The Lenovo Z2 Plus has been given a big price cut while being made available on Flipkart too (It already sells on Amazon). The 3GB RAM/32GB ROM version is now available for Rs 14999 - a discount of Rs 3000 - while the 4GB/64GB version is now available at Rs 17499. These cuts make the phone the cheapest 820-SoC phone in the Indian market. So, is it now a must buy? We find out.
The phone itself is a pleasant surprise - a powerhouse packed in a 5-inch fiberglass body. Though it is a little on the bulky side, it is extremely convenient for day-to-day use. Lenovo seems to have hit a sweet spot with this device - the combination of its size, a 1080p LTPS IPS display and 441 ppi that works really well, and a 3500mAh battery that will help you last through the day, and then some.
Design and hardware
The design of the phone is solid and functional, though a little minimalistic. The top and left of the phones are smooth, while the bottom houses the earphone slot, the USB type C slot and speaker. While this may work well from a design perspective, having an earphone slot at the bottom hurts a bit from the usability perspective (Phone designers must try accessing the volume buttons quickly with the earphones plugged on and the phone in their pockets!).
The left of the phone has the volume and power buttons, and the dual nano-SIM slots.
The back of the phone is extremely glossy and belongs best in the silicon case provided along with it. There is a 13 MP camera and a single flash. The back is non-removable, as is the battery and the phone does not support an external microSD card slot. Though it lacks the premium feel of metal, Lenovo has said its fiberglass body would make the phone stronger, apart from ensuring less interference for cell reception. The lack of a FM radio option would surely disappoint a few people.
The fingerprint scanner is on the home button on the front, which Lenovo calls the U-Touch, and can also perform a lot of nifty functions on press and on slide. In fact, it was quite easy to navigate using solely the button after disabling the on-screen navigation keys. By default, you can touch once to go back, press to go to the home screen, double press to view recent apps and slide to multitask. All of this is configurable through the menu. The fingerprint sensor is very fast and accurate, though in our review unit, we had intermittent issues when it came to the phone recognising the finger and unlocking the screen from standby.
The phone has a quite generous 3500 mAh battery that supports Qualcomm QuickCharge 3.0, and coupled with the 5-inch LTPS display, offers great stamina.
It supports 4G and VoLTE out of the box, improved on the 2.0.133 ST update. We, however, had to reset network settings once for the phone to recognize and activate VoLTE. The volume on the earpiece is quite loud and comfortable to hear outside as well.
The display is vibrant and punchy, with good visibility even in sunlight. The phone has three colour modes that can be selected - Warm, standard, cool, which changes the colour temperature accordingly. In addition, there is a night mode that turns the screen to a much warmer colour, which is quite pleasant to use in the dark.
The 32-GB variant of the phone, along with the LeEco Le Max 2, at Rs 17999 is the cheapest Snapdragon 820 handset in India. Four custom cores, an Adreno 530 GPU and 4GB of RAM in the 64 GB version, priced at Rs 19999, ensures that performance is impressive, with no lag even with multiple apps open. Swiping from the home button brings back recent apps, Lenovo calls this its multitasking, and the response is very fast and convenient. Even heavy games like Asphalt 8 run smoothly without any stutter. It has a tendency to get slightly heated during extended sessions of gaming or video capture, but then not unreasonably so.
Software and interface
The phone uses the custom ZUI interface, which is a slightly modded version of Android 6.0.1, paired with the Google launcher and keyboard. For the most part, it gives a slick and stock UI feel and there is very little bloat in terms of apps, and the good thing is that these apps can be easily uninstalled if you prefer that. The default browser, interestingly, is powered by Opera, a great choice for the Indian browsing community!
Within two days of usage, we received two software updates to the device, 2.0.111 and 2.0.133 ST - aimed at improving low-light photography, security and stability and the VoLTE phone call experience.
Lenovo has its own implementation of a quick drawer that appears on swiping up from the bottom of the screen - a rather clumsy implementation that demands some getting used to. Combining it with the status bar drop down used in stock android would have been better. There are two pages that you can slide through, and a fair bit of customisation of the shortcuts that you can choose.
The Z2 plus has a 13MP rear camera and an 8 MP front camera. A Samsung ISOCELL image sensor and an F/2.2 aperture for the rear camera provides good lighting and image capture for photos. Other features include a single LED flash at the rear, PDAF and electronic image stabilisation. Daylight photos come out very well with good detail and faithful colours, night photos are also reasonably free of noise, but some loss of detail is seen. The placement of the cameras at the extreme corners on both sides might cause some confusion and require some getting used to. Lenovo gives three options for recording videos through the rear cam - 720p, 1080p and UHD 4K. Videos are well-lit and clear, and the secondary microphone ensures audio quality, while recording, is good.
The interface is pretty intuitive. At the top are the flash, HDR, timed photo (if activated from settings) and the circular additional options controls. The additional options include six functions arranged in a neat fashion - options to choose flash and HDR (quite redundant), scale (4:3 or 1:1), photo panorama mode, and video options for slow motion and time lapse.
Swiping from the bottom brings up the preset modes for photography - Normal, Vivid, Food, LoMo, Dusk, Soft, Grayscale, and Salt.
However, there are no options for professional / manual photography settings like ISO / Exposure / White Balance etc.
The secondary camera at the front can do a passable job for selfies and video calling. There is no front camera flash. Options on the interface include access to the circular additional options button, timed photo capture and an image capture mode that has some interesting options - A beautify mode, and portrait modes for males and females! The front camera UI also includes the same preset photography modes as the rear one.
The Lenovo Z2 Plus has six built-in sensors that work with the Qualcomm sensor processing unit (SPU) to tracksteps, calories and distance continuously. The Ant+ sensors in the device are compatible with all pro-grade fitness trackers. Lenovo includes a U-Health app that tracks this data continuously and displays it in an intuitive and clutter-free UI.
On switching the phone on for the first time, you are asked for some basic data and suggested to set up targets for steps, calories and active hours. We didn't see a major impact on the battery due to this, and found the data pretty accurate in a comparison with Google Fit tracking.
Overall, the phone is an aesthetically good looking, rugged and snappy device with a great size and form factor for daily use. The 820-SoC ensures the phone delivers plenty of oomph when it comes to performance. If camera is not your priority (the Moto G4 Plus still remains the best in class there), this then is a seriously good option for those planning to buy a phone under Rs 15000.