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Lenovo A850 review

Welcome to our In-depth Lenovo A850 Review 🙂



lenovo a850 - 600px

The A850 is the latest and greatest in Lenovo’s roster of mid-range Android smartphones. We’ve previously reviewed other A-series phones including the Lenovo A789 and, most recently, the Lenovo A820.

Each new edition has offered incremental enhancements. So, for example, the A789 was all but identical to the A780 that preceded it apart from a few factors, such as increasing the number of cores, the addition of a front camera, and bumping up the Android version number to Jelly Bean 4.0.4 from Gingerbread.

After that, came the Lenovo A800 which nudged up the CPU speed from 1 GHz to 1.2 GHz but otherwise left everything else pretty much the same apart from an increase in screen size to 4.5″.

The A820 came out in March last year and we were really impressed by it. It provided perhaps the most substantial increase in technical specifications by jumping from dual core to quad core as well as doubling the amount of RAM. It stuck with the 4.5″ screen form factor but nudged up the resolution giving it the highest pixel density in the entire A-series. The only thing we didn’t like about the A820 was that Lenovo got rid of the front camera as well as the flash but it was still an amazing phone for the price.

Next in the a series was the A830 which was just, as you might predict, a slight improvement upon the A820. It came out a few months later and had exactly the same chipset but the screen size was bumped up to 5 inches even though the resolution stayed the same. It also got a slight increase in battery capacity to cope with the bigger screen and Android 4.2.1.

Specs and performance

But here we are, with the A850 in our hands. How does this improve on the previous editions? The way we see it, Lenovo are aiming at the model of consistent marginal improvement that Apple have mastered.

The A850 doesn’t aim to be a radical Kuhnian paradigm shift – it’s basically a clone of the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 and Lenovo are simply slowly but surely nudging things forwards and upwards with each incremental release. So you could say we aren’t exactly looking at the dissolution of the Ptolemaic system or new relativistic way of explaining Newtonian physics.

lenovo a850 antutuIn terms of performance, the A850 doesn’t disappoint. We’ve ready posted a full benchmark video and even compared it to the Galaxy S2 which it completely obliterated.

The 1.3 Ghz quad core A7 processor really makes a difference as does the 533 Mhz Mali-400MP2 GPU and it has to be said that the hardware inside this phone is pretty outstanding. With Antutu scores of over 16,000 it’s hard to fault the performance of the A850 and it can handle most demanding 3D games.

The A850 also comes a hefty 1 GB of RAM, 2 GB of usable storage along with an SD card slot. As already mentioned, the screen is a huge 5.5″ IPS capacitive LCD touchscreeen at 540×960 resolution giving it a pixel density around 200 ppi. The Android version has gone up by the tiniest of notches from 4.2.1 to 4.2.2.

There’s a front facing camera as well as a five megapixel camera on the back of the phone that can take HD videos Of coursem the A850 also includes all the normal connectivity options, radios and senses. It offers wifi, high speed HSPA+ 3G mobile Internet, bluetooth and assisted GPS.

Design and form factor

lenovo a850 form factor

The form factor is pretty standard for Lenovo – it more or less looks like a scaled up version of the A820 or A830. Don’t be deceived though – the extra screen real estate on this 5.5″ inch model does make a real difference in multifarious ways. Not least because it may be too large to comfortably hold in one hand for some people.

While the phone still has the same smooth glistening back and metallic edging, the extra half an inch makes all the difference. That’s what she said. No but seriously, this is a completely different phone from the A820 and even the A830. The display really is humongous. This means that the whole handset comes in at 153.5mm x 79.3mm x 9.5mm and weighs 184g.

The hardware layout is pretty standard for Lenovo. On the front face we’ve got the usual microphone and speaker, proximity sensors and a VGA-resolution front facing camera. At the bottom of the device are three softkeys including the now familiar Lenovo clover pattern in place of the home key. It is a shame that the buttons are not backlit though.

In terms of physical buttons, Lenovo have stuck to having a single power button at the top of the phone and a volume rocker on the right-hand side. This works well although we’re more used to having a volume key on the left-hand side and a power button on the side rather than the top. The edge is completed with a 3.5 mm headphone jack at the top and the now ubiquitous micro-USB slot at the bottom of the phone.

The reserve side looks “professional” in that it’s stylish but with no real flair to speak of. There’s a minimalist Lenovo logo as well as the back camera and flash and a small speaker grille at the bottom of the phone.

