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Lenovo K9 Review | NDTV

Lenovo has had some success in the Indian smartphone market, but the company has not seemed to be able to sustain serious momentum over the past few years. Some models have been extremely popular and have made it to our lists of recommended phones to buy in the crucial sub-Rs. 10,000 and sub-Rs. 15,000 price brackets. The company at one point decided to focus on its Motorola portfolio, and then also used the Zuk brand which had before then been an online-only effort in China. While all these changes in strategy were playing out, other brands steadily won more and more of Lenovo’s market share.

Now, things seem to changing again. Lenovo has decided to resume producing and selling phones under its own brand alongside Motorola models more than a year after its last launch. The first results of this new effort are the new Lenovo K9 and Lenovo A5, which have just been launched in India. We’re reviewing the Lenovo K9 today, which boasts of four cameras in total. It’s all the more interesting because it continues the much-loved K-series, which over the years has included the K3 Note (Review), Vibe K4 Note (Review), K6 Power (Review), and last year’s K8 Plus (Review). Let’s see if Lenovo can repeat its past success.


Lenovo K9 design

The Lenovo K9 has a very glossy body with a glass rear, which we aren’t used to seeing in the budget segment. The back of our black review unit was extremely reflective, and you can choose to buy this phone in blue, which has the same effect. It catches the light with every little movement, which means that it will grab attention. One big downside to this is that the body is very slippery. The Lenovo K9 will slide around on many surfaces, and we had to be a bit careful when holding it.

As for the front of this phone, it’s very minimalist. Had it not been for the visible earpiece, dual front-facing cameras, and sensors, it would have been difficult to tell which way was up. When this phone is in standby, all you see is inky black glass. This is still a budget model though, and this segment hasn’t yet gone completely borderless, but we don’t mind the space above and below the screen at all. The overall look of the Lenovo K9 is pretty impressive considering its price.

However, we found that the Lenovo K9 isn’t very tough. The back of our unit picked up a nasty scratch at some point during a week of use. Our unit also had a few slight manufacturing defects — adhesive had seeped out in one spot where the frame met rear glass panel, and we could slip a fingernail between the two surfaces in one corner. These issues make us a bit wary about long-term resilience, especially when it comes to liquid damage.

The glass on the front and back has rounded edges, and the rear is completely flat other than the slightly raised camera bump and sunken fingerprint sensor. Thankfully, the frame is curved, which helped us get a good enough grip. The cutouts on the bottom for the 3.5mm headset socket and USB Type-C port are a bit rough. The buttons on the right are all a bit too similar in size and close together, and you might not always be sure you’re pressing the right one.

Lenovo K9 specifications and software

Lenovo has gone with the relatively new MediaTek Helio P22 processor, also known as the MT6762, for this phone. It has eight ARM Cortex-A53 CPU cores running at up to 2GHz, and a Power VR GE8320GPU. We’ve seen it used in the similarly priced Xiaomi Redmi 6 (Review) and the more expensive Nokia 3.1 Plus (Review), and in both cases, performance was adequate though not exciting. We were happy to see that there’s 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, considering this phone’s Rs. 8,999 price tag. The battery capacity comes in at a reasonable 3000mAh.

lenovo k9 rear ndtv lenovo


The screen resolution is 720×1440 and it measures 5.7 inches diagonally, so again no surprises there. It’s fairly crisp and bright but reflections on the glass surface were a bit of a problem outdoors. There’s a pair of 13-megapixel and 5-megapixel cameras on the rear, and the same on the front. You get only the basic sensors — an accelerometer, an ambient light sensor, and a proximity sensor.

We’re pleased to see a USB Type-C port, given that most budget phones and many premium ones still use the Micro-USB standard. On the other hand, the hybrid dual-SIM tray is a downer, and means you’ll have to choose between a second SIM and a microSD card. If you do use two SIMs, LTE is supported on both.

Lenovo has added a few features of its own to the software, but it looks pretty much like stock Android 8.1. The first thing we noticed about this phone was that UI elements including icons, text, and even the status bar seemed to be bigger and more spaced out than usual. At the default display size setting, everything looked somewhat like a children’s picture book — and it also meant that much less useful information was shown on screen at any given time. We much preferred the ‘Small’ display size option.

Customisations come in the form of gestures — you can wake the phone from standby and launch directly into an app by tracing certain gestures on the screen, and you can also enable a three-finger slide to capture screenshots. DuraSpeed is a feature we’ve seen in several other phones with MediaTek processors, and it lets you force individual apps to shut down completely rather than staying resident in the background. This frees up hardware resources, but could mean you don’t get notifications, so use it cautiously.

