Lenovo, the Chinese company that’s acquired Motorola recently, has unveiled a trio of affordable new Android smartphones at Mobile World Congress 2014, and heading that lineup is the Lenovo S860, a phone with an impressive 4000mAh battery that should last you days, and even allow you to use your phone as a charging station for other devices via a bundled-in microUSB cable. The huge battery is clearly the biggest selling point of the Lenovo S860: it’s quoted battery life numbers include the impressive 24 hours of 3G talk time and 40 days of standby. How does it look in all other aspects, though? We took it for a hands-on spin at MWC to find out.
Made out of a single piece of metal (with a brushed finish on the back), the Lenovo S860 is a little marvel in a world of me-too plastic mid-range devices. Indeed, it is way more durable than common plastic gadgets.
It’s 0.4” thick and weighs 0.42lbs, so it’s not among the thinnest and lightest devices out there, but that seems like a compromise some may be willing to take in exchange for the sturdier body. It’s definitely heavy, though, keep this in mind.
On paper, the Lenovo S860 is a step above average mid-range devices, but still a step down from top-shelf offerings: it features a 5.3-inch 720 x 1280-pixel IPS display. The display is fairly large (and for many that’s a plus), but at first look it seems to be on the dim side and colors are just slightly washed out. We’re looking forward to take it for a spin and run some tests to give you a more conclusive opinion.
Interface and functionality
The S860 ships with Android 4.2 Jelly Bean out of the box, and that’s a bit disappointing seeing most other devices at MWC launching with the latest Android 4.4 KitKat on board. Nonetheless, you have the full Android experience on board with Google Play and all the signature Google apps like Gmail, Drive, Maps and Chrome.
Lenovo’s custom UI is on top of Android is a very different skin from most we’ve seen. It actually looks a lot like iOS, bringing all your apps (the full app drawer) as a home screen. Some may like it, others may not, but you can always change this look for the most part via a custom Android launcher. A neat feature that the handset supports is dual SIM connectivity.
Under the hood, the S860 runs on a 1.3GHz quad-core MediaTek MT6582 chip with 2GB of RAM. It ran common Android perfectly fine without much of a slowdown. It’s clear, though, that the MediaTek chip is an affordable solution that allows Lenovo to drive the price of the S860 down - it’s not a performance powerhouse.
The chip also features improved Mali 400 graphics (running at a higher clock) that should be able to run the latest games, but we’d expect that the coveted 30fps framerate for game might be hard to achieve.
When it comes to internal storage, you have 16GB on board, but sadly you cannot expand it via microSD cards - there is no slot on the device.
The S860 ships with an 8-megapixel auto-focus camera with a single LED flash and it has a front-facing 1.5MP fixed-focus shooter as well. The main camera is capable of recording 1080p video, which is nice. We are yet to shoot some camera samples, so we cannot give you any conclusive opinion about the camera just yet.
Lenovo S860 hands-on: the 4000mAh battery marathoner
Finally, the Lenovo S860 price is set at $349 off contract, decidedly in mid-range territory. It will arrive in select markets, and while it cannot compete with the Nexus 5 (sold for the same price in the United States), chances are that it will arrive in markets where the competition landscape is different. We can definitely see the huge battery being it's biggest plus, and we, for one, are sold.