Lenovo Phab 2 Review: The Ideal Budget Phablet?

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Phablets are what I would call specialized smartphones that cater to people who don’t mind carrying a huge slab of plastic, glass, and metal with them, so long as they are able to enjoy the glory of watching movies or playing games on a bigger screen. Phones like the Sony Xperia Z Ultra, the LG G Pro 2, the ASUS Zenfone 3 Ultra, and Samsung’s Note Series. These devices are certainly not for everybody, but are still loved by many mainly because of the different, refreshing, and immersive experience that they bring.

As such, Lenovo has seen this segment as a good starting point for their new Phab 2 series. The Phab 2 in particular, sports a 6.4-inch display, a quad-core processor, 3GB of RAM, a potent 4000mAh battery, a sub PhP10,000 price tag, and touts itself as a phablet with Dolby Atmos technology for the best audio experience. So is this the ideal budget phablet? Or would your money be better spent on something else? Let’s find out in this full review.

Design

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The PHAB2 certainly looks like a premium device with soft curves and a matte finish at the back.. But strangely enough, it doesn’t feel like one. It feels flimsy and brittle, like it would break from a 5cm fall. I would even occasionally hear cracking noises when holding the device, like the back isn’t properly attached or something.

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The 6.4-inch display is flat, unlike most other phones today which make use of 2.5D curved glass, which makes it look rather bland.. like it’s worth less than its price. One good thing about it (At least) is that the buttons on the right (Power and Volume Rocker) feels tactile and clicky without any wobbliness, and the capacitive buttons are illuminated.

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At the back of the device is 12MP camera with the Lenovo and Dolby branding, while the speakers placed at the bottom along with the MicroUSB port, and the heaphone jack at the top.

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Display

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The thing that usually makes phablets tick, are their big displays, which are a treat if you’re purpose of buying it is media consumption or gaming. And in the case of the Phab 2, the 6.4-inch HD display certainly passes, but won’t blow you away. Text isn’t as sharp, and some icons look less detailed. Perhaps it was a matter of keeping the price down and the battery life up, but for a screen this big, they could’ve done better.

Performance

Lenovo Phab 2 Specs:

  • MediaTek MT8735 1.3GHz Quad Core Processor
  • 3GB of RAM, 32 GB of Internal Storage Expandable up to 256GB via MicroSD Card
  • 6.4-inch HD IPS LCD
  • 13MP Rear Camera, f/2.0
  • 5MP Front Camera
  • LTE, Dual SIM
  • Android 6.0 Marshmallow
  • 4050mAh Battery

For a device which is supposed to be good at media consumption and gaming, the processing package seems to be underwhelming. And while it performs well on a general usage point of view, the gaming experience is disappointing to say the least.

I tested four games on the Phab 2: DJ Max Technika Q, Asphalt 8, Mobile Legends, and NBA 2K17.

The Phab 2 didn’t have any problems as far as a casual game like Technika Q is concerned. It’s in the more graphic intensive games where it evidently struggles. Sure, you can lower the settings to achieve smoother gameplay, but for a device in this category, I expected it to perform better. Simply put, what’s the point of showing a great game at low settings on a big 6.4-inch screen?

Camera

The 13MP rear shooter isn’t the best camera that you’ll find on a phablet, but it does produce stills with accurate colors and good amounts of detail in good lighting conditions. In low light though, pictures came out really grainy, as expected. The same case is true for the 5MP front-facing camera.

 

Sound

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The Phab 2 boasts the Dolby Atmos technology, which supposedly enhances the sound quality for better listening experience, and it did not disappoint. Both in speaker and when using headphones, this thing sounds fantastic when playing games, listening to music, or watching videos. The bass, treble, detail, everything is there in a good blend.

Software

The Phab 2 comes with Android 6.0 Marshmallow out of the box. Lenovo has chosen to keep most of the elements at stock, which is a good thing, and should equate to improved performance overall. It does come with Netflix and McAfee Security pre-installed, which you can (Fortunately) remove anytime.

The default Camera app doesn’t offer much in terms of settings and shooting modes, but you can always opt to install a 3rd party app to compensate.

Battery

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This is one of the areas where the PHAB2 actually shined (For the most part anyway). The 4050mAh battery managed to yield 10 hours of uptime, while charging from 1% to full took nearly 3 hours, which is quite a long wait.

Verdict

The Lenovo Phab 2 is a capable device in terms of everyday tasks. It offers a good camera, an immersive listening experience, and great battery life. But it fails to perform well in areas that are supposed to be the bread and butter of its class. If you’re a casual user who just prefers a big screen and can deal with playing games at less than the highest settings, then this is a decent choice for the price. But If you don’t mind a smaller display, there are better options out there.

The Good

  • Sound Quality
  • Camera Performance
  • Stock Android

The Not So Good

  • Build Quality
  • Display
  • Gaming Performance

 

 

 

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Emman has been writing technical and feature articles since 2010. Prior to this, he became one of the instructors at Asia Pacific College in 2008, and eventually landed a job as Business Analyst and Technical Writer at Integrated Open Source Solutions for almost 3 years.

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