By Shayan Kamaal
I received the new Lenovo S850 for review. Initially I was excited to see how Lenovo had managed to set the handset apart from the hoard of other Android devices in the market by the standard of its materials which clearly looked superior, even though the box looked a little bulky and unimpressive with an image that takes you back to the Corel Draw suit of applications. I am not sure what Lenovo was trying to achieve but I think compared to Samsung and HTC, the box left a lot to be desired as quite frankly its bland picture and unimaginative background did not leave a lasting impression.
Opening the box, the set sits in a pale red housing, which seems to be deeper in dimension than required. I think Lenovo was trying to create a contrast against the set itself so the display would really make it “pop”, unfortunately, the effect is not achieved by the current packaging. Digging deeper, in the box, one sees the accessories dumped inside, which is very unattractive. Flipping the phone compartment of the box, we see the apple-inspired key to access the SIM casing. Among the accessories included in the box, the set comes with a Lenovo bumper and a screen protector, which was a pleasant surprise. The SIM casing takes 2 (two) micro-SIM cards. The casing may not be the best finish, however the exterior seemed perfectly acceptable and minimalistic in look not quality.
Once you get to the set itself, you see that the face has a clean look. The feel is un-mistakenly Samsung inspired, however the sharper edges and a clean menu pad definitely gives the phone a more sophisticated look than the Samsung.
Accessing the power button is easy enough and the booting sequence is met with a very crisp and clear boot tone, which is surprisingly refreshing, meaning the external speaker’s sound quality is quite good. The 25 second boot time is defiantly better than the over 30 second boot time for iPhone 5S. Booting the phone, one is greeted by a vibrant screen with clear and crisp colors (an effect they were probably trying to convey in the cover image but failing). While retrieving the phone from standby mode, the Lenovo logo at the back of the phone lights up which gives the phone a very “cool” feel. Navigating the phone and using it over a period however does make you feel the need for a home or return button on the left side of the phone, as accessing the back key on the face of the phone is difficult.
The “touch” on the screen seems very responsive and I think the 1.3 Ghz Quad-core Cortex-A7and the 1 GB of RAM works nicely with the rest of the hardware. Trying on multiple SIMs, the device responded well to multiple networks and no signal degradation was noted. Making calls on the set, one gets a sense that the sound is slightly muffled. Playing around with the sound settings does improve the quality slightly. Pease don’t mistake this observation as the sound quality being bad as it is not – what I am trying to say is that it not the best out there. The 3G works well and browsing is a lot of fun (depending on the service provider) and again works well with the WiFi functions and switching between WiFi and 3G works seemingly well to save you that precious extra MB of download from your mobile network operator.
The hardware works well for gaming and other applications. We tried running processor intensive games with graphics and they worked without a glitch. The camera makes for the most fun in the phone I think. The 13MP camera shoots good photos in different lighting conditions and whether you are shooting stills or video, I think you will get a good response from the camera. However as the device does not accommodate an additional SD card and has only 16GB of available internal memory, there may be a slight capacity issue. Of course, capacity requirements are subjective and depend greatly on your app download and data hoarding habits.
Overall, I feel that Lenovo got what they were aiming for with the S850. Leaving aside the presentation, (which has China written all over it) the S850 is a great phone for the price of around PKR 25,000/- and a definite shoe-in compared to the some of the other options in the market.