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Lenovo Phab2 Plus Review – The tablet sized phone

Lenovo seems to continue its phablet line by releasing another bunch of its second generation of Phab series, the Lenovo Phab2 Plus which is a tablet sized phone. Or I can say it’s a tablet with smartphone features, either way, this smartphone could be meant for those who wants a large tablet sized phone. Lenovo Phab2 Plus is a 6.4-inch phone featuring dual cameras on the back. Here’s our Lenovo Phab2 Plus review.

What’s in the box

  • Lenovo Phab2 Plus with built-in battery
  • JBL Hybrid wired headset
  • Micro USB Cable
  • Power Brick
  • SIM Tray Ejector Pin
  • User Manuals and Warranty Card

Lenovo Phab2 Plus Specifications

  • Display: 6.4-inch Full HD IPS Display (1920 x 1080 pixels resolution | 344 ppi pixel density) covered with 2.5D curved glass
  • Fingerprint Scanner: Yes, on the back
  • Software: Android 6.0 Marshmallow
  • CPU: Up to 1.3 GHz octa-core processor, MediaTek MT8783 SoC
  • GPU: ARM Mali-T720
  • Memory: 3 GB LPDDR3 RAM
  • Storage: 32 GB internal storage, MicroSD support up to 256 GB
  • Main Camera: Dual 13 MP f/2.0, laser autofocus, PDAF, Dual-LED flash, 1080p @30fps
  • Front Camera: 8 MP f/2.2, 1080p @30fps
  • Connectivity: Micro USB, 3.5 mm stereo jack, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0, A-GPS
  • Cellular: 4G LTE, Hybrid SIM Tray, Dual Micro + Nano SIM (GSM + GSM), or Micro SIM + MicroSD Slot
  • Battery: 4,050 mAh Li-Ion (non-removable)
  • Dimensions: 173.9 mm x 88.3 mm x 9.6 mm
  • Weight: 218 grams
  • Colors: Gunmetal Grey, Champagne Gold
  • Price: ₹14,999
  • Warranty: 1 Year

Design and Build

The Lenovo PHAB 2, not a flagship from the Lenovo Phab lineup, but a midrange device priced at ₹14,999. A big plus point is its 6.4-inch display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. Hence, the phone is big to hold in one hand. It may not be comfortable due to its large display.

Talking about the design, it is made out of a solid metal shell and the front is covered with 2.5D curved glass. Build quality is flawless, it feels solid in the hands. Since it’s a large device to carry around (218 grams), you will need a bigger pocket to put in.

The 4,050 mAh battery isn’t removable due to its unibody design. The battery capacity may sound a little bit small considering that it has a huge display that draws the power. 4000 mAh nowadays is found on 5 and 5.5 inchers. Its main competitor is the Xiaomi Mi Max which is also priced the same and sized in the same category i.e. 6.44-inch.

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Large 6.4-Inch Display

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2.5D Curved Glass
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Touch Buttons Are Backlit

As dual cameras are emerging, Lenovo also jumped on the dual cameras bandwagon featuring dual 13 MP cameras on the back with laser autofocus. This could be the cheapest smartphone with dual cameras as of now. Please note that its primary competitor Xiaomi Mi Max is only having single camera setup, so this could be an edge for Phab2 Plus. On the flipside, it comes with an 8 MP front camera.

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Dual 13 MP Cameras

On the top, you have a 3.5 mm headphone jack and a microphone. Phab2 Plus is bundled with JBL Hybrid stereo headset. On the bottom, you can see two speaker grill, however, the left one is for microphone and the right one is the loudspeaker. It uses Micro USB instead of Type-C port.

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The side metallic frames are strong. The right side has the power and volume buttons. Phab2 Plus has got a Hybrid SIM tray. It can hold one Micro SIM and one Nano SIM, both GSM. Otherwise, one Micro SIM and one MicroSD card for storage expansion. It comes with 32 GB onboard storage and can be expanded up to 256 GB. Lenovo Phab2 Plus supports 4G network and it is VoLTE-enabled.

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Display

The large 6.4-inch full HD IPS display can be easily differentiated from the competition. It has a black border all around the screen that takes some screen space. Its 6.4-inch is protected by a 2.5D curved Gorilla glass. Playing games is fun on the big screen, multimedia experience is amazing, it uses Dolby Atoms for a rich audio experience.

