There have been many requests for upgrade to Android 4.4 and many angry users who demanded it in the official Lenovo smartphone forum. In the end of June Lenovo admin finally announced that the update is supposed to come in July. It looked to good to be true, but the update actually started rolling out via OTA update in the end of July.
The update brings the Lenovo S920 to Android version 4.4.2 (KitKat, yes). In Lenovo language the new version is S920_ROW_S220_140722 and it replaces S920_ROW_S122_140519, which was still Android 4.2.2. It’s not Googles’ version, but the one Lenovo has “upgraded” with its own features, including software that supports dual SIM.
The update is actually not really an update, but a complete ROM. The installation flashes the phone, so all the data in the phone memory (excluding SD card) is lost during the upgrade. Was this really necessary? As you’ll see in this article, there was one huge improvement because of this.
And to be fair, the upgrade gives a warning that all the data will be deleted and that a backup should be made. I made a backup of all available items (phone book, recent calls list, SMS messages, apps), but when I tried to recover, the option to recover apps was missing. Which means installing the apps from Google Play.
The update with the ROM is big. The download is 700 MB and it takes some time to download from the Lenovo servers. There is an option to pause the download and continue it later, which is helpful when you have to go somewhere with no WiFi in the middle of download.
After the download there is an option to delay the upgrade or do it ASAP. The upgrade showed some warnings but apart from that went completely smoothly. Some users on the forum report having some problems with it.
After the install I was a little surprised to see a completely new home screen, new icons, new software (and no apps), new ways to unlock and lock the phone, new camera,… Lots of things.
So what features does KitKat bring to Lenovo S920?
In a week of use, some of the features are nice, some aren’t. The phone seems a little slower, but I have no numbers to back that up. I’m sure the camera is much, much slower. Lets take a look at positive things and then the negative ones.
- The update repartitiones the phone. This means you can use all 4 GB of free space for apps. As a side effect, the memory is big enough and apps can be installed freely without running out of space after 10 apps! Great!
- Phonebook is fixed and searching now always works.
- Setting menu is now all at one place, smartly putting all “feature” settings to a new tab. Things can be found much faster in the settings now.
- Lenovo security is pre-installed.
- For me, Google Calendar now syncs like it’s supposed to, so all the events are visible.
- New Camera app is packed with features, filters and interesting extensions like panorama or HDR.
- Gallery app looks more interesting but it takes some time to get used to. It features “portrait mode” where it finds the faces of the people on the photos and “landscape mode” where it finds landscape. These features don’t work so well, there is many miscategorized photos. Probably the feature needs some learning before it can yield good results.
- Theme gallery to change the way the phone looks. However, the gallery has only one or two items in each category, so maybe this will be useful in the future.
- Camera is very slow to load. This means worse shots if you’re not prepared.
- There is no way to see the content of the status (notification) bar when the phone is locked – you first have to unlock it and then slide down to see the notifications.
- Lenovo security is pre-installed and it can’t be removed or disabled.
- The stock News and Weather app and widget are missing and I can+’t find them in Google Play either.
- Some apps are not working as they crash instantly (for example Sonfigy by Smule).
- There is no more stock Browser – only Chrome browser and UC browser.
- In the Lenovo launcher I couldn’t find the “all apps” button. It seems that all apps are set on desktop and that’s the only way to access them. If you want to remove it, you uninstall it. I’m not sure about this, because I have manually installed Google Now Launcher.
- Different direction for unlocking the screen, taking calls, rejecting calls. Why does it have to be different?
Even if the lists aren’t equal in length, there is still many more and more important positive things, so the update was a correct decision for me. I have a new phone (software-wise) and I’m (again) happy with it.