Lenovo K5 hands-on UK review: The £129 Lenovo K5 could be the best value mobile phone of 2016, boasting a sleek metallic body, vibrant HD screen, 13-megapixel camera and powerful Dolby Atmos audio. Here’s our thoughts after a hands-on play.
The Moto G handsets are steadily creeping closer to the £200 mark, with the latest Moto G4 and Moto G4 Plus mobiles starting from £169 and £199 respectively. But Motorola’s new owner, Chinese firm Lenovo, is filling that budget gap with its new £129 Lenovo K5 phone. And from our hands-on session, we’re happy to report that the Lenovo K5 already looks to be one of the best budget phones of 2016. Here’s why.
Hands-on Lenovo K5 review: Design
For a start, the Lenovo K5 boasts one of the sexiest designs of any budget phone we’ve fondled, ever. That aluminium frame is sleek and solid, and just the right level of chunky. It’s slimmer than the iPhone SE, but also pleasingly hefty so it doesn’t feel like a toy. At the same time it’s compact enough to slip into pretty much any pocket, or a dinky handbag.
You can prise open the Lenovo K5’s back cover to reveal a removable battery, plus dual SIM card slots and a microSD memory card slot for expanding the on-board storage. And when you’re done, the back snaps cleanly and easily into place again.
Hands-on Lenovo K5 review: Screen and media
If you like your phone displays crisp and vibrant, you won’t be disappointed by the 5-inch HD panel on the Lenovo K5. Colours leap off the screen, almost to the same degree as the Galaxy A5 2016, while that 1280×720 pixel resolution keeps images pleasingly sharp. For the price, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better display – at least, that was our impression after our hands-on session.
Audio quality is also fantastic, thanks to the powerful rear-mounted dual speakers and Dolby Atmos tech. Eyebrows were raised at the rich, detailed sound that was pumped out during a demo video, bringing the on-screen visuals to life. We don’t rave about phone speakers very often (not since the HTC’s BoomSound efforts, certainly) but the Lenovo K5 is really impressive.
Hands-on Lenovo K5 review: OS and features
Android Lollipop 5.1.1 is sadly Lenovo’s OS of choice, so you don’t get the latest Android Marshmallow features, although we’ve been promised an update soon. And unlike the Moto G4, you don’t get vanilla Android here either. Instead, Lenovo has tweaked the look and feel, which sadly means no apps tray; a feature commonly lacking on Chinese phones.
Still, you can’t accuse the Lenovo K5 of lacking shortcuts in the notifications bar. And the interface is very familiar for fans of Android.
Hands-on Lenovo K5 review: Performance and battery life
We haven’t had a chance to test the Lenovo K5’s perfomance and battery life yet, but the octa-core processor seems to handle Android and the pre-installed apps without an issue. Here’s hoping we can get a minimum of all-day battery life too.
Hands-on Lenovo K5 review: Cameras
A 13-megapixel camera is stuck in the Lenovo K5’s rear, and so far it seems to be a solid budget snapper. The camera interface isn’t quite as clean as the Moto G4’s, with a few more options crammed on-screen, but it’s good to see the likes of HDR on a value handset.
Unfortunately the shutter action was quite slow without HDR enabled, and practically lethargic with HDR enabled, so don’t expect to take super-fast action shots. However, our test photos were sharp and well-lit, so we’re hopeful that the Lenovo K5 can perform out in the wild.
You can also shoot Full HD video, while the front-facing 5-megapixel camera seems to do a decent job too.
Will the Lenovo K5 really be one of the best budget phones of 2016? We reckon it stands a solid chance, so check back soon for our in-depth Lenovo K5 review.
Take a close-up look at the Lenovo K5 and hear those mighty speakers in action with our Lenovo K5 hands-on video review: