Full review of the Lenovo S650!
In the past few months, we noticed that Lenovo’s newest offerings have a distinct similarity design-wise to each other. It started with the Vibe Z, then the S650 and the S930. It seems that the Chinese company want to create a design language that differentiates their Android devices with the competition, much like what Samsung, LG and Sony has done with their devices. That’s the reason why Lenovo’s S650, the subject of today’s review has a lot in common with its bigger siblings when it comes to overall design, both externally and internally.
Lenovo S650 specs
- 1.3GHz quad-core MT6582 processor
- 1GB of RAM
- 4.7-inch capacitive display, 540 x 960 resolution
- 8GB of storage, expandable up to 32GB
- 8-megapixel rear camera
- VGA front camera
- WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth, GPS, A-GPS
- Dual-SIM, dual standby
- 3G, HSDPA
- 2000mAh battery
- Android 4.2
- Php 9,999
Design that mimics Lenovo’s flagship
The S650 shares many of the design characteristics of the Vibe Z, from the materials used to the overall shape of the phone. Much like the Vibe Z, the S650 uses a faux textured metal finish on the exterior, with a silver trim on the bottom. We liked how it felt and looked on the Vibe Z, and that opinion hasn’t changed with the implementation of the design on the S650. The S650 also retains the unique iconography of the Vibe Z when it comes to the capacitive buttons on the bottom of the S650.
Speaking of buttons, the button layout of the S650 isn’t too different from your typical Android smartphone – volume rocker on the right, power button on top, with the 3.5mm jack and USB slot on the top and bottom respectively.
The 8-megapixel camera module on the S650 is located in the center of the smartphone on the back, and protudes a few mm from the body. This design may not be ideal, as it exposes the camera to potential scratches and damage when laid flat on a surface, though Lenovo has included a nice accessory to prevent that.
That accessory is a skeleton case of sorts. The hard case that’s included with your S650 purchase has large cuts in the back and a flexible silicone strip with a flexible metal core. The case protects the phone and the camera module from the issues we mentioned earlier, while the flexible silicone strip allows you to prop up your phone while in the landscape orientation which makes it easier to watch movies and videos hands free when you lay it down on a table.
The 4.7-inch display is good enough for what it needs to do. While it’s only a qHD display, it manages to produce vibrant colors with good enough detail, and is bright enough to be used under direct sunlight.
Custom OS and apps add additional functionality
Like we mentioned earlier, Lenovo is trying to streamline the look and feel of its smartphones, an effort that extends to the OS as well. While the device runs Android 4.2, it’s also skinned with the same LeWa OS that we saw on Lenovo’s flagship the Vibe Z. Our opinion hasn’t changed with the LeWa OS (we still don’t like it) as it does away with the traditional app drawer and puts all apps in the open, which may bother people with OC tendencies. Lenovo also installed their DOit apps on the S650 much like the Vibe Z and the S930, which include the SECUREit, SYNCit, SHAREit and SNAPit.
Performance that won’t leave you hanging
The Lenovo S650 is powered by MediaTek’s 1.3GHz quad-core MT6582 processor, which, combined with the 1GB of RAM, keeps everything nice and smooth. As far as user experience goes, we don’t have any complaints – navigating the custom UI of the S650 was buttery smooth, with no lags whatsoever in the experience.
As far as synthetic benchmarks go, the S650 delivers numbers that we expected given the processor/RAM combination. The S650 is capable of running most games without too many issues, and was able to plow through Dead Trigger 2 and Asphalt 8 without any problems.
Good enough camera
The camera on the Lenovo S650 is good enough for daily use, although we’ve seen better. Colors are generally punchy, and image quality is pretty good, although it struggles when there’s too much light (or if the subject is completely white).
The S650 is also capable of a decent amount of Bokeh. The camera is more than capable of shooting pictures that’ll eventually end up in social media.
Mediocre battery life
Much like similar smartphones running the same hardware, the Lenovo S650 didn’t impress us with its battery life. On our standard battery loop test (a video is looped until the phone is completely drained of battery) the S650 only managed to clock in roughly 5 hours and 26 minutes before the battery hit 10%. On actual use, the S650 struggled to get 7 hours and 40 minutes before it finally threw in the towel.
There’s good news of course. Lenovo has included a battery manager app that allows you to manage your battery more efficiently, turning off much of the phone’s sensors to extend your battery life.
Relatively solid offering by Lenovo
The Lenovo S650 is a good, mid-ranged smartphone by Lenovo, though it’s not perfect. The less than stellar battery life is a big concern for people who use their phone a lot, though that problem is easily solved by using a power bank. While we’re not a fan of the customized UI, it does add plenty of other functionality, along with Lenovo’s proprietary DOit apps. If you’re looking for a relatively good smartphone from an international brand that isn’t too expensive, the Lenovo S650 may just be ticket.