Reviewing the Lenovo X3 Vibe - Good vibrations in a surprising package! - Page 2

Review by Tudor Dan published on 04/06/2016
Rating:
4 out of 5 stars

Benchmark performance of the Lenovo X3 Vibe

The Lenovo X3 Vibe has the second-best Snapdragon chipset, so the expectations are quite high. We start off with the Vellamo suite and its Metal and Multicore tests. Metal tests the single-core performance, while Multicore puts all six cores through their paces.

While the Metal test result of 2123 offers no surprise, with the Lenovo X3 Vibe being just below the LG G4 (which has the same chipset, but with the cores running at higher frequencies), the Multicore test offered the first pleasant surprise: with 2547 points, the Lenovo X3 Vibe was 14% better than the LG G4 and only 10% slower than the higher specced Samsung Galaxy S6. It's an excellent result from the Snapdragon 808 chipset, nearing its more powerful sibling, the Snapdragon 810.

Next, we tested the graphics subsystem using the GFX Bench GL Benchmark suite. The Lenovo X3 Vibe obtained solid results in all the tests, thanks to the Adreno 418 graphics processor. Both Manhattan Offscreen (934 frames) and T-Rex Offscreen (1941 frames) test results are similar with the LG G4, and a bit below the Samsung S6, so no surprises this time.

We come back to the Vellamo suite for the Browser test, which we ran for the Chrome browser in order to evaluate the browsing experience. The result was excellent: the Lenovo X3 Vibe managed a score of 4745, significantly better than the LG G4.

The next test is a rather imprecise one, since it depends on the strength of the signal and various other settings. Nevertheless, here are the results obtained by the Lenovo X3 Vibe the Speedtest.net by Ookla , both on the 4G (LTE) network (left) and using WiFi (right). The numbers give you a good idea on what to expect on your average usage situation. The 4G speeds may easily be higher, depending on the technology and bandwidth limits provided by your network operator, since the device is LTE CAT6 capable, supporting up to 300 Mbps download rates. Similarly, since the device supports the 802.11 ac standard, the WiFi speed can be substantially higher.

Finally, we ran the Work battery life test from PCMark to see how much juice the battery can provide. The result was again a pleasant surprise, the Lenovo X3 Vibe managing a solid 9 hours and 55 minutes, with an average score of 4209 points. It's still nowhere near the amazing result of the ASUS Zenfone Max , but it's well above the average for a smartphone this size and with this level of performance.

The benchmarks show a good performance level for the Lenovo X3 Vibe. The raw performance is one step lower than the current top performers, but the results are very respectable and sometimes even surprising, considering the hardware. The good web browsing results show that Lenovo has invested a lot of effort into ensuring a good level of integration of the hardware and software components.

The smartphone experience on the Lenovo X3 Vibe

Between the good first impression and the the excellent benchmark results, we had high expectations from the Lenovo flagship and, well, the expectations were fully met. Although this smartphone is very large, it doesn't feel and look bulky, thanks to its rounded back and clean design. One-hand operation is a difficult task for people with average-sized hands, but users who buy this device know what to expect from a smartphone with a 5.5 inch screen.

Telephony is very good: the noise suppression system works really well in noisy environments and the earpiece is sufficiently loud. We had no reception issues.

The screen is beautiful, with rich colors and extreme viewing angles. The blacks are not perfect, but the sharpness and the brightness are excellent. When you combine the excellent screen with the Dolby Atmos front-facing speakers, you get a really enjoyable device for watching video, a quality which isn't usually on the list for a mobile phone. The Dolby feature really works and gives depth to the sound. Once we activated it we never turned it back off, since the quality of the experience is so much better. The speakers are seriously loud, although a bit more bass would have made them perfect.

Using headphones or externally amplified sound sets, the quality of the output is beyond reproach. The difference between the two settings, HiFi and Turbo HiFi can only be discerned using high-end headsets or speakers, but really, the HiFi setting is already close to perfect. Not that you would notice it using the included earphones, which are mediocre at best.

We never encountered any slowdowns, even when using multiple apps at once. When used for 3D games, the smartphone doesn't get hot.

The battery lasted more than 24 hours with average usage. You should expect to easily get a full day of use from the Lenovo X3 Vibe. It has a power saving mode which can be activated at a set threshold.

We really tried hard to find issues with the Lenovo X3 Vibe in normal usage, but the only complaints were regarding the materials used, and not the performance of the device. First of all, we think that the inclusion of a protection cover is not only a marketing gimmick. The machined aluminium frame is very soft and even with careful usage you can easily dent it. Second, the cover itself is pretty frail. The problem is not that it's not rigid, it's quite the opposite: the fact that it's too rigid makes it hard to remove (which is mandatory if you want to insert a SIM or a MicroSD card) and brittle. A more flexible cover would eliminate these issues.

