CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again

Lenovo Zuk Z1 review: A battery overachiever with a poor camera

lenovozukz1-screenshot02.jpg
View full gallery
One of my favorite features is the ability to customize the grid size. Screenshot by Aloysius Low/CNET

Camera and video

  • 13-megapixel rear-facing camera
  • 8-megapixel front-facing camera
  • Full-HD video recording at 30 frames per second (rear)
  • Auto-focus, dual-LED flash

While on paper, the Zuk Z1 seems to have pretty good specs for the camera, I found my experience with it to be less than satisfactory. While focusing and metering were fine, image sharpness was a little too soft for some of my pictures, and I found these pictures to be quite noisy as well. Taking HDR shots also requires you to have a very steady hand, or risk your pictures looking out of focus.

View full gallery
The 13-megapixel rear camera isn't very good. Aloysius Low/CNET

The camera app itself is sparse; it's similar to the default Android camera app, but without Google's tweaks such as the Photo Sphere and 360 Panorama. However, it has added filters and settings for HDR. It's functional, but if you plan on taking more pictures, other shooting apps that provide you with more control are probably better suited to the task.

Video quality is acceptable as long as you are constantly tapping the display to keep your subject in focus -- the phone doesn't seem to autofocus while in video mode, unlike some other phones. It will also struggle in strong backlit conditions.

The front 8-megapixel camera doesn't come with any extra features that you'll find in other smartphones, such as beautification enhancements that makes your skin look smoother. The pictures taken seem to be slightly overexposed, resulting in a cooler tone that didn't feel natural.

In the meantime, check out the sample shots of the rear camera below to judge for yourself.

I took five separate shots and they all ended up blurry without any details on the apartment blocks in the background. Aloysius Low/CNET
This HDR shot was really the best of the test photos I took. Aloysius Low/CNET
I wasn't too impressed with this dish, and the picture wasn't any good either; the garnish is all muddy and lacks details. Aloysius Low/CNET
I like how the Z1's camera managed to adapt to the warm indoor lighting, but the image has way too much noise. Aloysius Low/CNET
The Zuk Z1's low-light capabilities are average at best, but you do get some details amid the noise. Aloysius Low/CNET
While the flash does manage to fill up the scene, but the colors are off. Aloysius Low/CNET

Performance

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor may be a little old compared to the newer Snapdragon 810 chip, but you won't have any issues with the phone's performance. The phone ran smoothly -- having 3GB of RAM does help -- and you won't need to reload apps when switching between them. Against the Xiaomi Mi Note, which uses a similar processor, you won't find much of a difference in performance. Against Snapdragon 810-equipped phones, it's noticeably slower in GeekBench 3 performance scores.

Benchmark Tests Comparison

3DMark Ice Storm (unlimited) Geekbench 3 (single-core) Geekbench 3 (multi-core)
Lenovo Zuk Z1 19,029 942 2,283
Xiaomi Mi Note 20,093 1,002 3,142
ZTE Axon Pro 25,742 868 3,958
OnePlus 2 22,645 1,142 4,461

Battery life

The embedded 4,100mAh battery is outstanding -- I was easily able to go a day and a half without recharging -- and this is needed, since you likely won't find plenty of Type-C USB cables lying around in the wild. So if you do forget to charge the phone overnight, it'll last you quite a while. For our CNET Video Labs test, the Zuk Z1 easily chomped through with a result of 14 hours and 18 minutes.

Call quality and data speeds

I did have some trouble sometimes with calls. Partners on the other end couldn't quite hear me, though I'm not sure if this is due to line quality as some of these calls were from outside the country. This also happened with local calls, but it only happened infrequently. That said, recent calls, after an over-the-air update, seemed to be fine, so perhaps it was a case of earlier firmware woes.

I found speaker quality to be a tad too soft for my tastes, you'll barely hear alerts, and the phone's vibration is a bit too weak to be felt if the phone's in a bag. I missed quite a few calls because of this.

However, you'll have no issues with the 4G speeds on this phone, provided your carrier supports it. I saw speeds on par with other phones, with an average of around 90Mbps download and 30Mbps upload.

Conclusion

Lenovo's first phone from its Zuk Mobile subsidiary seems to have settled for an Android base under a copycat iPhone design, and the results are hit and miss. Performance is smooth and battery life long, but the camera is a huge disappointment and the fingerprint sensor could have used at least a few more weeks of quality testing before release.

For about $150 more, the OnePlus 2 offers faster performance, a snazzier design and an even better camera. Alternatively, the Asus ZenFone 2 is only $300, has smooth performance and a better camera than the Z1, especially in low light.

Still, the Z1 is a decent phone if you don't take pictures much, and the $320 price (£210 and AU$450) does seem like a steal. However, there are similarly priced phones that offer a better balance of features and performance.

View full gallery
The first Lenovo Zuk phone isn't very good and the poor camera performance is disappointing. This probably isn't the Android phone you want. Aloysius Low/CNET

Comparable Phones

All Phones

Best Products

All Best Products