Lenovo’s newcomer dual-SIM Android phone seems to be a pretty interesting handset. It made a bit of buzz as an entry-level, dual-SIM smartphone for under Php6k. Check out our full review of the Lenovo A65 after the break.
Design and Build
The A65’s facade looks really good, the steel/aluminum trim around display evokes a premium feel and the display’s protective cover is very smooth to the touch, It’s not as grippy/porous as the Ascend Y200’s so fingers glide effortlessly on the screen Three hardware buttons below the screen are solidly put but we think touch sensitive keys are far better, we tend to ‘tap’ on the keys by instinct.
Volume keys on the upper right side of the phone feels solid when pressed but the dedicated camera key somehow feels ‘mushy’. A 3.5mm headphone jack, micro-USB slot and a tiny power/lock button is found on top of the phone, the power/lock key takes some getting used to since it’s so small and the placement is not well thought out which makes unlocking the screen a chore — add to that the impossibly close micro-USB port which makes it even worse when the thick charging cable is connected.
The 3.2 megapixel camera at the back of the device is slightly protruding thus, making it vulnerable to scratches. Right beside the cam lens is the speakerphone grill which is covered with a metallic mesh, it sounds okay for the most part but voice calls and youtube videos tend to sound ‘hissy’, it certainly won’t win any awards but it’s good enough, the Huawei Ascend Y200 has a warmer output but the audio tends to distort as the volume increases.
The look and feel of the A65 is no different from its predecessor but the overall build quality is superb, the only thing that sets the A65 apart from the A60 is the higher-clocked [albeit same], Mediatek processor. It is now flaunting an 800MHz CPU versus its older brother’s 650MHz — which isn’t much of a performance bump to be quite honest but since it’s running an OS with not much bells and whistles, expect a better overall user experience.
Display, Browsing, Messaging and Overall Performance
The display panel that Lenovo has used for the A65/A60 is not stellar as expected considering the phone’s target market and price, It’s bright, colors are certainly vivid but at a resolution of 320×480 you’ll notice the pixels right away. The display’s color reproduction is capped at only 265k colors so colors are not as accurate or as great as the Samsung Galaxy Ace’s. Also, the blacks tend to look washed out, clarity, response time and viewing angles are nowhere near as good as the Ascend Y200 (IPS LCD in the works here).
Typical of Lenovo’s low-cost smartphones, the OS chugging inside the A65 is basically a lightly skinned version of Gingerbread with some UI elements removed. Pinching the homescreen does not show the helicopter view, icons are just given some splash of colors and even the lock screen’s slider is not changed. The good folks at Lenovo did great with the tweaks they’ve done to Android 2.3, the OS feels light and not as extensive as TouchWiz thus letting the CPU breathe freely. There are occasional slow downs and frequent UI lags but we reckon it’s due to the old ARM11 CPU, don’t get us wrong, the OS feels light but the UI lagged often. This may be caused by lack of optimizations since the A65’s Mediatek chip has an SGX531 GPU inside which is no slouch by any means.
Browsing on the A65 is not a pleasant experience either, it takes a long time to render the webpages and scrolling is very laggy — don’t even think about enabling the Flash plug-in. Occasional gaming on the A65 is okay but don’t expect high scores on a game such as Fruit Ninja and Teris, swipes are sometimes delayed for a split second and frames drop often, Temple Run is not even made available on Google Play for this thing.
Despite its shortcomings, the A65 is actually good for making calls and sending SMS it is — after all — a phone. People on the other end of the line did not complain of any interference, excessive noise or changes in our voices, same thing on our end. The keyboard is very accurate and responsive, ironically, the keyboard on this thing is much more responsive than the Ascend Y200.
Media, Battery life and Connectivity
Images taken with the A65’s 3.2MP camera are fuzzy, dull and paltry to say the least, nothing worth talking about. It’s good for taking few pictures if you happen to forget your digicam at home but we reckon you wouldn’t even bother using the phone’s camera at all. As for video playback, we weren’t able to play a 700MB, MP4 movie (which took forever to transfer @1.9MBps) so we downloaded MX player along with the ARM v6 codec and tried to play it again — audio was playing but sadly, it did not show any video.
Audio through the headphone jack suffer the same muddiness and weak bass typical of smartphones within this price range. Jessie J. sounded like she was singing ‘laserlight’ with a stuffy nose using my Klipsch S4 earphones.
We haven’t experienced any call drops or weak radio reception issues on the A65 which is great. WiFi and cellular signals are held strong by the phone once connected (Globe and Smart simultaneously), we weren’t able to test out the Bluetooth on this thing unfortunately but given the previous results, we’re sure Bluetooth will work just as well. 3G speeds are average but you’re better off disabling 3G when not using data [we only use it when refreshing Gmail], it sucks a lot of energy for 3G and 2G networks working a the same time — in just one phone.
Battery life on the A65 is pretty average given the low power [more like underpowered] chipset and dual sim capability. On a normal day-to-day usage the A65 was able to keep itself alive for about a day. Our normal usage of a smartphone includes frequent switches between WiFi and cellular data, lots of SMS (SMS sent on both sim cards) and emails, one to two hours worth of phone calls and about an hour of Tetris while waiting for friends at the mall.
Surely you’ll want to keep this thing plugged in before going to bed if your usage is the same as hours.
The Lenovo A65 is good phone for people who are not picky. Its crowning feature is the simultaneous dual-SIM capability so there’s no need to lug a second phone with you. It does phone calls well, strong signal reception everywhere we go and the look and feel of it is a steal for the asking price. But, despite the clean look and ‘lightness’ of the UI, the phone still seems to suffer from the same problems its predecessor (the A60) has faced — slow performance. Obviously enough, Lenovo has failed to address the performance issues even with the slightly upgraded A65.
Lenovo A65 specs:
* 3.5″ TFT LCD 320×480 pixels
* Mediatek MT6573 800MHz processor
* PowerVR SGX 531 graphics
* 256 MB RAM, 512 MB ROM
* up to 32GB via microSD (4GB included)
* 2G/3G support (single 3G support)
* dual sim standby support
* WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
* Bluetooth 2.1
* GPS w/ aGPS support
* FM radio tuner
* 3.2MP rear camera
* Li-Ion 1500mAh battery
* Android 2.3 OS
* Php5,499 (suggested retail price)
What we liked about it:
* Solid build quality/expensive looking
* Dual-active, dual-SIM
* Strong reception/good call quality
* Accurate keyboard
* Very affordable
* Simple UI
What we didn’t like about it:
* Lags a lot
* Old ARM11-based chip
* Power/lock key location is ridiculously close to the micro USB port
* So, so display quality