Lenovo is starting to make itself known in the world of Android smartphones. Literally, inching its way up by introducing a wide variety of handsets starting with the 3.5-inch A60+ all the way to the 5-inch S880. Lenovo’s latest entry is the K860 – a phablet that sports a quad-core processor and an 8 megapixel camera. Let’s find out what this smartphone can accomplish by reading our full review after the break.
Design and Build
At first glance, the Lenovo K860 looks like a simple slab of black plastic and glass. The front of the device is dominated by the 5-inch display, earpiece and front-facing camera. Right on top is the headset jack and Power/Lock button while the bottom is devoid of anything except for the microphone pinhole. On the right are the volume buttons while on the left is the microUSB port. Flip it on its back and you find the 8 megapixel camera with dual-LED flash, another microphone pinhole and speakers.
Although evident that it is a large smartphone, nothing fancy is going on in terms of design. The K860 has a chrome strip surrounding the device that looks like it is sandwiched by the front and the back parts of the handset. Physical buttons have chrome finishings while the back is textured to prevent slips. Since the camera is slightly protruding from the back it is mounted by a metal piece to protect it from scratches when laid on its back.
The K860 gets a 5-inch IPS LCD display with a resolution of 720 x 1280, same screen resolution as the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, while pixel density is 294 ppi. Compared to the smaller S3 (306 ppi) and the bigger Note 2 (267 ppi), the K860 falls right in the middle.
The IPS display produces amazing colors with just the right amount of vibrancy. It has above average sharpness and clarity with great viewing angles and sunlight legibility.
OS, Apps and UI
The K860 runs Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich with Lenovo’s custom UI. It uses rounded icons similar to other Lenovo handsets. This kind of icon design looks good on smaller displays from 4-inch below. But apply it on a larger display like this one and it starts to look toyish. Even if laid out at a 4 x 5 grid, the rounded icons make it look like there’s a lot of space wasted. Other than that you still get the same Android experience like swipe to unlock, five different home screens to house your shortcuts and widgets, and pull-down notifications bar.
As for navigation, you get four navigating buttons (Options, Home, Return, Recent Apps) instead of the usual three. For apps, the K860 is free from bloatware. All the Google goodies are there plus a bonus Asphalt racing app. Play Store is fully functional so third-party apps are not a problem.
Multimedia and Camera
Lenovo equipped the K860 with an 8 megapixel camera and so far is one of the best cameras I’ve used in a smartphone. It is quick and can capture images with great detail. It can shoot Panorama, HDR, Macro, and even has smile detection. There’s also an option to manually adjust exposure, ISO, Timer, and White Balance or add Instagram-like filters to your photos.
Take a look at the sample shots below:
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There’s one small problem though. When browsing through recently shot images inside the camera app, the display just blacks out and stalls. The only way to exit is to press the lock button then unlock to get you back to the home screen. Also, the camera app produces an annoying whirring sound when it focuses on a subject. The only way to get rid of it is to put the phone in silent.
As for video recording capabilities, the K860 can record videos of up to 1080p resolution at 30fps. Watch the sample video below and don’t forget to put it in 1080p:
As for multimedia, the K860 can play a wide variety of files including mp3, mp4, xvid and avi videos. If you need a different media player you can just download one from the Play Store.
Watching HD videos on the wide 5-inch display is a treat. Sounds are crisp and clear but lacks a bit of bass. The speaker is located at the back so you might want to avoid putting it down on soft surfaces or it’ll get muffled.
Performance and Battery life
The Lenovo K860 has an Exynos 4412 Quad chipset with quad-core 1.4 GHz Cortex-A9 CPU, backed up by 1GB of RAM and a Mali-400MP GPU. AnTuTu Benchmarks gave it a score of 12,419 – scoring above the Galaxy S3 but below the HTC One X+. Quadrant Standard gave it a score of 5,281 leading the charts just above the HTC One X. As for GPU performance, NenaMark 2 gauged it at 54.1 fps, topping the charts but has the same fps as the Galaxy S2.
Performance wise, the K860 does not suffer from any lag. If there are any it is not noticeable. Games run smoothly, apps launch quickly and the UI is very responsive. The device is not running the stock Android OS so the problem with the camera app mentioned earlier is more likely software based.
Obviously, the K860 packs an impressive set of hardware that can take a toll on battery life. As a solution, Lenovo equipped the K860 with a 2250 mAh battery. When using the phone for SMS, voice calls, and WiFi browsing, the battery can last for 2 days. But utilize the 5-inch display to shoot photos, videos, watch movies and play games, expect the battery to run out in less than a day.
The Lenovo K860 looks like it is trying to take on the Galaxy S3 and the One X. No doubt the K860 is an amazing device. Not to mention that the K860 is currently running Android Ice Cream Sandwich and not Jellybean. But even on ICS the K860 was able to perform absolutely well. The question is, what’s the advantage? Compared to the S3 and One X, the K860 has a larger display, a larger removable battery, and a better front-facing camera at 2 megapixel. But in terms of physical design, UI customization and features? I’ll let you be the judge of that. Now for the price, the Lenovo K860 has an SRP of Php19,999. That’s a few thousand bucks cheaper than the competition.
To conclude the review, the Lenovo K860 carries a very impressive set of hardware for a smartphone priced under 20K. If you’re on a tight budget and in need of a quad-core phablet, the K860 is a smartphone to consider.
Lenovo K860 quick hands-on video:
Lenovo K860 specs:
5″ IPS LCD display, 720 x 1280 pixels, 294 ppi
Exynos 4412 quad-core 1.4 GHz Cortex-A9
1 GB RAM
8 GB internal storage
up to 32GB via microSD
8 MP, 3264×2448 pixels, autofocus, dual-LED flash
2 MP front-facing
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Wi-Fi hotspot
2250 mAh battery
143.5 x 74.4 x 9.6 mm
Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich
What we liked about it:
*Good viewing angles
*Fast and smooth performance
*Good battery life
What we didn’t like about it:
*Camera UI bugs