During our visit to the last MWC (Mobile World Congress) fair, one of the phones (phablets) that piqued our interest and impressed us was the Lenovo K900. Large and good high-resolution screen, metallic chassis and Intel’s hardware platform that achieved great results on tests are attributes that are certainly attracting attention. A lot of time has passed since then, but we still found it really interesting because of the afore-mentioned attributes. Since it has a more attractive price than the competition, it needed a thorough testing.
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Style

As we’ve “foretold” a few months ago, Intel is becoming more and more active in the field of mobile devices. Therefore, it’s not surprising that box has the Intel Inside logo. Inside, aside from the phone, there’s a charger with detachable USB cable, a needle for opening of the micro SIM card slot, headphones and a user manual. The charger is capable of delivering a phenomenal 2 A of charge, so the battery is charged really fast; in about 2 hours. Surprisingly, the headphones were rather good, they have non-tangling cords, volume control, answer button and they provide good quality sound. Paired with a great sound out which K900 has, even music enthusiasts will find it worthy.

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It’s clear right away that this device falls into phablet category (cross between a phone and a tablet) with the screen diagonal of 5.5 inches. The space above and below the screen could have been smaller, but that’s compensated with a very thin body which makes the handling a lot easier. Even though at first the design looks stocky, it’s elegant with pronouncing smooth edges which gives it a distinguished look. The largest part of the back side is covered with a metallic lid made out of stainless steel and screws give it an additional note of robustness. The lid is crossed by parallel lines that break the monotony and Lenovo and Intel Inside logos are carved by a laser. This metal lid serves at the same time as a cooler, since it heats up evenly during use, but it doesn’t become too hot. In the upper area of the lid there are: microphone for eliminating the ambient noise, camera and double flash which don’ stick out. In the lower area there’s the speaker, which has a slight protrusion in order to provide better sound when it’s placed on a flat surface. The largest part of the sides is covered by a metallic lid, and on the left side there’s a volume rocker, while on the right side there’s a power button. It would have been great if these two buttons were moved a bit down, since the only way you can use them with one hand is if you have long fingers. On the right side is the micro SIM card slot, which is made of metal, to our surprise. When held in hand, the phone is sturdy and, despite its dimensions, well-balanced, so it appears light and lies comfortably in hand.

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The whole front side is covered with scratch-proof glass, and the screen takes up the most of the area. Above it there are various sensors, headphone, front camera and logo. Below it there are sensor navigation buttons that don’t take away from the work surface, but have their own space. Unlike the lower side which has connectors for headphones, microphone and microUSB, the upper is completely clear.

Intel Inside

The large screen has Full HD resolution, so it’s not surprising that sharpness and clarity of the display are excellent. Even though phones with a 5-inch diagonal screen should, in theory, have even sharper image, we weren’t able to see the difference, and text’s clarity was the same in both cases. The screen is based on IPS technology, so large viewing angles were expected, as was the excellent color reproduction. Of course, the K900’s screen is enhanced with all these attributes backed with bright illumination and contrast. Even under direct sunlight you’ll be able to tell what’s on the screen, which doesn’t apply for some competitors’ models. We also liked the screen’s increased sensitivity to touch, so it will work even if you use it with thin gloves.

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Inside, there’s an unusual choice of hardware for a top quality Android smartphone. It’s a combination of dual-core Intel Atom processor which works at maximum 2 GHz and additional graphics in form of the PowerVR SGX 544MP. The processor can, with help of Hyper Threading, to parallel process four instructions, which resulted in very respectable results in synthetic tests that rely on the processor. As for the graphics, in 3D capabilities it's no match for this resolution, which shows during testing. That applies also in practice – games such as Real Racing and NFS: Most Wanted didn't have good enough FPS and had issues. On the other hand, processor was up to the task, and it performed excellently which proved great in everyday use such as browsing the internet, opening and rendering of more demanding documents, working with emails etc. Precisely because of a processor as strong as this one, accessing the phonebook and other phone functions work really fast. It's the same with running applications; while for multitasking 2 GB of RAM is a good enough amount. Therefore, if you want to play the newest 3D games, K900 is not that good of a choice, but everything else we've tried worked really well. The amount of internal memory of the tested model was 16 GB, out of which the users have at disposal about 11 GB. Even though it's better than, for example, Galaxy S4, due to lack of microSD slot, think whether that's enough in the long term or you need the model with 32 GB.

