China PC-maker Lenovo isn’t a brand typically associated with smartphones. The leading PC brand in China first ventured into the smartphone race in 2012. Marketed as “LePhone” in its home country and “IdeaPhone” outside of China, the brand has quickly become the world’s third largest smartphone maker (Gartner, Q3 2013). Impressive. Courtesy of Lenovo Malaysia, I was loaned a unit for review. Read on.
Overview: What phone is that?
“Wait a minute, Lenovo makes phones?”
“Wow, nice phone. What phone is that?”
These were just a couple of common questions that were thrown at me in the course of my daily use with the K900. Friends were intrigued with the large, slim, metallic device. So I had a little explaining to do.
Lenovo announced the K900 in January 2013, and subsequently shipping the device in some markets in April 2013, and Malaysia in May 2013. Since then it has seen very encouraging sales, pushing global sales of nearly 13 million units in three months ending September 30, 2013.
Secrets to its success? Top-of-the-line specs without top-of-the-line pricing. A strategy it also adopts with its mid-range and entry-level products.
Design & Build
The first thing that catches your eye with the K900 is the ultraslim profile of its stainless steel body. Measuring just 6.9mm thin, you forget that its a 5.5-inch phablet. In all honesty, this is one of the best-looking, and best-built smartphones in the market today. The design language is minimalistic with an industrial touch. It’s handsome, I’ve got to give it that. And hurrah for no cheap plastics!
It’s also light for its size, weighing just 162g. Slips into your pocket with ease, and stays there without any unsightly bulges. The device measures 157 x 78 x 6.9 mm.
On the right side is a single tactile power button and a micro-SIM tray. On the opposite side, volume rocker buttons. At the bottom, a 3.5mm audio jack and a micro-USB charging port. On the front, it is as minimalist as it comes with soft touch buttons on the bottom of the screen. On the top front is the 2MP front-facing camera and front speakers. On the reverse is the talented 13MP main shooter with dual LED flash and speakers at the bottom. The back plate is secured with four very industrial-looking screws.
All in all, a very attractive device, and build quality that will put other flagships and more expensive devices to shame.
Something glaring you’ll notice on the back of the device is the Intel logo. Yes, the Lenovo is powered by an Intel Atom processor – the dual-core “Clover Trail+” Z2580 processor to be exact. Running at a maximum of 2GHz, and complemented by a generous 2GB RAM, the K900 is quite a performer. Don’t let the lack of cores fool you, as the benchmarks will reveal that the Z2580 will perform as well or better than quad-core Snapdragons in some tasks.
Expect better than good graphics performance with PowerVR SGX544MP2 GPU running at up to 533Mhz.
The 5.5-inch Full HD IPS LCD (1920 x 1080 pixels @ 401PPI) is bright, brilliant and provides crisp text and images. The display is protected by Gorilla Glass 2.
Perhaps the claim to fame of the K900 is the 13MP Exmor R main camera with BSI sensor, by Sony. The autofocus f/1.8 lens with dual LED flash is an impressive performer. Stills are sharp and crisp with colour reproduction very balanced. It also grabs 1080p video @ 30fps. I’ll touch on more details with this talented shooter in Part 2.
As a high-end device, the K900 is packed with all the bells and whistles – Bluetooth 3.0 with A2DP, dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, micro-USB, USB OTG, GPS/A-GPS, GSM/HSDPA+ and 16/32GB flash storage configurations. The lack of 4G LTE may be a deal-breaker for some though.
The K900 runs Android 4.2 with a Lenovo UI layer on top.
It’s also packed with a non-removable Li-ion 2,500mAh battery, claimed to provide talk time of up to 12 hours (3G) and up to 300 hours of standby time (3G).
Wait up for Part 2 of the review where we will touch on Camera, Software, Performance, Battery Life and Overall Impressions.