BARCELONA -- Once the preserve of the high-fallutin', gadget-lovin' elite, smartphones no longer need to cost the Earth. The latest mobile to offer smartphone tech on a modest budget is Lenovo's A7000, a 5.5-inch phone that will cost $169 -- that's roughly £110 or AU$220 -- when it goes on sale in March. Read on for everything you need to know.

Dolby sound tech

Lenovo's teamed up with audio company Dolby to squeeze its Atmos tech into the A7000. In practise what this means is that when you're wearing headphones, the A7000 will perform some audio gymnastics to give sound a little more punch, and create the illusion that the sound is coming at you from all directions, also making volume more consistent. Tweaked audio of this kind doesn't always impress, so we'll be scrutinising the sound that the A7000 produces when it comes time for the full review.

High-flying hardware on the cheap

Despite its relatively low cost, the A7000 packs some hefty hardware. There's a 5.5-inch display, plus a MediaTek octa-core processor and 4G LTE, for speedier mobile data. It has an 8-megapixel camera on the back, while a 5-megapixel front-facing camera means video calling is very much on the cards.

At 7.9mm thick and weighing 140g, the A7000 isn't too chunky, so despite its intimidating size you might just be able to squeeze it into a jeans pocket. Fans of colour may be out of luck however -- the A7000 will be available in either black or white.

The A7000 has a removable battery. Andrew Hoyle/CNET

The A7000 is running Android 5.0 Lollipop, which is the latest version of Google's mobile operating system. Android isn't quite as easy to pick up as Apple's dead-simple iOS operating system, but considering this phone is a fraction of the cost of a pricey Apple gadget, Android 5.0 is a more than worthy alternative. Google's OS is slick, packed with features and grants you access to Google Play, which is crammed to the gunwales with downloadable apps and games.

Android 5.0 Lollipop gets you access to loads of apps and games, including this secret built-in one, which is hidden in the settings menu. Andrew Hoyle/CNET


The A7000's secret weapon is certainly its low price, so when it comes to the full review, we'll be evaluating how its hardware and ease of use compare with other low-cost mobiles. Stay tuned.