Our review unit was running the August 2018 security patch and no update was available at the time of this review. Surprisingly, there’s no native face recognition but you can use Android’s built-in Trusted Face feature from within the Smart Lock security settings menu.

lenovo k9 frontapps ndtv lenovo


There’s also quite a bit of preloaded junk including six very low-quality freemium Gameloft games and UC Browser, which thankfully can be removed. Lenovo’s SyncIt app can back up and restore your contacts, messages and call log, and there’s an app store called Lenovo App Daily, both of which cannot be uninstalled.

Lenovo K9 performance, battery life, and cameras

We didn’t have much trouble with day-to-day usage, but we did see some stuttering in heavy apps, and even when scrolling through the Google Play store. It was a pleasure watching videos on this screen. The speaker is good enough for dialogue, though music tended to distort heavily. We also noted that this phone didn’t get hot in use, though we didn’t really spend a lot of time pushing it with heavy apps.

That’s because performance was good enough for the basics, but not much beyond that. We got a score of 78,460 in AnTuTu and 4,876 in PCMark Work 2.0. The Lenovo K9 pushed out a decent 27fps in the simple GFXBench T-Rex graphics test scene but only 11fps in the same benchmark’s more demanding Manhattan scene. There was a distracting amount of stuttering even with Amazing Katamari Damacy, which is a relatively simple 3D game.

Battery life was decent, and in our experience, the Lenovo K9 should be able to take you through a full day with regular usage. We played games for a little while, browsed the Web, and streamed a few hours’ worth of video during our day and didn’t have to worry about finding a power socket till bedtime. Our HD video loop test ran for 11 hours, 22 minutes. After draining this battery, we saw it go up to 40 percent in an hour using the bundled 10W charger, which is a bit slow.

Tap to see full-sized Lenovo K9 camera samples


As for the much-touted four cameras on this phone, we had mixed results. With the 13-megapixel primary rear camera, focus was soft and a few of our shots came out a little blurry, even when taken under blazing sunshine. The Lenovo K9 also had trouble when scenes had a lot of contrast between areas in the light and in shadow. Colours were a bit dull and washed out too. The Bokeh mode delivered one or two great shots, but the background looked artificially distorted rather than blurred in most others. You can take portrait selfies as well, using the dual front cameras, but we found that even while the effect was good, overall image quality suffered.

At night, the shots we took tended to be dark, but whatever detail was visible looked fairly good. There was noise and grain when zooming in to full size, but the quality isn’t bad for such a low-cost phone. Videos were grainy and dark, and a bit jerky. 1280×720 is the default resolution but you can go up to 1920×1080. The camera app doesn’t have many features other than a Panorama mode and beautification.

The main appeal of the Lenovo K9 will be its four cameras — two on the front and two on the rear. However, photo quality isn’t this phone’s strongest suit. It gave us surprisingly weak results in daylight. We hope that some improvements can be made with software updates, because a lot of people are likely to be disappointed otherwise. Other than that, this quite an attractive phone. We don’t think there’s any real need for a notch or super-narrow borders, and Lenovo has found a good balance between features and portability.

The performance and battery life of this phone are also good enough for the budget segment. The only real downside is the hybrid dual-SIM tray. We’d recommend a protective cover of some sort, and we’d also tweak the display scaling, which is not something most phone buyers ever have to worry about. If you like the look of the Lenovo K9 and aren’t can live with its cameras, it could easily be an alternative to the Xiaomi Redmi 6 (Review).

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Apple Considering TV Streaming Dongle to Counter Chromecast, Fire TV Stick: Report

With a view of kick off its content streaming service for the masses, Apple reportedly has plans to launch an affordable dongle. The dongle, which is likely to sit alongside the existing Apple TV, would compete against Amazon’s Fire TV Stick and Google’s Chromecast. The Cupertino giant notably launched the fifth generation Apple TV that dubbed Apple TV 4K in September last year to enable high-end viewing experience. The latest model supports 2160p playback as well as works with standards such as HDR10 and Dolby Vision.

The low-priced streaming dongle has been a part of internal discussions at Apple, reports The Information, citing people familiar with the development. The dongle is speculated to set the pitch for the upcoming video streaming service that is likely to take on contenders such as Amazon Prime Video and Netflix. Earlier this year, it was also reported that Apple could bring a subscription bundle to provide original TV shows, music service, and news content under one roof – somewhere similar to how Amazon drives its subscription-based Prime service that includes Prime Video, Prime Music, Prime Reading, and Prime Now among other key services.

So far, Apple TV is available as the lone streaming device by Apple. While the latest Apple TV model ticks all the boxes – be it 4K video streaming or support for HDR10, Dolby Vision, and Dolby Atmos, it carries a starting price tag of Rs. 17,430 ($179 in the US) that is far expensive over the Chromecast and Fire TV Stick. Amazon even recently brought the Fire TV Stick 4K that comes at Rs. 4,999 ($49.99 in the US). This highlights the need for a low-cost Apple dongle.

