Reviews

Lenovo S856 Review: Fast, Responsive 5.5 inch midranger

Lenovo has established itself as one of the world’s largest smartphone manufacturers when it completed its acquisition of Motorola. Undoubtedly, the brand has become a force in the mobile industry.

Recently, Lenovo Mobile PH lent us one of their latest midrange phones for review. Naturally, we were excited and put the Lenovo S856 through its paces. Review up next.

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Lenovo S856 Key Specs:

  • 5.5 inch HD IPS display (1280 x 720; 267ppi); 10 point multitouch
  • 1.2 GHz quad core Cortex A7 Qualcomm MSM8926 Snapdragon 400 CPU
  • Adreno 305 GPU
  • 1GB of RAM
  • 8GB storage (+microSD up to 32GB)
  • 8MP main camera with auto focus, LED Flash
  • 1.6MP front camera
  • Dual Sim
  • 2G, 3G, penta-band LTE
  • WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, WiFi Direct, WiFi Hotspot, Bluetooth v4.0, GPS with AGPS support
  • Sensors: accelerometer, light, proximity
  • FM radio
  • 2500mAh LiPo battery
  • Dimensions: 151mm x 77.8mm x 8.95mm
  • Weight: 175 grams
  • Android 4.4.2 KitKat
  • Price: Php13,999

Inside the Box:

The Lenovo S856’s package is as complete as it gets. Inside the box, you will find the usual accessories: a travel charger, a USB cable, a set of earphones with replacement caps, and a quick start user’s manual. But Lenovo went beyond the usual and added a multi-functional case and screen protectors.

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The S856’s multi-functional case is very versatile. Not only does it provide reasonable protection, but it also works as a stand. The back has a strip that curls at the back when you want to prop it on your table to watch a movie. It neatly rolls flat at the back to its place when not in use.

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The Review:

Lenovo is slowly building a reputation for the build quality of their products. The S856 is no exception. The device’s body is made of high quality plastic material. It’s not the thinnest at 8.95mm, but it isn’t bulky or unwieldy either.

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Lenovo S856 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 4
Lenovo S856 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 4
Lenovo S856 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 4
Lenovo S856 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 4

As most Lenovo products go, the build quality is excellent. On hand, it feels very solid and sturdy. The rounded edges give a smooth and clean look. The back cover features Lenovo’s signature laser etched fabric feel material that is both elegant and classy. And as an added aesthetic effect, a chrome-coated piece of plastic runs all around the sides of the device, and protrudes at the bottom like a shiny chrome “chin.”

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You will find the 3.5mm jack up top, the power and volume keys on the right side, and the micro USB port at the bottom. Since the device is so large, Lenovo placed the power button on the middle of its side, allowing for easier reach and comfort. The 8MP main camera is found at the back’s center with the LED flash beside it.

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With its 5.5 inch screen, the S856 can easily be called a phablet. The 720p HD display is bright and colorful. Images look crisp. Needless to say, it’s great for watching videos, looking at photos and browsing the web.

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Performance:

Powered by a 1.2GHz quad core Snapdragon 400 CPU, Adreno 305 GPU and a Lenovo flavored Android 4.4 OS, the S856 runs admirably. The CPU and 1GB of RAM is enough to get you through most tasks. Animations and gestures are generally smooth, and apps open up quickly. The phone is very responsive. There are lags at times, but they aren’t distracting or bothersome. The device takes a bit longer when opening CPU intensive apps or playing graphics heavy games, but it’s what’s expected from a midrange CPU. All in all, the phone runs well. There really is nothing to complain about when it comes to performance.

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The 2,500 mAh battery is enough to last you more than a day, possibly longer with its power savings settings, lowered brightness and light usage.

Benchmarks:

I am personally not a fan of benchmarks because I feel that no matter what the score is, the user experience is what matters. A high benchmark score won’t amount to much if the UI is laggy because of software issues. But for those who wants to know, the Lenovo S856 got an AnTuTu Benchmark v5.2.0 score of 17,819. The score is close to what the Moto G got during our review, mainly because of identical hardware.

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Camera:

The Lenovo S856 comes with an 8MP auto focus camera with LED flash. Photos are colorful and well saturated. During testing though, I find the images to be a bit soft, even when I cranked the sharpness up on the camera app. By the way, the image samples below were resized for the purpose of this review. Click to see a larger image.

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Customization:

Like most Lenovo phones, the S856 comes with a theme center. Here, you can customize the look of the UI by downloading themes. You can change the icons, wallpaper, the look of the lock screen, the colors, boot animation, etc.

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The Verdict:

Armed with solid built quality and a bright 5.5 inch 720p resolution screen, the Lenovo S856 has enough smarts to become a solid contender in the midrange category. The smooth animations and responsive interface certainly adds to its credentials. The smartphone may not have been intended for power users and gamers, but it has enough oomph to satisfy the majority of its buyers, namely those looking for a large screened device to watch movies, browse the web and view photos.

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The Lenovo S856 retails for P12,999. It is available at all Lenovo Mobile Exclusive Stores and authorized resellers of Open Communications, Lenovo’s exclusive smartphone distributor.

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