Is Lenovo Z5 the Best Phone to Buy With $200?

6 min read 

Earlier this month, Lenovo unveiled its latest flagship phone – the Lenovo Z5. Although some might have heard of the misleading teasers that left fans all around the world disappointed, the Z5 still has its perks that are worth reviewing.

DISCLAIMER: This is NOT a sponsored review by Lenovo, any opinions or thoughts expressed are solely my own and do not necessarily represent the official views of Pandaily.

Screenshots of similar nature were making its rounds on the internet
Screenshots of similar nature were making its rounds on the internet

As a long-term Apple iPhone user, switching to the Z5 for a couple of weeks was indeed a refreshing change for me. With all the swanky new smartphones fighting for the limelight lately, you too may be in a dilemma on what phone suits you best; read on to learn more about my journey with the Z5 and perhaps  it’d help you make a decision!

Lenovo Z5 Specifications

The phone’s features, according to Lenovo:

  • Display: 6.2 inches, 2264 x 1080 pixels resolution, 19:9 aspect ratio
    CPU: Octa Core 4 x 1.8GHz Kryo 260 + 4 x 1.6GHz Kryo 260 CPU clock
    Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 636, 64-bit processor
    RAM: 6GB
    Storage: 64GB or 128GB, external memory support up to 256GB (Uses SIM 2 Slot)
    Rear dual camera: 16 + 8 megapixels, aperture f/2.0, 4K videos
    Front camera: 8 megapixels with AI
    Colors: Blue, Black and Aurora (similar to Twilight of the Huawei P20 Pro)
    Battery: Non-removable 3,300mAh
    SIM: Hybrid dual SIM card (Nano-SIM + Nano-SIM/microSD)
    Operating system: Android 8.1 Oreo, ZUI 4.0 interface
    Dimensions: 75.6 mm x 153.0 mm x 7.9 mm
    Weight: 165 Grams (with battery)
Lenovo Z5
Lenovo Z5

Appearance:

In terms of appearance, the Z5 has chosen to retain its iPhone X-like notch despite early announcements stating otherwise. This means that the screen-to-body ratio has inevitably taken a hit and instead of the previously promised 95%, this has now been downgraded to 90%. It seems like Lenovo hasn’t quite cracked the code of finding a new location for the selfie camera yet.

Both front and back of the phone feel very sturdy and well-built with 2.5D Corning Gorilla glass, but this actually made it a tad too slippery for me as it feels extremely smooth without a casing (the rounded edges of the phone don’t help at all). After several “mini heart attacks” when I almost dropped the phone, I finally decided to throw on a protective case despite not liking the feel of it. Glass also tends to get dirty and smudged with fingerprints very easily, so if you’re someone who hates using casings and having a fingerprint-infested phone, you might want to give the Z5 a miss!

The bottom of the phone is pretty standard with a USB-C connector and 3.5mm earphone jack, and the back of the phone is predominantly a solid black. This makes it slightly dull at first sight, but if you take a closer look you’ll notice some reflective rays that create an interesting pattern under bright light. This gives the phone a classier and sleeker feel.

The back of Lenovo Z5 vs. Xiaomi MIX 2S
The back of Lenovo Z5 vs. Xiaomi MIX 2S
Reflective pattern on the back of the phone
Reflective patterns on the back of the phone

Screen:

On to the exciting bit, the Z5’s screen! Advertised as the largest selling point of the Z5, the high-performance screen measures 6.2” and has a 19:9 aspect ratio. It has a resolution of 2246×1080 and with 403 pixels per inch, the images displayed are extremely sharp. The Z5 also uses an LCD screen, so what you see is much truer to life and not overly vibrant like OLED screens.

Something interesting to note is that the Z5’s screen brightness can reach up to 700 nits, this means that you no longer have to worry about not being able to see the contents on your screen when you’re outdoors and under strong sunlight!

Camera:

The Levono Z5 has dual rear cameras – one of them is 16MP, while the other is 8MP. It also has an 8MP front camera with AI-powered beautifying functions, meaning that the Z5 will actually make use of AI to help you pick the best shooting mode based on your surroundings and will add HDR filters when necessary too. Based on my experience, I don’t really like the AI function because it whitens your face to make it look smoother so it tends to be a little unnatural. This is also especially bad for low light selfies! You can tell the AI is trying to work its magic but the picture and face color just ends up looking strange. Like this…

Me, appalled at how bad the lighting on my face looks (it wasn’t that dark by the way, just a dimly lit staircase)
Me, appalled at how bad the lighting on my face looks (it wasn’t that dark by the way, just a dimly lit staircase)

It is, undoubtedly much better when you have natural lighting though! Here are some samples:

Selfie by Lenovo Z5
Selfie by Lenovo Z5
Selfie by Lenovo Z5
Selfie by Lenovo Z5

What I like about it is its sharpness, it’s less grainy & considerably sharper (look at that stray strand of hair sticking out!) than the selfies I take on my regular phone.

Photo by Lenovo Z5
Photo by Lenovo Z5
Photo by Lenovo Z5
Photo by Lenovo Z5

The rear camera takes beautifully colored outdoor photos because it amps up the greens and reds automatically! Although I’d personally prefer it without the watermark at the bottom.

Here are some minor issues I encountered:
After spending some time with the phone, I did notice some flaws

    • The password unlock requires you to tap ‘ok’ to confirm even after keying in the numbers. This is definitely an extra step that can be done away with.
    • The fingerprint sensor at the back is placed way too high up. This makes it extremely clumsy and difficult to reach quickly
    • The phone is VERY HOT, it overheats easily and does not do well outdoors when exposed to sunlight! It started burning after I used it in the sun for about 10 minutes.
    • The camera’s zoom function is horrendous. It allows you to zoom in pretty far but I don’t see what the use of that is when the photo quality drops so much!
It would make more sense to limit the zoom but retain the picture quality!
It would make more sense to limit the zoom but retain the picture quality

Here are some features I’ve especially enjoyed:

  • The camera colours, as mentioned earlier are indeed pretty and vibrant – making it great for outdoor photography.
  • I do like the truer to life colours on the display, the screen is also really big (I’m not very bothered by the notch) and its more than enough for me because my fingers can barely reach the top of the phone already!
  • For the “artsy” Insta-lovers, this phone comes with several in-built filters that are honestly quite attractive.
One of my personal favourite film filters!
One of my personal favourite film filters!

Summary

In summary, the Lenovo Z5 is a typical high-performance phone with a very reasonable price. It has no obvious shortcomings, but nothing particularly spectacular about it either. I would say that it’s biggest selling point is mainly its affordable price range. So if you’re on a budget but want a decent smartphone, the Z5 would be a good choice!

Priced at only 200 USD, I agree that it is great value for money & it is no wonder Lenovo is positioning it as a”flagship for the cost-conscious user”.

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