The Good The Lenovo Zuk Z1 has a clean software interface and a handy Apple iPhone-ish framework. Battery life is fantastic too.
The Bad The camera works great with high image noise, and the fingerprint sensor doesn’t always feel your fingers to unlock the phone.
The Bottom Line Only buy Lenovo Zuk Z1 if you need too long a battery life and don’t worry about the quality of the camera. Otherwise, there are clearer options.
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The Lenovo Zuk Z1 is a $ 320 Android phone that is very similar to the iPhone 6S Plus. Its rear camera takes mediocre shots, and its fingerprint scanner doesn’t always read your fingerprint. Its biggest savings are the long battery life.
Zuk Z1 comes to us from a subsidiary brand of Chinese electronics giant Zuk Mobile. This phone is not officially available in the western markets, but it can be found in the online stores of third-party Zuk firms that sell Chinese phones.
Founded in April this year, the Z1 is Zuk Mobile’s first smartphone, like most Chinese phones, and is sold for an extremely attractive price. Unfortunately, the phone has disadvantages that you will not find in competitors with a similar price.
However, if you’re a fan of iPhone design and Android software – in this case, CyanogenMod is an open source, basically a modification of native Android designed to replace the default operating software on some phones – well, this is probably the closest you can get to get without picking up a full copy of the iPhone.
It’s not a bad phone, but there are other phones that are more successful in striking a balance between features, performance and price.
Lenovo Zuk Z1 is an iPhone lookalike powered by Android (pictures)
- 5.5 “display with a resolution of 1 920×180 pixels
- 6.13 by 3.04 by 0.35 inches (155 by 77.3 by 8.9 mm)
- 6.17 ounces (175 grams)
- It is white or dark gray
Imitation is said to be the truest form of flattery, and the Zuk Z1 fits well with these sentiments. If you put the Zuk Z1 and the iPhone 6S Plus side by side, it would be hard to tell what was at first glance. Both devices have the same color scheme in the front – pure white with metal overlays on the antenna, and although the fingerprint sensor and home button Z1 have shapes other than the iPhone 6 Plus, the positioning feels the same under the fingers.
The similarity is noticeable on the sides as well – sports curved Zuk Z1 metal bands with white antenna stripes. At the bottom of the phone, this similarity is closest – the Z1 has similar speaker grilles Type-C USB port very similar to Apple’s Lightning port.
Only when you flip the phone do things start to look different – instead of the metal back of the Z1 it has a glossy plastic white shell. I was afraid the phone would feel slippery, but that wasn’t a problem at all.
Apart from Apple’s similarity, there are actually no risky design decisions. The phone has a 5.5-inch full-screen display with a pixel density of 401 pixels per inch (ppi) and under the touch navigation keys below the display. You will also find a fingerprint sensor there – and oddly enough, there have been cases where the sensor simply fails to detect my finger when trying to use it.
The screen also comes with LiveDisplay mode where it adjusts the brightness and colors for your surroundings – at night it transforms the display into a warmer, pleasing eye color. Overall, the display quality is good. The colors are bright and the viewing angles are decent.
The volume and power buttons are located to the left and within easy reach. The 3.5mm audio jack is located at the top. The phone supports dual SIM-SIM 4G and the SIM card tray is on the left. As newer phones become more common, there is no microSD card slot for memory expansion.
Behind you will find a 13MP camera and dual LED flash. The back cover is not removable, and you won’t be able to change the built-in 4,100mAh battery if you run out of juice.
The only thing that bothered me was how easily dirt could get into the edges of the front glass and to the rear edges between the metal frame and the plastic chassis. I am not sure if this is because the phone is a production sample that is ready for inspection, but if end retail malls have the same problem, the dirt will definitely be the eye.
Overall the phone is comfortable to hold in one hand, not a great fingerprint sensor, I didn’t experience any major comfort issues.
- Qualcomm quad-core Snapdragon 801 2.5 GHz processor
- 64GB of storage
- No expandable memory
- 3GB of RAM
- 4100 mAh built-in battery
With some competing with flagships today and other high-end phones from its Chinese competitors, last year’s Zuk Z1 sports a 2.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 octane processor last year. Although some of you may be scoffed at that it uses an older processor, I thought the performance of the phone was quite soft. You will also have no problems with the game, as Asphalt 8 runs without a hitch.
A bit outdated, otherwise the phone has good hardware – it has 3GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. It also has a large 4.1000mAh battery and has a new USB Type-C port. Note that this port is not compatible with your current Micro-USB cables, so you will need to rely on a built-in cable, purchase additional services, or secure one with Xiaomi super cheap converters .
