LAS VEGAS -- Lenovo is better known for its notebooks and laptops than for its smartphones, but that isn't stopping the electronics maker from introducing a handful of them at CES. The Vibe Z here, in a choice of silver or titanium color, is the most aspirational of the bunch.
The company's first LTE-capable smartphone, the Vibe Z strives for edgy design and high-end features, starting with Android 4.3 and a laser-etched back panel that's meant to feel like fabric in the hand. By fabric, they meant silk, and I'm not entirely certain that the phone's slick finish helps keep its ultralarge frame secure. It does look pretty nice, however, and the matte surface resists fingerprints.
Following trends in supersize handsets, the Vibe Z is outfitted with a 5.5-inch screen that the company has dubbed 20/20 Vision. In layman's terms, that translates to a 1080p HD IPS display and a 400ppi pixel density, which is pretty high for a smartphone.
A phone this size could easily weigh you down (cough, cough 5.9-inch HTC One Max.) Yet, like the 5.7-inch Samsung Galaxy Note 3, the Vibe X was designed to be light and slim. The Vibe X measures 7.9 millimeters (0.31 inch) across and weighs 147 grams (5.2 ounces.
On the camera front, the Vibe Z packs in a 13-megapixel camera with a 1.8 aperture lens to assist with low-light capture. Lenovo also pumped up the front-facing camera, giving it a 5-megapixel shooter instead of the 1.2- to 2.1-megapixel norm. Lenovo further boasts an 84-degree capture angle for making group selfies more wide-angle than you get from most smartphones. You'll find editing tools and photos effect and filters inside.
The Vibe Z's innards are also up-to-date, starting with a 2.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor that zips along in other premium phones, like that Galaxy Note 3 mentioned above. It has 16GB memory for internal storage, which is a little on the lower side for a premium smartphone, especially one that doesn't offer expandable storage. In terms of RAM, you're looking at 2GB memory.
So far, the Vibe Z seems like a promising candidate, but it's hard to say how the most important aspects -- image quality, battery life, and processing aptitude -- stand up in real-world tests. The phone certainly looks attractive and handled well during the demo. With premium specs like this, Lenovo is reaching for a high-end price to match: $550 unlocked come its February release.
Catch all the other happenings from CES 2014.