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Lenovo Vibe S1 Review: A purely decent mid-ranger

Rahul R
Sr. Technology Reporter
Editors Rating

Our pursuit of owning a decent mid-range smartphone, that is more than fit and useful for general everyday usage, brought us close to the Lenovo Vibe S1. With Lenovo’s Vibe series of smartphones having grabbed eyeballs the world over with their value-for-money factor, we decided to test the relatively newer Vibe S1 as well by subjecting the handset to multiple performance tests.

Here’s how the Lenovo Vibe S1 performed in our tests:

Design and Display

The Lenovo Vibe S1, by virtue of its positioning as a pure mid-ranger comes with a full metal frame on its exterior; this aspect is a rarity as far as modern mid-range smartphones are concerned. Most of these generally feature an outer shell made of hardened plastic; but Lenovo’s Vibe S1 begs to differ which we fell is a notable aspect.

However, the overall finishing of the metallic design is not as expected. The Lenovo Vibe S1’s overall design has been given a matte finish which has taken-off that attractive factor and appeal from what could have been an extra-ordinary stylish outer design finish. Nonetheless, the overall outer metallic frame is attractive and strikes the eye dominantly as soon as the handset from its packaging.

During our evaluation of its outer design, we could also feel the Vibe S1’s rear which is in the form of a perfect curve. Its edges are relatively stylish and slim; the right-hand side of the Lenovo Vibe S1 is home to the conventional volume keys as well as the power button in a standard arrangement. An advantage that we could sense, here, was the location of the headphone port (that is present at the top of the handset). This makes it really convenient to plug-in a 3.5mm headphone cord. This scenario is true, especially in markets where its users prefer purchasing smartphones based on budgets rather than blindly opting-in for flagship devices.

As far as its actual display is concerned, the Lenovo Vibe S1 features a comparatively “smaller” 5-inch LCD capacitive touchscreen having resolution of 1080 x 1920 with pixel density of nearly 441 ppi. This touchscreen is protected by Corning’s Gorilla Glass 3. The display supports 16 million colors and Multitouch (for up to 5 fingers) functionalities.

During our testing, the display of the Lenovo Vibe S1 rendered comparatively sharp images along with richly highlighting all the essential colors. The Blacks are properly highlighted, whereas the white balance is near perfect.

In terms of viewing angles, we could observe color overlaps and intensive refraction; but these did not matter to us as we wanted a smartphone that offered decent performance in a general everyday usage scenario; rather than a flagship whose aspects can be decoded only by someone with sound technical knowledge.

Finally, the Lenovo Vibe S1 comes with the proximity sensor that does an overly sensitive job of unlocking the screen whenever there are objects placed right in front. But, by activating the Pocket Dial prevention mode manually; random things such as accidental dialing of phone numbers as well as auto-unlocking of the screen can be prevented.

Processor and Memory

Under-the-hood, the Lenovo Vibe S1 incorporates a MediaTek MT6752 SoC that comprises of a 1.7 GHz octa-core Cortex-A53 CPU; along with a Mali-T760MP2 GPU.

When we used the handset, in a multitasking and multi app scenario, we could not experience any major glitches in performance and the instruction processing capabilities, save for minor lags. The handset’s video-streaming handling capabilities are not great; but these should not be a matter for concern to the general everyday users who are traditionally used to storing multimedia content (within MicroSD card storage) and then viewing these rather than preferring to directly stream and view multimedia content.

Also, when we checked out games such as Dead Trigger 2 and Asphalt 8: Airborne, the whole experience seemed fine save for really minor lags. The high-end gaming part of the Lenovo Vibe S1 is taken care of by a 3GB RAM that works in tandem with MediaTek MT6752. For storage, the Lenovo Vibe S1 offers 32 GB internal storage that can be expanded up to 256 GB via an external microSD card. The microSD card is integrated within the second SIM-card slot; remember that the Lenovo Vibe S1 offers dual-SIM card slots.

Camera

A 13 MP primary camera adorns the rear of the Lenovo Vibe S1, along with an LED flash unit. We could capture fairly good shots of nature and wildlife in daylight. Even the 8 MP front camera (for the selfie generation) along with another 2 MP camera sensor (to detect depth of field) does a good job of offering selfies, and video calling functionality. Even the camera app works well, and as expected.

During our testing, the low-light photography offered was also fairly good; however, we could observe grains and external noise dominantly.

Software

The Lenovo Vibe S1, though eligible to receive a firmware update for Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) still runs Google’s old Android 5.0 (Lollipop). During our testing, the Lenovo Vibe S1 responded effectively to the double-tap which activates the display or puts it to sleep. We could view all the menu contents, within Settings, in a tabbed view format reducing on-screen clutter.

Battery

Lenovo Vibe S1 is powered by a fixed 2,420 mAh battery that is fixed. During our testing, we could view videos (stored within the handset’s external memory) continuously for nearly 10 hours. High-end gaming naturally depleted the battery life substantially; upon restricting the usage to calls and basic internet, we obtained battery life that lasted for nearly a day.

Pricing

If you reside in the UAE, the Lenovo Vibe S1 is available for purchase at a starting price of AED 768. We consider the price tag of the handset to be worthy of the offered key technical specifications, and based on our testing (of the smartphone) as well. However, like always, the final purchase decision vests with the buyers themselves.

Positives

  • Value-for-money
  • Rear camera
  • Fairly good performance in a general everyday usage scenario
  • Overall metallic outer design is impressive

Negatives

  • Android 5.0 out of the box
  • Slight yet minor lags in certain multi-tasking scenarios
  • Very average battery backup (not necessarily a negative as far as general everyday no-frills usage of the Lenovo Vibe S1 is concerned).