I have been having this first world problem since last month. I need to buy a smartphone because I have trouble keeping my address book up to date. I have been using basic phone since I lost my cellphone(s) by early March 2012. I am quite reluctant to use expensive phone because I’m using public transportation daily.
Initially I thought to buy LG E3 100 since the price is quite cheap (only about $120), however the display screen is very small. I almost considered to buy middle end phone such LG Prada or LG Optimus 4x or these Sony Xperia series but honestly I feel burning my money since the price just don’t worth it.
Just a week ago I visited Okeshop, they were offering new variant of Lenovo smartphone, Lenovo S880.
Lenovo s880 is probably one of the cheapest Galaxy Note copycat considering the price and its features which packaged only for $200. Here are the technical spec of Lenovo s880:
- Network: GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 HSDPA 900 / 2100
- Display: TFT capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors, 5.0″ WVGA, 480 x 800, Multi Touch
- Dimension: 142 x 78 x 9.9 mm / 197g
- Jack 3.5mm jack audio
- Speakerphone: Yes
- Internal Memory 512 RAM, 4GB ROM
- External Slot Micro SD card up to 32GB
- DATA 3G HSDPA, HSUPA
- EDGE: Yes
- GPRS: Yes
- WLAN Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
- Bluetooth v2.1 with EDR
- Infrared: No
- USB/Port v2.0 microUSB
- Camera: Primer 5.0 mega pixel, Auto Focus
- Front: 0.3 mega pixel, supports Skype Video Calls
- Video Record: Yes, 720p@30fps
- Battery: Li-Ion 2250 mAh
- OS: Android OS, v4.0.3 (Ice Cream Sandwich)
- CPU MTK6575 ARMv7 Cortex-A9 1.0GHz, GPU: PowerVR SGX531 Ultra
- Browser HTML
- GPS: Yes, A-GPS
- Messaging SMS(threaded view), MMS, Email, Push Mail, IM
- Java via Java MIDP emulator,
- Extra Features: SMS integration, Google Search, Maps, Gmail YouTube, Google Talk, Organizer, Voice memo, Predictive text input, multiple SIM Dual On GSM
- Video Player: MP4/H.264/H.263 player
- MP3 Player: MP3/WAV/eAAC+ player
- Audio Record: Yes
- TV out: No
- FM Transmitter
Recently this phone has become a very hot item during August 2012. Okeshop offered this phone for IDR 1,999,000 (+/- $210) with 6 months installment using credit card.
The packaging however is quite minimal. You only receive a micro usb cable, an adaptor, a crappy earphone, and a battery.
Don’t expect a lot from MTK 6575 processor. It’s single core processor and you will expect noticable lags when installing program or running 3-4 programs simultaneously. It’s recommended to install advanced task manager and always kill useless process to free up some ram.
Not HD-Ready Yet
Unfortunately MTK 6575 suffer penalty when running 720p videos. The video will run however it will lost sync with the audio. If you want to test it yourself, go find some popular youtube HD videos and try to run them in your phone. I use RocketPlayer Lite + Hardware decoding mode. Doesn’t help much. Software decoding mode will make it worse. Don’t even bother to try 1080p videos.
No extra battery is sold widely in the Indonesian market yet, however probably they will be available soon after several months. The battery model is BL 198 , in case you’re paranoid you could always order one from aliexpress. However I recommend to be patient and let local distributor sells them.
I have ordered from China before and it’s not nice when your order had defect because you have to mail the goods back which cost you more time and money. It doesn’t worth the risk.
After updating my rom to ICS 4.04_20120808.11.23, batteryminder showed my battery lasted for 22 hours, however after a while it showed my battery will only last for 12 hours 40 minutes. Here is something weirder: after your battery drops to 15%, the battery will last for 2 hours 40 minutes and strangely the battery drops slower after hits 15%. the battery might be able to last 22 hours after all, I’m not really sure.
I’m now using Go Power Meter, my phone reported able to standby about 25-28 hours after fully charged. This is quite accurate in my opinion.
