The 5-inch Lenovo Vibe S1 is a sleek, stylish Android smartphone with multiple shooting modes and the world’s first dual selfie camera
The smartphone market is cluttered and all original equipment manufacturers get their phones manufactured from a handful of manufacturers. Eventually, all smartphones end up having similar designs, the same look and feel. Some even feature the same materials, often on the garb of being tied to a ‘reference design’. This gives enough scope for one single company to come up with a smart design and take the market by visual storm. Lenovo Vibe S1 seems to do just that, and very elegantly.
A good smartphone should come with a design that doesn’t feel dated or copied, good processing power so that you are never waiting for the screen to load up, a camera that takes stills without shaky/blurry bokeh (unless intended) and most importantly should work when demanded. Lenovo’s youth-focused Vibe S1 aims to do just that.
What is good?
The star attraction of the Lenovo Vibe S1 is undoubtedly its design. In order to make a really beautiful smartphone, Lenovo has opted for glass and metal in this one—and a glance is enough to approve that it is a beauty. Our review unit came in Blue, but buyers can also opt for the white colour variant which shows the metal sides in their full glory.
The curved glass back is so beautifully crafted that almost every other person who saw this phone in my hand ended up visiting Amazon India. Since it is glass, it can be used as a mirror , which I did more than once to put my hair back in order. The curved back also offers a reassuring fit in the palm.
Well, I never believed in clicking selfies until I played with the front shooter of Vibe S1. Yes, it is definitely the best front facing camera ever packed into a smartphone. While I want to call that dual selfie camera arrangement a gimmick, it is definitely a handy feature to have. The ability to transport your selfie from your home to pyramids of Giza is sure to get tonnes of thumbs-up on social media.
Speaking of the rear camera, the Lenovo Vibe S1’s 13-megapixel primary camera perfectly accompanies that dual selfie camera arrangement. The rear camera is extremely fast to focus and reproduces the images with great accuracy. When the conditions aren’t rewarding, the HDR mode makes a really strong case and the results are exceptional. Lenovo has even simplified the software for a very iPhone-like camera experience.
Lenovo’s smartphones set the benchmark high when it comes to battery life and for the first time we see signs of great software optimisation coming along. The 2,500mAh battery which may not be huge on paper delivers almost a day of battery life. In my week with Vibe S1, I always charged it while going to bed. One can even extend the battery further with Super Power setting which turns the smartphone into a black screen feature phone.
What is not good?
Lenovo Vibe S1’s 5-inch full HD display didn’t really impress me. The colours are not really vivid and sharp. I ended up maxing out the display more often than usual. While Lenovo gives the option to set variable colour parameters, I was still not happy with the result.
Lenovo Vibe S1 suffers from similar caveats like other glass and metal smartphone. The rear curved glass back is a fingerprint magnet and Lenovo felt it right to supply a transparent back cover with the product. The white colour variant is less prone to smudges than the blue version.
Since there is glass and metal, the device tends to heat up while playing graphics heavy games. While it doesn’t get hot enough to boil milk, but long sessions of Asphalt 8: Airborne or NOVA 3 should be ruled out right away.
With Android 5.1 Lollipop dropping support for dual selfie cameras, Lenovo has no option but to go back to older Lollipop version 5.0. Google has brought back support for dual selfie cameras with Marshmallow and Lenovo should have used Vibe S1 as the stage for the showcase of its Marshmallow ROM.
Should you buy?
The Lenovo Vibe S1’s most direct competitor is the OnePlus X, which is also built out of glass and metal and comes with a super cheap pricing. While the AMOLED display on X gets an edge over the LCD panel of Vibe S1, the Lenovo smartphone does better in many other aspects.
The cameras are the best one can find in this price range and that dual-selfie camera arrangement will force you to click selfie. The overall niceness and day-long battery life make this one a compelling smartphone to own but the white colour option would make more sense.
* Display: 5.0-inch LCD display
* Processor: Octa-core 1.69 GHz MediaTek MT6752 processor
* Operating system: Android Lollipop OS
* Memory & storage: 3 GB RAM; 32 GB storage (expandable up to 32 GB)
* Camera: 13 MP (rear); 8 MP + 2 MP dual front camera
* Battery: Li-Ion 2500 mAh battery
** Estimated street price: Rs 15,999