Lenovo launches the Vibe Z, its first LTE phone, plus three other handsets

Sometimes Lenovo is ahead of the curve: It was first to market with Intel's mobile chips for two years in a row. When it comes to LTE, though, the company has been sadly trailing; it's only just getting around to releasing its first 4G device. But you know what they say -- better late than never, right? Lenovo's LTE-capable Vibe Z is finally reaching markets outside China, and though it won't win any awards for timeliness, it at least arrives on the scene with some solid specs. What we have here is a 5.5-inch handset with a 1080p IPS display, a pixel density of 400 ppi and a thin, 7.9mm-thick build. Inside, it's powered by a quad-core Snapdragon 800 chip (not Intel this time), along with 2GB of RAM, up to 16GB of internal storage and an 802.11ac WiFi radio. Imaging-wise, you get both a 13-megapixel f/1.3 camera along with a 5MP webcam up front. Lenovo also threw in some custom camera software allowing you to add special effects, if that's your sort of thing.

What's interesting is that although this is Lenovo's most advanced phone to date, it has generally the same industrial design as Lenovo's other recent mobile devices, including the Vibe X and the doomed Yoga Tablet. All of which is to say, it has a textured plastic back, which in the past has stood up well to scratches and fingerprints, even if it doesn't look premium, per se. It also appears to run the same heavily skinned version of Android (version 4.3, in this case). That means some oversized icons, for starters, and also a missing app drawer. As it happens, though, heavily skinned phones are fairly common in the Asian market, which is precisely where the Vibe Z is headed: Lenovo says it will arrive in February in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and the Philippines, with an unlocked price of $549.

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Lenovo Vibe Z hands-on

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Lenovo Vibe Z

Additionally, Lenovo is bringing three other phones -- none of which have LTE, unfortunately -- outside Greater China. Working our way down the line, there's the new A859, a 5-inch phone with a 720p IPS display, dual SIM slots, 8MP/1.6MP cameras, a quad-core MediaTek processor, 1GB of RAM and 8GB of built-in storage (expandable via a microSD slot). Unlike the Vibe Z, it's a little thicker (9.2mm) and runs an older version of Android (4.2.2 Jelly Bean, to be precise). Meanwhile, the S930 actually has basically the same specs, except it has a bigger 6-inch screen (and a lower pixel density). Finally, we have the S650, a 4.7-inch device with 8MP/0.3MP cameras and a lower-res 960 x 540 screen. Those differences, aside, it otherwise has the same specs as the other two, including the same processor and dual SIM slots. All of the above are available now "in countries where Lenovo smartphones are sold" (read: mostly Asian countries), priced at $219 for the A859, $319 for the S930 and $229 for the S650.

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Lenovo A859

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Lenovo S650

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Lenovo S930

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Lenovo launches the Vibe Z, its first LTE phone, plus three other handsets