Indian brand Lava made news when it teamed up with Google for a low-cost Android One smartphone, the Lava Pixel V1 (Review). That effort seems to have ended, and the company was quiet for a long time after that. Now, it's back with a new strategy for the budget segment. Lava recently announced that it will concentrate on a smaller portfolio of devices, starting with the new metal-bodied Z series. The first two models in this series, the Lava Z10 and Lava Z25 (Review), claim to offer premium build quality. The Z10 is the more affordable of the pair, and has some decent specs on paper. It is currently priced at Rs 9,900.
The device goes up against others that are trying to redefine the sub Rs. 10,000 segment, such as the Xiaomi Redmi 3S Prime (Review) and the Coolpad Note 5 Lite (Review). Does the Lava Z10 have what it takes to stand out? Let's find out.
Lava has taken a very simple approach with the design of the Z10. It has a plain white front and a metallic gold back. What is different is that unlike all the metal unibody phones we've seen in this segment, the back cover is actually a removable shell. It isn't all metal either - Lava has used a metal plate in the middle but the frame is all plastic, including the rim. Once the back cover is off, you see the shiny battery along with two SIM slots (one Micro and one Nano) and a microSD card slot.
The power and volume buttons are on the right, while the left side of the Lava Z10 is completely bare. The positioning of the power button is spot on and it is easy to reach with a thumb. We can't say the same about the volume rocker, which you will need to stretch to reach. There is a 3.5mm headphones socket at the top and a Micro-USB charging port at the bottom of the Lava Z10. The phone's small size makes it comfortable to hold in one hand. The rounded edges on the body prevent it from digging into your palms.
The front of the Lava Z10 has a selfie flash on the top alongside the earpiece. There is a notification LED hidden just below the proximity sensor - it's bright enough to glow from beneath the panel. Instead of capacitive touch buttons below the screen, this phone gets on-screen ones instead.
The main camera is positioned towards the left of the rear, along with its LED flash. A loudspeaker can be seen further down. Lava hasn't given this phone a fingerprint reader, even though that is becoming a standard feature on budget smartphones. You get a plastic case and a screen protector for the phone along with in-ear headphones in the box
The Lava Z10 sports a 5-inch display with a resolution of 720x1280 pixels and 2.5D curved-edge glass. It has good viewing angles and is bright enough to be visible under direct sunlight. The processor is a quad-core MediaTek MT6737 clocked at 1.3GHz. There's also 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage, of which only around 9.4GB can actually be used. Thankfully, there is a dedicated microSD card slot that supports cards of up to 128GB capacity.
The Lava Z10 has an 8-megapixel primary camera with a pixel size of 1.4 microns, and a f/2.0 aperture. At the front, the phone has a 5-megapixel selfie camera with a front-facing flash. The Lava Z10 is a dual-SIM phone and supports 4G and VoLTE on both slots, but only one at a time. The battery is non-removable and is rated at 2620mAh.
Lava's custom Star OS 3.3 runs on top of Android 6.0 Marshmallow. The UI does not have an app drawer and installed apps appear right on the homescreen. You can choose between different themes and effects to customise the look and feel. There are two layouts for the on-screen Android navigation buttons to choose from, offering some flexibility. Strangely, Lava decided to swap the Recents key for an old-fashioned Menu key which makes the phone awkward to use. Google dropped the Menu button's functionality after Android 2.3 Gingerbread and we were surprised to find it on this phone. You'll have to long-press this button to multitask between apps.
The phone comes with quite a lot of preloaded apps including a number of Jio Apps, Hike Messenger, and Gameloft Game Hub. There's also UC browser, Google Chrome, and a stock browser for Star OS which takes the total count of browsers to three. There are also two news apps, Daily Hunt and News Point; and three audio players, Play Music, Music, and Gaana. Most of this bloat can be uninstalled but it would have been better not to have them at all. For those who enjoy FM radio, the phone does have a radio app, which also allows recording.
The Settings app's layout is rearranged. There are tabs for General, Sound, and Display instead of the consolidated list on most Android smartphones. This makes finding the right setting a little harder than it needs to be. The phone has various gestures that can be used when the screen is off. You can double-tap to wake the device or draw an alphabet to launch specific apps.Read More...
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