Lenovo A7000 first impressions: superior sound on a budget

“The Lenovo A7000 is the first smartphone to be loaded with Dolby ATMOS sound. A first look”

Lenovo A7000_1

It was only in January this year that Lenovo launched the A6000 (first impressions), its Rs 6,999 smartphone that was intended to compete against the Xiaomis, ASUSes and Micromaxes of the budget performance space. A little over a month later at MWC in Barcelona, Lenovo introduced the A7000, a beefed-up variant of the A6000 that packs some major improvements under the hood. The key discerning feature of the device is the addition of Dolby ATMOS sound, which Lenovo claims is a first on a smartphone.

At first glance, both smartphones look very similar, with plastic bodies, removable rear shells and row of capacitive Android keys on the fascia below the display. The main physical difference between the two is size. Compared to the handy 5-inch screen on the A6000, the A7000 gets a phablet-certified 5.5-inch display. The resolutions remain the same at 1,280 x 720 pixels, but the pixel density is toned down as a result to 267ppi. Nevertheless, the screen is sharp and vibrant with adequate brightness levels, although we can’t tell you how it fares in sunlight just yet. The thinnish bezels on either side of the display make the phone easy to handle, although those with smaller hands might find it a bit of a struggle.

Lenovo A7000_2 Lenovo A7000_3Lenovo A7000_6 Lenovo A7000_4

Above the display is the earpiece, Lenovo branding, sensors and front 5MP camera. The back panel features a soft-touch finish that doesn’t look too premium, but we’re grateful for the matte finish that keeps fingerprints at bay. The back panel extends over the sides of the screen, packing in the volume rocker and power button on the right, and micro-USB port and audio jack at the bottom. Concealed inside are two micro-SIM card slots, a microSD card slot and a 2,900mAh battery (a significant upgrade over the 2,300mAh unit on the A6000). At the back you’ll find the 8MP primary camera, flash and loudspeaker on the top, and Lenovo branding in the centre.

Lenovo A7000_5

The processing department has also received a bump in specs. While the A6000 is powered by a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 410 chipset, the A7000 is equipped with an octa-core MediaTek MT6752M processor clocked at 1.5GHz. The only downside is that the Snapdragon 410 SoC is 64-bit unlike the MediaTek procesor, although strangely while the A6000 runs KitKat, the A7000 runs the 64-bit compatible Android Lollipop. Both devices get Lenovo’s VIBE UI interface on top, which features colourful icons, Lenovo’s DOit suite of apps, themes and more. In the memory department, the A7000 gets 2GB of RAM, double of what its predecessor offers. Storage is the same at 8GB, and on this display unit, around 3.13GB was user available. The microSD card supports expansion by an additional 32GB. 

Lenovo A7000_8

Like the A6000, the A7000 is 4G-enabled, supporting India’s LTE Band 40. It also gets Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, and A-GPS. Coupled with its roomy display, the Dolby ATMOS sound is intended to make the A7000 a true media-viewing device. The display units at the Lenovo MWC booth only had a few movie trailers pre-loaded, and were hooked up to Sennheiser headphones. The 3D audio experience was impressive, but with the limited testing conditions we can’t provide an overall indication of sound quality. But for those who use their smartphones extensively for media playback, the audio enhancements should come in useful. 

The Lenovo A7000 will go on sale in select markets this month for $169, around Rs 10,400. If Lenovo wants to make a mark with the smartphone, a sub-Rs 10,000 price tag will be necessary, which will put it on even ground with the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4G (review) and YU Yureka (review).