Lenovo, after defying the trend in the PC market by posting record profits and shipments, has now focussed its attention on the mobile front and is aggressively entering the markets outside of China from the past few months. Just yesterday, they announced their upcoming product lineup for the second half of 2013 which includes devices like the A706, S820, S920, P780 and the K900.
In the leadup to their second series of devices for 2013, we review the Lenovo S890 here today, which was launched earlier this year.
The S890 is a 5” Android phablet from Lenovo with the following specs –
- 5” IPS LCD Display
- 540 x 960 pixels resolution (~220 ppi)
- Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean
- 4GB Internal Storage with MicroSD card slot
- 1GB RAM
- 1.2 GHz Dual Core Cortex-A9 Processor
- 2250 mAh removable battery
- Dual SIM with Active Standby for both the SIMs
- 8MP Camera with Auto Focus and LED Flash
- VGA Front Facing Camera
- Notification LED
- WiFi N, Bluetooth, GPS, WiFi Hotspot, Accelerometer, Proximity Sensor
- Magic Cover (Flip Cover)
- Price – Rs. 17500 Approximately
Aimed at the large screen markets, lets take a look if Lenovo S890 has what it takes to stand up to the likes of Galaxy Grand and the other well established Android manufacturers.
The Box –
- The Device
- USB Cable
- Magic Cover (Flip Cover)
- User Manual
The routine set of accessories included here. Though I would like to commend Lenovo on the box they have provided for the device. The box feel very sturdy and has a very premiumish classy feel to it. It exudes confidence and command. The reason I point it out is the box is the first impression a user would have of the experience, and Lenovo starts to impress you from this first step itself.
The devices features a very professional and formal look, with a nice two colored bezel around the display on the front. Our review device has a white body enclosed over the black casing for the touch keys and the front facing camera.
On the top, you have a 3.5mm Headphone Jack along with the power / lock key. For a device as large as the S890, having the lock key on the top makes one handed locking / unlocking slightly uncomfortable. Would have appreciated the placement of the Lock key on the right hand side below the Volume rocker, like on majority of the devices now a days.
The right side of the devices only features the volume keys. A hardware key for the Camera is missing, and being a longtime Nokia camera devices user is something which does stand out for me, although the dedicated camera key is no longer a norm now a days.
On the bottom, you only the MicroUSB port and the Mic. For some reason though, the MicroUSB port is inverted, and although it seems like a non issue, after being so used to the regular placement of the USB port on the other devices, it took me some time to remember the inverted port on the device.
The left side of the device is keyless, probably due to the presence of the flap of the Magic cover.
On the front, you have the earpiece on the top along with the Notification LED. Below them, is the Lenovo logo and the front facing camera.
Below the display are three touch sensitive keys – Menu Key, Home Key and Back Key.
Talking about the feel in hand, the device feels really good in your hands! Although it is a plastic body, what you get is a premium feeling device which even looks classy. At 176g, on paper the device is on the heavier side, but the weight is balanced so well that you don’t feel the weight.
The IPS LCD displays have improved a great deal in the recent past, and although the S890 does not feature the best screen on the market today, I was more than happy with the colors and balance of the screen.
Talking about the magic cover, the name Lenovo has given their Flip cover, I did find it to be a slight irritation for the first few days, having to flip the cover just to be able to use the device every now and then. But it started growing on me soon enough. The convenience of being able to check the notification by simply flipping the cover open was something new for me and I do see its appeal.
The Lenovo S890 runs Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean. I will no go into the niceties of Android 4.1, instead will only talk about Lenovo’s additions to the Android experience.
Lenovo uses their own IdeaDesktop launcher instead of the stock Android launcher.
With the IdeaDesktop, Lenovo has more or less completely stripped Android of the Stock / Nexus Android look and instead gone for a slightly effects and colors heavy look with colorful icons, animations and effects on the home screen. IdeaDesktop also lays stress on personalization offering various customization. Users can save their homescreen layout as scenes and switch between the scenes easily later on. I also found themes for the IdeaDesktop on the web, but did not get into them.
Except for the Gallery app, Lenovo has replaced almost all the stock apps with their own iterations offering features like smart dialling in the dialler which were otherwise missing in the stock apps.
I liked the smart toggles Lenovo has added to the Notification Bar, which include the usual connectivity toggles, but on swiping to the left and right, you also get to toggle between your different profiles as well as customize the brightness, timeout etc.
Even other than these, Lenovo has added various tweaks to their software which are actually of use rather than being just gimmicky features. Most of the tweaks can be enabled or disabled as the user prefers. Some of the ones I liked include –
- Smart Sound : Which reduced environment sound during voice calls.
- Phone vibrates when the call is connected.
- A reminder at 50s of every minute during calls.
- Location binding of Wlan prompts you to disable Wlan when you are out of range of the saved connections.
- The Stock AOSP keyboard is available as an option in the settings.
- You can set the phone to power on & off automatically according to pre-set times and days.
Along with access to the Stock AOSP Keyboard, Lenovo has also bundled the TouchPal keyboard with the device instead of making a keyboard of their own.
One nice bundled app I liked is the Novice Tutorial app which is basically a Help / How To app, but makes use of some easy to understand graphics instead of just laying down lines after lines of text.
Call Quality & Reception -
Probably one of the biggest drawbacks of the device would be the call quality. I got repeated complaints from the person on the other end of the call that they could not hear my properly. The same goes for the earpiece. From all the phones I have used in the past few years, The S890 would probably be the only one where I remember facing issues with the call quality.
Before talking about the camera samples and performance, let us take a look at the impressive work Lenovo has done with their Camera app.
At the first glance, what you have is a very basic camera UI with all the important keys laid out at the appropriate places.
But once you start exploring the options, you’ll find that not only has Lenovo covered all the basic options, but also provided a few unique offerings like the Panoroma Mode, HDR Mode, Smile Mode and a pretty cool Mav Mode.
Performance of the camera leaves a lot to be desired. The camera shots often turn out to be mediocre and with a lot of noise. The colors also lacked the richness which I would expect of a good camera.
Battery Life –
The Lenovo S890 sports a pretty decent 2250 mAh Battery. To go along with this mammoth battery, Lenovo has a good track record of power optimizations in their ROMs which lets them offer a better battery life than most of their competitors.
On a single charge, the S890 easily lasted me through the day with my routine usage which includes a lot of WhatsApp & Twitter usage along with a moderate amount of gaming. I can confidently claim that none of the other phones I have used in the recent past lasted me as long as the Lenovo S890 did.
To offer a more fine tuned control on the battery life, Lenovo has also included a pretty feature rich PowerSaving app which shows you detailed stats of your battery usage and also lets you switch between preset Power Profiles.
The Lenovo S890 is a strong contender in the medium budget large screen segment. The S890 is better than almost all the large screen phones of this price segment I have come across, barring probably the Galaxy Grand solely because of Samsung’s software features.
But the biggest positive I am taking out of this review is that Lenovo is a brand to reckon. Definitely better than the likes of Micromax & Karbonn, the feel & finish of the S890 makes me look forward to Lenovo’s next line up eagerly.
- A very high end premium feeling device
- Value for Money Package
- Smooth Lag Free Software Performance
- A very lacklustre Camera
- Low Resolution for a 5” Display
- Power Key Placement makes one hand usage difficult