Once upon a time, with only smartphones and tablets being the main dwellers, the Android universe was a much simpler place to be in. Then the Samsung Galaxy Note happened, a device quite out of the ordinary at that time that the term phablet – a play on the words phone and tablet — had to be created.
Fast forward to 2013, it seems people will no longer bat an eyelid when John or Jane whips out a 5-inch plus “phone” out of their pocket or bag. We want bigger phones, but obviously not too large or tablet-large. This is a void that the Galaxy Note series has successfully filled.
One manufacturer that dares to challenge Samsung is Lenovo, which has just introduced its Intel-powered 5.5-inch phablet, the IdeaPhone K900. Allow us to walk you through the specs and features of both devices in this latest edition of VS.
The Lenovo IdeaPhone K900 doesn’t try to outdo the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 in the size department, but it one-ups its foe by packing a 1080p screen – that’s a resolution of 1,020 x 1,920 pixels – with a whopping 400 ppi. The Galaxy Note 2, being that it missed the 1080p boat that many flagship 2013 phones wouldn’t want to be caught dead without, has to be content with an HD display (720 x 1,280 pixels) and a respectable 267 ppi.
What’s the big deal about 1080p display, anyway? It won’t exactly be life altering, but expect images and texts to look out-of-this-world sharp. Those full HD movies you got will also look better.
Whereas with the Note 2 you’ll get amazing blacks and surreal colors, in line with what one expects from a Super AMOLED display, Lenovo opted to go with an IPS panel on the K900 for a more natural color reproduction.
It’s hard not to give this round to the new kid in phablet town. However, bear in mind that the display on the Galaxy Note 2 is still great, just less so than the K900. The race is even closer if we take into consideration the fact that the Note 2 uses a Wacom digitizer, allowing users to create all sorts of doodling magic.
Build Quality and Design
The IdeaPhone K900 is as boxy as it gets. While it’s lacking a certain design flair compared to the Note 2, the use of a polycarbonate casing and metal equals to one sturdy and tough-looking phone – albeit one that looks quite formal and business-like. There seems to be a variant that boasts a potentially dizzying metallic 3D pattern on the back, if that’s your kind of thing.
Surprisingly, Lenovo has managed to keep the beast light and thin, as it weighs 162g and is only 6.99mm thick. The K900 appears to be narrower than the Note 2, but slightly taller.
Meanwhile, the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 takes its design cues from the Galaxy S3, which means it has the same pebble-inspired curved body that should make the handset more comfortable to use and hold. But it’s still a huge device, mind you.
Looking at the K900, however, it’s clear that Samsung has some homework to do, as the reigning phablet champ is both thicker (9.1mm) and heavier (183g).
It’s going to take some time to warm to the rectangular look and feel of the IdeaPhone K900, but it wins some brownie points for being more compact than the Galaxy Note 2. Hence, we’ll call this one a tie.
Following the footsteps of the predecessor, the K900 is also powered by Intel, this time using the Atom Z2580 CPU (aka Clover Trail+) with a dual-core setup clocked at 2GHz. Considering how the Atom Medfield – found on the K800 — was praised for its speedy performance, it’s only to be expected that the successor would offer some improvement.
Intel is being pretty secretive about its latest mobile processor platform, but we should get a better idea of how it performs in real life as we near the K900’s release date in April.
As for the rest of the specs, the IdeaPhone K900 packs the now-standard 2GB of RAM, 16GB internal storage, and a microSD card slot. Lenovo has also equipped the device with a 13MP rear camera that utilizes Sony’s Exmor BSI sensor and a dual LED flash, while the 2MP front cam offers an 88-degree wide viewing angle.
Unlike the Note 2, it looks like the battery, of which the capacity is still unknown, is not user removable. We hope the super thin body of the K900 won’t come at the expense of the battery life.
Moving to the Galaxy Note 2, the handset is powered by Samsung’s quad-core 1.6GHz Exynos processor, which has come out on top in many benchmark test results. The sequel to the original phablet also packs 2GB of RAM, up to 64GB internal storage, a microSD slot, 8MP rear camera with LED flash, and 1.9MP front-facing camera. As mentioned, it has a removable 3,100mAh battery that’s known to last you the whole day and then some more.
Of course, it’d be a sin not to mention the thing that ultimately sets the Galaxy Note 2 apart from other phablets, its S Pen stylus, which helps push the Note 2 ahead of the K900 and win the round.
The previewed Lenovo IdeaPhone K900 runs Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean, but the final unit apparently will ship with Android 4.2. Just like other manufacturers that seek to distinguish their Android offerings, the K900 comes with an extra layer of skin known as the Le Phone UI. Unlike others, you can turn the “feature” off and enjoy a stock Android experience.
Samsung’s TouchWiz UI — also known as Nature UX — isn’t something that users can easily disable, but given the many bells and whistles that it offers right out of the bat, it’s easy to understand why users – in time – learn to live with it and even come to grow fond of it.
Not only will you be getting many software enhancements and features like Smart Stay, S-Beam, and true multi-tasking, but you’ll also get plenty of S Pen-optimized apps. For this, the final round goes to the Galaxy Note 2.
Pros and Cons
Lenovo IdeaPhone K900 Pros
- 5.5-inch full HD display
- Thin, sturdy design
- Switchable UI to stock Android OS
Lenovo IdeaPhone K900 Cons
- Unknown battery
- Not out for months
- No LTE
Samsung Galaxy Note 2 Pros
- 5.5-inch display
- S Pen (pressure sensitive stylus)
- S Pen-optimized apps
- Many software enhancements
Samsung Galaxy Note 2 Cons
- Only 720p and 264 ppi
- Still costs a fortune off-contract
Lenovo might be a newcomer to the phablet world, but the company does have a history of releasing Android smartphones with great specs at an affordable price. As such, the IdeaPhone K900 is more than a worthy challenger to the Galaxy Note 2.
Making that decision between the two should come easier once Lenovo shares the pricing and battery details of the handset, as well as its international availability. We know that the K900 is scheduled to hit China in April, which will be followed by its release in select markets thereafter. Unfortunately, a U.S. release hasn’t been confirmed.
If you do decide to wait out for Lenovo’s first phablet offering, know that you’re missing out on all the great things that the Galaxy Note 2 has to offer – solid hardware, S Pen, removable battery, and more – all of which you can get right now.