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BW Businessworld

Lenovo Vibe Shot: Misses The Bulls-eye

Ever since Lenovo took over Motorola, the Chinese company has been focusing on budget smartphones in the Indian market. Prior to that Lenovo had some good looking flagship smartphones in the Rs. 20,0000-25,000 range including the Vibe X and Vibe Z series last year. However this year, the series is making a comeback with the Vibe Shot which is a camera centric smartphone from the company.

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The smartphone is a rectangular glass slab with a metal frame which makes it slippery device and a lot like the Sony Xperia flagship smartphones. The bigger issue however is that it collects a lot of smudges and fingerprints all around forcing you to wipe it more often than using it. The metal frame around the edges gives the handset a nice touch and the size and weight of the handset is balanced. It fits perfectly well in the hand but the metal frame can get a little sharp on your hands, maybe a more curvy finish would've been better. It comes with a 5-inch full HD (1920x1080) display which performs fairly good under the sun, offers vibrant colours and good viewing angles.The back has a brushed metal strip under the glass panel giving it a unique look. This strip also houses the 16MP camera along with a laser auto-focus system and a triple tone LED flash. Lenovo has focused a lot on the camera and even claimed it to be as good as a point and shoot camera with manual controls. The handset also has a shutter release button on the right edge and a small slider key to switch between ‘Auto’ and ‘Pro’ modes.
The camera app is full of features. Once you are in the Pro mode, you can fine tune your pictures by manually changing your focus, shutter speed, ISO, white balance and exposure compensation. There are also a bunch of slow shutter speed modes that enable you to create light paintings, star trails and other long exposure shots; of course you need a tripod or a stable platform to use them. Apart from that you get the usual panorama, HDR and night modes along with a wide selfie mode which helps in getting group selfies. In the Auto mode, there is a feature called ‘Smart mode’ which makes the camera automatically adapt to the light conditions and enables or disables features like HDR, night mode and so on. A useful feature lets you take a picture instantly by double pressing the volume button when the smartphone is locked, quite handy for taking a candid moment.Thanks to the laser auto-focus system, the focusing is fast and fairly accurate. Colour accuracy is on spot, but in pictures in low light feel slightly washed out. Speaking of tones, the LED flash has three different coloured units to provide a natural fill of light. The tones aren't very noticeable but it definitely gives an even spread of light. In the video department, the camera can shoot good looking full HD videos where the laser auto-focus helps in focusing subjects quickly and the OIS (Optical Image Stabilisation) reduces shakes. 
Having said that, there are a bunch of shortcomings of the camera for instance the manual controls only let you choose shutter speeds between 1 second and 1/15th of a second, which is not advisable when shooting handheld. Another issue is that you cannot take videos in the Pro mode, it can only be done in the Auto mode.The shutter is not super quick as it was expected and can lead to some shaky and blurry pictures if you don't have a stable hand. The OIS helps in such situations but pictures turn grainy and there is visible loss of information if you shoot indoors or in low light. In bright conditions, the camera performs good and pictures turn out to be well exposed, although some of them turn out to be oversharpened. The front camera can take high resolution selfies and offers certain controls to fine tune. Pictures turn out slightly hazy but overall they look good in terms of colour and details. The camera experience on the Vibe Shot is good but it is not the best in its class, Lenovo has boasted a lot but it doesn't live up to the expectations. The ZTE Nubia Z9 Mini offers a similar quality and experience if not better at a comparatively lower price.
On the inside, the Vibe Shot rocks a Snapdragon 615 octa-core processor with 3GB of RAM. The processor has known to heat up on a number of handsets, and even on the Vibe Shot there are instances when the metal frame gets really hot when using the smartphone extensively. There is 32GB of internal storage and also a microSD card slot to expand it further. The battery is a 3000mAh unit which along with some battery optimiser modes provides a full day of charge. 
In the software department, the smartphone runs on Android 5.1 Lollipop with Lenovo’s new Vibe UI on top. The UI is smooth and quite colorful and offers useful features like double tap to wake the screen, a number of user profiles and also a floating on-screen button with a number of shortcuts for easy access to apps and settings. 
Lenovo has tried to made things work with the Vibe Shot but there are issues that need to be ironed out. The camera is not as impressive as the company claims it to be and then there is overheating issue. At Rs. 25,499 the handset is one of the few smartphone that provides a number of controls with its camera although it could’ve been a much better camera smartphone. If you don't want to spend a lot, the ZTE Nubia Z9 Mini is worth considering.
Pictures: Kunal Khullar