Lenovo’s focus might be still on notebooks, but the company does have some interesting mobile solutions that have gone unnoticed by many. We first brought to you the S880 at the beginning of the year, which turned out to be a good handset but a tad overpriced for the performance it offered. Today, we have its successor – the S890 – that plugs most of the gaps left by its predecessor and is priced in competition with Samsung’s Galaxy Grand.

Design and build
The S890 follows the same candy bar design as the S880 but has a slimmer bezel; Lenovo has also gotten rid of the double chin at the bottom. The handset has a pleasing design and the glossy plastic shell does a good job of masking fingerprints. The phone has a chrome trim running along the sides, which does not look that tacky since it has a matte finish. The phone is slightly heavier than the Grand, at 176 gms, but is slimmer. The volume rocker is easy to reach but the power button is not. Luckily, you won’t be using that very often since the flip-cover that comes bundled with the phone automatically toggles the screen on and off when open or closed.

Lenovo S890

A handsome looker

On the back, we have an 8MP camera with an LED flash while a single speaker grille sits at the bottom. The S890 is a dual-SIM phone with only one of the slots supporting 3G. You even get a hot-swappable microSD card slot.

Let’s start with the display. The S890 features a 5-inch screen just like the Grand, but it does better by offering a higher 540 x 960 resolution and an IPS panel in lieu of standard TFT. The colours are fairly punchy but not very vibrant or sharp. Sunlight legibility is not very good either. The screen tends to get washed out quite a bit, making it really difficult to use. The phone runs on a heavily skinned version of Jelly Bean 4.1.1. Despite this, the phone is very quick and snappy with no lag. You’ll notice minor slowdowns once in a while, but it’s nothing drastic. Just like the S880, the skin will take some getting used to, but once you do, it’s extremely functional and there are shortcuts for literally everything.

Lenovo S890

Very simple user interface

For starters, we have a whole bunch of toggle switches in the notification bar,. The homescreen widget gives you quick access to most used apps, you can easily close running apps to free up some RAM and all of this is presented in a very novice-friendly manner. We really liked the theme and the way the icons and menu are designed. The S890 is powered by a MediaTek MT6577T, which is a dual-core SoC running at 1.2GHz. The CPU is fairly powerful for handling media up to 720p as well as popular apps. The PowerVR SGX531 GPU is not too powerful, however, as it returned a low NenaMark 2 score of just 24fps. Despite this, games like Temple run 2 and Subway Surfers run just fine.

Media playback is handled via the stock player, which supports MP3 and FLAC. Audio quality is good, provided you have a decent pair of IEMs. The speaker volume is not too bad either as alerts and notifications can be heard even in a noisy environment. FM radio is also present.

Lenovo S890

Decent media playback

The video player supports MKV, AVI, MOV and MP4 formats, but only up to 720p. Full HD 1080p files show up but don’t play. Audio through the rear speaker is fairly loud and is clearly audible. You get 4GB of internal memory along with the ability to expand it up to 32GB via a microSD card slot.

The S890 is a tri-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. Websites are handled well through the stock browser, although text is not as sharp as we would have liked it to be.

Lenovo S890

Large screen is good for browsing

Lenovo has also added a custom power saving feature in the form of profiles. Depending on your usage scenarios, the battery profile is automatically selected and you can even set your own custom profile. There’s an app called Installation Package, which lets you manage APKs. You also get miscellaneous apps like a flashlight, Chrome and UC Browser.

The camera has been bumped up to an 8MP sensor and we also get an LED flash. Lenovo has added plenty of scene modes and options to tweak. You can adjust the metering, white balance, anti-flicker, guidelines etc. Scene modes include panorama, smile shot, HDR and auto. Picture quality is pretty good for outdoor shots in day light. Indoor shots are pretty decent as well, but due to the lack lustre display, it doesn’t look very good. Video recording maxes out at 720p.

Lenovo S890

Plenty of features to play around with

Lenovo S890

Captures good deatil

Battery life
The 2250 mAh battery managed to last through 2 hours of calls, 2 hours of video, 2 hours of audio and 2 hours of YouTube streaming over Wi-Fi with 24 percent of battery still remaining.

Verdict and Price in India
The price tag of Rs 20,899 puts it directly in competition with the Grand, which also retails for the same. Between the two, we’d still recommend the Galaxy Grand over the S890. The Lenovo may seem to have an edge by boasting of an IPS display but the fact is, it’s not very good in real world conditions. Other features are very similar to Samsung’s offering, but the Grand pulls ahead by offering more onboard storage, dual-band Wi-Fi, GLONASS, 1080p video recording and playback, better front camera and will likely get updates more frequently as compared to the S890.

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