Is it a camera? Is a smartphone? Lenovo takes on imaging with the Vibe Shot

Lenovo has kicked off MWC with the launch of two new smartphones, including a device that doesn't seem to know if it's a camera or a phone.
Written by Jo Best, Contributor
The Lenovo Vibe Shot. Image: Andrew Hoyle/CNET

After a week that saw Lenovo forced to apologise for installing adware on its machines, the company has released a slew of new hardware.

On the first day of the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona, Spain, Lenovo launched two smartphones as well as a trio of tablets.

The most notable release, the Vibe Shot, is described by the company as "its first camera smartphone crossover device" and it's heavy on the imaging tech.

The handset comes with an eight-megapixel front-facing camera, a 16-megapixel rear camera and a six-piece modular lens, as well as hardware enhancements for low-light photography, optical image stabilisation, and a hard shutter button. It also offers a 'Pro' camera photography option for users that want to tinker with the device's settings themselves as well as point-and-shoot pre-programmed options.

For storing snaps, the device has 32GB of storage and microSD expandable up to 128GB, and a five-inch HD screen for viewing the pics. The styling of the device is clearly a nod towards traditional camera design, and an interesting attempt to make the device stand out in a sea of mid-range Android handsets.

It's powered by Android 5.0 Lollipop and runs on a Snapdragon processor. It will be hitting shelves from this June, priced at $349 and up, before tax.

Lenovo is filling out its phablet range with the launch of the A7000, also announced on Monday. Another Lollipop-powered device, the A7000 comes with a 5.5-inch screen, Dolby Atmos sound, MediaTek True8Core processor, and dual-SIM slot.

The mid-range LTE smartphone will go on sale in March for a pocket-friendly $249 before tax.

While Android accounts for around four in five of all smartphones sold, Lenovo was until recently a relatively small player, with a low single-digit share of the smartphone market. However, that's a situation that's likely to change in the coming years: the company signalled its intention to grow its presence in mobile when it bought Motorola from Google for $2.9bn - a deal that made it the world's third largest smartphone seller.

On the tablet front, Lenovo unwrapped two Android devices and a Windows slate.

The TAB 2 A10-70 comes with a 10.1-inch FHD screen. It runs on Android 4.4 KitKat and a MediaTek quad core processor. Lenovo is pitching the tablet as a media consumption device, and it features Dolby Atmos sound accordingly. The A10-70 comes with wi-fi and LTE, and a price tag of $199 for wi-fi only and $279 for LTE connectivity too. It will go on sale in April.

For those with a hankering for a smaller screen, Lenovo announced the TAB 2 A8, which comes with an eight-inch display. Like the A10-70, it's HD and has both wi-fi and 4G connectivity options, but unlike its smaller sibling, the A8 runs on Android 5.0 Lollipop. The A8 will cost $129 for a wi-fi only version, and $179 for LTE as well. It will be released in June.

The third of Lenovo's releases at the MWC show is the MIIX 300, with an eight-inch IPS WUXXGA screen. It's powered by Window 8.1 and an Intel atom processor. It's wi-fi only, and has 64GB of storage onboard. The MIIX will be available from July from $149. The price also comes with a year of Office 365 included, like two other notable Microsoft-powered machines released at MWC: Microsoft's Lumia 640 and 640 XL smartphones.

Lenovo is currently the third largest tablet maker globally. However, with just 4.8 percent of the market, it's still a long way behind the duopoly of Apple and Samsung with 28.1 percent and 14.5 percent of all tablet sales respectively, according to the latest figures from analyst house IDC.

The company also used MWC to unveil an Android-powered portable projector.

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