This is one solid phablet

After carving a formidable niche for itself in computers and notebooks, Lenovo has, like many of its competitors, (Dell and Samsung to name a few) turned its attention to the smartphone market. The company has recently released its first handsets in India, and the one that is making the most waves is the s880. A phablet in form factor, it sports a 5.0-inch display and at 9.9 mm thickness and weight of 196 gm, it is not exactly the sleekest device we have seen in the phablet arena, although it will fit most coat pockets quite easily.

That said, it does exude an aura of solidity. The design is very minimalistic, with a glass covered front, with a wide speaker grille at the bottom and a smaller one at the top. In terms of buttons, there is just the volume rocker on the right side, and the screen/power on/off button on the top (a slightly peculiar position, as it is difficult to reach). The back has a matte finish which provides a good grip and a 5.0-megapixel camera, albeit without a flash. When it comes to connectivity, the s880 packs it all in — it is a dual SIM device with support for 3G, GPS, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The device comes with 4GB onboard which can be expanded by upto 32 GB using a microSD card. There are those who will complain that the device only has a 1.0 GHz single core Cortex A9 processor, and that its RAM count stands only at 512 MB RAM, but we really think that needs to be taken in context of performance.

For, all said and done, once we had updated the s880 (it received a firmware updated within a few days of our getting it for review), it behaved with few, if any stutters. The s880 runs on Android Ice Cream Sandwich, which is pretty good for most tasks, if not as buttery smooth as Jelly Bean. Yes, we would have ideally liked a higher resolution display than the 800 x 480 featured on it, but that said we had no problems in doing most of our routine work, ranging from browsing the Web to checking our social networks. Where we did come across a spot of strife was in playing HD games like Shadowgun where the phablet stuttered notably even though it handled the likes of Angry Birds Space without too much trouble. High definition video also was a bit on the iffy side — it played online videos fine but seemed to stop occasionally while playing it off the SD card.

On the plus side, we found the sound quality to be impressive and the battery life very good indeed (almost a day and a half of continuous usage). We had been hoping to see the stylus we had seen in the ThinkPad tablet coming into play here, but alas, that is not the case — the s880 is very much a finger-driven device. Of course, it has all the goodness of Android on it in terms of apps, social network and mail friendliness, and interface on it, as well as a few tweaks from Lenovo, including a four pronged widget in which you can place shortcuts of the apps you use most frequently, and a dedicated button to tweak the theme of the device (a nice touch, we think). The camera is nothing to write home about, but the large screen is handy for tweaking images and videos, and indeed typing out long messages.

All of which makes the Lenovo s880 a very solid performer, albeit not a spectacular one. It does not have the flaunt value or the hardware muscle of a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 or LG Optimus Vu, but then it does cost a fair bit less than those two worthies. At Rs 18,999, it represents good value for money for those wanting a slice of the high-profile brand phablet action without wishing to get into high-end territory. No, it won’t turn heads. But as long as you don’t push it too far, it will work. And work well.  

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