With slowing sales globally and OEMs exiting the Kenyan market, it’s been tough for smartphones. At least some. Lava international seems to go against that wave and is now the latest company to enter the Kenyan market with their feature, budget and mid-range mobile phones.
At launch, the Lava Z81 was one of the devices introduced to the Kenyan lower mid-range market and wants to compete in the space dominated by the likes of Infinix, TECNO, OPPO, Huawei and Samsung. Let’s get into what there is to discuss about this phone, shall we?
Design and Display
The Lava Z81 packs a 720p 5.7″ IPS display in an 18:9 aspect ratio with visible bezels and no notch. The display is Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protected. The phone comes with a headphone jack on top, a micro USB power port on the right bottom, volume rockers and power button on the right side. The sim card slot is on the left that has two nano SIM cards and a slot for expandable memory.
On the back, there’s the rear fingerprint scanner and the 13MP main camera with LED flash. 13MP camera in the front as well. Facial unlock is also a feature worth mentioning. Its small size makes for a comfortable grip and one-handed usage too.
The Lava Z81 is powered by a Quad-core 2.0 GHz Cortex-A53 MediaTek MT6761 Helio A22 chipset and packs 2GB and 16GB of internal storage. There is also a 3GB RAM and 32GB onboard memory variant. Lava Z81 runs on Android 8.1 Oreo with a star OS skin overlay. The user interface is minimalistic so that won’t be a problem for average users. It doesn’t come with an app drawer, so you’ll have to get a third party Launcher to customise the phone according to your preference.
The 2 gigs of RAM work okay except for heavy multitasking and would annoyingly restart previously opened apps. Hopefully, the heavier spec’d one with 3GB of RAM offers a much better user experience.
Consuming multimedia content worked well from watching videos to listening to music. It was strange that Lava decided to go with speakers placed on the back of the phone but the audio was fine – nothing to complain about.
In terms of optics, the Lava Z81 packs a single 13MP rear camera and 13MP selfie camera. The shots taken were decent enough for sharing on social media. In daylight, it manages to get the exposure right but you’ll have to be patient to get better photos. It also struggled with low light shots. There are several modes to play around with including AR sticker, beauty, normal and video.
Here are some samples – click on separate image to enlarge
The Lava Z81 comes with 3000mAh battery. That should give you a days average of light use. With my heavy multitasking between scrolling through social media, watching YouTube videos or reading ebooks, the phone pushed till late evening before I needed to juice it up before my commute home from the office.
The charger that comes with the phone isn’t fast charging but the smaller size of the battery gets powered relatively quickly.
Final Sentiments – Is It Worth Buying?
The Lava Z81 is generally a nice phone and packs the expected features for a budget phone. But the question that nags is, is it the right phone for you especially if you compare with what’s in the market right now. The Lava Z81 would’ve been the perfect phone a few years behind but with tech previously reserved for mid-range and high-end phones now catching up to budget phones, you have more to choose from for even cheaper prices.
At Ksh 12,000 for the 2GB RAM variant and Ksh 14,000 for the 3GB RAM variant, the phone just doesn’t stand tall enough in the very competitive pocket-friendly smartphone segment.