Lenovo Vibe P1 gives Android rivals mega-battery envy

A massive 5,000mAh ticker promises long hours of battery life on a single charge.

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Jessica Dolcourt
3 min read

Crushing other smartphones' battery ambitions in a single blow, Lenovo can thump its chest over the Vibe P1's unprecedented battery size: 5,000mAh, and for a price low enough to raise eyebrows, too. Its slightly lower-end Vibe P1m handset follows up with a 4,000mAh ticker of its own, a powerful one-two blow for the world's fifth-largest smartphone maker.

In contrast, the Motorola Droid Turbo topped the charts with a 3,900mAh battery, and most other large-screen phones (the Vibe P1 has a 5.5-inch display) are a little lower down in the 3,000mAh range.

While battery capacity doesn't always correlate to battery longevity (there are a lot of factors that play into power efficiency), Lenovo's achievement of having the highest-capacity battery on a commercial smartphone speaks to the greater demand for longer charge life in electronics in general -- and why they don't seem to be getting any better. Powering powerful pocket computers like today's smartphones takes advanced engineering like stronger processors and more pixel-packed screens, two things that draw down power fast. So any company that can offer high-end features and still give you long life between charges will create a coveted advantage in buyers' eyes.

Lenovo Vibe P1 packs a giant 5,000mAh battery (pictures)

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It isn't just the size of the battery that keeps this phone ticking along longer than most. In addition to long battery life, the Vibe P1 apparently charges up fast -- Lenovo claims it'll give you nearly 3 hours' more use from just 5 minutes charging. And on the side is an unobtrusive switch -- Lenovo calls it the OneKey PowerSaver -- that puts the phone in power-saving mode. When you flick the switch, the phone makes more modest use of the power available, and the home screen shows you a neat countdown of how long the battery will last.

You'd think that those oversize batteries would bulk up the P1 and P1M like bodybuilders with too much time on their hands. And it's true these phones aren't as slim as other cutting-edge devices, but considering how much extra juice they're carrying in the tank, they're remarkably svelte. They're still perfectly pocketable. Compared with those battery-boosting power pack cases you can wrap around your phone, the P1 and P1M feel like regular phones rather than a brick.

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The Lenovo Vibe P1 is a large, high-powered phone with a huge battery.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Vibe P1 versus P1m: What's the difference?

Lenovo's P1 has more ambitious specs than the P1m. In fact, despite their similar names, they share very little at all. Here's how the hardware shakes out.

Vibe P1

The aluminum, unibody Vibe P1 has a 5.5-inch screen with a 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution, and launches with Android 5.1 Lollipop as its software. It has a 13-megapixel camera on the back (with dual-color flash) and a 5-megapixel shooter on the front. With a 1.5GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 processor, 2GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage, the Vibe P1 fits into the higher-end range, with up to 128GB of external storage for hoarding all those movies, games and photos. Its crowning achievement, that 5,000mAh battery.

The dual-SIM device comes in platinum, graphite gray and gold colors.

Vibe P1m

This plastic, splash-proof phone shines for its 4,000mAh battery and quick-charge capabilities. It has a 5-inch display with a 1,280x720-pixel resolution. It, too, runs on Android 5.1 software. While it does share the V1's 5-megapixel front-facing camera, the rear lens has 8 megapixels rather than 13.

Its processor is also different, a 1.0GHz quad-core MediaTek MT6735P versus a Qualcomm chip. Storage is scarcer, with 16GB of internal storage and only 32GB more through the microSD card slot; it's got 2GB of RAM as well, and dual micro-SIM card support. It'll sell in black and white shades.

Where you can get them and for how much

Lenovo will start selling the Vibe P1m in mid-September and the Vibe P1 in early October where you can find other Lenovo phones. (They won't be available in North America.)

While price will vary by country and currency, the contract-free P1 still start at $280 (which converts to £182 or AU$400) and the P1m will go for $160 (roughly £104 and AU$228).

Catch all the electronics news from this week's IFA show in Berlin.