The viewing angles are good but not great. As the display is reflective, you may not be able to read text clearly. The colors and text are crisp and good. Brightness levels are bright enough indoors, but due to the reflective screen, it may be a little bit problem while reading outdoors.

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It’s stockish Android software doesn’t offer much options to tweak the display, you can choose the color temperature and saturation levels to customize the display quality.

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Software and User Interface

The software on the Lenovo Phab2 Plus looks a lot like stock Android. It is based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow and it’s slightly modified by Lenovo, but gives you the stock Android feel anyway. As you can see, I received a system update that fixed a few things in the software. It uses 5th October 2016 security patch after the update.

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What you won’t see in the user interface is its the lack of app drawer on the homescreen as seen in the other Lenovo smartphones. This one has both homescreen as well as the App drawer alongside. Besides, no bloatware is found on the phone, everything is pretty neat.

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On using the phablet in the landscape mode, it recognizes your hand, i.e. whether you swipe the notification bar from left hand or right hand. That’s similar to the tablet interface, things are mixed well in the software to give you a tablet-like experience.

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The software also has a one-hand mode, which further aids you when you use the phablet in one hand. Other shortcuts and gestures like double tap to wake wp, Smart Answer, Floating control, and others. The interface is similar to Lenovo Vibe P1 Turbo.

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With its Dolby Atmos integration, it can deliver a one of the finest audio quality on a phone. A great audio experience will make your multimedia experience even better. You have four presets to choose from – Movie, Music, Game, and Voice.

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The fingerprint scanner on the Phab2 Plus is on the back while the Vibe series uses on the home button. The scanner placement is fine, it fits my finger perfectly. Lenovo Phab2 Plus has one of the fastest fingerprint scanners I have seen. It supports a maximum of 5 fingerprints at a time. Just that it doesn’t support fingerprint gestures and doesn’t work with wet fingers, else this would have been the best fingerprint scanner for its price.

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Hardware, Performance and Gaming

On the performance side, it is backed up with a MediaTek MT8783 SoC. It is powered by a 1.3 GHz octa-core Cortex-A53 processor along with ARM’s Mali-T720 graphics processing unit. The CPU performance is entry level but not even near to the Snapdragon 650 found on the Xiaomi’s Mi Max.

The CPU can be used for daily tasks but intensive tasks and multi-tasking can lead to slow down the device. The phablet interface has no lags, thanks to the stock Android. However, almost 50% of the RAM is used by the system itself and you get 1.5 GB RAM free.

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Benchmark results are average. We benchmarked with AnTuTu, Geekbench 4, and Quadrant. Here are the results.

AnTuTu Benchmark

  • 39,481 points

Geekbench 4

  • 608 points (singlecore CPU)
  • 2,522 points (multicore CPU)
  • 1,433 points (GPU)

Quadrant

  • 22,657 points

The numbers are below its main competitor, Xiaomi Mi Max. Snapdragon 650 on Mi Max is a midrange CPU beating the entry level octa-core MediaTek MT8783 CPU on Phab2 Plus.

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As you saw the CPU is an entry level, the GPU is also weak for gaming. Expect to run games that require fewer GPU resources. Games like Angry Birds Friends, Trials Frontier, BADLAND2, Angry Birds Rio runs completely fine. Some high-end games like N.O.V.A 3 may struggle. The gaming performance is average.

Games Tested on Lenovo Phab2 Plus

  • Angry Birds Friends
  • Trials Frontier
  • BADLAND2
  • Angry Birds Rio
  • World of Tanks Blitz

Storage and Connectivity

The Lenovo Phab2 Plus is backed up with a 32 GB storage on board, plus it can be expanded with MicroSD. Around 24 GB free space is there for use.

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We also benchmarked its storage, and here are the results.

A1 SD Bench

  • 67.93 MB/s Read
  • 76.26 MB/s Write

AndroBench

  • 238.45 MB/s (Sequential Read)
  • 67.87 MB/s (Sequential Write)
  • 21.85 MB/s (Random Read)
  • 10.15 MB/s (Random Write)

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Cameras

Lenovo Phab2 Plus is the first smartphone in the Phab series to feature dual cameras. It is equipped with dual 13 MP f/2.0 cameras on the rear end with laser autofocus and dual-tone LED Flash. The camera lacks optical image stabilization and at this price, it is expected. The front has an 8 MP f/2.2 camera.

