Lenovo S930, S650 and A859 hands-on: affordable Android warriors

Lenovo A859, S650, S930 hands-on
Lenovo had a huge presence at CES 2014, as usual in the recent years, introducing plenty of computers, tablets and phones. On the handset side of things it undoubtedly shone with the excellent Vibe Z, but it also made sure to cover the mid- to low-end segments as well, for a full portfolio. We put the three more affordable warriors of Lenovo through their paces, and here's what we found about the uninspiringly named A859, S650, and S930.

Lenovo S930

Starting off with the largest one, the dual SIM 6" Lenovo S930, we met with a huge device, crafted out of polycarbopnate, but with metal trim on the side, which Lenovo always seems to pepper on its larger handsets to add some premium feel. The phablet sports a 720x1280 LCD IPS display, clocking in at 245 pixels per inch, so you can tell the individual pixels if you are deliberately looking for those from a normal distance. The screen is bright and with good viewing angles, though, so those characteristics are covered.

Underneath the feisty visuals is one of the new MediaTek chipsets – a 1.3GHz quad-core MT6582 – built on a 28nm process, and making use of four power-efficient ARM Cortex-A7 cores, so we didn't expect any performance wonders, and didn't get those, as the interface stuttered a few times. The handset features 1GB of RAM and 8 GB of internal, microSD-expandable storage, which is the basic minimum for a phablet these days. The other basic minimum is an 8 MP camera on the back, and that is precisely what's on offer on the Lenovo S930, with auto focus capabilities and an LED flash, but the 1.8 MP front camera is unfortunately with a fixed focus.

So far, so humdrum, but the S930 picks up from here, offering front stereo speakers to go with the large display, which makes it perfect for watching videos, and we can attest they sound pretty good, though not of HTC's BoomSound quality. To further sweeten the pot, Lenovo added a healthy 3000mAh Li-Polymer cell, one that is sure to get your through an entire day of heavy media consumption. As is to be expected, the usual connectivity features, such as Bluetooth 3.0 HS, Wi-FI, FM Radio and GPS, are all present, making Lenovo's new phablet a pretty sweet spot at a price tag of $319 without any subsidies and contracts.

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Lenovo A859

Next in line is up is the more compact, 5" Lenovo A859 – a decent dual SIM all-rounder. It is priced the lowest of the bunch, at only $219 without a contract, but actually offers a lot for this price. The A859 sports a 720x1280 resolution IPS display, for a pixel density of 294ppi, which looks bright, vibrant, and with decent viewing angles. 

The very same 1.3GHz MT6582 chipset is present, again complemented by 1GB of RAM and 8GB of microSD-expandable storage. Equipped with likely the same 8MP camera unit with LED flash and auto focus found on the duo above, the A859 is quite a deal, and the 2250 mAh is perfectly adequate for these specs. The Lenovo A859 is the only one of the bunch that doesn't sport that "laser-etched" logo thingy on the back, but it looks and feels nice to the touch, and for two Benjamins we are hard-pressed to want more from the handset.

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Lenovo S650

Last but not least, the smallest 4.7" Lenovo S650 also offers dual SIM support, as any self respecting Chinese phone. It shares the same hardware setup as the other too as well - a 1.3GHz quad-core MediaTek MT6582 chipset, 1GB of RAM and 8GB of expandable internal storage. The shooter appears to be the same, too, listed as an 8 MP unit with auto focus and LED flash.

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The screen resolution, however, is 540x960, as opposed to the HD displays on the other two, making for some jagged icon and text edges. The battery capacity is also smaller, at 2000mAh, which leaves you wonder why Lenovo priced the S650 at$229, which is a ten higher than the A859, yet this one doesn't sport stereo speakers or an HD screen. It might have something to do with the laser-etched logo on the back (we kid), but overall we didn't see much advantage of the S650 before the A859 in terms of design, except the fact that it is a tad more compact.

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All three new phones from Lenovo were promised to be made available for purchase effective immediately, though the launch will be limited to countries where Lenovo traditionally sells its smartphones. This means much of Asia and parts of Europe, but not the US, at least for now, which is a pity considering that the phones run at such prices.

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