With this blog post, I bring to you a detailed review of the Lenovo K-900 mobile phone which was launched sometime ago by Lenovo India. This is not exactly a new mobile phone that is setting the sales charts on fire of late as much as the new Moto-G, but however the review is primarily meant to focus on Lenovos intentions and capabilities in making a mobile phone.
So shall we begin?
The Design Excellence
When everyone were only bothered about design in terms of lesser weight or bezel or etching, etc, or even gold or silver brushed titanium finishes Lenovo has done the unthinkable. The K900 is an amazing piece of hardware. If you want me to keep it to the point of discussion I have never seen something as slim as this in my life yet. Perhaps the Gionees newest slimphone release comes close but the Lenovo K900s design speaks a great deal about their industrial design strengths. If you see my previous post about the Lenovo X1 Carbon, you know what I am talking about.
Verdict: Absolutely awesome and slim.
The front panel
Though the front panel is really a part of overall design the question most mobile phone manufacturers grapple with is how they can maximize the use of the panel and minimize the bezel (gaps beyond the screen where that space is not utilized anymore). With respect to the K900, unfortunately there is way too much of bezel and this makes it look really ridiculous considering its already advertized screen size of about 5.5 inches. So much so in fact that the phone pops out of the pocket and looks quite ugly on the front side.
Verdict: Could have done better with the bezel area.
Tap to ON feature
On the lenovo K900 this is a feature that seems like being given for the heck of it. There has been NO careful consideration or testing of how often it actually works accurately. If you compare the same feature with the LG G2, the latter is miles ahead in terms of accuracy. If I tapped 10 times in a row, chances were that only 3/10 times that the phone actually turned on. This clearly shows the weaknesses of a company like Lenovo in the mobile phone hardware space.
Verdict: No accuracy and annoying when phone does not turn on as expected.
Sound and microphone
While investigating some issue with respect to the audio and microphone, I understood that Lenovo has decided to partner with a company called Wolfson Audio for the audio related aspects of the K900. I must say that the songs on my bluetooth audio have never sounded so good as much as in the K900. It clearly shows how the quality of spatial arrangement and rendering of the audio is on this phone. The same cannot be said about the microphone though unfortunately. The primary reason you may NOT want to buy this phone is because others cannot hear you quite often. Think of it like a conversation which is loud and clear and suddenly you find that the caller hears you lesser and lesser with some dropouts, perhaps some static even and then it picks up as though it recovered back to where it was. There are some microphone settings for different environments – default, soft, etc – but even after I tried all of these possible combinations, unfortunately the result was the same: Caller could not hear me properly many a time.
Verdict: The fact that the microphone does not work as expected clearly shows how poor lenovo is while planning for the audio hardware and drivers. They must also remember that the entire phone ownership experience is a waste if the basic things do not work as intended in the first place. Like mobile calls! Sorry lenovo, this is where you let me down horribly and I had no option but to ditch you altogether!
Navigation using maps
You never really realize there is an issue unless you come across the issue. One of such issues is the navigation using Google Maps. Everyone understands that Google Maps is by now an established application which has gained lots of acceptance and has become indispensable to people wanting to travel from one place to another. I have used it in the most demanding of circumstances and found that the need to stop my vehicle a billion times to ask people directions has become a thing of the past. When I took my phone along with me to Mysore to attend a wedding and enabled the GPS and Maps to take me there without mistakes, what I came to see was something that I had never observed in any android phone or even my apple device earlier. When I was navigating on a main road which was clearly marked in dark blue by Google (the actual navigation path) the pointer was chugging along on a street that was parallel to the one I was actually on. This made me take a wrong turn and I lost my way. Even when I lost my way the phone took way too long to recompute and tell me what to do next. You dont expect such silly mistakes given to know how stable the application itself is, but again Lenovo seems to have screwed up something here – like the GPS hardware calibration or something that I am unable to point out for now. If this were to be a nexus or a HTC, I would not have written this para at all.
Verdict: GPS navigation is a dicey affair with K900 and I would prefer not to rely on it if I am going out some place with this phone where I need directions. For approximations yes, but for accuracy – NO!
