Lenovo hasn’t got its hands dirty in the mobile space yet, but the S880 could be a step in that direction. This is a dual SIM, mid-range phone from the notebook maker with some pretty interesting features given the price point. Can it make a name for itself now that Micromax and many other companies are aggressively fighting for the mid-range smartphone space? Let’s find out.

Design and build
Built mostly of plastic, the S880 is very sturdy and is quite aesthetically appealing. Dressed in a glossy white finish, the device can’t escape fingerprints and maintaining a clean look can be a task. The front is dominated by a 5-inch TFT capacitive display with a rather low, 480 x 800 resolution. Due to this, text and icons look overly large and aren’t very sharp. There’s a very noticeable pixilation around text as well. The S880 is not very thick at 9.9 mm, but it does feel heavy at 196 g.

Sturdy build quality

Sturdy build quality

The right side houses the volume rocker while the microUSB, headphone jack and power/sleep buttons are placed on the top. This is actually quite inconvenient place for the power button, since you have to really stretch your finger to use it. A side placement of the button would have been a better design choice. The rear panel has a soft plastic cover that comes off easily. Underneath, we have the two SIM slots (3G + 2G) and a microSD card slot. The rest of the space is dominated by the chunky 2250mAh battery. Overall, Lenovo has done a decent job with the build and finish of the handset and is quite good for the price it retails at.

Glossy back can get slippery

Glossy back can get slippery

Features
Interface
The S880 comes with 4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich along with Lenovo’s custom skin on top. Thankfully, the skin is not really intrusive and the performance of the system is not affected. Lenovo has changed the launcher a bit – as seen on its IdeaPad K1 tablet – and you now have toggle switches in the notifications bar for quick access. The UI is smooth thanks to the 512MB of RAM and a 1GHz single-core CPU from MediaTek. The S880 only has 4GB of onboard memory, but there’s room for expansion via a microSD card slot. It’s not hot-swappable though, as you will have to remove the battery to insert it.

UI is quick and fluid

UI is quick and fluid

Lenovo has used its own set of icon as well for most of the apps. There aren’t any physical capacitive buttons, just onscreen ones. We have options for home, more options, back and recently closed apps. The icons for these are custom as well, so it takes some time getting used to at first.

Media
Media playback is handled via the stock player, which gives us support for MP3, WAV, WMA, eAAC+, MP4, WMV, H.264 and H.263. Lenovo has also added the option for lyrics, which displays it if the lyrics file is added in the same folder. Audio quality is good provided you have a decent pair of IEMs. The speaker volume is not too bad either as alert and notifications can be heard even in a noisy environment. One neat feature about the S880 is that along with FM radio support, you also get an FM transmitter built in along with an internal antenna. This means you can beam audio from your phone directly to your car’s radio as long as you set it to the same frequency.

Good media options

Good media options

The stock video player cannot handle many file types and video playback is limited to 720p due to the single core CPU.

Connectivity
The S880 is a quad-band GSM phone with dual-band 3G support for the first SIM. Apart from this, we have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to complete the connectivity suite. There’s no option for video-out or NFC. Web browsing is handled well with the stock browser and there’s plenty of screen real estate. The pixels are a bit noticeable on most backgrounds due to the low resolution, which can get a bit annoying. This can get very distracting when watching videos as well.

Browsing is fun thanks to the large screen real estate

Browsing is fun thanks to the large screen real estate

Camera 
The camera is a 5MP shooter that manages decent stills and videos under sufficient lighting. We have a good number of options to tweak the picture quality, including sharpness, contrast, hue etc. Pictures look good on the phone’s display, but they are strictly average on the PC. The sensor is unable to pick up good amount of detail and the colours aren’t very vivid either.

Unabl to capture good detail

Unabl to capture good detail

Due to the single core CPU, video recording is limited to 720p. The front facing camera is limited to VGA resolution, so don’t expect great things from it.

Battery life
Battery life is pretty decent as well thanks to the 2250mAh battery. Our video drain tests gave us a battery life of 7 hours and 20 minutes, which is not bad and should last you for a day.

Verdict and price in India
At Rs. 18,999, the S880 makes a very decent buy given the features you get. The UI is smooth and responsive for a single core CPU and the S880 also offers you very good value by offering you a 5-inch screen, a relatively slim chassis, a decent camera and good battery life. The dual SIM feature is also very handy if you have the habit of using two SIM cards. The only major downside is the low resolution screen, which can be annoying when watching videos or surfing the web. Trouble is, Micromax’s Canvas HD A116 will soon be hitting retail early next month and it has a much better feature set, so we’re not sure for how much longer the S880 will be relevant.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,