- 4,000mAh battery
- 148g weight
- 5-inch display
- Android Lollipop
- Superb battery life
- Affordable price
- Good camera performance in daylight
- Uninspiring design
- Poor quality speakers
- Performance quirks
Motorola and Xiaomi started the budget smartphone revolution in India back in late 2013, and other Chinese brands also eventually followed suit. However, the one brand that took the most advantage of this trend by launching a swathe of budget models, is Lenovo. With reliable and competent phones in the sub-10k price range such as the A6000, A6000 Plus, A7000, and the K3 Note, Lenovo has managed to create a name for itself.
The recent budget offering from Lenovo’s stable is in fact, a part of the Vibe brand. The Vibe P1m promises great battery life thanks to the 4,000mAh battery inside. Lenovo also claims that this phone is splash proof. With such distinctive features for a budget smartphone, the Vibe P1m does look intriguing on paper. Let’s find out how it fares in our review.
One look at the Vibe P1m and it becomes immediately apparent that Lenovo has cut some corners in the design department; it looks drab and uninspiring. The dark grey colour (Lenovo is incidentally calling it onyx black) with matte finish is yawn-inducing. That said, the metal rim that runs along the edges of the candy bar plastic body, looks polished, and does inspire confidence about the build quality. Despite having a large battery inside, Lenovo has managed to keep the thickness of the phone to a comfortable 9.3mm. Moreover, it’s weight of 148g is actually not too bad either. We didn’t have any problem either while gripping the phone or even using it with one hand. We splashed some water on the Vibe P1m, and it worked fine. However, our test was very rudimentary, and it should noted that it is ambiguous as to up to what extent the phone can resist water.
To create a sort of distinction from the boring design, Lenovo has added an oval metal plate around the camera module and the flash at the back. The rear also has the newly designed Lenovo logo at the bottom. Do take note of the fact that, while the rear cover is removable, the battery is sealed. On removing the rear cover, which feels very flimsy by the way, one can find three slots - two for the Micro-SIM cards, and one for the microSD card.
\r\nThe front of the device is mostly taken up by the screen with ample bezels around it. Below the screen, Lenovo has included capacitive touch-sensitive buttons for navigating through the operating system. These buttons are backlit, and improve visibility in the dark. Above the display one can find the earpiece, front camera, and the notification LED.
The right edge of the phone has the power button and the volume rocker, both of which are a little too recessed, therefore offering bad tactile feedback. On the left edge though, is an interesting feature added by Lenovo - a switch to toggle the ultra power-saving mode on. There are two grilles at the bottom of the device, of which only the one on the left works as a speaker. Both the Micro-USB port and the 3.5mm audio port are present on the top edge.
As is the case with most phones in this price range, the Lenovo Vibe P1m also touts a 5-inch IPS screen with a display resolution of 1280x720p, which translates to a pixel density of around 294PPI. It is a fairly run-of-the-mill display with natural colour reproduction and decent brightness levels. The sunlight legibility is just about average and the viewing angle is not too great either. With no real redeeming qualities, even the display elicits the same boring reaction from us as the design did earlier.
Internally, the Vibe P1m uses a quad-core MediaTek MT6735P 64-bit SoC which uses a Mali-T720 GPU for games. It has 2GB of RAM for apps and services, and an internal storage space of 16GB. This space can be further expanded by up to 32GB using a microSD card slot.
There are two cameras: an 8-megapixel camera with LED flash on the rear and another 5-megapixel one on the front. The Vibe P1m accepts two SIM cards of which only one can connect to 4G networks. The other connectivity options include Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, and Bluetooth 4.1 LE. As mentioned before, the phone has a 4,000mAh battery. It can also be used to charge other devices and Lenovo has added support for quick charging as well.
Lenovo uses Android 5.1 Lollipop with a custom software layer of Vibe UI running on top of it. Like most Chinese UIs, this one is also devoid of an app drawer and all the apps are placed right on the home screen. There is no hint of material design anywhere except for the multitasking carousel. Lenovo uses custom iconography, which looks colourful and cheery.
