|Launch Date||April 12, 2018 (Official)|
|Operating System||Android v7.0 (Nougat)|
|Custom UI||Star OS|
|SIM Slot(s)||Dual SIM, GSM+GSM|
|SIM Size||SIM1: Nano|
|Network||4G: Available (supports Indian bands)|
|Screen Size||5.7 inches (14.48 cm)|
|Screen Resolution||720 x 1440 pixels|
|Pixel Density||282 ppi|
|Display Type||IPS LCD|
|Screen to Body Ratio (calculated)||75.67 %|
|Processor||Quad core, 1.3 GHz, Cortex A53|
|Internal Memory||32 GB|
|USB OTG Support||yes|
|Resolution||8 MP Front Camera|
|Image Resolution||4128 x 3096 Pixels|
|Settings||Exposure compensation, ISO control|
|Shooting Modes||Continuos Shooting, High Dynamic Range mode (HDR)|
|Camera Features||Digital Zoom, Auto Flash, Face detection, Touch to focus|
|Video Recording||1920x1080 @ 30 fps|
|Network & Connectivity|
|SIM Size||SIM1: Nano, SIM2: Nano|
|Network Support||4G (supports Indian bands), 3G, 2G|
|Wi-Fi Features||Mobile Hotspot|
|USB Connectivity||Mass storage device, USB charging, microUSB 2.0|
|Audio Jack||3.5 mm|
|Fingerprint Sensor Position||Rear|
|Other Sensors||Light sensor, Proximity sensor, Accelerometer|
The Lava Z91 with a price tag of Rs. 9,999 is competing directly with Redmi Note 5, Honor 9 Lite, Lenovo K8 Plus. Though it can’t stand strong in front of them, it does what a casual user are looking for on a smartphone. The 18:9 aspect ratio display is good, build quality is excellent, the camera is also acceptable, but on the flip side, the performance is not impressive, and the battery life could have been a bit better. Overall, given the smartphones in this segment and market dynamics, the Redmi Note 5, Honor 9 Lite is a better choice compared to Lava Z91.
Lava; an Indian brand is quickly catching up with the trend of bezel-less design and the face unlock thanks to iPhone X has recently launched the Z91. It comes with FullView display and also embraces the Face Unlock. While we are sure that the Face Unlock is not as secure as the OnePlus 5T or the iPhone X, but is very nice to see Indian brands offering features that users would want on a budget-friendly smartphone. However, the rest of the phone’s hardware is not very impressive considering that we get better value for money phones from other brands like Xiaomi, Huawei, Motorola. Either way, in our today’s review, let's see how well the phone fares given the higher price tag.
The Lava Z91 sports a 5.7-inches HD+ (1440 × 720 pixels) 18:9 2.5D curved glass display and is powered by the MediaTek MT6739 SoC clocked at 1.5GHz Quad-Core 64-bit processor with PowerVR Rogue GE8100 GPU. There is 3GB RAM and 32GB storage that is expandable up to 128GB with microSD. It runs on Android 7.0 Nougat with Star OS 4.2. In terms of camera, there is a 13MP rear camera with LED Flash and an 8MP front-facing camera with LED flash. Connectivity features include 4G VoLTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS + GLONASS and 3000mAh battery.
For ages, we are used to seeing phones with very thick bezels and regular candy bar designs. But for a change, the new Lava Z91 comes in a refreshing new 18:9 aspect ratio. The slim bezel-less design gives a pleasant experience while playing games and watching videos. Moving to the build, it comes with a glass+plastic design that is very comfortable and elegant to look at. Honor 9 Lite is the only phone in the sub Rs. 11,000 price range to have a glass build. The side frame, however, is plastic which is a good choice as it offers good grip and also doesn’t hurt your hands even after prolonged usage. The design is very impressive and its one among the very few phones in the sub Rs. 10,000 to have the new aspect ratio which is an advantage.
Moving to placements, up front, you find the 8-megapixel selfie camera, proximity sensor, main earpiece, and down below the 5.7-inches screen are the three touch type capacitive buttons that are placed within the display. You have the hybrid SIM slot on the left. While the power on/off switch and Volume rockers are present on the right side. Top houses the 3.5mm audio jack, while the microUSB port with primary microphone is situated at the bottom. Flipping the phone to the rear is where you find the 13-megapixel rear camera with LED flash, Fingerprint sensor, speaker grills, and Lava branding. The battery is not removable.
