Weeks ago, Lenovo launched two of its mid-range smartphones that sport a dual camera setup, namely the K8 Plus and the K8 Note. We’re going to take the latter to a full spin which features a deca-core processor, water-repellent coating, and Dolby Atmos. Let’s start!
Design and Construction
The K8 Note is pretty much straightforward in terms of design. The 16:9 ratio makes it looks mediocre and pretty outdated. However, the good thing about it is that we still have a meager chin and forehead left to hold which will come in handy when playing games. It has a 5.5-inch Full HD display with 2.5D glass for protection. The top houses the 13MP front camera with LED flash, coupled with sensors and a notification light.
We get our typical capacitive navigation buttons (which are non-lit) on the bottom.
On the left side, we have the power button, and the volume rocker, while the right side houses the dual nano-SIM card slot, the dedicated microSD slot, and lastly, the dedicated music key which launches the music player by default (but you have the option to change it in the settings).
Above the phone, sits the lone 3.5mm headset port. Down at the bottom, we have the speaker grilles and the micro-USB port. It’s quite a downer that this device doesn’t sport a USB Type-C port though.
The back of the K8 Note dons a metallic finish, making it look and feel premium (and it definitely compensates for the mediocre front). It’s also quite hefty and holding it in one hand feels reasonably comfortable. Apart from that, two antenna bands run across on opposite ends of the device.
We can also find its 13MP + 5MP secondary rear depth camera w/ LED flash, the circular fingerprint scanner, and the Lenovo logo on the bottom here. It’s also worth noting that the device comes with a water-repellent design so you needn’t worry if you accidentally splash some liquids on it.
Display and Multimedia
The K8 Note dons a 5.5-inch Full HD IPS LCD display with a resolution of 1080 x 1920 pixels which equates to 401ppi. The screen gives off a well-balanced and vibrant color reproduction. Viewing angles are also good and its brightness is sufficient enough to be viewed under bright conditions. Under the display setting menu, you will come across ‘Color Mode’ which will allow you to change how you want colors to appear. It comes in two modes.
- Standard – displays realistic colors
- Vibrant – displays enhanced color and saturation
Audio-wise, we were quite impressed with the loudspeaker as it gives loud and clear playbacks even when set to max volume. It’s also pretty bass-y too. The Dolby Atmos app, apart from the phone’s own sound card, is the one responsible for the good audio quality since it’s got an ‘Intelligent Equalizer’ which gives you an option to choose how you want your sound to sound like and it also enhances the bass and volume.
OS, UI, Apps, and Storage
Running the K8 Note is Android 7.1.1 Nougat. It was refreshing to see that the device doesn’t have any bloatware in it. The phone’s home screen will kind of remind you of Android One since its layout comes close to it. Lenovo also used stock Android apps to all of their basic services (Messaging, Gallery, Browser etc.) as well as other Google apps (Mail, Duo, Drive). The only proprietary Lenovo app that you will find here is the Lenovo Help app.
It also comes with Microsoft apps such as Word, Excel, Outlook, and Skype out of the box. We previously mentioned that it features a dedicated music key. This feature allows you to launch apps with certain gestures such as double-click to play next song, triple-click to go to the previous song, and long-press to launch an app based on your liking.
Out of the 64GB storage, we were left with 49.97GB to use. You can further expand this via microSD card.
One of the main features of the K8 Note is its 13MP + 5MP rear camera with LED flash. Just like the J7+, the other lens is responsible for achieving that depth-of-field/bokeh in the image. It features HDR, Panorama, Professional, and Depth (bokeh) mode which has two aperture choices: f/1.8 or f/1.2. At first, we were quite floored on where to find the Depth mode on the Camera’s UI since most devices with dual camera setup (e.g. Huawei P10 and the likes) have an aperture-ish symbol or text that indicates the said mode. Unlike other devices though, the K8 Note doesn’t have any filters for you to choose from before taking a picture.
As for its front cam, the device has 13MP with LED flash. It comes with Beautify mode that lets you choose between Auto or Manual. For some reason, we liked the K8 Note’s Beautify mode since it doesn’t erase or over exaggerate some of your facial features, it just smoothens them out.
Now let’s move on to the rear cameras’ performance and quality. Resulting photos on the K8 Note looks good, well-saturated, and sharp, especially in daylight. As for lowlight photos, we get a pretty decent result but as per usual, some are peppered with noise. Its depth-enabled feature is okay, though we noticed that it doesn’t cover the entire subject really well, so more often than not, the bokeh background looks like a radial tilt-shift blur.