Underneath that unassuming cover are the gory innards of the device. This being a Chinese smartphone we have the standard dual SIM slots both of which take standards SIM cards in this case and only one of which can handle 3G speeds. The battery is large although we honestly would have preferred something bit bulkier as it only packs in 2550 mAh. It still lasted easily one day or normal use in our experience though.

Of course there’s also a micro SD card slot for expanding the quite internal memory capacity. Speaking of which, you only get a miserly 2GB of free space meaning you’ll need to use third-party tools to move apps and games to the SD card to make room.


In terms of software, we’re still as impressed as ever about Android Jelly Bean so won’t go into too much detail about all the benefits and features it offers. Unfortunately, Lenovo haven’t been kind enough to provide a purely stock experience and have added plenty of their own apps and tweaks to the phone. Some, such as Lenovo Power are genuinely useful and enhance the experience while others are not so well received.

Lenovo seem to have skinned every aspect of the core Android experience including the Play Store, the File Browser and the weird way that they’ve laid out all the different Settings options. Somehow, they even managed to change the loading animation that applies to every single app.

A nice touch that we appreciated was the way that the notifications have their own separate drop-down arrows that allow you to tweak them individually. And the launcher that Lenovo have included has some nice if basic ways of customising themes, icons, animations, etc. One thing we would have liked to have seen is a proper quick settings interface which is sadly non-existent on the A850 out of the box.

lenovo a850 interface

All the apps we tried worked pretty seamlessly including the camera which has some nice on-screen display overlays providing you with extra information. It also has a brilliant burst mode feature that allows you to take up to ninety-nine shots in quick succession.

Using the phone

lenovo a850 cameraDespite the power under the hood, our major complaint is that the screen is a massive disappointment. And we really can’t emphasise that enough.

We’re not talking Godfather Part III type let downs in that it didn’t really quite live up to the previous editions. We are not even talking the level of disappoint when you find out that Santa Claus is really your parents sneaking around. We’re talking serious, underwhelming, capital-T trauma.

Even worse than when you’re hungover and all you need is nice cup of tea but your freshly brewed cup it ruined by off milk and there’s no way you’re up for getting dressed and schlepping down to the shops. Its poor resolution simply looks crap and dated.

The more we use this phone, the more it got to us. Especially after getting to play around with some of the 1080p full-HD beasts that are doing the rounds these days, it’s a wasted opportunity. We’ve never been particularly quick to complain about being able to see individual pixels on screens and weren’t massively blown away by retina displays, but the poor resolution of the huge screen on the A850 is so bad it is simply distracting.

EDIT (19/02/14): We found a workaround to increase the quality of video playback on YouTube which was one of our main issues with the screen resolution. It turned out that as the phone ships, it’s impossible to view HD videos so the issue of poor pixel density is exacerbated. With this fix in place, the screen is much more usable and doesn’t deserve the condemnation we gave above.

The quality of the camera itself is pretty mediocre with only a five megapixel sensor on the back camera but it’s pretty standard compared to other Lenovo phones with slightly smudged out images when fully zoomed in and lowlight performance that leaves a lot to be desired. Although there doesn’t seem to be any image stabilisation, we were impressed by the incredible lack of shutter lag and the f2.8 aperture is pretty sharp in sunlight.

lenovo a850 camera full frame

lenovo a850 camera crop

Having said that, the video performance is also poor with 1080p videos seemingly just scaled up from 960×540 resolution. The front camera does the job for video chats and selfies but the quality is the bare minimum and you left wanting just a bit more.

We were also disappointed that there’s no magnetic compass sensor even though not everyone has a use for it and the phone doesn’t currently seem to support USB on the go.

lenovo a850 video


There’s no denying that the phone offers incredible value for money. Until every phone has a dual SIM slot we won’t stop raving about how incredibly useful this feature is. It really does make such a massive difference and especially due to the physical size of this phone, it’s a fantastically handy feature.

Once again we’re also loving the scheduled power feature in the settings menu that lets you automatically turn your phone on and off at specific times. The battery life on the A850 is pretty decent – it easily lasts a day but it’s not as outstanding as some of the other Chinese phones we’ve reviewed.

lenovo a850 dual sim

Overall, this is a great phone and the worthy successor to the A820. Despite all the flaws, there’s no denying that it blows away most of the competition in terms of value for money and sheer performance. If you think you can deal with low resolution screen and won’t be using it as your main camera then you be more than satisfied with purchasing the A850.

