The sub-Rs 15,000 segment in the smartphone is one of the most interesting segments. Wonder why? It's because all manufacturers are trying their best to pack in the most powerful bits while trying to cut costs cleverly in places where it doesn't matter to users. Xiaomi dominates this space while Samsung and Realme are at its tail close with extremely compelling choices. Now, Lenovo wants to join the party with its K10 Note.

Lenovo isn't a new name in this space -- before Xiaomi became what it is now, Lenovo was the brand people went to for a spec-rich phone. It's K series phones have done well in the past and now Lenovo is back with the latest one in the line. It's called the K10 Note and prices start at Rs 13,999 for the base variant.

At Rs 13,999, there are a couple of other very good phones from the big boys with many high-end features. Does the K10 Note create a space for itself in this highly competitive space?

Design: Just the right mix of style and practicality

There's a big problem with most phones under Rs 15,000 these days -- overdone designs. Pick up any example from 2019 and you will see lots of wild gradients colours with reflections that can make a classy and sophisticated person puke. Whether its the Redmi Note 7 Pro or Realme 5 Pro, it would be only sensible to carry these in cases to hide the hideous gradient schemes. That's not the case with the Lenovo K10 Note.

Lenovo has skipped any wild gradient design on the K10 Note and has stuck for a plain glossy black finish -- my eyes thank God. It's not exactly plain as when you look carefully, you can see a simple pattern on the back done very subtly. Plastic surfaces aren't as smooth as glass and hence you will see a lot of undulations in the reflections. But the clean unibody design makes the K10 Note look modern and minimalist. The usual vertically aligned triple camera module and fingerprint sensor are present.

The plastic body keeps the weight under check and overall, it's a very comfortable phone to live with.

On the front, there's a massive 6.3-inch Full HD+ display with narrow bezels all around. The display uses an LCD screen here (no fancy OLED panel) and hence, the fat chin you see at the bottom exists. Lenovo has also opted for the good old notch for the selfie camera instead of a pop-up mechanism. For the utilities, you get a USB-C port for charging and connectivity, a 3.5mm headphone jack and single loudspeaker tuned by Dolby.

Overall, I think Lenovo has done a good job with the K10 Note. If you don't love wild gradient colours and flashy designs, you will like this phone.

Display: Good but could be better

I will get straight to the point - the screen is good but not great. The 6.3-inch size is just right for watching movies or playing games. For an LCD screen, images look colouful and the screen can go decently bright. However, Lenovo could have gone for a punchier colour profile. That said, viewing angles are wide and sunlight legibility is quite good. Even if you are the kind who pixel-peeps, you will be satisfied with the sharpness this FHD+ screen produces.

Performance: A beast that needs to be tamed

Lenovo knows that the Indian consumer loves higher specifications and it has put this knowledge to use for the Lenovo K10 Note. At the heart of the K10 Note is a Snapdragon 710 chipset that can be paired with either 4GB or 6GB RAM and 64GB or 128GB storage. Out of the box, it runs on Android 9 Pie with Lenovo's custom ZUI interface on top. Lenovo says users can expect at least one major Android update over its lifespan.

The Snapdragon 710 chipset, despite being old, is a very powerful chipset by every means and in a phone costings Rs 14k, it performs wonderfully. If you go for the model with 6GB RAM, you can keep more than four apps in the background and the phone will keep everything running smoothly. Of course, with a chip like this on a phone, we are naturally inclined to try out PUBG MOBILE, Asphalt 9, F1 Mobile Racing and some more games. And safe to say, all of these ran at highest graphics settings with consistently smooth frame rates.

However, there's one weakness the K10 Note has in this regard. You must have already guessed it -- it's Lenovo's ZUI interface. In an age when the consumer demands the modern minimalist interface designs of stock Android builds, Lenovo's ZUI feels like it was teleported from almost a decade ago. The homescreen resembles stock Android but beyond that, it's a bloaty mess. The interface of the notification tray is clunky and always lagged unnecessarily. The Settings app is confusing to navigate around and you will have to deal with truckloads of pre-installed apps. Thankfully, you can uninstall all of them.

I wish Lenovo could have simply used Motorola's stock Android interface for the K10 Note. The fluid stock interface could have really made this phone great. All I can say is that this ZUI interface prevents us from calling it the best phone.

Cameras: Motorola's clever software tricks work wonders

The Lenovo K10 Note gets a triple camera setup at the back, with the primary one being a -- wait for it -- 16-megapixel sensor. Along with that, you get a 5-megapixel depth sensor and an 8-megapixel telephoto camera with 2x optical zoom. Yes, you gets a proper 2X optical zoom camera and Lenovo is proud of the job it has done on this. Does this make sense in the real world?

Yes. With the K10 Note, Lenovo has shown that you don't always need a 48-megapixel camera to get the best results. Photos in daylight feature lots of vibrant colours with deep contrasts. Despite not being a 48-megapixel, the photos retain good levels of detail. As the light levels go down, post-processing becomes aggressive and you start seeing artificial looking photos. But what's surprising is the low light performance.

IMAGE SAMPLES

At night, the camera loses all sharpness and colour accuracy in the normal mode. Switch to the Night Mode and the camera works wonders with getting the exposures and colour tones right. The details are still blurry but you can surely use these photos on social media without editing.

The 2x zoom camera may use an 8-megapixel camera but in daylight, get the colour accuracy slightly better than the standard wide-angle camera. In 2x zoom, the images are still sharp with lots of details and feature vibrant colours, and as light levels fall, the performance is comparable to the main camera. Thanks Lenovo for not using a crappy sensor.

Even the 16-megapixel front camera works nicely and selfie addicts are going to like this camera a lot. The selfies are always sharp in daylight with accurate yet vibrant colours. The portrait mode blurring isn't spot-on always but when it works, it comes up with some amazing selfies. I found myself taking quite a lot fo selfies with the K10 Note.

Battery: Perfect for power users

The 4050mAh battery inside the K10 Note may sound average but Lenovo has optimised it well to get the most out fo the battery. The phone managed to last an average of one entire day and sometimes, half of the next day. And this was with a heavy usage pattern -- lots of texting on WhatsApp, numerous selfie sessions, hour-long PUBG sessions, two hours of social media and YouTube sessions. And thanks to the 18W fast charger, it can refill within 1.5 hours from under 10 per cent.

Conclusion:

After going through all the major parameters, the Lenovo K10 Note seems to be the phone we might have been waiting for under Rs 15,000, doesn't it? It's got a beefy Snapdragon 710 chipset to keep gamers happy, a large battery with fast charging to effortlessly get through a busy day, a pair of impressive cameras to keep you smiling during your occasional photography sessions and a decent display.

Is there something not right? Apart from the clunky ZUI interface, the Lenovo K10 Note is a good phone that will appeal to many. If you can get around the ZUI with launchers, then the Lenovo K10 Note is one of the best phones you can buy starting for Rs 13,999.

Lenovo K10 Note review 7.5/10

ProsFast performanceGreat battery lifeGood camerasConsClunky ZUI interface

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