Lenovo Vibe K4 Note review: Phabulous

Phabulous

GSMArena team, 18 March, 2016.

Unboxing the Lenovo Vibe K4 Note

Our test unit came in a compact white and sky blue retail box. Inside, we got the standard accessories. The charger looks bulky, but it's only a 2A, 10W unit (no Quick Charge here). Then there's a microUSB cable and a one-piece headset. The headset is not particularly impressive. If you're going to use that Wolfson codec to its full potential, we'd recommend using your own headphones.

The retail box - Lenovo Vibe K4 Note review The clear snap-on case - Lenovo Vibe K4 Note review
The retail box The clear snap-on case

There are also a few freebies inside the box - a clear snap-on case and a screen protector. Make sure you double-check what your local store lists as "inside the box" as the contents may vary from region to region.

Lenovo Vibe K4 Note 360 spin

The Vibe K4 Note measures 153.6 x 76.5 x 9.2mm and weighs 158g. That's the same size as the Vibe X3, except lighter. A Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 is about the same size too, slightly shorter and thinner, though.

Hardware

The Lenovo Vibe K4 Note departs from the K3 design, in a good way. The phone is built on a metal frame that is exposed around the sides of the phone.

Lenovo Vibe K4 Note - Lenovo Vibe K4 Note review Lenovo Vibe K4 Note - Lenovo Vibe K4 Note review
Lenovo Vibe K4 Note

The back is made of a soft-touch polycarbonate, which is a nice tradeoff between a premium feel and practicality. Metal dents so easily, glass is always at a risk of shattering, while polycarbonate can take a beating. The gentle texture of the material is also great at hiding fingerprints.

This back cover is removable, by the way. A warning sticker stops you from attempting to remove the battery under it (if you value your warranty), but here you can at least access the three card slots. They are technically separate slots, but due to their positioning you can't really swap SIM2 without removing the microSD card.

SIM1 is on the left, SIM2 and microSD slot are on the right - Lenovo Vibe K4 Note review
SIM1 is on the left, SIM2 and microSD slot are on the right But don't take out the battery!

The K4 also manages to pull off what has eluded HTC in recent years - the bezels actually feel small, despite having both stereo speakers and capacitive keys on the front. Everything feels tightly packed, we can't point to a part of the front that's not occupied by something.

At 5.5" we think Lenovo could have considered placing the Android keys on screen. Especially since the Home key doesn't have to act as a fingerprint reader.

A bigger concern is that the capacitive keys are not backlit - in the dark you have to poke around blindly. You get used to it after a while, but still it's an odd feature to omit.

Thin bezels above and below the screen - Lenovo Vibe K4 Note review Note that the capacitive keys are not backlit - Lenovo Vibe K4 Note review
Thin bezels above and below the screen Note that the capacitive keys are not backlit

Above the screen is the 5MP selfie camera, placed in an almost-but-not-quite central position, the proximity and ambient light sensors and the notification light are in the upper right corner.

The fingerprint reader is placed on the back, below the camera, which helps keep the front tidy. Some find this position more natural than loading the Home button with additional duties and we mostly agree. Our single complaint is that Lenovo put it too close to the camera and you may regularly smudge the lens as you unlock the phone.

The fingerprint reader doubles as a gesture area. It can snap pictures (great for selfies), but it can also get into the normal interaction with the UI - serving as a Back button or an App switcher.

The reader is always active (even when the phone is locked) and it needs under a second to detect your finger, check it and unlock the phone. Your index finger naturally rests on the reader when you hold the phone and it's equally comfortable with either hand.

The fingerprint reader, camera and flash - Lenovo Vibe K4 Note review The fingerprint reader, camera and flash - Lenovo Vibe K4 Note review The fingerprint reader, camera and flash - Lenovo Vibe K4 Note review
The fingerprint reader, camera and flash

Next to the metal area that houses the camera and fingerprint reader is a dual-LED, dual-tone flash and there's not much else going on at the back.

The back itself has a gentle curve, going from 9.15mm at the thickest point (the centerline) to 3.8mm at the sides. The metal sides have a slight roundness to them too, making the phone quite comfortable to hold (the back cover's perimeter is a bit sharper than we would have liked, though).

The hardware buttons are on the right side of the phone. Both the Volume rocker and the Power key are narrow but protrude enough to make them comfortable to use.

Hardware keys are on the right: volume rocker and Power button - Lenovo Vibe K4 Note review Hardware keys are on the right: volume rocker and Power button - Lenovo Vibe K4 Note review Hardware keys are on the right: volume rocker and Power button - Lenovo Vibe K4 Note review
Hardware keys are on the right: volume rocker and Power button

At 76.5mm the Lenovo Vibe K4 Note is not the narrowest phone, not even by 5.5" standards, though the iPhone 6s Plus is even wider. If you've ever used a phablet for a day, the size of the K4 won't surprise you.

Lenovo Vibe K4 Note in the hand - Lenovo Vibe K4 Note review Lenovo Vibe K4 Note in the hand - Lenovo Vibe K4 Note review
Lenovo Vibe K4 Note in the hand

The phone's weight strikes a good balance and along with the curved back, it makes it very comfortable to hold. The matte back offers a lot of grip, something else you don't get with metal or glass backs.

Reader comments

  • bharat

Exactly yaar means the phone is getting slower day by day. And the Battery my god its sucks means after 50% the battery is reducing so faster worst phone

  • LIZ

The exact same thing happened to mine after about 1 year of use :((

  • AnonD-752334

the worst phone ever, slow and hanging more than it works, all lenovo products sucks, my God this phone was going to kill my, it is dangerous for your mental health to use lenovo products, this is my advise" never get any thing with lenovo logo on it...