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High, wide and handsome

Cellphone manufacturers seem to be working overtime to discover just how far the human palm can stretch. How else can one explain the plethora of large screen “phones” that have been hitting the market one after the other.

Call them phablets or what you will, the era of the large display handset seems to have well and truly arrived, with screens just getting bigger. A year ago, a 5.0-inch display on a phone would have been considered massive -- today, it is almost considered par for the course.

And if five inches is par for the course, then the Lenovo K900 comes with a display that is comfortably beyond par. The first thing that hits you about the device is its sheer size. Yes, at 6.9-mm, it is remarkably thin. But on the flip side, it is more than half a foot long at 15.7 cm.

It sports a 5.5 inch full HD display and comes in a frame that you can just about get your fingers around while holding the device in the palm of your hand. But unlike many of its phablet brethren who have used plastic as the main component in their endeavours, Lenovo has slapped a brushed metal plate on the back of the phone, giving it a distinctly classy touch. On the bottom the plate lies the logo that many identify more with computers than with handsets- “Intel Inside.” Yes, the K900 comes with an Intel processor inside it. And it is a pretty formidable processor - an Intel dual core 2 GHz Z2580 processor, which might not sound as impressive as some of the quad (and more) core processor-driven devices out there, but more than matches them in terms of performance.

Other specs are impressive too -- there is 2 GB RAM, a 13.0-megapixel camera, 16 GB onboard storage, and some decent connectivity options- GPS, 3G, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth. Some might complain about the absence of expandable memory and HDMI at this price point, but we do not think they are real deal breakers (the iPhone NEVER had expandable memory, anyway). The phone runs Android 4.2 with Lenovo's highly customised skin parked right over it, complete with its own widgets, scrolling effects and wallpapers.

And it sure performs. The display with its 401 ppi pixel density is terrific for viewing videos and Web pages and reading text, and the phone handled multiple tasks and heavy duty games like Shadowgun without any trouble at all. However, the real surprise packet for us was the camera, which comes with a number of tweaks and effects from Lenovo, and honestly, takes the best pictures we have ever seen from any phone with a display in excess of five inches.

And well, having all that screen real estate does help when you want to edit images and videos or even just type out a mail, especially in landscape mode. Sound quality is steady -- we expected more from such a large device -- and call handling is good too, although we did feel a bit strange holding the phone to our ears, as it pretty much covered almost half of our face.

And that actually is the biggest-- pun intended -- shortcoming of the K900. It performs well, has a wonderful camera and display and surprisingly good battery life (we got through a day with juice to spare, a rarity in a device of this size), but thanks to its design and proportions, is not easy to use.

Yes, the metal does make it look elegant and classy but it will not easily fit in a trouser pocket and if your hands are on the smaller side, you actually run the risk of dropping it every time you try to switch the display or device itself on or off (the power/display on/off button is near the top of the top right side). Samsung’s Galaxy Note 2 has a screen of similar size but the device itself is easier to hold, thanks to its less boxy design and curved edges.

All of which makes the Lenovo K900 a proposition for those with big hands. And big pockets. At R 32,999, it costs considerably lesser than most of the large screened offerings from the big brands (most notably, the Galaxy Note 2 and Xperia Z) and performs quite brilliantly too.

A handsome device, indeed -- if you have the hands for it.

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