When I got an invite a few weeks ago to attend an event by Lenovo, I thought it would be just another straightforward product reveal for a new laptop. But to my utter surprise, Lenovo unveiled six brand new smartphones, marking the company’s new ventures into the smartphone market. While six models were available for viewing at the launch, I got my hands on probably the largest of the lot, the K900.
Build quality & design
Lenovo positions the K900 as a business phone, one that you elegantly slip into your jacket pocket before you head to your meetings. From a design point of view, Lenovo have certainly built an impressive looking device. Rather than go for a plastic body like other smartphone manufacturers, Lenovo has decided to opt for a beautiful stainless-steel finish. Not only does it lend a rather premium look to the phone, it also immediately dictates who this phone is targeting – the business-savvy user.
The K900 is also a massive phone, sporting a 5.5 inch display. This comfortably puts it into the ‘phablet’ category of phones such as the Samsung Note, however there’s no included stylus with the K900. The phone measures just 6.9mm and weighs a mere 162g. It feels very lightweight in your hand, but by holding it you also realize just how awkwardly big this phone is. Using it with one hand is almost impossible at times – I found it rather difficult to use the K900 with one hand without constantly stretching my thumb to reach certain areas of the screen.
Lenovo have strived to keep the K900 elegant and simple, so you only have a power button, volume rocker, charging port, and your microSIM tray. The back of the phone hosts the 13 megapixel camera and flash, and also features four small screws in the back. The K900’s battery isn’t removable, and the phone unfortunately doesn’t feature a microSD expansion slot.
Benchmarks and Performance
What makes the K900 rather unique is that it’s the first phone I’ve tested being powered by Intel’s Atom Z2580C processor. The dual-core 2GHz chip is certainly beefy enough to run almost anything on this phone, and the large display makes reading documents and scrolling webpages a breeze.
But even though there’s plenty of juice under the hood, I found the K900 stuttering far too often, be it opening or closing the app drawer, typing on the keyboard, scrolling through home screens, or even just trying to use the voice features. The delays inheritably exist in Android, but they seem a lot more prominent in the K900 at times.
UI and Apps
A probable reason for the K900 stuttering every now and then could be down to the face that Lenovo have opted to put their own UI skin on top of Android, resulting in a rather mish-mashed user experience. In some areas of the phone you’ll be presented with the Lenovo interface, while in other areas it reverts to the default Android UI. Given that UIs are usually consistent throughout, it’s bizarre that Lenovo chose to do this.
Bundled in the phone are the usual stock Android apps, but Lenovo have also included a few of their own. The most useful of the lot has to be Lenovo Power, which informs you how much battery life you have left, and also advises you which phone services or features can be disabled to extend battery life. It’s a very useful and ruthlessly efficient app, and if used correctly you’ll be able to squeeze about eleven to fifteen hours out of your phone before it needs a charge. There’s even a neat app called ‘Cleaner’ that updates in real-time the percentage of phone resources being used and displays the information on the icon itself. If the phone is being bogged down by apps or memory requests, just tap the application’s icon to flush the memory and clear out some space.
The UI is generally fuss-free, but default icons give the phone an almost cartoonish appearance. Thankfully you can change the icon appearance to something a little less garish. The app drawer has also got a cosmetic facelift from the stock Android, and now features animations when you thumb through the application list. The default cylindrical transition is hardly fitting for a business phone, so I recommend that you turn off the animations altogether. Besides, I did notice a tiny bit of lag when the animations were on as opposed to when they were off.
Screen and Camera
The K900’s 5.5” screen is a 1080p IPS display, protected by Gorilla Glass 2. It’s great for watching videos or browsing documents and websites, however it still faces a pretty common issue of not being too visible outdoors or in bright lighting. You also have to put up with the screen dimming down a bit if you’re running the Lenovo power app in the background.
There’s a 13 megapixel rear-camera on the K900, which takes fairly decent photos. Once again Lenovo has swapped the stock Android camera app for it’s own “Super camera” app. Their version has a host of cool features, such as interesting filters, the ability to remove moving objects in the background of a photo, panoramic shots, and a lot more. The camera doesn’t take photos as fast as say the HTC One does, but it packs a decent amount of clarity, and photos were for the most part quite crisp.
Sound & Call Quality
Call quality on the K900 was actually very good. During a whole day’s worth of phone calls, I never received any complaints from the person I was talking to, and even when I switched to speakerphone, the K900 was more than capable of blasting out music or a conference call. The speaker is located on the back of the device, so for optimal effect you may want to keep the phone face-down.
Heat levels & Battery Life
Because the K900 is made of stainless steel, I somehow felt it got warm faster than other phones. But the phone never became uncomfortable to hold at any point, which is a relief. Battery life on the K900 was excellent, with the Lenovo Power widget keeping track of my usage and informing me just how much juice I had left. I was able to get a minimum of eleven hours of battery life from the K900 on my most active days, and on others it stretched out to fifteen hours.
Lenovo certainly knew what they were doing when they crafted the K900. Its industrial look is perfect for the business world, and the extend battery life is perfect for anyone on the go. But it’s rather massive size means that it will always have to be kept in a jacket pocket or a bag, because trying to sit down with this thing in your pocket is a challenge in itself. It’s certainly priced quite competitively, so if you’re looking for a phone with superb battery life and have plenty of room in your pocket for a 5” phone, then the K900 is one to snatch up.