OEM-customized Android experiences may (or may not) have some added value to offer, but Lenovo’s “Pure Vibe” skin isn’t one of those. As such, there was no tear shed when Lenovo revealed that it will retire that custom UX in favor of adopting the “real pure” Android envisioned by Google. That new phase in the OEMs smartphone journey starts with the K8 Note, which just broke cover in India. Hopefully, it won’t end with it as well.
It’s probably going to remain a mystery why Lenovo finally chose to ditch Pure Vibe. Unsurprisingly, it positions it as listening to customer desires, but companies don’t always listen to their customers anyway. It might have something to do with Motorola, who was previously owned by Google and who had one of the purest Android experiences around. When it was acquired by Lenovo, there were fears that the Chinese OEM would ruin that. Consider those fears allayed.
Lenovo doesn’t exactly put that fact about the K8 Note front and center, though it does play the feature as something that makes the smartphone run smoother. Amusingly, that does imply that Lenovo itself concedes that Pure Vibe was unnecessary baggage. By shipping with a stock Android experience, Lenovo was also able to gain the Google Assistant advantage. The OEM is one of the few major smartphone makers (LG being the other one) that doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel with a smart assistant of its own.
Instead, Lenovo highlights the K8 Note’s cameras. Yes, plural and not just because it has front and back ones. The main camera is actually made up of two. There’s a 13 megapixel “PureCel Plus” sensor and a 5 megapixel depth-sensing sensor, which is to say a monochrome camera. This is the same dual camera strategy that Huawei employs to great effect. The rest of the smartphone’s specs are pretty standard for a mid-range phone. That includes a deca-core MediaTek Helio X23 processor, 3 or 4 GB of RAM, 32 or 64 GB of storage, and a 5.5-inch 1920×1080 display.
The Lenovo K8 Note is currently available only in India. Lenovo has promised that its future smartphones will all be like the K8 Note in Android purity, though, with nearly a dozen Motorola phones already in the market, it remains to be seen just how many Lenovo-branded phones will be around this year to make that promise worthwhile.