Lenovo Smart Phone K800 with Intel inside: first-look review

Lenovo-K800_thumb.jpgI’ll get one thing out of the way immediately: this is a blisteringly fast phone. Using it reminded me of moving from Windows Vista to Windows 7: everything just snaps into place, with no judder and no hesitation.

You might ask, “so what?” And that’s a fair argument. I’ve never heard an iPhone 4 owner moan about the speed of the interface, or anyone who’s bought a recent Android phone for that matter.

But there is something psychologically satisfying about using a phone that jumps in response to commands; going back to my usual phone afterwards, things seemed to be in slow motion.

There are practical benefits too. Watch the clip below and you’ll see how well the K800 copes with complicated HD video.

HD here means 720p, with the 4.5in display having a 1,280 x 720 resolution. This makes the video look crisp, but with the addition of an Intel Wireless Display adapter (WiDi for short) you can even watch movies directly on your TV; no wires required.

This phone also includes an 8-megapixel camera capable of shooting HD footage, but the limitations of the small lens and sensor were obvious in my test shots; then again, light conditions in the Lenovo stand at CES weren’t exactly favourable.

Other things to note about the K800 itself: it’s not the world’s most attractive design, with a square-jawed black finish and none of the slimness we’ve come to expect from modern phones, and it includes all the wireless radios you could ever hope for – including WCDMA HSPA+ for 21Mbits/sec downloads.

To a large extent, this is all moot: unless you happen to live in China, you won’t be able to buy the K800 (and even then you’ll have to wait until sometime between April and June). It should be seen, more than anything, as proof of the ability to squeeze an Intel Atom processor into such a tiny chassis.

So let’s get to the specs. Inside there’s a 1.6GHz Intel Atom Z2460 CPU with 512KB of Level 2 cache; this is Intel’s Medfield smartphone platform, which has been long talked about but never previously seen in a proper product.

Note there’s just a single core inside the Z2460, with dual-core Medfield chips likely to debut in Motorola phones later this year. Nevertheless, according to benchmarks performed by Anandtech, this is a darn quick phone: a third quicker than the Samsung Galaxy Nexus in the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark, and almost 20% faster in BrowserMark.

To put that into perspective, the Galaxy Nexus was previously the fastest phone Anandtech had tested, including the Apple iPhone 4S.

According to Intel, it’s also highly competitive when it comes to power consumption:


If those power graphs are to be believed (and we’ll hold off on that until we see some Medfield-based phones that we can actually battery test), the K800 is a definite victory for Intel, and a signal to ARM that it won’t have things all its own way in the coming years.

And going back to the question I asked right at the start – why does this matter? Because it opens up big possibilities for phones of the future, as they edge closer and closer to being what we used to call computers.

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