There a lot riding on a phone like the Lenovo k800. For starters, it’s the first serious mobile offering from Lenovo with aspirations of coming to the US. It’s also the first phone to run Intel’s x86 Medfield chip. So, with companies like nVidia, Qualcomm, and Samsung all preparing the next wave of ARM-based chips, the K800 also needs to show that is has enough muscle to stay relevant, and enough battery power to last. We spent some time with the K800 during CES 2012 to see how it could hold up against the current crop of devices. HardwareLenovo has taken their flair for design and applied it directly to their K800. The phone is pretty much a brick when you pick it up, the back’s angles allow your hands to seat the phone pretty comfortably though. Considering Motorola’s recent angular design and what we’ve seen from the K800, it looks like Medfield phones are going to stand out a bit as the “unique” ones in the class. The phone is just about the same length and width as the Galaxy Nexus, but a good deal thicker in most parts. Smaller hands will probably not have a lot of love for this phone. What it lacks in beauty, it more than makes up for in being almost as light as the Galaxy Nexus, and just as sturdy feeling. There are three capacitive buttons across the bottom of the device that are not as clear as the standard buttons in terms of what they actually do, but after you jump that temporary learning curve the experience is the same, and the buttons are very responsive. The screen on the K800 is certainly above par. It is capable of deep blacks and rich colors, and none of those pesky subpixels to be found. In a side by side comparison, I found the Galaxy Nexus to show slightly brighter colors, but certainly nothing that would be noticed in day to day use. Basically, the screen on the K800 is solid. Software and PerformanceThe K800 is absolutely saturated in Lenovo’s UI for Android. I’m positive that if you were to hand a stock Android device and a K800 to an average user, they would swear it was a different OS entirely. Every menu, every option, every screen was heavily modified to the Lenovo UI. Some of these changes, like the homescreen, were awkward and not very obvious to use. As a first time user who had been a Stock Android user, the change was awkward at best. Some elements, like the music, photos, and movies manager were an amazingly intuitive re-design. These managers assemble content into piles on the screen based on shared content types like artist or genre. Flipping through the piles was not only easy, but didn’t feel like it was adding any work to the process of finding the song or photo. Provided Lenovo has a decent startup walkthrough, the Lenovo UI could be a huge plus to heavy media users. The most impressive part of the Lenovo UI was the performance. For such a heavily themes version of Android to flow just as smoothly as a Galaxy Nexus, you can clearly see the Medfield chip shining in this. Not just navigation, either. When playing movies you could seek around with zero lag, there was basically no load time when looking though piles of photos, every part of the phone was equally snappy and flawless. If this is an indication of things to come, ARM manufacturers had better be paying close attention. Final ThoughtsI have some reservations about the Medfield chip in a practical, day-to-day setting. This demonstration was amazing, but the US models of Medfield devices will have to bolt on things like LTE to even be considered relevant. By the time Medfield devices hit the states, three of the four major US carriers will be showing off LTE-powered phones and the big question on everyone’s mind when it comes to those devices will be battery life.Intel had played a solid hand, and it is possible that x86 phones will become a real competitor in the market, but we’ve still yet to see real world Tegra 3, Exynos, or Krait phones, and we know they are on the way this year. The K800 makes a solid argument for the future of Intel in the mobile space, and I think the next 12 months in mobile are looking more and more interesting every day.