Lenovo’s new phone, the Z2 Plus, belongs to the Zuk sub-brand, which made its debut with the Zuk Z1 in May 2016. The Zuk Z1 ran a clean Android-based Cyanogen OS and was powerful enough to take on the budget rivals. Its successor, the Z2 Plus, is a different beast altogether. Priced at Rs.17,999 for the 3GB RAM+32GB variant and Rs.19,999 for the 4GB RAM+64 GB unit, the phone has the innards and the looks of a genuine flagship killer.
Design: Compact and classy design
The Z2 Plus looks very similar to the Apple iPhone 5s, and that is no shame. The back panel is made of glass, and the sides are essentially a fibre glass frame. It looks chic and premium, but as with most phones that have a glass back, there is some amount of smudge magnet element that cannot be ignored. At a thickness of 8.5mm and weighing 150g, this phone is neither too thick nor heavy. Due to its compact size, it can fit into the smallest of hands, and will most certainly appeal to the demographic of users who find the bigger phones impossible to use
The Z2 Plus has a USB Type-C connector which shares space with the 3.5mm audio jack and the speaker on the base of the phone. The fingerprint sensor is integrated with the home button which makes it easily accessible. It is fast and during testing, we found this to be accurate 10 out of 10 times, and 100% success rates are quite rare, no matter how expensive your smartphone. The dual SIM slots which can take in only nano SIM cards are placed on the right panel alongside the volume and power buttons.
Display: Small but vivid
The 5-inch display has a screen resolution of 1,920x1080p and a layer of scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass 3 on top of it. Colours look rich which makes watching movies an enjoyable experience. The display also holds well under bright sunlight and doesn’t look washed out. Visibility from wide angles is good too. Overall, it is an impressive display that looks at par with its rivals.
However, it feels a bit small for games involving on screen touch controls. Admittedly, we have become used to phones with bigger screen sizes, and for us, typing documents and reading e-books was a bit like a return to the days of old. While we feel that Lenovo should have gone for a slightly bigger 5.2-inch or 5.3-inch screen, just as most flagship Android phones do, it is also true that a lot of users would any day prefer a 5-inch screen or whereabouts, compared to a bigger 5.5-inch device. And since compact screen phones are becoming rarer by the day, the Z2 Plus is a fantastic option.
Lenovo has carried over a few features of Vibe UI, seen on its other smartphones, on to this device. The Prevent Lock Dials feature prevents accidental dialling while the phone is in the pocket, by not allowing the screen to unlock and make any inadvertent calls. The Colour Mode allows one to switch between warm, cool and night modes, depending on what sort of colours you prefer. You can preset a time for the night mode and it would change the colour of the screen to a warmer tone automatically.
Software: Plain Android with cool features
Unlike its predecessor, the Z2 Plus runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow out of the box with a near plain version of stock Android interface. Unlike Cyanogen OS seen in the previous Zuk phone, where you could customise the interface to a great extent, the new Zuk UI’s focus is more on making things easier for users. For instance, the shortcut and notification panel have been separated—swiping down shows notification while swiping up shows shortcuts to settings.
Swiping left on the home button opens all the apps which are open and running in the background based on the order in which you used them. So the most recently minimised app will show up first and the one opened first will show last. This is a neat way of multi-tasking and offers a full page view of the app. The plain Android interface has a familiar ring about it which makes using it easy. Lenovo has added a few of its own apps such as ShareIt and UHealth. The former allows faster data transfer without using Bluetooth or internet, while the latter is a Google Fit-like app for tracking your steps and activities.
Performance: Handles all tasks with ease
Powered by Qualcomm’s top-of-the-line 2.1GHz Snapdragon 820 quad-core processor with 4GB RAM (we reviewed the higher spec device), the device handled light and heavy tasks with amazing grace. We didn’t notice any signs of stutter or heating issues while switching between apps, multi-tasking or while playing heavy games. At this price point, you will be hard pressed to find a better phone with performance that matches these levels, despite all the ‘optimization’ claims that rivals may make.
The Z2 Plus has 64GB of storage, which is a lot by the standards of a sub-Rs.20,000 smartphone. Very few phones offer this much storage at this price. It is a 4G device and supports all 4G LTE networks in India. The 3,500mAh battery can easily muster over a day and half when used as a primary phone.
Camera: Works well in low light too
The 13-megapixel camera is better than what we expected. It handles colours and finer details brilliantly. Even in landscape shots, detail reproduction is good, especially under bright light. The camera surprisingly works well under low light, as well, which is a real bonus. It comes with a number of camera modes such as slow motion, time lapse, panorama and filters such as grayscale, salt, dusk and soft. The 8-megapixel on the front is a treat for selfie lovers and can deliver crisp and wide shots for social media posts.
Lenovo’s new Z2 Plus is an undoubted flagship killer. This is also the first instance of a smartphone offering top-of-the-line hardware and smooth performance for less than Rs.20,000. The small screen is the only factor which will keep users who are more at ease with big screen phones away from it. If you are looking for something with a big screen, LeEco’s LeMax 2, which is currently selling at a discounted price of Rs.17,999 (down from Rs.22,999), is a solid option for its quad HD screen, performance and camera.