Lenovo's K900 goes big on size and power (hands-on)

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/ Updated: 5 March 2013 7:30 pm GMT

BARCELONA, Spain--When we first saw the Lenovo K900 at CES early last month, the Chinese company wasn't quite ready for journalists to try out the handset, but it has finally taken off the bubble wrap here at the MobileFocus Global fringe event at MWC.

The K900 is so long, it barely fits in our shot.

Upside
The 5.5-inch Intel Atom-powered (Clover Trail+) smartphone runs at a speedy clock speed of 2GHz, and we hardly noticed any lag while we were playing with it. While it's certainly a long handset, the 6.9mm barely weighed anything in my hand. Of course, it's worth noting that the K900 strikes into phablet territory with the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Notes and the LG Intuition.

I loved the feel of the stainless steel rear, it certainly conveys a premium finish that's unlike Lenovo's earlier plastic smartphones. There's something to be said about using the right material for handsets, especially if you're going to be holding it all the time. Given the recent trends of using quality components in smartphones (such as the aluminum finish of the HTC One or the glass rears of the LG Optimus G and Sony Xperia Z), plastic is dead (and hopefully Samsung will learn a thing or two for its upcoming flagship handset).

Other features include Android 4.1.2, a 13-megapixel camera, 16GB of integrated memory, a media player, and organizer and productivity features.

The stainless steel rear feels good in my palm.

Lenovo is using its own UI, dubbed Le Phone, on the K900 on top of the Android 4.1.2 (Jelly Bean) OS. We like the flourishes to Android, especially the special shortcut buttons that open up five buttons for easy access to settings such as your music, alarm, and brightness. We also opened up the app drawer and found that switching from page to page brings up a cool swirling effect (though that's really quite cosmetic, to be honest). We do, however, have some doubts about the UI that we'll talk about below.

I like the shortcut features shown here.

The slim 6.9mm profile is a welcome trade-off for its large overall size. I especially like the stainless steel casing that gives the smartphone a smooth, sleek, and sturdy feel in the hand. One of the models on display has an attractive copper skin, but the standard handset comes in basic black.

The smartphone also packs 16GB of storage space, which should be sufficient for normal use, and there's a microSD card slot if you run out.

Downside
While the 1080p 5.5-inch display appears sharp, it doesn't quite look like it, as Lenovo decided to use what appears to be larger fonts and bigger icons on the K900. This gives it a very kiddish appeal that distracts from the handset's build quality. Perhaps the handset would be better served by a minimalistic approach that the K900 stainless steel design hints at. It has a pixel density of more than 400ppi.

The smartphone also comes with a 13-megapixel camera, and while we didn't have the chance to fully test it out, we have our doubts, especially since we've seen just how the HTC One has proven that megapixels aren't everything. We'll definitely put this to the test when we get our hands on a review unit.

The elongated nature of the K900 makes it quite difficult to actually reach the power button with just one hand -- you'll have to do a bit of stretching. A Lenovo spokesperson we talked to did point out that the smartphone does fit pretty comfortably even in smaller hands, and we found that we could use it easily with just one hand because of the thinness of the device. Just don't try turning on and off the power button with said hand (unless you like to do a lot of hand-stretching exercises).

Outlook
Lenovo told us that the K900 will be launching in Q2 for China, and the handset will also be rolled out to the six other countries in the region -- Russia, India, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, and the Phillippines. This means you won't see this sexy device anytime in the U.S., which makes sense as the handset does not support LTE networks. Pricing will be revealed at a later date.

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Lenovo K900

Part Number: CNETLenovo K900
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