Rooting Lenovo S88
1. Go to setting> Developer options> Tick the USB Debugging
2. Plug your Lenovo S880 with the microusb
3. Install SnapPea, an android manager to download the driver
4. Install ZhuoDashi 2.2.9 -setup (this program could root all type of android tablet, I think)
5. After the driver has been installed, run the ZhuoDashi, it will detect your phone:
Click the wrench icon on the top right corner, you could find the Root icon easily
6. Click root. The process takes five minutes and will restart device three times. Don’t plug off the cable yet.
7. There will be application with # SuperSU appear in your S880
8. Audio is missing after rooted? Lag? Restart your phone!
9. If you want to unroot, just click the unroot button on zhuodashi
Comparison with other 5 inch phones
Anyway, Lenovo apparently dumping the price of Lenovo s880 sold outside China. This device reported to be sold at least $275 in the mainland (depend on seller I guess). I think it’s very cheap if you consider the large screen (5 inch). The processor is so-so since it’s not dual core, I think it’s fair enough with such cheap price. For comparison, here are the other smartphone/phablets with equally large screen (4-5.5 inch):
- Galaxy S III (4.8 inch): $700
- Galaxy Note (5.3 inch): $600
- LG Optimus L7 (4.3 inch) P705: $250
- Samsung Galaxy Nexus i9250 (4.6 inch): $ 399
- LG Optimus 4x P880 (4.7 inch): $550
- HTC One X (4.7 inch): $660
- Nexian Five A500 (5 inch): $180
- Advan Vandroid S5 (5.3 inch): $200
- Zyrex Onescribe (5 inch): $300
- Treq A10 Pocket 2 (5 inch): $190
- Axioo GEA 054 (5 inch): $180
- Lenovo K860 (5 inch): $440
Comparison with other MTK 6575 phones
- IMO Glory (4 inch): $100
- Acer Liquid Gallant E350 : $???
- Acer Liquid Gallant Duo: $???
- Celkon A97 (4 inch): $150
- Lenovo P700 (4 inch): $???
- Haipai i9220 (5.3 inch): $180
- Zyrex Onescribe (5 inch): $300
- Treq A10 Pocket 2 (5 inch): $190
- Axioo GEA 054 (5 inch): $180
- Lenovo A60 (3.5 inch): $99
Comparison with other PowerVR SGX531 phones
- IMO – W6800 (5 inch): $???
- Motoluxe XT389 (3.5 inch): $???
- BLU Vivo 4.3: $???
- Probably one of the cheapest 5 inch smartphone/phablet from big brand (Lenovo has 3rd largest marketshare in China and also biggest PC producer in the world)
- Lenovo dumped the price outside PRC, so some countries (like Indonesia) get cheaper price
- 5 MP camera
- Crisp display
- Fairly big internal memory (1.2 GB)
- Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0.3
- Wifi tethering, FM transmitter
- Big battery capacity: 2250 maH is big for a smartphone, iPhone only has 1,500-ish maH capacity
- Lot of custom roms (for the geek)
- Easy to root
- Single core processor MTK 6575
- There are cheaper models offered by Chinese online stores with $40-50 difference
- Accessories not widely available yet (and bit overpriced in Indonesian market with the official distributor. Leather case for $20 while I could get it for $9 in online retailer)
- Only 512 MB RAM. You could gain more after uninstalling useless apps though.
- Not HD ready (720p movies will stutter, don’t even bother to try 1080p videos)
- No hardware button, you are suffering screen size penalty unless you are using fullscreen toggle and button savior (see tips below)
- Battery is probably hard to find. Be prepared to order from China if local retailer doesn’t stock them
- Official update is hard to find unless you are getting into the community. Even the official website is written in Chinese, with no software download.
- Don’t expect Jelly Bean to come anytime soon due the reason above
There are other variants of OEM phones offered by the Chinese manufacturer. The spec is quite similar (MTK 6575 + PowerVR SGX531) with $30-50 price difference. You could always import them however, do it with your own risk. You don’t have local warranty.
Even if you find Lenovo S880 is slightly more expensive than these non-brand phones, it’s worth the price since it has after sales and supported by big name of Lenovo. However if you buy these phones directly from individual suppliers, you risk yourself of having no after sales service.
If you don’t mind buying from local brand, you could always opt to buy the direct competitors Treq A10 Pocket 2 and Axioo GEA 054. Both have exactly same specifications minus the FM transmitter. I chose Lenovo because of the brand.
If you have more money to spend? Lenovo K860 is your best bet, it’s the cheapest quad-core with 5 inch screen, and still cheaper than most hi-end phones. Lenovo apparently dumped the S880 price here into $200 but raised the price of its K860 model (priced about $345 in China, so we are $100 more expensive ) but remember you could buy a good 10 inch tab or even a 1st generation iPad with such amount of money.
