Even if 4G has not rolled out in your city, it helps to be future proof especially since the service will be widely available in India this year. Whether you are buying your first Smartphone or looking for one that doesn’t burn your pocket but yet a fairly capable and ‘future-proof’ device, Lenovo A6000 should be on your short list. At Rs 6,999 its an affordable 4G device and has a 64–bit SoC for a long run, making it a good choice for budget-conscious buyer.
Design and Build Quality
When you first hold the A6000, you will be pleasantly surprised at its 128grams feather-lightness of a 5-inch Smartphone for the budget category. The 8.2mm slender profile adds to the charm. Having said that there is nothing to talk about on the design and form factor, it follows the monotonous candy-bar design without any unique impressions. Though a metal rim around the rear camera adds a bit of element to it. What is more important is it provides a good ergonomics and soaks nicely when you hold it.
The gentle curves on the rear towards the edges and the soft curves makes it easy on hands. The rear has a matte finish and is not slippery but it tends to gather finger prints. A thin bezel makes it easy for one-hand operation.
Talking about the ports and buttons, the volume rocker and power button are placed on the right with the 3.5mm audio jack and microUSB port on the top. The left side is bare and on the bottom you find a microphone. On the top face you have the 2MP front camera and the earpiece. There are three capacitive buttons under the screen but they are not backlit. The rear houses the ‘dolby’ branding on the bottom flanked by the speaker-grille. The lenovo branding is prominent on the rear and also the 8MP rear camera which has the LED flash positioned below.
A plastic housing is not an issue at this price category but the build quality is a bit of let down, especially when you try to put together the rear panel back. The hinges doesn’t align easily and tend to leave glaring gaps if not pressed properly. Once pieced together, the unit looks good.
When you get a 720pixel in a 5-inch phone at this price level, it’s the best you can expect, something hard pressed even a year back.The screen does look vibrant and the images and text looks crisp. While the viewing angles are decent, the screen is not the best under direct sun light.
The biggest let down is the lack of Corning Gorilla glass or even something similar, which increases the damage risk of the screen when dropped as well as scratches. While using the touch screen, you also notice a marginal lack of buttery smoothness. Lenovo has included a pair of scratch guards, so you don’t have to rush to a shop to buy one. Though, they can’t substitute the toughened protective glasses, its good they are there out of the box.
The Hardware, Software and UI
The biggest trump card of A6000 lies under the hood. It makes use of the latest 64-bit Snapdragon 410 SoC inside and is the first phone to arrive in India with it. Clocked at 1.2GHz, the processor is ‘future-proof’ for a certain degree and should be able to weather few seasons comfortably. The other specs include a 1GB of RAM, Adreno 306 GPU, 8GB of internal storage which can be expanded up to 32GB via microSD card. How it translates in real usage? We will talk about the performance a little later.
The A6000 runs on Android 4.4.4 KitKat but with Vibe UI on top of it. Lenovo too has the distaste for app drawer like many of the Chinese Android players and so you don’t find it either in A6000. All the app icons sits right on the homscreen and you can arrange them on various home screens and also group in folders. You can make a maximum of 18 homescreens, if you require a bigger real estate. a pinch gesture on the homescreen gets you to the management screen – from there, you can rearrange, delete and add panes.
There are two themes to choose from and the colors are too loud for my liking. The app icons though look nice. The homescreen wallpapers can be rotated by swiping left or right on the top of the screen. For most part, it works well but at times you end up opening an app. The lock screen is a standard android affair and you don’t find the quick shortcuts that I loved in Lenovo’s flagship devices.
Short pressing the menu button on the homescreen gives you quick access to themes, wallpapers, desktop settings and screen manager. From here, you can also add and remove widgets.
Lenovo has bundled many apps pre-installed including their own apps like SyncIt and ShareIt which are quiet useful and cannot be uninstalled. There are other third-party apps like Guvera for music streaming, txtr for ebooks, Everynote, Truecaller, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, and Skype to get you going right away and luckily you can uninstall these apps if you don’t require.
There is also a Dolby app which allows users to play around with the sound settings according to their preference. Apart from the Google’s Play Music app, there is also Lenovo’s own music app but disappointingly none of them supports the sleep timer, which is a must for me when I hit sleep with music in my ears.
Camera… Say Cheese
The camera app is minimal in design but has all the bells and whistles features most normal users would expect for a mobile photography. The layout is unobtrusive. There are quiet a few live filters thrown in and also HDR and Panorama mode. You can also click still images while shooting a video. And then, there is also an auto HDR mode and time lapse video options.
The A6000 is equipped with a 8-megapixel rear camera with LED flash, auto-focus and a 2MP front camera for the selfie purpose. To begin with, the camera is a slow snapper which was a bit disappointing. Having dabbled with some of the fastest shooters in this segment before I laid my hands on A6000, I found it to be a laggard.
Talking about the picture quality, its unpredictable, largely factored by the surrounding lighting. If you are lucky, it can surprise you like the one below I managed but most clicks suffered from over-exposure. As expected out of most Smartphones, low-light photography suffers and picks lots of noises and lack details.
Even the best of the Smartphone cameras we have seen in this price bracket are only tad better than this, so its not fair to pick Lenovo in particular on this front. For casual pics, the phone does its job.
Performance – In real-life scenarios
The sweetener of a deal is that the phone supports 4G networks as well as dual-SIM functionality.We expected the the Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 SoC clocked at 1.2GHz to perform well and in most cases it does. The biggest surprise was the gaming performance. Combined with the able processor and the new Adreno 306 GPU which produces slightly richer graphics than the previous generation Adreno 305 GPU, the A6000 is better while gaming. I spend hours on GT Racing 2 and Dead Trigger 2 and the graphics were good and it was smooth game play. Surprisingly while some of the apps crashed randomly, I never encountered it while gaming. If you are a gamer, you will be quiet happy with this device. Talking about the app crashes, randomly some apps tend to crash and it happened quiet a few times.
4G or 3G, the phone handles web surfing with ease. The call quality is good too. The loud speaker is well, quiet loud enough, The dolby settings does a pretty good job. Video playback is also pretty good except when playing heavy encoded fullHD videos when it struggles a bit but played all my rest of the test video collections smoothly.
Finally, the battery life. Armed with a 2300mAh battery which many had a mixed opinion about but in my real usage, it decently performed in my real usages. There is not even a steep fall while playing games and if you are a moderate user, it should last a day easily. With Smartphones becoming increasingly power-hungry, I find it ridiculous to blame the battery performance unless it falls alarmingly low very often and while using heavy intensive games. The A6000 has a pretty decent pack to be modest.
The wind is blowing Lenovo’s way with A6000 – it has everything in it to sail through the tough competition it faces. A decent looks, 4G support, 64-bit SoC, Dolby speakers and it has all the elements to make it a blockbuster product and it has delivered for Lenovo going by the flashsales on Flipkart. An able prince in the budget 4G Smartphone space, it’s only competition is Yu Yureka which is few thousands more and the Redmi 2 which will arrive shortly. For now, A6000 is a crown prince, well prepared for the battles ahead.