Third-party apps like Guvera, Facebook, Twitter, Skype, WPS Office, CamScanner, CamCard, and WeChat, True Caller and Evernote are pre-installed. Lenovo also bundles a game called Tap the Frog with the phone. In this regard, the phone is filled with bloatware. Thankfully, one can uninstall these apps and games as per one’s preference. There are a few other native apps such as ShareIt and SyncIt, which unfortunately cannot be uninstalled.
The 8-megapixel front camera is a very good shooter in daylight and we were pleasantly surprised with the details in our sample shots. Especially in macro shots, our pictures had superb definition and clarity. Even the colours were adequately saturated. Landscape shots were also pretty detailed. The dynamic range improves drastically once you use the HDR mode. The camera app provides some manual options for shooting images as well.
In our sample shots, we did notice that the pictures looked quite sharp, thanks to the software algorithm at play, but it wasn’t so extreme that the pictures looked artificial. The camera could also lock on focus fairly fast without any issues, which is commendable for a budget smartphone. However, don’t expect the shot-to-shot performance to be fast.
The moment the light begins to fade and gets slightly dim, the camera starts to struggle in capturing good images. Our sample shots were laden with noise, with details missing as well. The camera also shoots video at a maximum resolution of 720p in .3gp format. The quality of our test video was mediocre, to say the least. We noticed some under-exposed areas around the edges. The phone also has a 5-megapixel fixed focus selfie camera that can capture images suited for social media, but apart from that, there is nothing great about it.
Unlike most Lenovo phones we tested in the past, the Vibe P1m actually disappointed us with its multimedia performance. The single speaker’s maximum sound is really low, which also distorts at high volumes. The bundled earphones are okay to say the least, but we noticed that the sound quality was much better through our reference headphones.
The phone couldn’t play our highly encoded 1080p videos by default, for which you will need a third-party app. The 720p videos played fine though. FM radio has no trouble latching onto the right radio stations.
In its day-to-day performance, we only noticed an occasional stutter of the user interface, but it didn’t really disrupt our overall user experience. This should suffice for most users. However, we did face one niggle. Despite multiple attempts, our review unit simply refused to connect to any Wi-Fi network. We had to workaround with the help of a troubleshooting article on the internet to get it connected. We sincerely hope that this issue is not present across all retail units. Moving forward, casual games like Temple Run 2 work fine, but don’t expect the Vibe P1m to play graphic-intensive games like Asphalt 8.
In terms of benchmark tests, in our AnTuTU benchmark, the phone scored a fairly mediocre of 20,002 points. And as we expected, even our graphics benchmark test GFXbench returned a low score of 8fps.
The performance of the phone in terms of call quality was pretty decent, as we didn’t face any sort of call drops. Moreover, the earpiece is also of good quality, which means that the person on the other end was crystal clear.
Coming to the most important part of this particular review, the battery life. Needless to say, the 4,000mAh battery inside the Vibe P1m lasts long, in fact, really long, when compared to your average budget smartphone. Even with our heavy usage, with 4G on at all times, the phone managed to last us a day and a half easily. We were able to get a screen-on time in the range of four to five hours, which is superb. This is easily the best battery life we’ve seen on a budget smartphone till date.
If that’s not enough, the Vibe P1m mode also has a power-saving mode. We don’t think we could have asked for anything more from the battery of the Vibe P1m. As an added advantage, one can also use the Vibe P1m to charge other devices (note that you will need to buy the accessory separately as it is not bundled in the box).
At Rs. 7,999, the Lenovo Vibe P1m is an affordable smartphone. It does two things right: the battery life and camera. If you are on the look out for these specific features, the Vibe P1m won’t disappoint. You will have to look past its drab looks and average multimedia performance, though. What’s interesting is that if we had to recommend another phone in the same budget as the Vibe P1m, the ones that come to mind first are other Lenovo phones such as the K3 Note, or the A7000. That said, we also think that the Xiaomi Redmi Prime 2 and the Yu Yureka Plus are two other great options in the same price range. Choose wisely.