Processor Intel Atom Z2580, dual core 2 GHz
GPU PowerVR SGX544
Memory 2 GB RAM, 16 GB internal memory, 11 GB available
Display 5.5'', 1920x1080 pix, IPS, Gorilla Glass II
Interfaces microUSB, Bluetooth 3.0, WiFi ac, HSPA+, GPS, USB OTG
Camera Back: 13 MP with autofocus and LED flash; Front: 2 MP
Battery Li- Polymer 2500 mAh
OS Android OS 4.2.1
Dimensions 157 x 78 x 6.9 mm
Weight 162 g with battery
Price 520 €
Contact www.lenovo.com

 

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Camera has a sensor of impressive 13 MP which should provide really good photographs. During our testing, we’ve received some very interesting images, but the small sensor’s inability to deal with high resolution shows, so images have a lot of noise and chromatic aberrations and also aggressive JPG compression is present, so don’t expect too much with poor light conditions. One thing we liked is the HDR mode, in which the phone shoots several photographs out of which it creates a HDR image, unlike software filters marketed by other manufactures as HDR. We didn’t liked the fact that HDR reduces the resolution to 5 MP and that can’t be changed. If you like to play around with effects during shooting, K900 will suit you perfectly, sine it has 24 implemented effects. Many of those are interesting, but bear in mind there are a few of them which are very demanding, such as fisheye that drops the resolution to one digit.

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Optimization

Lock screen user interface is activated by double tapping the screen or pressing the power button. It has shortcuts to call list, messaging, camera and the standard unlock feature that brings you to home screen. The shortcuts on lock screen are a really good thing, but we would have preferred that unlock didn’t demand such a precise move, but rather just drawing a line in some direction. In accordance with Android 4.2, lock screen offers the capability of setting widgets depending on the installed software. After unlocking, the home screen is more or less standard for Android environment – widgets and app drawer are turned on by tapping the central key. We were very glad to see that Intel, along with their x86 line, focuses on newer versions of Android, which confirms their interest in this platform. Still, there’s more work to be done, especially since transition between home screens isn’t completely fluid. App drawer shows that these animations can be better optimized, because they’re very fluid and effective. Launcher has a large number of options, so it’s possible to change themes, backgrounds and transition effects on home screen. Settings area has some interesting options, such as notifications on which screen you currently are on, number and layout of icons, but also settings for weather information widgets.

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Notifications area, in default setting, has shortcuts to most used settings, and their layout can be changed. Settings area has a large number of options, so the look and functions of the phone can be modified down to the smallest details. In the beginning, you’ll have only two pre-installed widgets, one for weather information and the other for battery savings settings. K900 proved great when in standby mode, when it’s spending an impressively small amount of battery power. So small amount that we decided to see how long it can last with Wi-Fi and data transfer turned on, synchronization of two email accounts and weather information. With occasional powering up of the screen (three times per day, on average), it took twelve days for battery capacity to drop to 10%. On the other hand, when it’s under heavy load, the autonomy is reduced, but one whole work day won’t be a problem to achieve even under maximum load.

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In the beginning, you’ll have a couple pre-installed applications, and we were surprised that Android stock browser and not Chrome was the pre-installed browser. That’s probably because of the optimizations that were performed for x86 platform, which is evident during web browsing; in Stock Browser, web pages are opened faster and everything is more fluid. Of pre-installed applications we should mention the really excellent keyboard. Not only does it support a wide range of languages, but also supports swype and has excellent word prediction. For example, if you want to type “good day”, when you finish typing good, day will appear in a balloon above the letter d. All you need to do is to press d and swipe the finger upwards. If the prediction system has more suggestions for the same letter, they will appear below the appropriate keys, so you can choose the desired suggestions by swiping the finger in different directions. The application’s name is TouchPal X and it’s free so you can get it from Google Play Store and try it out on other devices. We liked it very much.

Phablet power

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Lenovo K900 is a big device and it’s hard to use with only one hand, even though it’s really thin. If that’s not a problem, then it will have a lot to offer. Excellent quality of final processing and use of metal in both the construction and for the back side resulted in a very sturdy device that won’t fail to impress anyone. The same applies for the high resolution screen on which it’s a real pleasure to watch media, whether in shape of web pages, office documents or YouTube videos. Despite it being atypical, K900’s hardware (except the video card) has a good amount of power. Nicely balanced, thin and lightweight, it rests comfortably in the hand and doesn’t tire out the user, even after a long period of use. One of the rare weak points is 3D gaming of the newest and the most demanding games at an adequate level and our test model had a few issues, which we believe will be removed in the final product. We would have preferred for the phone to have had a larger amount of internal memory, but all in all, it has enough advantages to compete with other top-quality phablets, at a noticeably lower price.