Especially if you think you’ll find the dual SIM capability useful or can’t afford to splash out half a grand a for top end iPhone or Samsung, you might be surprised how much value for money you get by buying from Lenovo.

In summary, the Lenovo A850 may not be the absolute best Chinese smartphone but it’s certainly one of the best 5.5″ inch models and deserves to be the flagship of Lenovo’s A-series.

Mobile Network Comparison‘s Lenovo A850 rating – 7/10 stars


Main disadvantages

  • Poor screen resolution for a 5.5″ model
  • Probably one of the worst cameras we’ve seen recently and definitely the worst video recording quality..
  • Small internal memory and could do with a bigger battery.
  • No USB-OTG.


Main advantages

  • Much cheaper than equivalent smartphones.
  • The super useful dual SIM ports.
  • Antutu benchmarks over 16,000 from its 1.3 Ghz quad core processor and Mali GPU.

Have you tried the Lenovo A850 or any other Lenovo mobile phones? Would you consider buying one? And what do you want us to review next? If you have any questions or comments about this the Lenovo A850, custom ROMs or this review in general, please let us know in the comments below.

[ois skin=”MNC 1.2″]

by Jon M

43 Responses to “Lenovo A850 review”

  1. daniel 14 August 2016 at 17:31 Permalink

    This phone mostly reliable for me likely the price.But the ads and unwanted app install itself without any downloading.This happen because the official factory ROM is infected with virus were in system app.So to make this problem solved I decided to flashing it with Lenovo a850 s203 ROM because the excellent security rom for avoid malware and virus and don’t install ROW because app were you download can’t install at USB storages/SD card.The storage is small about 1Gb and 2Gb usable.I flashing/install lenovo a850 s203 ROM and follow the steps to flashing and create scatter.txt.I say if you want to try hahaa.untill now my phone work fines.

  2. Rabi 12 March 2016 at 14:55 Permalink

    hello,my phone stuck up on the logo when i “ON” my phone,so can i know what is the problem and the solution for my phone

  3. juan motta 15 December 2015 at 01:24 Permalink

    Hi, i want to know if is posible to install android 5 in this device because i have problems, the internal memory is full and i can´t repair that, i also use link2sd app and is not a solution.

  4. krizzle 24 November 2015 at 12:13 Permalink

    Hi Sir/Ma’am,

    my lenovo front camera is not working.. I would like on how i can i fix it?its always hung if we select the front camera.. Hoping for your response.

    Thank you

  5. lisa 29 October 2015 at 20:52 Permalink

    lenovo a850 smartphone .problems no data bar and no connection display on the screen….any advise…thanks

  6. Ann 21 October 2015 at 10:00 Permalink

    My lenovo A850 cannot detect one of my sim card. When I want to use it, it shows MOBILE DATA NOT AVAILABLE.

    How can I solve it?

    • Mobile Network Comparison 21 October 2015 at 17:08 Permalink

      Have you tried other SIMs in the same slot?

      • Ann 22 October 2015 at 01:41 Permalink

        Yep. I’ve already tried it. But it’s not working.

        For your information, 1 slot i used for CELCOM & 1 slot i used for MAXIS.

        MAXIS is working.

        CELCOM is not working.

  7. a.P 21 October 2015 at 09:09 Permalink

    i has root my lenovo a850., but i was delete the system application., so now i cant receive text message., how can i recovery my phone system without PC..? And i forget to backup before i delete .. i was so confused.., can u help me..??

  8. Nirazz 20 May 2015 at 08:56 Permalink

    my lenovo A850 always gets laggy everytime after opening the camera and it comes to normal once the screen is turned off and turned on again everytime.What might be the reason and any possible suggestions??

  9. simcha 13 January 2015 at 19:28 Permalink

    i saw a site that said something about unlocking the device. is that connected?

  10. simcha 13 January 2015 at 03:51 Permalink

    i just bought a lenovo a850plus .no matter which way i put the simcard in ,it doesn’t seem to recognize it. any ideas?

  11. Adit kemojo 19 November 2014 at 13:07 Permalink

    Does this phone smoothly runs asphalt8?

  12. sergio 7 November 2014 at 21:09 Permalink

    cannot do that , is it possible to send you my phone and you do that and ship it back to me please.

  13. Ajoke 27 September 2014 at 18:48 Permalink

    I got this phone lenovo A850,everything seems to be doing great but my major problem is the device is not supporting Google play service and some apps is not working, I tried getting through with the technical support it’s not helping no one seems to know what to do, so how can I get this service waking because right now am not enjoying the phone, thanks, will appreciate if am being reply of what to do nd getting it strengthen out. Thanks.

