Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus shows just how little a decent smartphone costs these days

For just $149, the Lenovo K5 Plus and its slightly cheaper sibling the K5 boast a list of specs that would have cost you a bundle just a couple of years ago.

Richard Trenholm

Richard Trenholm

Movie and TV Senior Editor

Richard Trenholm is CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture over the past 15 years from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.

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It seems like only five minutes ago that a 4G LTE phone with a high definition screen and an eight-core processor was a top-of-the-line model that would set you back a small fortune. But the phone world has moved on and now you can get all that for just $149, in the shape of the new Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus.

The Vibe K5 Plus and its slightly cheaper sibling the K5 will be on sale in emerging markets, so you won't be able to buy it in the US or most of Europe. And while $149 (directly converted, that's around £100 or AU$210) sounds pretty wallet-friendly in western markets, it might be less affordable in Asia, India or South America. But if you do have the cash, the K5 and K5 Plus look like solid Android all-rounders.

Both phones have octa-core Qualcomm processors running Android 5.1 Lollipop software, with a fairly light Lenovo skin on top. The K5 Plus boasts a Snapdragon 616 chip and full high definition 1080p screen, while the K5 knocks off $20 with a Snapdragon 415 chip and 720p screen, taking the price to $129 (roughly £90 or AU$180).

The differences are all on the inside. The two phones are identical from the outside, clad in silver, grey or champagne gold metal. That does make the K5 pair look an awful lot like an iPhone. OK, you can argue that all phones look basically the same -- and someone probably will in the comments -- but with its chrome band round the edge, horizontal speaker at the top and the horizontal lines across the back the K5 looks almost like it wants to be mistaken for Apple's baby.

Lenovo Vibe 5K and 5K Plus give us value vibes (pictures)

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The K5 siblings have a few advantages over the iPhone, however. The back comes off so you can swap out the battery, for a start, and while the battery is out you can add a 32GB memory card to top up the built-in 16GB storage. On top of that, it's dual-SIM, so you can have two SIM cards and two numbers in one phone. One could be for business and one for personal calls, for example, or one could be for your other half and one for your bit on the side.

Another bonus feature is Dolby Atmos surround sound, which sends the nuances of the sound from your movies and music moving from ear to ear. This works with any headphones.

It's worth noting that different regions will have different apps -- for example, if you buy it in China you won't have access to the Google Play store to download official Android apps.

Key specs

  • 5-inch screen
  • Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor
  • 8.2mm thick
  • Weighs 142 grams
  • 16GB built-in memory
  • 2,750mAh user-replaceable battery
  • 13-megapixel rear camera with autofocus and LED flash
  • 5-megapixel fixed-focus front camera
  • Dual SIM