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When you think Lenovo, the first visual element that pops into your head is surely not a smartphone. Laptops, surely… Ultrabooks, most likely… ThinkPad in general, for sure. Which is why, we were admittedly rather apprehensive towards the Lenovo smartphones that arrived in the test centre. However, it didn’t take long for our opinion to change, for the better.
Build & Design
For a device that is essentially a phablet, the Lenovo IdeaPhone K860 remains fairly comfortable for single-hand use. What helps is that it doesn’t have the immediate imposing footprint that comes with the LG Optimus Vu and even the Samsung Galaxy Note II for a certain extent.
Straight out-of-the-box, and you don’t realize that the Lenovo IdeaPhone K860 actually has a 5-inch display. The thin bezel on the right and left sides does have some bearing on this. The earpiece sits above the display, and is on a slightly lower height than the display and the glass. Interestingly, there are no touch sensitive or hardware keys below the display. That is because the Lenovo skin wrapped around the OS takes care of those tasks, on-screen.
The right spine of the Lenovo IdeaPhone K860 has the volume rocker, with the circular design for the and the – keys keeping them rather individual and separate. The left spine has a micro USB port. The top has the 3.5mm headphone jack and the rounded power key, much in same design as the individual volume rocker keys. There is a strip of chrome framing the phone, and looks very classy. It brings a bit of contrast to the other similar colour tone throughout.
Flip the Lenovo IdeaPhone K860 over and the matte black finish is a welcome element after the slightly shiny front side. The imprint design and the slightly coarse finish does help immensely while gripping the phone during the single hand operation. Towards the top is the 8MP camera with flash, with a chrome border. The Lenovo logo sits to the right of that.
All in all, we are truly impressed by the solidity of the IdeaPhone K860. However, while it is fairly slim at 9.6mm, it does weigh in at an immodest 193.5 grams. It does feel well put together though. Fairly basic looks, but very sophisticated nonetheless. This device is meant to be a phablet, but is by far the most comfortable one to hold and use.
Features & Specifications
There is no shortage of power on the Lenovo Smartphone IdeaPhone K860. The processor providing all the power is the Exynos 4412 quad core chip clocking at 1.4GHz. Incidentally, the same processor as the Samsung Galaxy Note II, but clocked slightly higher at 1.6GHz. The IdeaPhone K860 gets 1GB of RAM.
For the storage needs, there is 8GB internal storage and a micro SD card slot for expansion on the Lenovo IdeaPhone K860.
The 5-inch IPS display is rather impressive. The resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels is not something we can fault. The result is pretty positive. Straight up, the text readability is very comfortable on this device. Without actually zooming in on a web page, you can very easily read most of the text. Colour depth is fantastic, and helps with multimedia viewing. The unfortunate part is that the Lenovo IdeaPhone K860’s display is rather reflective, which kind of hurts viewing in sunlight.
It is rather surprising that the IdeaPhone K860 comes with Android Ice Cream Sandwich on board, and we have not heard anything about an upgrade to Android Jelly Bean, if at all. While the performance, which we will talk about in the next section, is impressive, the fact that it still has an older OS points to some untapped potential.
This part really surprised us. In the benchmark tests, the Lenovo IdeaPhone K860 trounces the LG Optimus Vu rather consistently, and is in solid second place behind the Galaxy Note II. The Lenovo IdeaPhone K860 scores 5067 in Quadrant test, while the Optimus Vu scores 4781 and the Note II scores 5981. In the AnTuTu test, the IdeaPhone K860 takes the lead with the score of 15823, while the Optimus Vu scores 12131 and the Note II a surprising 13649. These are the benchmark scores putting things in perspective, but our real concern was the real life usage performance. Straightaway, the minimalistic theme wrapped around Android is helpful – does not hinder performance, does not get in the way, and yet has enough useful widgets to remain somewhat relevant. Apps open smoothly, and with 4-5 apps open in the background, there seems to be no lag while opening another app. But, anymore and the phone will visibly encounter slight slowdowns. Not bad for a phone that is aiming to offer very good performance without being vain about it.
Gaming is where the IdeaPhone K860 is definitely better than the Optimus Vu, but strictly behind the Note II. Both the Note II and the IdeaPhone K860 have the Mali 400-MP graphics chip, but are clocked differently. The IdeaPhone K860 scores 52.3FPs in NenaMark 2, while the Optimus Vu is considerably behind with 48.7, while the Note II has the undisputed lead with 58FPs. Gaming experience, however, on the Note II and the IdeaPhone K860 is relatively similar, with only the display quality having a bearing on the overall gaming quality.
The call quality on the IdeaPhone K860 is pretty satisfactory for the most part, but the clarity does tend to get affected in areas where the signal quality is less than 50%. Earpiece quality of sound and loudness is good, but the speakerphone needs to be a bit louder. The good thing is that the IdeaPhone K860 takes a proper SIM card, and not a micro or Nano SIM.
The 2250mAh battery on the Lenovo IdeaPhone K860 will last a day and a bit more on a complete charge, and is fairly impressive. The Note II has a much bigger 3100mAh battery that lasts 2 days under the exact same usage.
The 8MP camera is a bit of an “okay, it is here” kind of a feature. It takes decent enough shots in good bright daylight, but in the evenings and beyond, the images are noisy, colour is completely off and the camera takes very long to focus. Good enough for that spur of the moment pic when meeting friends, but nothing more.
What we have seen is a rather impressive phablet, and is quite affordable as well. More importantly, it costs less than the Optimus Vu, with significantly better performance and comfort of use. The only issue with Lenovo smartphones is that their availability is rather limited. And that is the real drawback, but if you can get your hands on this phone, you are one of the lucky people! On that note, Lenovo does need to sort this out quickly, if they are serious about the smartphone market in India.