UPDATE: The Lenovo A7000 received a firmware update very recently and the new test scores reflect that.
The Lenovo A7000 is their latest addition in the mid-range smartphone segment that has been highly competitive with the likes of the Redmi Note and the Honor 4X. With the addition of Dolby Atmos tech and speakers, Lenovo hopes that the A7000 would stand out from the crowd.
Quite literally the first phone to sport Dolby Atmos which is more commonly seen in cinemas, the Lenovo A7000 is only the first in a line of Lenovo products to be sporting the technology. You can expect more Dolby Atmos enhanced devices with their upcoming Lenovo Tab 2 A8 and A10.
Is this a compelling choice when it comes to cheap and good phablets with 4G LTE? This is our review of the Lenovo A7000.
In terms of specs, the Lenovo A7000 has a 5.5 inch IPS HD display at 1280 x 720, alongside a 1.5GHZ octa-core MediaTek MT6752m processor that has been mated to 2GB RAM and a removable 2,900 mAh battery. The phone comes with just 8GB internal storage but it’s expandable up to 32GB via a microSD slot. For those who are particular about software, it runs on Android 5.0 with its own VIBE UI on top. Connectivity is all covered as the A7000 is dual-SIM ready with LTE connectivity, which is becoming mainstream for midrangers.
Out of the box, the Lenovo A7000 is a pretty spartan package, with the contents only being a microUSB cable and charger plug as well as a pair of very basic earphones. Strangely enough Lenovo didn’t include a OTG cable that allows you to charge other devices with the phone, despite the A7000’s inherent ability to act as a powerbank.
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As for the buttons the phone has a volume rocker and power button on the right side of the phone, which are the only physical buttons you’ll find here. On the bottom half of the device you will find capacitive menu, home and back buttons while the top is home to the microUSB port and a 3.5mm headphone jack. We feel the sole reason for the charging port being on the top portion of the device is so it is better positioned to charge your other gadgets but considering most phones have their charging port on the bottom, it is still a little odd in terms of placement.
In terms of internals the A7000 is quite identical to the Huawei Honor 4X, save for the latter sporting a higher pixel count camera system than the A7000 and a different processor. The amount of internal storage you get is quite small, and with the amount of bloatware already inside the phone you get about only 4GB to start as bulk of its storage are consumed by system files and pre-installed apps. Unless you’re going to rely on cloud storage, you will likely have to sink in a microSD card for storage unless you’re the sort to only use the phone for surfing and very occasional photo shooting.
Speaking of the camera, the A7000’s rear camera is almost flush with the cover and the overall device is quite thin at 7.9mm in comparison to the Honor 4X (8.7mm) and Redmi Note (9.5mm). However, it’s quite clear that Lenovo isn’t pulling any fancy engineering on the design and they went with a no-nonsense approach with a matte plastic back while the front features a glossy glass panel with capacitive buttons. The rear cover doesn’t look particularly tough or scratch resistant so you might want to avoid putting your keys in your pocket along with your phone.
Given the size of the phablet and the inclusion of the Dolby Atmos technology, it’s pretty obvious that the A7000 is geared towards entertainment, namely movies and videos. The display is clear and crisp as expected from an IPS panel but Lenovo could have gone straight for a 1080p screen but probably didn’t to keep the price down.
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The battery on the other hand is very solid, even with moderate use with browsing the web and streaming the odd YouTube videos with the speakers on full tilt, the battery lasted for about 14 hours before it needed a charge. Of course you will drain a lot more if you were to attempt watching an entire season of Game of Thrones back to back but what’s to say it won’t be able to handle a movie or two back to back on your long haul flight?
The main draw here is of course, the Dolby Atmos. It’s basically built to give you the surround sound experience on your headphones but it also gives your speakers a little bit of a boost as well. It does do what it says on the tin by kicking the audio up a notch but the surround feature doesn’t really work unless you are already watching media that has surround enabled. There are a few different modes available and some presets but it isn’t explained anywhere on the app how exactly you’re expected to tweak it. Furthermore, you have to repeatedly play demo sounds and tweak it at the same time to see if your settings worked.
Unfortunately, the phone could have benefited more from the tech if they had forward facing speakers instead of having a more generic placement at the back of the device. As a result, you’ll end up having muffled sound if the phone is placed flat on its back. This isn’t something Lenovo couldn’t rectify with a case but it still looks like a major hindsight in terms of design.
In terms of performance, the A7000 is surprisingly good with test scores from Antutu being almost double than that of the Huawei Honor 4X and the Redmi Note 4G, and turns out to be a hair better in terms of scoring than the Samsung Galaxy S5 which is considered the flagship benchmark for most phones. This is very likely due to MediaTek’s new 64-bit True octa-core processor under the hood, coupled with enough RAM to keep the whole experience smooth even with multiple apps running.
As for the interface, Lenovo’s lightly skinned version of Android 5.0 feels quite zippy and straightforward but we didn’t quite like the lack of app drawers and its relatively cartoony looks. This is quite a norm especially with Chinese brands coming out with their own custom UI which sometimes takes it to the point it no longer looks anything like Android.
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In the camera department the A7000 sports a 8 megapixel rear camera and a 5 megapixel front shooter for selfies. Colour reproduction is fairly accurate and images are sharp enough for an 8 megapixel camera. The built-in camera app has plenty of options for you to play around with, including guidelines if you feel like you need a little help framing your shot.
The front camera has some shutter modes to help you snap your selfies by either making hand gestures, waving, or winking, on top of the usual functions like beautification and a timer. The detection is quite solid with the exception of the wave gesture seems to be a bit hit and miss at times.
Here’s some shots we took with the A7000:
All in, the Lenovo A7000 isn’t incredibly groundbreaking for its price of RM 699 but at the same time it’s nowhere near bad. The inclusion of Dolby Atmos does make it a little different from the rest of the pack and there’s no doubts about it’s performance either, so it’s safe to say that it’s a solid phone but quite average in the sense of distinguishing features.
Our main gaff with the device is that the speaker positioning could have been handled better to make full use of the Atmos and the device could have had more internal storage. Lenovo should reconsider having pre-installed apps because just having about 4GB of free space out of the box is just abysmal. At the very least the A7000 has good enough battery life that it should keep the movie buffs happy.
The Lenovo A7000 will be offered exclusively on Lazada beginning 20th May at 12PM. Retailing at RM699, it will be offered at just RM625 during its flash sales.
Lenovo A7000 Photo Gallery