As for 4G support, the Zuk Z1 will work with LTE networks in the UK such as Three and EE, while in Australia it will work with Optus and Telstra networks. Unfortunately, it lacks support for US LTE bands.
Software and apps
- Android 5.1.1 Lollipop OS
- CyanogenMod 12
- Custom themes
- Close to stock Android experience
If you want an experience close to what you will find on Nexus phones, the Zuk Z1 is your best candidate. The phone is a popular community-based Android CyanogenMod firmware designed to improve performance and reliability over the standard Android operating system.
It has theme support, FLAC audio codec, built-in OpenVPN client, and many customization features, such as the ability to customize what the status bar looks like, the type of notifications that appear, the buttons in the notification drawer, and so on. These settings can be extremely difficult for casual users, but don’t worry: the default settings give you basically everything you need and you won’t be able to change the settings.
One of my mates with larger screen phones is how they misuse space by having huge gaps between app icons. Fortunately, CyanogenMod lets you customize the grid layout – you can choose three icon sizes, as well as the superpack mode, or adjust the grid size to your liking.
Camera and video
- 13MP rear camera
- 8MP front camera
- Full HD movie recording at 30 frames per second (rear)
- Autofocus, dual LED flash
Even though the Zuk Z1 seems to have pretty good camera performance, I thought my experience with it was less than satisfactory. Although the focus and measurements were great, the sharpness of the image was a little too soft for some of my shots, and I found the shots rather noisy. Shooting HDR frames also requires that you have a very steady hand or risk your images to look out of focus.
The camera program itself is rare; it’s similar to the default Android camera app, but without Google settings like Photo Sphere and 360 Panorama. However, it has added filters and settings for HDR. It’s functional, but if you plan on taking more photos, other shooting programs that give you more control may be better suited to the task .
Video quality is acceptable if you constantly touch the display to keep the subject in focus – the phone does not seem to auto-focus in video mode, unlike other phones. It will also struggle in strong conditions with backlighting.
The front 8-megapixel camera doesn’t have the extra features you’ll find on other smartphones, such as beauty enhancements that make your skin smoother. The pictures taken seem a little overexposed, resulting in a cooler tone that doesn’t feel natural.
In the meantime, check out the sample camera shots below to judge for yourself.
The Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor may be a bit older than the new Snapdragon 810 chip, but you won’t have any problems with your phone’s performance. The phone worked smoothly – having 3GB of RAM helps – and you won’t need to restart applications when switching between them. You won’t find much difference in performance against the Xiaomi Mi Note, which uses a similar processor. Compared to Snapdragon 810 phones, it is noticeably slower in GeekBench 3 performance.
Comparison of benchmark tests
|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|
The 4100mAh built-in battery is outstanding – I could easily go a day and a half without recharging – and this is required because you most likely won’t find many Type-C USB cables lying in nature. So if you forget to charge your phone overnight, it will last you a long time. For our test of CNET video labs, the Zuk Z1 easily broke through with 14 hours and 18 minutes.
Call quality and data rate
Sometimes I had problems with calls. The partners, on the other hand, could not hear me very much, though I am not sure if this was due to the quality of the line, as some of these calls came from outside the country. This happened with local calls as well, but it didn’t happen very often. However, recent calls after the live update seemed normal, so it may have been a case of previous firmware worries.
I found that the quality of the speakers was too soft for my tastes, you could barely hear the alert, and the vibrations of the phone were a little too weak to feel when the phone was in the bag. Because of this, I missed quite a few calls.
However, you won’t have any problems with 4G speed on this phone if your carrier supports it. I have seen speeds on par with other phones, with an average download of about 90 Mbps and a download of 30 Mbps.
Lenovo’s first phone from its subsidiary, Zuk Mobile, seems to have been built on an Android based iPhone copycat design, and the results are a hit and a drawback. Performance is smooth and long battery life, but the camera is very frustrated, and the fingerprint sensor could use at least a few weeks of quality testing before release.
About $ 150 more OnePlus 2 offers better performance, smart design and an even better camera. Alternatively, Asus ZenFone 2 It costs only $ 300, has smooth performance and a better camera than the Z1, especially in low light.
However, the Z1 is a decent phone if you don’t take a lot of pictures, and the $ 320 price tag (£ 210 and $ 450) seems like a steal. However, there are phones at a similar price that offer a better balance of features and performance.