  14. nazim 21 September 2014 at 13:16 Permalink

    i have problem. i can’t add google account,then when i finsh the email and password then ‘can’t establish a reliable connection to the sever’ but i was connect to my wifi…

  15. fnizam 19 July 2014 at 17:20 Permalink

    Hi i just bought the phone and considering the price that I get MYR390 (USD 110 estimated, with the performance except the camera , its still acceptable .

    I realized that if the phone has went into sleep mode, the only way for me to switch it on is by pressing the power button. And this is the only button that I can press. Unlike other model that I.could just click any button i.e volume, home button to activate it. How do I change or set the setting so that I could press any button to switch it on?
    Asking for advice


  16. Link 14 July 2014 at 01:39 Permalink

    You have allowed people to become infected with malware on the usb drivers for A850 phone?

    Filename: awh129b.tmp
    Threat name: Trojan.ADH
    Full Path: c:usersappdatalocaltempawh129b.tmp


    Unknown Community Usage,  Unknown Age,  Risk High

    Downloaded from

    Actions performed: Actions performed: 1


    On computers as of 
    14/07/2014 at 01:27:39

    Last Used 
    14/07/2014 at 01:27:39

    Startup Item 



    It is unknown how many users in the Norton Community have used this file.

    This file release is currently not known.

    This file risk is high.

    Threat type: Virus. Programs that infect other programs, files, or areas of a computer by inserting themselves or attaching themselves to that medium.


    Source: External Media


    File Actions

    File: c:userstappdatalocaltemp awh129b.tmp Blocked

    File Thumbprint – SHA:
    File Thumbprint – MD5:
    Not available

  17. Brian 8 July 2014 at 08:34 Permalink

    M8 sat nav works ok on it so does google maps. don’t know about the magnetometer, maybe thats the problem.

  18. Mobile Network Comparison 8 July 2014 at 08:28 Permalink

    It’s just compass ones? Do GPS apps work okay? Has it even got a magnetometer?

  19. Brian 8 July 2014 at 08:18 Permalink

    yes plenty of other apps uploaded and work fine but not compass ones,

  20. Brian 7 July 2014 at 11:30 Permalink

    I have put various compass apps on this phone but they dont work, is there one that works on it? or maybe it cannot support one.

  21. jagathishan 18 May 2014 at 20:33 Permalink

    Hi frn how to update device in new virison

  22. riccardo 11 March 2014 at 22:50 Permalink

    Yes. We’ll wairt for the fix link! 🙂

  23. Christos 6 March 2014 at 13:28 Permalink

    Could you please be so kind and share with us the Fix for the Youtube ? Tnank you in advance !

  24. Bill 10 February 2014 at 10:58 Permalink

    Yes, I bought this for my son who wanted a larger screen for browsing. I didn’t want to spend a lot as it would be with him at school and he has dropped a few before with expected results.

    We have found no problem at all with the screen, which is clear and bright. Browsing is very fast. Haven’t tried the camera, though the enhanced Lenovo camera app does work (but not on the A820). The only real let down has been the inability to transfer things to the SC card (large games files mainly). Although Folder mount is supposed to work, we could not get it to function. The meant replacing the stock ROW ROM with the Linerty version which allows this transfer process. This was a very easy process.

    It should be noted that the phones that only have the Chinese/English ROM do allow the transfer of files to external memory as they have a different set up of the memory (from what i have read).

    For the price, it’s fantastic though the problem was fitting (expensive) screen protectors.

    • Mobile Network Comparison 10 February 2014 at 12:46 Permalink

      Thanks for the report!

      How come the screen protectors were expensive? They usually come with some free and they shouldn’t be more than a few pence anyway.

      • Bill 10 February 2014 at 13:45 Permalink

        The only UK place is a chap on ebay at £2.70ish for 3; went through 5 before one was acceptable…. They just aren’t as easy to find as the ones for the A820 (or the Z10- 99p for 10!).

        As for the screen once again, I think that you are being harsh; I much prefer this and the A820 screen to that on the Moto G (Lenovos’s new baby).

        • Mobile Network Comparison 10 February 2014 at 14:19 Permalink

          Are there not generic 5.5″ screen protectors then?

          The screen seemed to be worse when watching YouTube – for some reason you can’t get better quality than 480p which looks awful. It just doesn’t seem like there’s any good reason to compromise on the resolution with such a large screen for the sake of some pennies…

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