In conclusion, the smartphone experience on the Lenovo X3 Vibe is excellent and there isn't much more we could ask from a device at this price point. It has good looks, an excellent screen, powerful sound and a decent battery life.

The camera experience on the Lenovo X3 Vibe

The camera interface is simple and straightforward. You have the option to take a picture, record a video or use one of the eight presets:

  • Pro, which allows the user to adjust settings like ISO and aperture
  • Panorama, which stitches multiple photos
  • Art Nightscape, which uses high sensitivity
  • Artistic HDR, which can improve the dynamic range or create crazy-coloured pictures, depending on the settings selected
  • Blur background, which uses the largest aperture setting for a very narrow area of focus
  • Panorama selfie, useful for a group selfie
  • Fast-motion video recording
  • Slow-motion video recording

The more advanced settings are not easily accessible, but we doubt many of the users will want to fiddle with the settings too much.

The 21 MP main camera uses a phase detection autofocus, and what this means in laymen's terms is that the camera focuses the image quicker and spends less time out of focus, even when moving from a close subject to a far away one. The feature is easily apparent in good lighting, when the camera focuses much faster than your average phone camera.

At this point we found what we think is the most important (and one of the few) disadvantages of the Lenovo X3 Vibe. The camera has no optical image stabilization, a must-have feature for a smartphone at this price level. There is a software image stabilization, but it's not nearly as efficient as the optical one. That being said, the images obtained in good lighting are good, with nice colors and good sharpness.

We tested the dynamic range by taking pictures which included both shaded and well lit areas and we found that the camera usually overexposes the well-lit areas. We say "usually", because the settings were somewhat inconsistent.

The HDR works reasonably well, but distorts colors, depending on the settings used (Automobile, City, Portrait or Still Life). Below you can see the results of Automobile, Portrait and Still Life.

In low light, the quality of the photos deteriorates rapidly, but this is no surprise for a smartphone camera. The images are still usable, but the autofocus is much slower and the motion blur is omnipresent. Night shots are not advised on the Lenovo X3 Vibe, since the images are either blurry or lacking detail.

Macro shots are pretty good, although the camera won't focus closer than 4 inches (10 cm) from the subject. We found the same inconsistency in camera settings from one shot to the next, maybe due to a software bug. Below you can see two macro shots taken in quick succession.

The dual-LED, dual-color flash does a good job, fills the scene nicely and the colors remain relatively accurate thanks to the two color tones used.

The 8 MP front facing camera has a fixed focus and is only good for selfies. It struggles under low light but takes decent photos under the right conditions. You also have the option to "beautify" your selfies, a setting which in essence decreases the sharpness and smoothens skin features.

The camera can be controlled by using the fingerprint reader. Since the reader is situated on the back of the device, it is ideally placed for taking selfies. You can also take a picture by waving at the camera or making a "V" sign with your hand. The camera doesn't always sense the gestures, though, and you might look a bit… weird trying to make the camera take a photo using this method.

The videos made with the Lenovo X3 Vibe have a good quality, with good detail and nice colors. Although the autofocus is fast, unfortunately the lack of an optical image stabilization system becomes obvious while filming. Below you have two 1080p videos of the same scene (including static and fast moving objects). The first one is without software stabilization.

The second one is with the stabilization turned on.

The results are mediocre. Basically what the software stabilization does is use a crop of the image from the sensor, trying (most of the time unsuccessfully) to stabilize the image. When filming static scenes, it works, but when you start panning the camera, it fails miserably. The bitrate of the videos is pretty high at 20.6 Mbps and the frame rate is relatively constant around the 30 frames per second mark. The ability to shoot 4K videos is a nice bonus, although 4K screens are not yet common.

As usual, you can take a look at the pictures we made with the Lenovo X3 Vibe. Expand the album below to view them.

Overall, the camera experience was not on the same level as the rest of the smartphone. The lack of optical stabilization and the inconsistencies between pictures overshadow the simple interface and the quality of the pictures in good lighting conditions.

Pros and cons of the Lenovo Vibe X3

Summarizing our findings, we liked the following:

  • Elegant design and good choice of colors and textures
  • Excellent screen
  • Excellent sound output both from the speakers and the headphone jack
  • Good performance, especially when browsing the Web
  • No bloatware

However, there were also some things that we didn't like:

  • This smartphone is rather heavy
  • It has capacitive buttons without backlighting
  • The camera doesn't offer optical image stabilization
Product Rated
4/5

Verdict

The Lenovo X3 Vibe is an excellent smartphone, with good looks, offers good performance, an excellent screen and a powerful sound system. It's one step behind the current flagship standard but there's plenty of performance under the hood while the battery can last you a bit more than a day. Under the right conditions, both cameras perform well. Apart from the lack of optical image stabilization, the Lenovo X3 Vibe doesn't have any significant weakness. We recommend this smartphone to users who want good performance and excellent multimedia capabilities at a reasonable price. Users who want a lightweight device should look elsewhere.