The jig's up: Cyanogen no longer exclusive to Micromax in India

By Prasid Banerjee | Updated 2 May 2016
The jig's up: Cyanogen no longer exclusive to Micromax in India
  • Lenovo's Zuk brand is entering the Indian market, with the Lenovo Zuk Z1 smartphone.

The partnership between Micromax and Cyanogen is no longer exclusive, said Lenovo’s Head of Product Marketing, Anuj Sharma. Lenovo’s Zuk Z1 smartphone is expected to be launched in India sometime next week, and the phone runs on CyanogenMod 12. This would earlier have not been possible, since Micromax had a exclusive deal with Cyanogen Inc in India. In fact, the Indian OEM’s deal had been problematic for OnePlus, which was forced to cut ties with OnePlus, and announce its own OxygenOS.

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That said, Micromax’s deal with Cyanogen hasn’t been very fruitful either. While the company’s Yu brand did gain consumer interest, the company’s market shares have continued to fizzle out. This pushed Micromax to go for a complete brand revamp last month, announcing over 15 new products, none of which were under the Yu brand. When we reviewed the Yu Yutopia, the company’s flagship device, it turned out to be a lacklustre attempt at making a mid-range flagship as well.

That said, we recently had some hands on time with Lenovo’s upcoming Zuk Z1 smartphone. The device’s India launch has been delayed by almost a year, thanks to the exclusive deal mentioned above. As a result, the Zuk Z1 comes with an outdated Snapdragon 801 SoC. However, from our first impressions the phone seems to be quite responsive still. Sharma explained that the Cyanogen 12 OS on the device is optimised for the Snapdragon 801, which still makes it competitive as a mid-ranged device.

Further, the Zuk Z1 has a 13MP rear camera, 8MP front camera and 3GB of RAM, along with a 5.5 inch 1080p display. According to Lenovo, the display covers 100% of the NTSC colour gamut, and has the same panel that we saw on the Lenovo Vibe X3. Again, from what we saw, while the display does look crisp, it seems to be a tad dim, compared to the Vibe X3. Lenovo however, says both displays can reach up to 450 nits and have a contrast ratio of 1500:1.

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Interestingly, the Zuk Z1 has a 4100 mAh battery, which can be cut-off when needed. So, if you’re charging the phone overnight, it will reach 100% and then continue running on AC power, through the charger. This allow battery micro-cycles to be saved. According to Sharma, phones today charge to 100% and cut-off the charger, which allows the battery to run the device even when connected to a power outlet. As a result, the phone starts charging again whenever the battery drops to around 90-95%, resulting in micro-cycles. These can in turn reduce the overall life of the battery.

From our first impressions, the Lenovo Zuk Z1 does seem like a pretty good smartphone, aimed at enthusiasts. In fact, Lenovo is also allowing users to unlock the bootloader, without losing the phone’s warranty. Sharma clarified that if you brick the device while making tweaks to the software, Lenovo’s service centers will return it to the original CM 12 version.

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The Lenovo Zuk Z1 should be launched in India, around May 9, but the final launch date isn’t available yet. We expect the phone to be priced in the 14-18K price segment.

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Prasid Banerjee
Trying to explain technology to my parents. Failing miserably.
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