The only concern we have with the camera is that its shutter-release button takes a little while to register. It isn’t snappy, so we advise to not move for a second after clicking the capture button or else you’ll get a fairly blurry image. Previewing the picture by swiping left on the screen isn’t always that convenient either. Lenovo should’ve opted with a preview button on the bottom right of the device so it’s just one click away.
The front cam, on the other hand, takes good and nice photos. The quality is pretty much at par with the main 13MP rear cam if taking pictures in daylight. Lowlight photos are also good, though a bit noisy sometimes. Just like the mini dilemma we previously mentioned, the shutter release button also takes a little while to register.
Here are sample shots below.
w/ Depth enabled
Video-wise, the K8 note can shoot up to Full HD 1080p at 30fps. So far, quality is decent and can be used for casual shootings. It isn’t the best in this category but it’s okay.
Performance and Benchmarks
Powering the K8 Note is MediaTek’s Helio X23 deca-core processor clocked at 2.3GHz, paired with the Mali-T880 MP4 GPU and 4GB RAM. As expected, navigating and launching apps on this device went smoothly. It’s fast and multitasking is a breeze. Playing graphically-intensive games such as Asphalt 8 and Into the Dead have been okay, although we noticed a teeny bit of stutter. We also like to note that the device heats up pretty quickly after a while of using it, even more so when charging. Unfortunately, there’s no protective case that comes out of the box to remedy this. Its fingerprint scanner responds quickly which we thoroughly enjoyed and liked.
We also ran our benchmarks and got decent results.
- AnTuTu – 84,568
- GeekBench – 1,178 (Single-core), 4,584 (Multi-core)
- 3DMark – 989 (Sling Shot Extreme)
- AndroBench – 238.52MB/s (Read), 93.16MB/s (Write)
- PCMark – 4,722 (Work 2.0)
- Quadrant Standard – 56,594
Call Quality and Connectivity
The K8 Note covers basic connectivity functions such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, LTE, GPS, and Gyroscope. Unfortunately, it doesn’t feature NFC.
So far, call quality is clear as long as you’re in an area with good signal coverage. Detecting Wi-Fi is also quick. GPS also responds fast and accurate using Google Maps and Waze and other transportation-hailing apps like Uber and Grab.
Powering the K8 Note is an impressive 4,000mAh battery. In our video loop test (1080p MP4 file played on loop at 50% brightness and volume), the device lasted for 13 hours and 10 minutes which is actually a decent result. As for our PCMark Battery test, it yielded 7 hours and 35 mins.
Thanks to Lenovo’s fast-charging TurboPower technology, charging the device from 0-100% only took us around 2 hours. The device lasts us an entire day with moderate use of Wi-Fi, as well as playing games and viewing contents.
The K8 Note is the epitome of a hidden beauty. While its exterior experience may not get you all hyped up, its powerful internals will make you think twice. With just Php13,999/$272, you’ll get a 13MP + 5MP dual rear cam, a MediaTek Helio X23 deca-core processor, a 4GB RAM, a Dolby Atmos audio, and a 4000mAh battery. We can say that this device is truly a knockout despite its flaws.
Lenovo K8 Note specs:
- 5.5-inch 16:9 ratio Full HD IPS LCD display @ 1080 x 1920 pixels, 401ppi
- 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass
- 2.3GHz MediaTek Helio X23 deca-core SoC
- Mali-T880 MP4 GPU
- 4GB RAM
- 64GB storage
- up to 128GB via microSD (dedicated)
- 13MP + 5MP secondary rear depth camera w/ LED flash
- 13MP front camera w/ flash
- Dual-SIM (nano)
- 4G LTE
- Dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11ac
- Bluetooth 4.1
- Fingerprint scanner
- Durable water repellent design
- Dolby Atmos audio
- FM Radio
- Android 7.1.1 Nougat
- 4,000mAh battery with TurboPower technology
- 154.5 x 75.9 x 8.5mm
- Venom Black, Fine Gold
What we liked:
- Dual rear cams
- Snappy fingerprint scanner
- Responsive UI
- Stock Android apps
- No bloatware
- Dolby Atmos
- Powerful internals
- Good camera quality (both rear and front)
- The price is just!
What we didn’t:
- Shutter-release button is slow
- Mediocre design
- Heats up quickly