Lenovo Zuk Z2 User Review

Introduction

After reading all those great reviews of the Lenovo Zuk Z2, I decided it was the best budget-conscious smartphone to get as a backup phone.

Little did I know, I would be taken for a wild ride.

For those who want to skip the fluff, the two sections you want to read are Firmware/Software and Conclusion.

Design

I am a diehard fan of simplistic and minimalistic design. And the Zuk Z2 is a perfect example of this.

There are no additional/unnecessary bumps or curves. And bucks the current trend of rounded/curved edges and having the fingerprint scanner on the back like most other Android-based mobile phones.

Having the fingerprint scanner on the front of the device by far provides the best user experience. I won’t go into a rant about this like I did with an Android fanboy a while back.

All I’ll say is: having the fingerprint scanner on the front of the device enables a MUCH BETTER user experience.

Take the scenario: you are cooking and a message arrives. Your hands are kind of tied holding stuff. But as we do, we somehow manage to get a hand free.

Is it easier to just touch fingerprint scanner or flip the phone over, touch the fingerprint scanner, then flip the phone back over (all while having your fingers crossed it scanned your finger properly)?

There are no back or recent apps button, there is just one button – the home button. Lenovo has added some magic to the home button via its custom ZUI OS that covers these two buttons functionality (which I’ll cover in the firmware/software section).

Overall, I give the design a 8 out of 10. The reason it did not receive a full 10 score is because it does not have a microSD card slot.

Performance

The Zuk Z2 is powered by Qualcomm’s 2016 flagship chip, the SnapDragon 820 and offers solid performance.

But I will point out that overall, the Zuk Z2 perform generally slower than my iPhone 6S. Especially loading of apps – I believe this is due to the slower storage found in the Zuk Z2.

For the price Lenovo is selling the Zuk Z2, there has to be some cost reduction somewhere – right?

Camera

As a hobbyist Photographer, I probably have much higher standards to other reviewers when evaluating cameras. So I will keep it short and sweet.

Do not rely on the camera on the Zuk Z2 for anything other than some random social snaps. The quality is just that bad.

Build Quality

The phone feels solidly built all around. However, one thing I do have to question is the Corning Gorilla Glass used.

The phone’s glass surfaces are very easy to scratch. A lot easier than any other phone I have owned. So my recommendation is to get a screen protector and case. Yes, you’ll want a case too, because the back is also made of glass.

Firmware/Software

Like 99% of Android-based mobile phones, the Zuk Z2 is no different, it runs a highly customised version of Android Lenovo dubbed ZUI.

The design of ZUI OS is very clean and simple. More importantly, it comes with a collection of out-of-the-box icons for most of the common apps available, enabling a more consistent looking phone experience.

I especially liked the home button gestures feature – swipe left or right on the home button to go back and forth between apps in your recent apps list. It is very nicely done. I have not experienced any issues of it playing up, lagging, or misbehaving.

Double pressing and long pressing the home button will also perform additional functions, all four gestures can be customised and changed in the settings.

OK. So far the Zuk Z2 sounds like an awesome phone and that’s because it is an awesome phone.

Sadly, Lenovo is up to their old game of pre-installing malware on their devices again – my guess is, it’s a way to subsidise for the ultra low price they are selling the Zuk Z2 for.

For me, Lenovo has gone too far with the malware thing in the Zuk Z2.

I could put up with having pre-installed apps that I could easily remove myself by using the Android app uninstaller or have some ads appearing in the built-in web browser.

But what is pre-install on the Zuk Z2 is a trojan that requires one to root their device before they can remove it. And this trojan does not simply surface random ads that completely botches up the nice user experience the developers on the ZUI project worked hard to create.

The trojan also installs random apps in the background, once the random app is installed, it’ll display a nice notification informing you about it – how lovely.

Finally, for some reason, I do not know (or cared enough to look into at this point), one needs to use a VPN to ‘fake’ that they are in China in order to receive new firmware updates.

There is a work around to getting the new firmware updates without using the VPN method. But why the extra hassle?

If it weren’t for the trojan and the real pain in the neck up firmware update process, instead of giving the Zuk Z2 a 0 out 10, I would have given the Zuk Z2 a 8 out of 10 for its firmware/software.

Conclusion

A very nice phone in many regards. Sadly, the marketing guys have had their way and I cannot recommend this phone.

There are too many cons than there are pros. This is not the Android phone you are looking for.

Product Photos

Figure 1. Box.
Figure 2. First look inside box.
Figure 3. All the contents of the package.

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