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Lenovo Vibe S1 – Beauty with brains – Review

Lenovo is one of the most active mobile manufactures in the Indian market. They got our attention with the Lenovo A6000 and ever since, Lenovo has been consistently introducing new mobiles in India. While the A series are entry level mobiles which are price conscious, the Vibe series are predominantly design conscious. After the likes of Vibe Pro, Vibe Shot and Vibe P1, Lenovo has introduced the Vibe S1. The Vibe S1 was announced in the IFA earlier this year and since then I have been longing to get my hands on it. The Vibe S1 is priced at Rs 15999 and is available exclusively on Amazon India. It is available in Dark Blue and White colors. We got the White variant for review and here are my thoughts on the Vibe S1.

Design

Just like the other Vibe devices, the Vibe S1 is also design centric. One look at the device and you would realize the amount of efforts Lenovo has put into the design of this mobile. It has a curved glass back which seamless meets the metal rim running along the edges. The metal rim is aluminium alloy and the glass is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass. Both the Blue and White variants of the S1 are made of glass. The S1 is slippery to hold in hand and also it is slippery against any material like leather or fabric or plastic. A slippery beautiful device needs protection and Lenovo has bundled in a good quality clear back cover along with the box. While the back case is still slippery, it offers some amount of first level protection on impact. The blue variant is a finger print magnet while the smudges are not visible on the White variant. The speaker grills are the bottom are dual, but the S1 has mono speaker and the other grill is for aesthetic balance and it conceals the mic. The off screen menu keys are not back lit and the S1 does not have any notification LED. The metal buttons on the right have good tactile feedback and they are easy to reach and operate. The SIM tray goes into a slot on the left. It can take in dual 4G SIM cards or one SIM card and a microSD card.

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The Vibe S1 is definitely an aesthetically pleasing device. White is my personal favorite. It has a solid construction and the device feels premium, though it is priced as mid range smartphone.

Display

The front of the mobile does not look as elegant at the curved rear. The 5 inch display on the front packs a 441 ppi of pixels on a screen that supports Full HD 1024 resolution. The display is IPS LCD and has decent viewing angles. However the color and brightness are not up to the mark. It has decent readability under direct sunlight. It is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass and it seamlessly merges with the metal rim and has elegant curves. The UI and images rendered on the screen are sharp and they don’t apear over saturated. It has good contrast levels for better multimedia viewing experience. The screen saturation and white balance can be adjusted under display setting color balance option. Overall, the S1 has a decent display, if not brilliant.

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Hardware and Performance

The Vibe S1 is not just a pretty phone, it also performs pretty well. It is powered by a octa core MediaTek processor clocked at 1.7 GHz with a Mali T760MP2 GPU. It has 3 GB of RAM and and 32 GB of internal storage. The storage is also expandable using microSD card on its hybrid SIM tray. It also supports USB OTG. The Vibe S1 scores impressive scores on benchmark tests and it lives up to its scores in real life as well. It handles most graphically intensive games with ease, but occasionally I did not a few frame drops, but there was no screen lag. After playing games for a prolonged period, the device did get warm upto 38 degree Celsius and its within acceptable levels. It also handles the UI with ease. The UI showed no signs of lag and it was very responsive to use. To sum up, this mid range mobile’s performance is above average. You can check the benchmark test scores under the specs section.

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Camera

Next to design, the front facing camera capability of the Vibe S1 is its highlight. It has two camera modules on the front. A 8 MP sensor that captures the image while the 2 MP sensor gets the depth information. Image grom these two sensors lets you do some creative post processing and it gets your creative mill running for some out of the box self-portraits. (I consciously refrain myself from the word ‘selfie’, as am not a selfie person, personally). The dual camera self portraits can be further edited to give a smooth, radial or motion blur on the background. It also lets you cut the subject and swap the background or add some creative effects to the background. The quality if the image from the front camera is impressive. The skin tone looks natural and it reproduces good detail under generous lighting conditions. But the low light self portraits are high on noise and low in quality.

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The dual camera self portraits can be further edited to give a smooth, radial or motion blur on the background

If you are a self portrait person, you will definitely enjoy playing with this mobile. The primary camera is a 13 MP sensor and it has a dual tone LED flash. Under daylight, the primary camera images are pretty sharp and reproduce good details. The white balance is bit on the colder side, but that can be adjusted in the settings. The exposure levels and contrast levels on the images are just right. The colors look a but washed out and under saturated. At low lights the image is bright, but noise is prominent. You can adjust the ISO in the settings but you will need steady hands on lower ISO. The camera UI is simple and has most of the functionalities available in the first level of the UI layer. Manual mode is absent. Apart from the auto mode, it has panorama mode.  Both the front and back camera modules can capture videos at 1080p resolution.

Check out the camera samples

Lenovo Vibe S1 Camera Samples

Software

Vibe S1 runs on Android Lollipop 5.0 with the Vibe UI skinned on top. The UI has a few tricks and features up its sleeve. Lenovo theme store is limited to 6 themes and its something which Lenovo has promised us and not delivered since the A7000. But it has a lot of features to make the mobile a useful personal assistant. The Secure Zone, as the name implies offers protected access to apps and files installed on the mobiles. It is like having a second mobile within the mobile. Super power  feature is useful when the battery runs out of juice. It leaves you with a mobile with key mobile functions when your battery is nearly dead. App permission, wide touch, gesture based controls, profile management are a few other Vibe UI specific features that are useful utility features in a Lenovo mobile. Vibe UI has some apps pre-loaded, and they cannot be uninstalled. The UI is fast, responsive and it works seamlessly with the Vibe UI hardware.vibe-s1-ui

 

Battery

Vibe S1 is powered by a 2420 mAh Lithium Polymer battery. Under regular usage, the battery lasts for a day and the super power mode is really handy when you run out of battery power. Vibe UI does not have wireless or fast charging. With the 1 A charger provided, it takes almost 2 hours to charge from zero to 100%.

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Verdict

The Lenovo Vibe S1 is a perfect balance between price, design and performance. It does have a few glitches. The mediocre display and the small battery is a let down. But the gorgeous design, snappy UI and creative cameras eclipses all its cons. At Rs 15999, the Vibe S1 competes with OnePlus X, Obi Sf1 32 GB, etc… While the OnePlux X could be a better buy because of its AMOLED display and near stock Android OS, my personal choice and recommendation would be the Vibe S1 for its unique cool design and stylish looks.

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Giridhar

A Technology evangelist, Giridhar reviews gadgets and mobile applications. He is also a passionate photographer and a user experience designer by profession.

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