovo does offer you the option to install apps from a list during setup if you like. However, there's no explicit promise of Android updates like there is for Android One phones.
Lenovo has chosen good hardware for the K8 Plus, which is quite evident in the benchmark tests. This phone managed to score 64,617 in AnTuTu, as well as 855 and 3745 in Geekbench 4's single-core and multi-core tests respectively. We had the 4GB RAM variant for review and it could multitask easily with several apps running in the background. For day-to-day tasks, the phone has adequate power to deliver without any lags or stutter. We played games including Sniper 3D, Drifty Chase and Clash Royale, and all ran well without any hint of lag. The phone does get warm after a long gaming sessions, but it didn't get too bad in our experience.
The Lenovo K8 Plus packs in a 4000mAh battery which is largely responsible for its thickness and weight. Battery life is good and the phone can run for a day and a half with regular use. During our review period the phone managed around one-and-a-half days of casual use and 7 hours of screen-on time with ease. In our HD video loop test, the phone lasted 13 hours and 49 minutes which is fairly good. The bundled 10.4W charger take a little over two hours to charge the phone completely.
Lenovo has gone with a pretty basic camera app which is easy to use. The HDR and camera mode toggles are easily accessible. You get Panorama and Professional modes plus the default still mode. Video recording tops out at 1080p 30fps for both the cameras.
Landscape photos taken with the K8 Plus are decent but lacked the sharpness we were expecting. HDR mode adds a weird tinge in daylight photos, and is hit-or-miss in most cases. Night-time shots are good and the camera does manage to keep noise under control if the area is lit well enough. Macros are quite good and the camera managed to capture good detail in daylight as well as low light conditions.
Depth mode is easy to enable and the output has very good separation between the background and the subject. However we found that the camera would lag after taking a couple of photos in this mode. The 8-megapixel front camera has a beautify feature which can be set manually or switched to auto. Photos taken with the the front camera are good and can be used on messengers and social networking apps. Also, the front flash is handy in dark areas.
Lenovo is aiming for popularity by choosing stock Android and balancing features and cost quite well. The Lenovo K8 Plus is well equipped and manages day-to-day tasks really well. Battery life is good enough to take you through more than a single day of use. There is enough storage for average buyers, and the dedicated microSD card slot does not force you to choose between a second SIM and additional storage. Dual cameras are an attractive feature right now too. Camera performance could have been better in landscape mode, but there have to be some tradeoffs with budget phones. If stock Android and good battery life appeal to you, then the Lenovo K8 Plus does look like a good choice.