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Lenovo Vibe Shot review: funky budget smartphone does the business

It may have been around for a while but Lenovo's funky Vibe Shot smartphone is still a winner in 2015.
Lenovo’s camera-orientated Vibe Shot smartphone. Courtesy Lenovo
Lenovo’s camera-orientated Vibe Shot smartphone. Courtesy Lenovo

Nearly nine months on from its launch in Barcelona, and two months after going on sale in the UAE, Lenovo’s camera-orientated Vibe Shot smartphone remains one of my favourite mid-range devices of the year.

This is not down to its general specifications, which are pretty standard for a device costing Dh1,299. Even the impressive 16MP camera is not what really sets it apart for me.

Instead, it was the Vibe Shot’s offbeat yet funky design that won me over, proving that mid-range Android devices don’t have to be monolithic and dull.

In addition to beefing up the camera specs, Lenovo has made the camera integral to the Vibe Shot’s overall design.

To that end, the rear of the camera mimics a retro compact camera, in a way that is understated but distinctive. Coupled with a distinctive crimson trim (grey and white finishes are also available), it’s one of the most eye-catching mid-range handsets on the market.

The camera centric-design doesn’t stop there; the right-hand side of the device sports not only a physical shutter control, but also a small switch that allows you to toggle between pro and auto camera modes.

Auto mode is much as you’d expect, you press the shutter button and the camera does the rest. Pro mode, however, gives you a full set of options to play with, allowing you to tweak aspects such as white balance, ISO and focus to your heart’s content.

The camera’s 16MP sensor is complemented by a tricolour flash system, optical image stabilisation and infrared autofocus.

The images it produces inevitably don’t quite match those taken by the high-end LG G4 or the Samsung Galaxy S6 range, but they are still impressive for a mid-range device, with particularly decent indoor and low-light performance.

At Dh1,299, the Vibe Shot competes in a crowded and competitive field, dominated by the likes of Huawei’s Honor range. But for my money there’s no other Android device that offers a nicer design at this price point. Coupled with its powerful camera, it’s a very compelling proposition for the budget-conscious smartphone shopper.

Q&A

So a good camera and a funky design. What about the videos?

The Vibe Shot sports a 5-inch full HD display, with a pixel density of 441 ppi. This is pretty standard for a mid-range smartphone. It doesn’t have the brightest or most vivid display, but videos are rendered pretty with minimal lag.

I thought that Lenovo was a laptop manufacturer.

You’re a little behind the times. Lenovo, which acquired Motorola last year, is also the world’s fourth-largest mobile phone manufacturer, although its global market share slipped to around 5.3 per cent last quarter from 7.6 a year ago, according to Strategy Analytics.

Will we continue to see Lenovo and Motorola devices? Or will they be called Lenotorola or something weird like that?

Nice thought. Lenovo announced a few months ago it would increasingly brand its high-end smartphones using the Motorola brand. In fact the Vibe Shot may be among the last Vibes on the market, with the head of Lenovo’s mobile business group announcing the phasing out of the brand.

So what else do I need to know about the Vibe Shot?

It will let you put in a couple of Micro SIMs, and somewhat pleasingly also has a separate MicroSD slot, so you can upgrade the memory to store all the lovely photos you’ll be taking. The price of all this is that the battery is not removable, although few people care about that any more.

jeverington@thenational.ae

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Updated: July 21, 2017 06:52 PM

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