There are lots of forums on the net which talk about the heating issues with the lenovo K900 but I did not find this to be so much of a bother. The Camera and GPS heat up the phone, so does Bluetooth music and casual gaming even. All said and done, the heat dissipates as much quickly as it was generated thanks to the metal body construction and the phone cools down really quick and pretends nothing ever happened 🙂
The camera, skype video calls, google hangout calls, soft games, GPS navigation, facebook chat – all of these are gonna heat up this mobile.
Verdict: Heating issues are present in the phone and sometimes it can be annoying.
The one single question many people have different answers for always is the battery life. Some say the phone will last a day long, will manage a day easily, or even some statements based on performance benchmarks will appear on different forums. Let me try and clarify this to you in a much simpler way. The battery itself is 2500 mAh which is sufficient for a 5.5 phone so to say for normal tasks. But the reality is evident only based on the application you use and the duration you use it for. In my case, I have atleast 3 different mail accounts configured, with one of them being my official email receiving upto 300 mails a day. I also have twitter, Facebook, etc which I access hourly once. Other than this occasional camera use, occasional bluetooth audio when I drive from and to the office. Bluetooth phone calls strictly only while driving – the good boy that I am on the road – and very occasional soft gaming (subway surfer or angry birds etc for say half hour). With this kind of usage and also some heavy internet browsing (40-50 tabs open) the results were mixed
On a day when I did this all on WIFI only and strictly no data connection enabled I got about 12 hours of battery. When I repeated the same schedule on data only and no wifi I managed about a little over 7-8 hours. When I used mixed mode, the phone gave me a little over 9 hours. There was an instance that the phone was sleeping most times few days and I did get about 14-16 hours of battery on those days. Well that is not impressive since the phone was not getting used itself. There is also a batter saver logic which fundamentally disables all your connections (radios) one by one and tries to conserve battery. The estimate of how long your battery is going to last is also provided by lenovo but I found that only marginally reliable. I cannot be always sure of what it says. If each and every function in the lenovo was on – sync, data, wifi, gps, 100% brightness, always screen on, auto rotation, vibration – basically everything – dont expect the batter to last beyond 6-7 hours. In fact the batter went down by 1% for every 2 miles I travelled with GPS on.
Verdict: The battery is not impressive and one can only understand why – a puny 2500 maH battery is not sufficient for hardcore tasks on the phone. If you are buying this phone for battery – stay away.
The camera fires up fast, the shots are taken fast as well. The very fact that Lenovo has given a 18MP at the back and 5MP at the front are commendable actions. I particularly liked the tilt shift effect which is a default on this camera! The camera heats up the phone but its otherwise amazing. With Sonys camera hardware Lenovo cannot be wrong!
Verdict: Shutter lag needs to be even faster, would have been much appreciated
The packaging of the Lenovo is simply top class much as the likes of Blackberry. There is no room for complaint here and its simply perfect. The k900 is actually carved out of the cardboard and shows up in RED! Brilliant.
Verdict: Top class feel and finish.
The icon carousel on the K900 has some nice rotary effects animated interface effects, but I kind of grew bored of those after a while and swithced to Nova Launcher to keep it simple. Some people might like what Lenovo has done, some may not.
Verdict: Could have done it in a more functional aspect like the LG G2 interface where the focus is on functionality value add rather than just effects.
The lenovo K900 is an astounding piece of hardware with few optimizations possible in future versions. The software is just marginally good and functionally nothing impressive. The battery leaves a lot to be asked for. While the audio is great using bluetooth the speaker output and microphone quality cast a serious doubt on how such a phone can be sold in the market with these flaws. The bezel around the screen is annoying and something that can be worked upon. Finally the camera is simply awesome for both the hardware and software used. A word on the processor – Intel Atom : The phone is a testimony to prove that this processor works best for netbooks or laptops and will not achieve wonders on a phone. The processor is not optimized for gaming and it shows when games stutter every now and then. Lenovos recent release of the Vibe-X addresses the processor concerns for good hopefully. The overheating on the phone is significant but not annoying.
So will I buy this phone? For the respect for the design, yes surely. For its flaws – no, sorry. Would I recommend this phone for others? – NO, unless the show concrete improvements on the flaws mentioned above. For a cost of 24,000 after some discounts, this is still helfy compared to phones such as Moto-G that rules the marketplace in India now. I have always been a fan of Lenovo laptops and sincerely hope they do well in the mobile hardware business now that they may be buying Motorola as well in the USA from Google. Their future products are something that would be worth owning some day.