This is the most impressive aspect of the Lava Z91. It comes with a 5.7-inches HD+ (1440 × 720 pixels) 18:9 2.5D curved glass display. However, there is no protected glass on top. Moving along, the screen produces decent colors that are accurate. The viewing angles are also good; we didn’t notice any color shit or distortion even when viewing from extreme angles. The brightness levels are also good enough for viewing outdoors or under direct sunlight. With ultra-slim bezels on all corners, we had an excellent experience watching videos and playing games. Though it is an HD display, we didn’t notice any pixilation in texts and images even when zooming in. It doesn’t come with any protected glass on top, so you will have to be extra careful while using the device. On the whole, the display of the Lava Z91 is very impressive for the price tag, but with Redmi Note 5 coming with a similar price tag and Full HD display, we wish Lava also gone with Full HD panel.
The Lava Z91 is powered by the MediaTek MT6739 SoC clocked at 1.5GHz Quad-Core 64-bit processor with PowerVR Rogue GE8100 GPU and 3GB RAM. With Qualcomm mid-range chipsets like Snapdragon 450, 430 at its disposal, we wonder why Lava went with an age-old MediaTek chipset. Moving along, the performance in day-to-day usage is decent. Apps open up fairly quick, and they respond well too. But the problem is that it starts lagging once you put a little pressure on the phone by running high-end or resource intensive applications which it can’t handle. Thanks to its glass body design, we didn’t notice any significant heating issues which is a good thing.
Moving to gaming, we played games like Asphalt 8, Nova 3, Leo’s Fortune, Need for Speed, Temple Run 2. The gameplay is very disappointing; we noticed constant frame drops and laggy. Changing the graphics to medium or low resulted in somewhat acceptable gameplay. The device comes with a Fingerprint sensor which is present on the back, and it unlocks the phone almost instantly. You can register up to five fingers. Additionally, the phone comes with Face Unlock which works, but it is very slow in recognizing the face. Overall, the performance of the Lava Z91 is not very satisfactory with Redmi, Honor phone offering better performance in the same price tag.
The Lava Z91 features a 13MP rear camera and an 8MP front camera for selfies and video chats. The camera interface is simple, all the toggles for video, flash, front camera, HDR are present on the main screen itself. It also comes with Bokeh Mode for those portrait shots. Moving to camera performance, if you are in good lighting and outdoors, the camera can click images that are social shareable. The pictures come in good colors and vibrant contrast. The detail levels are also impressive. The macro shots have decent Bokeh effect, turning on the HDR mode brings in more light to the images. Moving to low-light performance, here is where things change. The photos are completely washed out and there no details to spare as well.
The rear camera can record 1080p, and the quality of the video is average. The front 8MP selfie shooter can click decent images in good lighting and outdoor conditions. They are also social shareable. Like with most budget phones that brag about portrait mode, the Lava Z91 portrait shots too are just a gimmick with poor edge detection. Overall, the camera of the Z91 is not very impressive but gets the job done if you are looking to click decent shots.
The phone comes with a generous 3000mAh battery with no support for fast charging. With moderate to casual usage that includes taking phone calls, sending text messages, GPS navigation, listening to music, the phone lasted until afternoon. We didn’t notice any battery drain or drop drastically on heavy use as well. On the con side, if you are a heavy user who uses phone continuously or plays games, you can expect a battery life until the afternoon making you charge once again before you end the day.
There are no additional battery settings except for the default battery saver which will come handy when you are running out of charge. With the bundled charger, the phone took close to 2 hours 40 minutes to charge from 1 to 100%. Overall, the battery of the Lava Z91 though is not as good as the Redmi phones, won’t disappoint if you are a casual user.
The Lava Z91 runs on Android 7.0 Nougat with Star OS 4.2 on top. StarOS is entirely different from stock U.I. There is no app drawer as all the icons are present on the main home screen itself. We’re not really a big fan of the custom interface, StarOS is no exception. It is very heavily customized which results in occasional hiccups in the interface. However, you can rely on the PlayStore to change the look and feel of the U.I if you are bored with the routine interface. It comes with all Google apps pre-installed and there few additional applications that are just bloatware and can’t be removed without rooting.
The Lava Z91 comes with 3GB of RAM out of which 1.81GB is free on first boot. The available RAM is enough to handle most of your daily tasks and run essential apps without any issues. It can even handle multitasking with not more than 5-6 apps at a time. Since the phone is heavily themed, the interface becomes laggy if you try to put more pressure then it can handle. Overall, the software experience of the Lava Z91 would have been good had the company launched it with stock U.I.
The company is bundling a set of in-ear style earphones within the box, and they are of good quality. The audio quality via them is decent enough, and we didn’t hear any distortion in audio even with maximum volume. The default audio player can play wide-range for formats without any issues. Since the speaker grills are present are present on the rear side, the sound gets muffled when placed on a flat surface.
Moving to video, the Lava Z91 can play 1080p videos without any issues. We didn’t notice any freezing or heating issues even playing with 4G turned on. Overall, the audio and video department does a good job.