It’s hard to talk about any phone in the sub-Rs 15,000 segment without mentioning Xiaomi. Xiaomi’s stellar Redmi Note 3 and 3S Prime are ruling the roost in that segment just as Samsung and Apple are king of the flagships.
Muscling its way into this exalted company is Lenovo’s K6 Power smartphone. On paper, the phone offers a surprisingly reasonable package (Asus, take note) and seems like a compelling alternative to Xiaomi’s budget kings. Here’s how it fared in our review.
Build and Design: 7 / 10
Given that the phone is selling for Rs 9,999, I did temper my expectations, but I’m still disappointed with the build quality. The back of the phone is metal and the matte grey finish (the colour we received for testing) isn’t bad.
The metal finish means that the phone does get a bit slippery, though.
You get a centre-aligned camera and fingerprint sensor on the back and a dual-speaker grill near the bottom at the rear.
Strangely enough, the micro-USB port is placed at the top, alongside the 3.5mm headphone jack. You’ll find the power and volume buttons on the right and the SIM card slot on the left.
The buttons are capacitive, but are reflective and not backlit, which was disappointing.
While I personally feel that the Redmi Note 3 offers better build quality, the build and finish of the K6 power is actually not that bad. There are no sharp edges and the colour tone is uniform. I just wish it didn't feel so tacky.
Features: 7 / 10
In terms of specifications, you get a 5-inch, Full HD IPS LCD screen. This translates to a PPI of 441, which is very good. The chipset is a Snapdragon 430 unit clocked at 1.4GHz — the Redmi Note 3 offers a much more powerful Snapdragon 650 — that’s backed with either 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage or 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. Memory is expandable by up to 256GB via a microSD card slot.
The rear camera is a 13MP unit with PDAF and the front camera is an 8MP unit. The rear camera can record video at 1080p and 30fps.
You get a nice pair of dual-speakers, but they’re oddly positioned on the rear of the unit. For what it’s worth (very little), these speakers get Dolby Atmos support.
Connectivity is comes in the form of Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.2 and micro USB v2.0. An FM Radio antenna is also available.
Display: 6 / 10
The 5-inch IPS LCD panel with Full HD resolution offers good pixel density and little else. The maximum brightness is good enough for use in daylight, but that’s where the good news ends.
The contrast ratio is quite bad, the screen has a decidedly blue cast to it and colours are definitely muted. Textures also get muddy in colourful scenes.
Don’t expect to be wowed by this screen, but at Rs 9,999, it’s not so bad. Viewing angles are also fine.
The screen doesn't seem to have much of an oleophobic coating and is thus a great fingerprint magnet.
Software: 7 / 10
The phone runs Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow with Lenovo’s Vibe Pure skin on top. The skin is light enough, though I would have preferred stock Android.
That said, there are a number of software tweaks that I really liked.
You get a number of useful gestures such as double-tap to wake the screen, double-tap the volume button to take a photo, reduce the volume of the ringtone when you pick up the phone, etc.
More useful than this is a feature that lets you run apps under two different accounts. You can have WhatsApp running with two different registrations, for example.
These are all nifty features, but some, like double-tap to wake, are a little slow to respond. That general slowness in fact, pervades the entire K6 Power experience.
Performance: 6 / 10
Given that it’s powered by a Snapdragon 430, the K6 Power’s performance is rather underwhelming. While the UI is smooth, everything else, including the camera and especially the browser, seem ponderous in use.
Opening a new tab, waiting for a page to load, waiting for the keyboard to pop-up, etc., are all part and parcel of the experience.
If the Redmi Note 3 didn’t exist, I’d say that this performance was par for the course. Since it does exist, the K6 Power’s performance is disappointing.
You’ll be happy to note, however, that the device never once heated up in our tests. It got slightly warm under sustained load, but that’s as far as it got.