How to Save Your Battery Life
Install Battery Defender, this will turn off any of your data connection during standby mode, also go to setting and reduce the brightness to zero.
Furthermore, you could install program Night Mode to dim your screen further and save more energy!
How to Save/Install to Exteternal Memory Automatically
Go to setting> Storage and change Default Write disk to external memory.
If you want to move your apps to SD card after installing them into USB storage, you have to move them to internal memory first:
1. Go to setting change default write disk into external SD card, and move all the apps from internal memory to SD card.
2. You have to move them first because the 2GB space provided by Lenovo S880 is considered as “external memory”. Snappea could save time a lot instead of using Apps2SD
How to use FM Transmitter
Lenovo S880 is equipped with a nice FM transmitter, it means you could listen your music/radio/youtube songs from your smartphone to your FM radio. How cool is that?
First open the program FM Transmitter, and click the power button above
Now your smartphone will transmit 100 mhz FM wave, all you have to do is to turn on your radio and tune in on 100 mhz channel, open your music player and the radio will play the music from your smartphone. If you want to change the channel just open the wench icon and adjust your setting.
Low Ram? Kill some apps!
Hold power button + volume up when turning on your phone. You will enter factory mode and given several options during boot:
- full test
- item test
- test report
- clear eMMC
Choose clear eMMC and then reboot.
If you are annoyed with the menu bar (which is implemented to compensate lack of hardware button in lenovo s880) you could remove it with Full Screen Toggle. Install Button Savior before activating the software, or you will have trouble navigating your phone afterward.
Comparison (screenshot from Kaskus forum)
I bought the button saviour since I probably will toy with various android custom roms. the software itself is useful since sometimes the custom roms do not detect the hardware button.
After rooting your phone you could also changing your DPI. By default, lenovo s880′s dpi is 240, however you could reduce it and making more space in your screen. DPI Changer could do the magic, however do it with caution because you might encounter problems in google play store. I changed my dpi into 190, and apparently I cannot install most games from google playstore. I constantly received message “your device is not compatible with this version” because apparently google playstore detected the DPI setting,
Solving this problem is not as easy as returning the dpi to default value (have tried that). I’m not sure whether there is hidden setting in build.prop to enable the market again, to save time I install LCD Density Modder Pro. The program costs me $2.99, however since I enjoy using lower dpi and will probably toy my other android devices, I guess the price is justified.
Don’t change your DPI if you are not ready to fix the error . The fastest is by purchasing the app of course, OR factory resetting your android and start everything from fresh ROM. The latter sounds cumbersome so I chose to buy the app.
As 30 September 2012 I have updated my Lenovo s880 to ICS 4.04_20120808.11.23. I must say my Lenovo is now more responsive because its memory usage has reduced dramatically. The battery also lasts longer now, BatteryMinder shows the battery could last about 22 hours.
Here are some screenshots:
The only downside is, FM radio doesn’t work anymore. But I could live with that, since you have more ROM + RAM now. I think it’s worth the trouble.
- Power: Home screen
- Long press power: Task
- Volume up: Menu
- Volume down: Back
This means you must assign extra function in button savior to access the volume button and couldn’t turn off/ hard reset by long pressing the power button.
The LCD density also changed into 240, I must use LCD Density Modder Pro to change the resolution and fix the market compatibility problem.
The free ram after default install is 275 mb-ish.
Here are some screenshots
This rom also added a new feature to restrict multithreads in the developer options, limiting background process = more free ram. I limit my lenovo s880 to 2 background process. I think it’s similar with this tweak.
Not really a bad deal. I might using this rom for a while.
- Official Lenovo Page (Chinese)
- Lenovo Chinese BBS (Chinese) (check here to find latest roms and here for custom ROMS)
- Lenovo Russian Forum (Russian) (check out here for roms)
- Lenovo s880 Kaskus Community (Indonesian Language)
- ZhuoDashi 2.2.9 (Tool to root Lenovo S880 or any android devices, Chinese)
- SnapPea (Install this to download Lenovo S880 Driver)
- Bangjamz’s Lenovo Collection (Dropbox)
- Instantaneous GPS Fixation v1.2
- s880_GALAXY_SIII. Hi_Speed_Ver _20120830_01.58.zip (Mirror if the dropbox link downs)
- CWM installation tutorial (Indonesian)
- How to Use CWM (Indonesian)
- Installing new rom (Indonesian)
- Installing ClockWorkMod (must read)
- Flashing S880 (another)
- Updating/Flashing Lenovo S880