Lenovo aims high with 5.5-inch Vibe Z smartphone (hands-on)

Lenovo's first LTE smartphone comes packed with high-end features, including a 5MP front-facing camera.

Jessica Dolcourt Senior Director, Commerce & Content Operations
Jessica Dolcourt is a passionate content strategist and veteran leader of CNET coverage. As Senior Director of Commerce & Content Operations, she leads a number of teams, including Commerce, How-To and Performance Optimization. Her CNET career began in 2006, testing desktop and mobile software for Download.com and CNET, including the first iPhone and Android apps and operating systems. She continued to review, report on and write a wide range of commentary and analysis on all things phones, with an emphasis on iPhone and Samsung. Jessica was one of the first people in the world to test, review and report on foldable phones and 5G wireless speeds. Jessica began leading CNET's How-To section for tips and FAQs in 2019, guiding coverage of topics ranging from personal finance to phones and home. She holds an MA with Distinction from the University of Warwick (UK).
Expertise Content strategy | Team leadership | Audience engagement | Tips and FAQs | iPhone | Samsung | Android | iOS
Jessica Dolcourt
2 min read

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.

Looking at Lenovo's first-ever LTE smartphone (pictures)

See all photos

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.