The company has been known mostly for its PCs and laptops till now. Now, Lenovo hopes to be a name people consider when they purchase their next smartphone. It must have taken them sometime to muster up the courage and enter the highly competitive market. Companies like Acer and HP, who were late entrants in the smartphone market had to bid a hasty retreat despite decent offerings. Hence, launching no less than five new smartphones in the Indian market simultaneously is hopefully indicative of Lenovo’s resolve to make its mark here.

I got my hands on Lenovo’s most premium smartphone to be introduced in the Indian market – the Lenovo K860. With a 5-inch display it competes with a handful of smartphones - the likes of LG Optimus Vu. But the taller, shapelier Lenovo K860 disguises the otherwise big display well. The all-black fascia too helps it trim some of its bulk.

The back panel is texturised so you can grip it better and if it accidentally slips, hopefully the Gorilla Glass façade will save you some bills.

Watching media

The Lenovo K860 comes with an IPS display which means it has fairly decent viewing angles. Not that you’ll want to watch a feature-length movie with a bunch of friends on a smartphone! But, if you want to show off your pics from a recent vacation or catch up on Middleton’s pregnancy on DailyMail then the screen will let you do so without a fuss.

I watched a couple of The Office bloopers on YouTube on the Lenovo K860. Both the audio as well as video quality is decent. However, the volume isn’t loud enough for a couple of friends sitting together and listening to music - you’d definitely need external speakers for that.

Camera

The smartphone comes with an 8 megapixel camera. The in-app interface might seem a bit cluttered at first with all kinds of editing options and there are more than a handful of these. You can play around with portraits with the Lomo, Mono, Face Warp, Comic, neon or Wood Cut effects. For scenes, you have the usual bunch of presets for Landscape, Sunset, Party, Backlight and even Fall Colours. One positive about the camera app is that once you take a snap, it presents a couple of after-effects options immediately, which you can preview to see whether it enhances your snap well. If not, you can dump it and save the original one.

When I press the shutter key for a prolonged period of time, the camera automatically goes on to the continuous mode. You can take a maximum of 100 pics in one go. The overall picture quality did not disappoint. It’s the same you’d get out of any decent 8-megger smartphone in the market today.

Negatives

A small complaint I had with the Lenovo K860 was to do with its user interface. Owing to the fact that there are no hardware buttons, most navigation icons are virtual and are displayed at the bottom of the screen. Now, when I launch the browser on the smartphone, I get an additional layer of virtual buttons on top of the existing ones, which help me with in-app functions. Why do I need two layers of icons? Wouldn’t it be more efficient and streamlined to just have one which I could use for a set of functions?

Another quirk is the fact that when you long-press an icon in the extended menu, it doesn’t automatically get added to the home screen. Going the Apple way, a long-press activates the ‘app editing’ function and allows you to delete or reshuffle apps on a particular screen.

Something called ‘Smart Sound’ kicks in on the Lenovo K860 every time you make a voice call. This is supposed to kill ambient noise to enhance your voice on the other side of the call. But, at times, I was told that my voice couldn’t be heard for a couple of seconds into the call. This happened irregularly, without any specific pattern, and with various callers (from different locations and service providers).

Reading

Thanks to the 5-inch IPS screen, reading on the Lenovo K860 was a pleasant experience. The screen can be a little overwhelming at its brightest, but with the display dimmed, extended periods of browsing through Flipboard or catching up on news stories in Pulse wasn’t a bother at all.

Typing

The virtual keypad isn’t prone to a lot of errors. It also offers you the option of ‘Google Voice Typing’ although it looked like I’d save more time just typing it out rather than dictating and then correcting the errors. You can even pinch and zoom into messages – mostly helpful when you want to copy a number. There’s also a quick attachment option in case you want to send across a picture you snapped or an audio file you recorded.

Battery

Despite the 2,250 mAh battery, the battery life on the Lenovo K860 is not the best we’ve seen. But, then there are only so many high-end smartphones that make it past the working day mark. The smartphone comes with 8GB memory on board for you to save data. Media junkies will definitely need to top this up with an external memory card (up to 32 GB).

The Lenovo K860 comes with a 1.4 GHz quad-core processor and makes the smartphone a pretty slick one to use. On our standard Quadrant benchmarking test, the handset scored about 5,128 points, leaving the likes of HTC One X and Samsung Galaxy Nexus behind.

For a first, the Lenovo K860 is a pretty good high-end offering from the company. While most of the features it is endowed with, enables it to take on its competitors within that price range, average aesthetics indicate it might be sometime before you might see people flaunting their new Lenovo smartphone. Another 5-inch smartphone by the company is the Lenovo S880, designed to optimise multimedia experience on a smartphone. This one also comes with a dual-SIM slot and costs about a good ten grand lesser than the K860.

Rs 28,499

Love – Good display, decent build

Hate – Average user interface, average battery life

mahananda.bohidar@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on December 18, 2012)
XThese are links to The Hindu Business Line suggested by Outbrain, which may or may not be relevant to the other content on this page. You can read Outbrain's privacy and cookie policy here.