Lenovo K6 Note: An underpowered smartphone that tries to compete with much better rivals

Lenovo has been working overtime at releasing smartphones with new models from multiple series being launched in a mere gap of months. The company had previously launched the Lenovo K6 Power in the last week of November, before launching K6 Note. Lenovo Vibe K5 was launched back in August after the company launched Lenovo Zuk Z2 Plus.

The company wants to flood the Indian market with budget smartphones so that people buy smartphones made by Lenovo. K6 Note is another attempt by the Chinese company to break through in the budget segment in the Indian smartphone market. So without further delay, lets see how the Lenovo K6 Note fares.

Build and Design: 7/10

Lenovo K6 Note is a good looking device with a metal back and glass front along with plastic top and bottom on the back. The smartphone is well-built and sturdy without any squeaking parts. It feels good to hold in hand even though it does tend to be a bit slippery.

The screen size may make it difficult for one hand usage, but that is the case only when you are trying to reach something on the diagonally extreme corners with your thumb.

Lenovo K6 Note comes with the volume rocker on the top right side corner of the smartphone and the power button a little below volume rocker, towards the middle. You will find the speaker grill and the microUSB v2.0 port on the bottom and the 3.5mm headphone jack on the top side of the smartphone towards the right.

The left size towards the top of the smartphone houses the Dual Nano SIM slot where the second slot can be used as an expandable microSD card slot.

The design for K6 Note is nothing out of the ordinary. The imprinted icons of buttons towards the bottom of the screen are ugly in my opinion and kill the chance for the company to add a layer of customisability where consumers can alter the buttons according to their preference.

Features: 7/10

Lenovo K6 Note features a 5.5-inch Full HD display and is powered by an Octa-Core Snapdragon 430 processor clocked at 1.4GHz. There are memory options available on the smartphone: 3GB and 4GB RAM with an internal storage of 32GB. The device we tested had 3GB RAM and 32GB internal storage. Both the versions offer the ability to expand the storage using a microSD card of up to 128GB. The device is about 169 gm in weight with 151 x 76 x 8.4 mm dimensions.

The smartphone sports a 16MP camera sensor at the back with PDAF and a dual tone LED flash along with an 8MP shooter on the front. Connectivity options include dual-SIM support, 4G LTE, Bluetooth 4.1, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, GPS/A-GPS and a microUSB v2.0 port. Other notable features include Dolby Atmos audio technology, accelerometer, gyroscope, proximity, compass and a fingerprint scanner. The phone is expected to ship with Android 6.0 Marshmallow (with a custom skin) and a 4,000 mAh battery.

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Display: 6/10

A 5.5-inch IPS LCD panel with Full HD resolution does not offer anything great except the ease to read and use K6 Note under sunlight. The display is average and will not impress you much as the colour reproduction is not impressive. Even though the smartphone does provide a vibrant mode, despite extended usage in the vibrant mode the colours seemed washed out. Once I switched to Normal mode, the display turned from normal to just bad. Viewing angles are quite good though.

One thing to note is that the display settings do provide an option of ‘Brightness protection’ which is Lenovo’s take on ‘Night mode’.

However, Lenovo just puts a software overlay on the screen to emulate the effect, and there is no real night mode happening.

The contrast ratios of the display are not up to the mark with a hint of very faint blue tint over the entire display, which may bother people who want accurate colour production. Another thing that I noticed was the fact I had to regularly wipe the display to remove fingerprints despite using the phone with clean hands on most occasions.

Software:

Lenovo K6 Note runs a skinned version of Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow with Vibe Pure skin. The skin is not as comprehensive as Xiaomi MIUI or Samsung TouchWiz, and you can still see hints of stock Android while using the software.

The company has added some useful tweaks like ‘Feature’ that include Quick snap, double pressing any volume keys to take a picture when the screen is off. Knock to wake, Smart Scene, Wide touch, Fingerprint snap, VR Mode Switch, Dual app profile a feature that lets you run apps under two different accounts.

You can have WhatsApp running with two separate registrations, for example. The skinned UI does include a ‘Theme Center’ where you can apply different themes to change the look for the software.

Other features include Quick flashlight, decrease tone volume, Ultimate Power Saver and Secure zone management, a sandboxing mechanism which is almost equal to creating different profiles on the smartphone.

The device did come preinstalled with some bloat and does not provide you with a neat experience, and one interesting thing is that the pre-installed McAfee Security terms ‘Theme Center’ by Lenovo as a threat. All of the things added are spread over a different type of age groups and target groups and may not appeal everyone. But one thing to note is that the company needs to improve the software optimisation to improve the overall sluggish experience.

Performance:

Lenovo K6 Note is underpowered; this is what I can say after using it for almost two weeks now. Which is surprising for its price-point and a smartphone with Octa-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 and 3GB RAM as its internals. The device scored 636 in the GeekBench 4 Single-Core test and 1972 in the Multi-Core Score test. The device also scored about 44378 in the AnTuTu Benchmark which makes it figure quite low in the ranking when compared to devices launched in 2011 (iPhone 4s) for example.

