Hands on: Lenovo Vibe S1 Lite

Lenovo's $200 Vibe S1 Lite is a cheaper version of its big brother

Lenovo’s reasonably priced Vibe S1 is getting an even cheaper sibling. At the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show, the Chinese company announced the Vibe S1 Lite, a mid-range smartphone bound for overseas markets.

The Vibe S1, as you may recall, sported dual front-facing selfie cameras, and a combination aluminum/glass frame. The S1 Lite, meanwhile, trades the sloping glass back of its pricier sibling for an ever-so-perceptibly curved matte plastic. It retains some elements of the S1’s design, as the trim around the phone is the same aluminum, but it eschews one of the S1’s front-facing cameras for a a “selfie-enhancing flash.” Still, it’s an unmistakable member of the S1 family.

Our initial impressions of the S1 Lite are quite positive.

The internals are almost a dead ringer, too, which is a bit of a surprise for a handset that’s priced significantly cheaper than its higher-end counterpart. The display is the same size and resolution, at 5 inches and 1,920 x 1,080 pixels, and the cameras are quite similar to the regular S1, too. A 13-megapixel rear-facing shooter and an 8-megapixel front-facing sensor grace the S1 Lite. Oddly enough, the battery’s bigger: the S1 Lite sports a 2,700mAh battery, a power pack a tad larger than the S1’s 2,500mAh battery.

The biggest cost-cutting sacrifices, it seems, were made in the area of processing. The chip’s a MediaTek MTK6753 1.3GHz octa-core processor, which is weaker than the S1’s 1.7GHz MT6752. The RAM count’s 2GB rather than the 3GB its premium sibling sports. And the S1 Lite’s only available in a 16GB configuration, although storage is expandable via a MicroSD slot.

Despite the weaker internals, our initial impressions of the S1 Lite are quite positive. The IPS display is bright and has fairly good viewing angles, although we noticed a bit of distortion at certain orientations. And the phone’s no slouch — we switched between a number of apps at once and never noticed a slowdown.

Lenovo-Vibe-S1-Lite-handson_095721
Kyle Wiggers/Digital Trends
Kyle Wiggers/Digital Trends

In terms of software, the S1 is running Android Lollipop with VibeUI, Lenovo’s proprietary skin, on top. It didn’t seem to obtrusive in our limited testing, but you definitely won’t mistake it for vanilla Android — the launcher, app drawer, icons, and notifications are customized. Luckily, there’s a theme editor if the colors or design aren’t quite to your liking.

The S1 Lite is priced competitively at $200, and it’ll retail in European and Asian markets later this year. As of now, Lenovo has no plans to bring it to the United States.

Highs

  • Affordable price tag
  • Sharp cameras
  • 1080p screen

Lows

  • Not available in the U.S.
  • Not the fastest processor
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