BERLIN -- For most smartphone makers, an 8-megapixel front-facing camera is something to crow about. With its new Vibe S1, Lenovo tops itself by adding a second, 2-megapixel front-facing camera that's meant to add more depth and dimension to self-portraits.
The cultural phenomenon of sharing selfies, or self-portraits, spurred on by social networks like Facebook and Instagram, continues to drive smartphone makers like Lenovo, HTC and Samsung to create better hardware and software tools to improve the look of these photos. Most phones now include filters to smooth skin tone, but Lenovo is the first to specifically address depth of field for selfies with a second front-facing camera lens. In addition to the twin sensors, Lenovo's Vibe S1 adds software effects for selfies, like background blur. And to make sure your selfie is perfectly lit, the S1 comes with a cute little plug-in flash.
Like other phones, the S1 lets you trigger a selfie several different ways, including through a physical remote you can buy separately.
It's not the first phone to sport multiple cameras. The Amazon Fire Phone , for example, has four motion-tracking cameras. But they handle 3D effects, not selfies. The S1 is squarely aimed at the Instagram crowd, who should enjoy the dinky little ring light that plugs into the headphone socket. The mini ring light has its own power switch so you don't even need to plug it in to the phone to use it -- you can get someone to hold it -- but it should give you that extra little bit of control over lighting that brings out your best side even in the darkest cocktail bar bathrooom.
The Vibe S1 continues its camera story with a 13-megapixel shooter on its curved glass rear, and a dual-tone flash that Lenovo claims will make colours look more realistic. We'll test all those claims in our full review, coming soon.
Selling in blue and white colors with an aluminum frame, the S1 is a fairly large device with a 5-inch screen, giving you full high-definition movies and videos at 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution. The bezel is relatively slim, however, so the overall size is perfectly pocketable -- and it feels slim enough for a trouser pocket too.
Inside is a a 64-bit, 1.7GHz octa-core processor from MediaTek. It runs Android 5.0 (rather than Android 5.1) and has 32GB of internal storage, with room for up to 128GB more through a microSD slot. A dual-SIM device, the Vibe S1 joins many other handsets in sealing up the battery; in this case, a 2,500mAh juice pack.
Lenovo starts selling the Vibe S1 globally in November, though it won't arrive everywhere, like North America. While cost will vary among currencies and countries, look for it to come in at about $300, which converts to roughly £200 and AU$430.
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