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Waiting for tasks to complete after the action has been executed, like waiting for the app to load while switching using multitasking mode, waiting for the keyboard to popup are normal. Even though the delay is small, over time it adds up and leads to a sluggish experience overall. One interesting thing to note is that the device did not get heated up during the extended period of testing except for the rare times when it was continuously pushed to its limits. The smartphone did run the games like Asphalt 8, but there was a noticeable lag while playing.

The calling experience and voice quality is great on the device with no issues in the clarity of the sound or the reception. The speaker grill is available on the bottom side of the smartphone which does not hinder the sound while playing music. Even though the level of sound of the speakers is good, still it can drown in a considerably large hall with background noise. The smartphone scored 3383 in the PCMark Work 2.0 performance test and 9512 in the Ice Storm Unlimited test.

One thing to note is that the fingerprint sensors on the back of the device are fast and very accurate with no problems at scanning the fingerprints from any orientation possible.

Camera:

Budget smartphones do not really build up much anticipation in the camera department, and the K6 Note was no different. I was a bit impressed with the quality of images, contrast and colours of the photos in ideal conditions with sufficient daylight but the good part ends there.

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The images were a mess in low light with a grain-fest that painted the entire photos. Software does not seem to be optimised to adjust ISO and shutter speed as most photos had motion blur along with excessive noise in low light conditions.

The HDR mode on the smartphone is terrible as the final images seem to have a ‘surreal’ filter applied to them to make the colours look vibrant and very unnatural.

One important to thing to note is that most of the times I found images out of focus and had to clean the rear camera module glass to ensure that the pictures were in focus. The camera module on the front is also very ordinary, and you won’t be astonished by the photos just like the sub-par photos taken by the rear camera.

Considering the quality of the images I had to double check if the rear camera is indeed 16MP. Don’t expect much except decent photos during the day.

Battery Life

Lenovo K6 Note is equipped with a 4,000mAh non-removable lithium-polymer battery which is good to know considering that almost all companies are packing larger batteries in budget devices. Despite the capacity, the battery life provided by Lenovo K6 Note is impressive. The device ended up giving me a battery life of about 7.5 hours during a typical work day.

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The normal day included 2.5-3 hours of music, 4-5 photos, constant internet usage over 4G and about 1 hour of gaming with a lot of WhatsApp and Telegram messages. The smartphone scored about 10 hours and 21 minutes on the battery intensive PCMark Work battery life 1.0.

One thing to note is that the smartphone software warns you of the mobile apps that are using a considerably high amount of battery. The software feature ‘Background app management’ prompts you to continue using that app or stop the app.

K6 Note also has inbuilt ‘Ultimate Power Save’ which disables everything except calling and messaging, thereby increasing the standby time to days. The software also has redesigned ‘Power Consumption Details’ which let you see what apps are using the battery in a more comprehensive way.

Another important thing is that K6 Note comes with a microUSB 2.0 port and does not come with the latest Type-C reversible USB port. K6 Note does not come with fast-charging. Instead, the company has (thankfully) opted to include a power adapter that provides 5.2V charging capacity at 2A. This somewhat helps the situation instead of the painful experience of charging with a power adapter providing charging at 1A.

The K6 Note is treading a very competitive segment with a Rs 14,000 price tag, when you are getting more faster and better-specced devices at slightly lower prices. Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 for instance, which comes with Snapdragon 650 and a 4050mAh battery as well. Lenovo should also improve on the design, as all its devices are starting to look like replicas of each other.

Lenovo K6 Note detailed specifications
GENERAL
Release date September 2016
Form factor Touchscreen
Dimensions (mm) 151.00 x 76.00 x 8.40
Weight (g) 169.00
Battery capacity (mAh) 4000
Removable battery No
Colours Dark Grey, Gold, Silver
SAR value NA
DISPLAY
Screen size (inches) 5.50
Touchscreen Yes
Resolution 1080×1920 pixels
Pixels per inch (PPI) 401
HARDWARE
Processor 1.4GHz octa-core
Processor make Qualcomm Snapdragon 430
RAM 3GB
Internal storage 32GB
Expandable storage Yes
Expandable storage type microSD
Expandable storage up to (GB) 128
CAMERA
Rear camera 16-megapixel
Flash Yes
Front camera 8-megapixel
SOFTWARE
Operating System Android 6.0.1
CONNECTIVITY
Wi-Fi Yes
Wi-Fi standards supported 802.11 b/g/n
GPS Yes
Bluetooth Yes, v 4.10
NFC No
Infrared No
USB OTG Yes
Headphones 3.5mm
FM Yes
Number of SIMs 2
SIM 1
SIM Type Nano-SIM
GSM/CDMA GSM
3G Yes
4G/ LTE Yes
Supports 4G in India (Band 40) Yes
SIM 2
SIM Type Nano-SIM
GSM/CDMA GSM
3G Yes
4G/ LTE Yes
Supports 4G in India (Band 40) Yes
SENSORS
Compass/ Magnetometer No
Proximity sensor Yes
Accelerometer Yes
Ambient light sensor Yes
Gyroscope Yes
Barometer No
Temperature sensor No