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Lenovo ZUK Z1 review

by on18 November 2015


Review: Heavy Cyanogen artillery

Lenovo’s smartphone strategy can be baffling at times. The Chinese giant acquired Motorola Mobility almost two years ago, and now it seems it will merge its own mobile division with Motorola’s. Lenovo brand phones aren’t even marketed in many big markets, namely Europe and North America. 

ZUK is a new Lenovo brand, so on top of Motorola and Lenovo phones, the company now has a third brand. ZUK products are coming to a lot more markets than Lenovo phones, so Europe should get them as well, along with some countries in the Middle East and Russia.

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The ZUK Z1 is the spin-off’s first smartphone, and it’s obviously designed to impress the geeky crowd. The phone runs Cyanogen OS 12.1, based on Android 5.1.1. Mind you, this is not CyanogenMod, there are no nightly builds, this is not a community effort, Cyanogen OS is proper operating system with Google support, and it’s developed and maintained by Cyanogen (as in the company rather than the community).

If the ZUK Z1 sounds a lot like the OnePlus One, that’s probably no coincidence, and neither is the fact that it’s showing up just as OnePlus rolls out two new phones (the OnePlus Two and OnePlus X). There are a few notable differences. OnePlus has moved to its own Oxygen OS, and the OnePlus Two is a more expensive device based on a faster processor. In terms of pricing, the ZUK Z1 is closer to the 5-inch OnePlus X.


The ZUK Z1 is based on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 801 processor, backed by 3GB of RAM and 64GB of eMMC 5.0 storage. The phone packs a 5.5-inch 1080p display capable of reproducing 100% NTSC gamut, a fingerprint scanner, 4100mAh battery and USB Type-C. At the back, you’ll find Sony’s good old IMX214 13-megapixel sensor, with added optical image stabilization (OIS).

It might not use the latest processor or camera sensors out there, but at $299 via resellers, the ZUK Z1 is quite a bit cheaper than the OnePlus Two, yet it has a bigger battery. 

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Last modified on 16 December 2015
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