Camera Specifications

  • Camera: Dual 13 MP, f/2.0, laser autofocus
  • Optical Image Stabilization (OIS): N/A
  • Rear Flash: Dual-tone LED Flash
  • Features: Geo-tagging, Tap to Focus, HDR, AR (Augmented Reality), Pro, Dual Camera, Group Selfie, Panorama, Night
  • Video Recording: Up to 1080p@30 FPS
  • Front Camera: 8 MP, f/2.2
  • Video Recording: Up to 1080p @30fps
  • Front Flash: N/A

The camera interface supports a few camera modes only, Phab2 Plus has not many options to offer. It has a new mode called AR (Augmented Reality) similar to what I have seen in the Sony Xperia Z5, it adds animated objects in the image to create augmented reality effects. The Dual camera is also used to refocus the object after it’s taken. More options on the interface are – HDR, Group Selfie, Panorama, and Night mode. No Slow motion, Time lapse, and OIS supported.

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Lenovo Phab2 Plus Camera Samples

Camera quality from the Dual 13 MP is good but don’t expect anything better just because the phablet has dual cameras. The daylight shots come with good balanced colors and details. The camera shutter isn’t quick at capturing photos. Focusing is another small issue, sometimes it isn’t accurate. The low light photos are weak. Same with a front camera, low light shots aren’t that well. But yeah, the front camera takes decent selfies in daylight.

Let’s talk about its dual camera features, it has AR (Augmented Reality) and Refocus. The AR mode takes shots with animated objects like cats, dogs, and others. It simulates the objects to interact with the real world. Let’s say you have a bed, the cat appears like sitting on the bed. Not as good as Sony’s but well for its price.

On the other hand, the Refocus is more like refocusing the object later after capturing the image. I have used it and somehow it is weird, it sometimes doesn’t work correctly or only if you managed to capture a proper photo. I have no issues with the depth of field on Honor 8 and HUAWEI P9, in fact, they are a great bunch to use. But, in the case of Lenovo, the Refocus doesn’t work well, not just that, the camera resolution is also reduced. I hope Lenovo could work on the software part to make it better.

Battery Runtime

With a large screen can play an important role in draining the battery life, Lenovo Phab2 Plus doesn’t drain too much battery on minimal use given that it has a 6.4-inch display. It sports a 4,050 mAh battery which can be average for its size and price but a larger battery would definitely be better.

Surfing on the web, social networking on Facebook and Instagram, as well as messaging, YouTube, and playing music occasionally can last a day easily. The battery can run through the day on mixed usage and a little bit more but long gaming hours and watching movies can drain the battery fast and the result is considered as average.

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Used Occasionally On Single SIM

Lenovo Phab2 Plus Battery Test Results

Tasks/Apps/GamesBattery usedRuntimeBrightnessWireless
1080p Video3%20 minutesAutoOff (Wi-Fi, GPS, Mobile Data)
YouTube (720p)4%20 minutesAutoOn (Wi-Fi)
Trials Frontier8%20 minutesAutoOn (Wi-Fi)
BADLAND 27%20 minutesAutoOn (Wi-Fi)
Angry Birds Friends5%20 minutesAutoOn (Wi-Fi)
Music Playback (Offline)2%1 HourAutoOff (Wi-Fi, GPS, Mobile Data)
Music Steaming (Online) - SoundCloud3%30 minutesAutoOn (Wi-Fi)
Facebook App6%20 minutesAutoOn (Wi-Fi)

Verdict

The screen is large and crisp, and multimedia experience is far better as compared to 5.5-inch IPS screens. Its Dolby Atoms gives you rich audio experience. What’s isn’t surprising is that the CPU can be a little bit weak especially if you perform heavy multitask. Better to go with Xiaomi Mi Max if you want to play better games and heavy intensive apps.

For its camera, the dual cameras can be a gimmick, or it can be more like Lenovo has just started out with dual cameras. The camera is overall fine but not to expect more from it. Lastly, the battery life isn’t appealing, which just runs a day on moderate use.

Taking all things into consideration, this phablet can be a real deal for you if you love a large screen and the brand image. Wish to spend ₹15,000 on a phablet, look for Xiaomi Mi Max if you want raw power and better battery backup. Also, the software environment on Mi Max is user-friendly.

Competitors

Strength

  • Decent build quality
  • Very fast fingerprint scanner
  • Big Screen is a plus
  • Rich audio experience with Dolby Atoms

Weakness

  • Average Battery Life
  • Bulky

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