Look out folks, here comes the big, bad Pro! The Lenovo Phab 2 Pro is for Augmented Reality junkies who can’t wait to escape this boring world and its equally boring people for one where impossible really means nothing and the available possibilities are totally seamlessly limitless. The first mobile device to come with the ultra ambitious and innovative Google Tango AR software, it is an incredibly exciting and sobering experience. Which however is somewhat let down by the inconsistent quality and lack of finishing of the few VR apps and games available presently, as well as average device performance.
That said, it is still a pleasantly amazing piece of work, which while not quite meshing in execution and practice feels like a marvelous beginning. And provides something to eagerly and enviously look forward to as it inevitably flowers, matures and starts producing juicy fruits. To do proper justice to its AR design purpose, it comes near bigger than a TV screen and equipped with not one, not two, but three cameras, along with a host of other exotic hardware and software.
In case you are wondering what it is like in actual practice and usage, kindly read our Lenovo Phab 2 Pro review to find out if a mobile trip to Neverland is your idea of fun.
Design and Build Quality
The Lenovo Phab 2 is big, beautiful and menacing, just like one of those velociraptors it is fond of projecting for our entertainment. It’s so big it definitely encroaches right into tablet territory, and fails to fit into the pockets of much of my varied attire. Lugging it around is a chore, yet the heft ensures a secure, confident grip and feel. It’s made of a metallic aluminum unibody design that measure 7.1 x 3.5 x 0.4 inches, while it near breaks the scales at 9.1 ounces.
The device feels, looks and acts premium, while being sturdy and impressively eye-candy with a stylishly curvy back. Available colors are two only and comprise gunmetal gray and magnificent champagne gold, with the latter being our favorite.
On the right side of the device, you get the power and volume buttons, while at the top sits an audio jack and an ear-speaker. On the left are two slots for SIM cards. One of which conveniently doubles as the SD card slot, with a maximum of 256 GB being supported. At the bottom end, rests the micro-USB port, mic, and dual speakers which output loud and decent enough audio.
The back of the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro is where all the fun is at, with the main camera, depth sensor, motion tracking sensor, fingerprint sensor and the fish-eye sensor for Tango functionality. All these require time to wrap your head and fingers around, let alone use. And I often found it necessary to turn the device around and place my finger right on the fingerprint sensor to unlock the phone, rather than letting my fingers wander endlessly on the back searching wistfully for it.
This is a gargantuan 6.4-inch IPS LCD with 2560 X 1440 resolution, which works out to 459 ppi, and produces incredibly vivid and punchy colors, details and finish. At maximum brightness, outdoor usability is great, but glare from the screen can limit usability. With such a massively, capable and addictive screen, videos just beg to be watched, and watch we did!
The main shooter is a 16 MP sensor with f2.2 aperture, which takes average but good enough footage. Under low-lit environments, however, camera performance drastically degrades to the point of being unusable.
The front camera is an 8 MP sized shooter for individual and group selfies, and performs adequately enough. As long as you use it in bright environments, only that is, as like its big brother it really fears the dark. 4K video recording is not supported by either of the cameras. Nor is optical image stabilization, which made it hard for me to record at a wedding I had been invited to, due to alcohol and nerves-induced jitters.
Overall, camera usability and performance is poor for such a big and pricey device and one of the most disappointing things about the Pro 2.
Performance and Connectivity
OS is the Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow, with some Lenovo customization applied with a careful hand, along with some non-installable but still useful bloatware. The Lenovo monster packs a modest eight-core Snapdragon 652 chipset that does battle at 1.8 GHZ, and utilizes a reasonably sufficient 4 GB of RAM, while the graphical output is handled by an Adreno 510 GPU. 64 GB of internal storage -50.74 available out of the box- is available. This can be multiplied with the use of an SD card of up to 256 GB capacity if necessary. When utilized, the SD card is treated as one of the family and an internal part of the phone courtesy of the Android Adoptable Storage feature.
Connectivity options include 3G and 4G LTE, dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, but no NFC folks. Packing such reasonably powerful specs, the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro is clearly no slouch and multitasks like a champ. Even with multiple social media apps dancing the jig in the background, while I assassinated a slew of aliens in my fav FPS shooter, it never stuttered nor lagged.
Call quality is really good and the volume levels loud, but using headphones for audio listening is recommended for best effect. Due to its sheer size, the phone can be overwhelming for some users and really difficult to use one-handed. Unless of course, you have bear paws like I do, then it is Eden reloaded.
Similarly, performance with the Tango was mixed as some VR apps and games lagged, stuttered and drooled, while a few others wowed and awed us. With the reported multitude of VR apps and games to be added this year we hope this can be rectified and the Tango platform speedily transformed from a tantalizing if a jerky glimpse of a future tech to splendid everyday reality.
A hugely capable 4,050 mAh monster, which is too often slew by juice-slopping VR apps and games. When used moderately, though, I was usually able to get over a day’s worth of usage out of it. Qualcomm Quick charging is additionally supported, which tops up your device in around an hour and a half.
At $499 it certainly is pricey, and the poor cameras and poorly implemented VR features certainly disappoints. The size too is a concern, but if you want to take a peek at the future, then a Lenovo Phab 2 Pro can be rather good binoculars for the purpose. As long as you have large hands and modest expectations -for now at least- of course.