The new dongle could help Apple widen its presence in the market of streaming media players. As per a recent report by Parks Associates, the ownership of streaming media players has grown from about six percent of US broadband households in 2010 to 40 percent at the beginning of 2018. The report also mentioned the Apple TV leads on the avenues of gaming and ease of finding something new to watch and purchasing new content. Data startup Thinknum also reported that Apple TV has now been the second most selling 4K streaming device in the US after Amazon’s Fire TV Stick 4K. This is despite the fact that the Fire TV Stick 4K is significantly lower than the Apple TV 4K.

Apple is also planning to bring a dedicated app for smart TVs that would work for its original content. The company is rumoured to have plans to spend $1 billion (roughly Rs. 7,100 crores) for its original shows. The content is expected to be available for free for viewers who own Apple devices.

In the recent past, Apple has signed some production deals to kick off the development of its content streaming service. The company also brought celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey on board to make a model competing with Amazon, Netflix, and other streaming services.

We need to wait for sometime to see what Apple is cooking up behind the scenes. Meanwhile, it is safe to take the report around the streaming dongle with a pinch of salt.

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Realme 2 Pro, Realme 1 Bootloaders to Be Unlocked in Q1 2019, Realme Accessories Coming to India Soon

Realme 2 Pro, Realme 1 Bootloaders to Be Unlocked in Q1 2019, Realme Accessories Coming to India Soon

Realme will unlock bootloader of the Realme 2 Pro by January 15, 2019

Realme, a spinoff brand from Oppo, has taken the Indian market by storm with its affordable offerings including the Realme 1, Realme C1, Realme 2, and Realme 2 Pro. The phone maker has now announced that it will unlock the bootloader of the Realme 2 Pro by January 15, 2019. Even the Realme 1 will have its bootloader unlocked and kernel source released in the first quarter of 2019 itself. Other than that, the Realme 2 Pro is confirmed to get support for slow motion video recording in the first quarter next year. This feature will expectedly be made available via an OTA update on the smartphone. Realme mobile accessories are also said to launch in India before the end of this year.

Apart from the Realme 2 Pro, the company’s CEO Madhav Sheth took to Twitter to announce that “other Realme devices are being taken into consideration” for the slow motion video feature. In a video posted on his account, Sheth claimed that Realme mobile accessories, starting with Realme-branded earphones, will be unveiled in India before the end of this year. He also said that the new software UI, which is already being experienced by Realme 1 beta users, will roll out to all other Realme phones by the end of this year.

Ever since the launch of the Realme 1, the phone maker has been particularly swift in rolling out latest updates, Android security patches, and new features to its entire lineup. Just this week, the Realme 2 Pro received its latest software update which brought optimisations for selfie camera quality, optimisations for reminders, and the latest November 2018 Android security patch to the smartphone. The Realme 2 and Realme C1 already have the latest November security patch, and are expected to get ColorOS 5.2 soon.

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Xiaomi Mi TV 4S 75-Inch With 4K Display, HDR Support Launched

Xiaomi has expanded its smart TV portfolio with the launch of a 75-inch variant of the Mi TV 4S in China. The new variant will go on sale in the country from November 23, and its key highlights are the large display, sleek design, 4K screen, HDR support, and more. To recall, the Mi TV 4S already has 43-inch and 55-inch variants launched in the market, and now it’s making available another option for customers who prefer really big screens. Even the Mi TV 4 series introduced a 75-inch option recently in the market.

The Mi TV 4S 75-inch variant is priced at CNY 7,999 (roughly Rs.82,100), and will be made available on Xiaomi Mall and Mi Home Stores in China. To recall, the 43-inch model of the Mi TV 4S was launched earlier in May, and it has been priced at CNY 1,799 (roughly Rs. 19,100) and comes with a 4K Ultra HD display that has an 8ms response time, 60Hz refresh rate, and 178-degree viewing angle. There is a quad-core processor under the hood, paired with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage. The 55-inch variant got a curved display, 2GB of RAM, and 8GB inbuilt storage, and came with a price tag of CNY 3,299 (roughly Rs. 35,100).

Coming back to the Mi TV 4S, the television supports a 4K LCD display panel with narrow bezels and HDR support, and is built with aerospace-grade aluminium, brushed metal, and silver-grey metal finishes. It is powered by the 64-bit A53 quad-core processor, paired with 2GB RAM and just 8GB internal storage. Internal storage on the 75-inch Mi TV 4 was at 32GB. As mentioned, the TV supports HDR, and has Bluetooth, DTS-HD and Dolby audio, and Wi-Fi connectivity options as well.

Just like the other two variants, this 75-inch Mi TV 4S also runs on Xiaomi’s own PatchWall UI and it also brings along AI-based voice recognition. The remote also comes with a designated button to activate the voice assistant to operate the TV with easy voice commands. The device can be purchased after November 23 from the company’s official website.

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