Verdict: Our Lenovo K12 Note review is done, and it’s clear that Lenovo’s back to seriously compete with established players in the Philippines. As it is the direct rival to the POCO M3, we love its value-added video features like 60FPS shooting and EIS option, stock Android, and faster 20w charging. And while we’re annoyed at the absence of an ultra-wide-angle camera, the main snapper is more than enough to get over this oversight.
The K12 Note is priced at Php 6,995.
-60FPS video shooting and EIS
-Fast 20w wired charging
-No ultra-wide-angle camera
-So-so low-light performance
-Google Assistant button could be used for other things
While the POCO M3 was hailed as the undisputed budget phone king last year, plenty of other brands want to knock the Xiaomi sub-brand off the top. Lenovo is up to that challenge with its new K12 Note budget phoine. The K12 Note is the brand’s first new phone since its official comeback last year, and offers quite a lot of competitive features in its sub-Php 7k price tag. Let’s see how this phone stacks up in our Lenovo K12 Note review:
Don’t be surprised if the K12 Note looks very similar to Motorola’s recently-released Moto G phones: that’s because aside from the Lenovo branding, the K12 Note is also known as the Moto G9 Play in other markets. That being said, the K12 Note shares more of the design DNA of Motorola phones that include the centrally-placed square camera module, rear-mounted fingerprint scanner, and button/port layout.
Being a budget phone, you get an all-plastic build with the K12 Note. Its glossy back panel is a fingerprint magnet, and we appreciate Lenovo pre-installing the jelly case with the phone out of the box for added peace of mind. The K12 Note is a bit on the thick side and feels hefty with its 5000mAh battery.
Going through the port layout, you have a NanoSIM tray on the left side, headphone jack on top, Google Assistant, volume controls, and power button on the right side, and USB-C port and loudspeaker at the bottom.
As someone who never actually used the Google Assistant button, I really wished Lenovo added an option to map the button to do other things–like functioning as a camera shutter perhaps. In addition to what John said about the Google Assistant button placement on the Moto G 5G Plus, there were times that I accidentally pressed the Google Assistant button instead of the volume controls.
You get a 6.5-inch HD+ IPS display with the K12 Note, along with a rather dated notch housing the 8-megapixel selfie snapper and a thick chin. The display is typical of what we see in more recent budget phones, though Lenovo added several features like flexible color options and an ambient display that shows notifications occasionally. While you don’t get the best pixel density due to its HD+ resolution, the colors and overall brightness is decent enough for outdoor use.
As for its lone speaker, the K12 Note can go loud and still deliver decent audio quality. While lows are on the weak side, the mids and highs are clear even when you pump the volume to the highest setting.
While you get a triple rear camera setup on the K12 Note, only the 48-megapixel f/1.7 main camera is notable here. The two 2-megapixel snappers–one for macro shots and one for depth sensing–have little to no use. Those cameras are more of stat stuffers, and we wish this trend ends soon.
Speaking of the main camera, images shot in daylight, backlight, and controlled lighting are decent for a budget phone, with the white balance being consistent and colors being close to what the human eyes can see.
Things are different, however, in low-light situations, as the K12 Note suffers from loss of detail. Night Vision does help in recovering those details, though we have seen other budget phones that can do better in low light.
As for features, Lenovo packed the K12 Note with niceties like RAW shooting, 48-megapixel mode, 60FPS shooting in Full HD, and EIS in 1080p30. Speaking of video, the K12 Note’s EIS feature does quite a good job in keeping footage stable as much as possible.
While we like the presence of a 60FPS option, you need to use a gimbal or tripod as the resulting footage is jiggly when shooting handheld.
Powering the K12 Note is a familiar combination of a Snapdragon 662 processor, 4GB RAM, and 128GB internal storage. We mentioned familiar because that’s practically the same configuration used on the higher-end variant of the POCO M3. In terms of performance, both the POCO M3 and K12 Note are neck-to-neck, with the POCO M3 taking a slight lead.
Compared to other processors like the Snapdragon 460, Helio G85, and Helio G70, the K12 Note’s Snapdragon 662 is ahead of all three processors in GeekBench multi-core test while trailing behind both Helio chips in GeekBench single-core and PCMark Work.
That being said, the Snapdragon 662 is suitable for most popular games out there, including fan-favorite RPG Genshin Impact. Based on results we got from GameBench, we got an average FPS of 27 with a near-perfect 96% stability–that means you can do some competitive fighting in Genshin Impact using the K12 Note.
Save for Asphalt 9, where we got a low 69% stability, most games on the K12 Note are ver stable, with stability rates upwards of 90%. In addition, games like Call of Duty and NBA 2K20 can go beyond 30FPS even at the highest graphics settings.
The K12 Note’s 5000mAh battery life lasted a little over 20 hours on our battery test, which translates to almost two days of use. That great battery life can be credited to the Snapdragon 662’s battery efficiency.
Our K12 Note review shows just how much Lenovo wants to match POCO’s crazy budget offering, and the K12 Note just did that. While the majority of the specs are identical, Lenovo makes up for it with more camera features, stock Android, and slightly faster charging speeds.
While its low-light performance is so-so at best even when using Night Vision, there’s still plenty of room for improvement through software updates–Lenovo has been keeping the K12 Note updated with the latest security updates.