The speakers are also nice and quite loud. But then again, Lenovo placed them on the back and didn’t even take the trouble to give the rear a small lip or bump to raise the rear slightly. Because of this, audio can get muted if you place the device on its back on a flat surface.
In any other situation, however, the dual-speakers are quite loud and clear and I have absolutely no complaints on that front.
Another area where this phone does well is in call quality. Voice quality was good and I didn’t experience any unexpected network losses. Data signals (4G) were always decent on my usual route.
Oh, and the fingerprint sensor is fast and responsive.
If it wasn’t for the general sluggishness of the phone, I don’t think I would have had any complaints.
Camera: 7 / 10
I’m actually a bit impressed with the camera. It’s quite decent at this price and the camera software boasts of many useful features. Peruse through the Flickr album below to examine the images and read my notes.
You get manual control over ISO and white balance, control over metering methods as well as a level indicator.
The feature I liked most about the camera is its speed. It’s quick to adapt to changing lighting conditions and focus distances and I don’t think I ever missed a shot because the camera couldn’t meter and focus in time.
Image quality itself is strictly average. In good light, the camera can hold its own with any budget contender in its class and even in low-light, performance isn’t terrible.
There is noise to be found for sure, and this is a budget camera, so don’t get your hopes up too high. However, for its price, this is a very decent camera indeed.
One very frustrating aspect of the camera is that the cover glass picks up fingerprint sensors very easily. The resultant images are blurry and not metered correctly and I had to clean the glass almost every time I had to take a photo.
Battery life: 7 / 10
Battery life was excellent. My daily usage approximates to about 2-3 hours of video, the same amount of music, maybe a handful of photos, dozens of messages on WhatsApp and Telegram and easily 2-3 hours of reading on the web (over 4G). I don’t game much on my phone and I doubt I spend more than half an hour a day playing games. I also don’t spend more than a couple of minutes a day talking on the phone.
Given that usage, my iPhone 6S Plus runs out by the time I get to bed, which translates to a solid 15-18 hours of battery life. In comparison, the Lenovo K6 Power with its 4,000-mAh battery easily got me through a day and a half of usage. This is roughly what I managed on the Redmi Note 3 as well.
Charging was slow, with the battery taking an hour to go from 1 percent to 29 percent. A full charge can take almost 4 hours at times.
I did notice that the battery tends to drain very fast the moment I run some intensive app, like a game. This is expected, but that drain is a little faster than I’ve experienced on other Android devices.
These observations are borne out by the fact that our intensive PCMark Battery Life benchmark rated the K6 Power at just under 9 hours. This is a bit low, given the stellar battery life we’re seeing from smartphones these days.
However, it bears mention that the cheaper Redmi 3S Prime offers a slightly larger battery and much longer battery life (11.5 hours on a 4,100-mAh battery).
Verdict and price in India
The Lenovo K6 Power’s price places it at rather awkwardly in the budget-smartphone lineup. The Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 is available at the same price and offers a Snapdragon 650, which is at least 30 percent faster than the K6 Power. The Xiaomi Redmi 3S Prime is cheaper and offers the same performance and way better battery life, albeit with a lower-resolution screen.
|Redmi Note 3||Lenovo K6 Power||Redmi 3S Prime|
|Chipset||Snapdragon 650||Snapdragon 430||Snapdragon 430|
|Screen Size (inches)||5.5||5||5|
|Price||Rs 9,999||Rs 9,999||Rs 8,999|
Compared to the other offerings on the market, particularly those from Asus, the Lenovo K6 Power is a great deal. Compared to Xiaomi’s offerings, it’s not.
Considering all of this, I would urge anyone that’s looking for a budget phone to look no further than the Redmi Note 3. If you’re looking for a better deal, the Rs 6,999 Redmi 3S Prime (2GB RAM/16GB storage) is a great option.
Only if you’re dead set against a Xioami phone would I recommend the K6 Power, though.
If you fall in that latter group, rest assured that you’re getting a good deal in the K6 Power; just know that it's not the best deal around.