Lenovo outs a new flagship, the Vibe X3

Premium doesn’t necessarily mean a premium price tag

The first thing that Lenovo tells you about the Vibe X3 is that it is their flagship device without flagship specs, unashamedly.

This kind of honest admission makes us big fan of Lenovo but its when you get hands on with the Vibe X3, do you truly appreciate its existence. Focusing more on the UX and UI rather than retina-scorching and metal-burning specs, it is still as powerful as you expect a premium smartphone from a leading brand to be. A 5.5in Full HD IPS LCD screen dominates the front and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 1.2GHz, 64-bit processor dominates its innards. It does have a separate core for handling motion and fitness tracking duties and this, is smart at conserving power via its 3600mAh battery.

Internal storage is capped at 32GB, though a micro-SD card slot allows you to expand it up to 128GB. Lenovo has painstaking designed the Vibe X3 ergonomically where the back is curved along with a fingerprint sensor and a 21MP rear cam and in order to achieve the best build quality, thought it best to seal the design with a non-removable battery and we approve. It does feel great in the hand with the right texture, finish and temperature. Some overtly metallic designs tend to get uncomfortable cold or warm in your palm when you first pick them up but not this one. It’s a tangible expression that is only felt upon usage.

What stokes our senses is also the video and audio suite. Lenovo is supposedly using the most advanced IPS LCD panel in the world for this smartphone, something that is deemed too expensive by competitors but it does make for natural colours, deep contrast and a wide colour gamut. In fact it supports 100% NTSC Colour standard to please videophiles and an ESS Sabre DAC to let the audiophiles earn the bragging rights. In fact, it has two DACs, one for handling audio playback duties and a Wolfson DAC to enhance the voice quality of phone conversations in real time!

Support for Hi-Res audio should make this your top choice if you already own a pair of top-quality headphones because we did hear a difference and so will you. Lenovo has had an association with Dolby for while now and the Vibe X3 too features Dolby Atmos over headphones and on the phones in-built speakers too. Borrowing design cues from HTC, the Vibe X3 also has two speakers on either end of the screen, making it plenty loud and even gives a sense of heightened space, thanks to Dolby Atmos. It won’t replace your home-theatre system anytime soon but it will provide enough enjoyment while waiting your turn at the dentist’s office.

In terms of OS, it used Android Lollipop 5.1 in the pre-production version we got our hands on but Lenovo claims improvements will be made in the final spec version, including the possibility of optical image stabilisation. The camera software is typical Lenovo with lots of options and even a manual shooting mode to make the most of the Sony 21MP image sensor. The fingerprint sensor on the back worked flawlessly although the start-up time for the camera from home screen could’ve been faster. Maybe this is one of the glitches of the pre production model, we hope. One of the more intriguing features was the TheatreMax tech showed off- Without the need for a library of games and apps, TheaterMax turns all your existing media and games into an immersive large screen experience boasting smooth graphics, lifelike surround sound and responsive 3D gameplay. Gamechanger? Maybe.

Priced at ₹19,999, Lenovo is betting big on the Vibe X3. It'll be available via Amazon India from 28th January. Not with headlining specs but with real world features that would make for a great user experience. Until we put it to the full test, lets just say they have got the formula right this time.