By Anuj Sharma
Touted as one of its premium yet affordable flagship devices, the positioning of Chinese smartphone maker Lenovo's new Z2 Plus in the sub-Rs 20,000 market makes it lucrative for a simple reason: It packs so much that it will make players like Xiaomi, which has a strong presence in India, run for cover.
Z2 Plus was launched in China earlier this year as ZUK Z2 but in India, the company is using its own name to target a huge customer base (the box, however, carries 'Powered by ZUK' branding).
The device, which represents Lenovo's ZUK family of smartphones, differs from the company's Vibe series as it does not carry Vibe UI and runs on ZUI on top of an Android Marshmallow operating system (OS).
The Lenovo Z2 Plus is priced at Rs 19,999 for the 4GB/64GB and Rs 17,999 for the 3GB/32GB variant.
Here's what works for the 4GB device we tested.
The Z2 Plus is built differently from other flagship smartphones we have seen so far. The device does not have a metal finish. Rather, it sports a fibre glass frame with a 2.5D curved glass that gives it a refreshing look. The frame also gives it a sturdy feel.
It is not as thin as most premium devices but uses a 5-inch display, making it the smallest handset among the flagship Android smartphones. The 1920x1080 resolution produced natural-looking colours on screen.
Being compact, the Z2 Plus can easily be used with one hand and people who want a small-sized powerful gadget will love this.
The physical home button also acts as fingerprint sensor that Lenovo calls "U-Touch" and enables users to programme seven different gestures and shortcuts into it.
Users can touch once to go back, press takes them to homescreen, a double press brings up the app history and swiping left or right allows for multi-tasking.
U-Touch also allows users to customise the home button. For example, users can long press or long touch to set it up for sleep, notification centre or to open an app (the customisations work only when the phone is unlocked).
The multi-functional fingerprint scanner has a learning curve to it and may take two-three days to adjust to.
Under the hood, Z2 Plus houses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 SoC (System on Chip) that powers some of the high-end flagships. So performance wise, there is hardly anything that the phone will not do.
The Z2 Plus also has a dedicated U health app that keeps track of your steps taken, distance covered and calories burnt.
We found the app to be accurate almost all the time. You do not need to invest in an additional smartband or another gadget to keep you updated on your fitness goals. The app consumed very little power, thus saves on battery too.
The camera app is slightly tweaked compared to what we have seen in other Android devices. Users are greeted with a circular layout which they can toggle both clockwise and anti-clockwise to select from HDR, Slo-mo, Time-lapse, Pano, Flash and Scale menu options or can select these by tapping directly.
The 13MP rear camera captured good, detailed pictures and so did the front 8MP snapper, be it in bright or low-light conditions.
The rear camera can also shoot 4K videos and front-facing camera can shoot full-HD videos. Slow-motion video can be shot at 120fps, 240fps and 960fps.
The 3,500mAh battery easily ran for a full day over moderate to heavy usage while using a mix of apps including YouTube, social media and games, and can last a day-and-a-half with normal usage.
What does not work?
The glossy frame at the back that gives an illusion of glass attracts fingerprint smudges. Whether you buy a 32GB storage version or 64GB variant, the storage is not expandable.
Outside viewing is good but in some instances, we found that the adaptive brightness did not always work well and often needed to be set manually to 80 per cent for proper viewing.
Conclusion: With Z2 Plus, Lenovo has managed to give more at a lesser price and the device delivers all-round performance. If you want a device whose specs not only look good on paper but perform as well, Lenovo Z2 Plus under 20K offers the best value for money.
(Anuj Sharma can be contacted at email@example.com)