When CECT-Shop asked us to review the Lenovo Phab 2 Plus, we were scratching behind our ears. A phablet, is there really a market for this? The Xiaomi Mi Max was released earlier and is a direct competitor for the Lenovo Phab 2 Plus. In China, where both smartphones are manufactured, phablets are very popular and it seems like the hype is coming to the western market too with launches of the Apple iPhone 7 Plus and the ZTE Z Max Pro. So what to expect from this huge 6.44 inch device? Let’s find out…
As always, CECT-Shop shipped this smartphone well wrapped like CECT-Shop always do. The package of the Lenovo Phab 2 Plus, is big..not just big…we mean really big compared to the packages we normally receive. The packaging is white with blue accents, a productrender on top of it and specifications on the back. After opening the package we found out the reason why the package was so big, in the box on top of the Phab 2 Plus is the adapter placed while on the bottom the MicroUSB cable is placed together with a JBL headset. Futhermore, below the smartphone a manual is placed together with a simtray pin. CECT-Shop added a checklist of the phone to it and a separate EU converter to the shipmentpackage.
Design and building quality
After unboxing the Lenovo Phab 2 Plus we really loved its build quality and design. The smartphone feels very well made but feels a bit uncomfortable in the hands due to its size and weight. The device has a size of 173.9 x 88.5 x 9.6mm and weighs 218 grams. Forget an one-hand operation, almost every operation will be done with both of the hands. Your reviewer has some big hands which means the operation and calling goes without a problem. A person with small hands can has some challenges with it though. Another side effect of these kinda sizes is that it won’t fit in your jeans pocket, so a bag or jacketpocket is necessary to store the phone.
Back to the design itself, the Lenovo Phab 2 Plus has an aluminium unibody with a 2.5D 6.44 inch Full HD display on the front and comes with really big bezels, which some may not like, but it doesn’t really hamper the looks of the smartphone. Below the display you will find the three illuminated capacitive buttons to operate your device.
Turning down to the bottom, there is the MicroUSB port placed with two grills which coves the microphone and mono speaker (more about the speaker later). On the left side you will find the hybrid dual SIM tray which can also being used to expand the storage by MicroSD, over the right side the powerbutton with a pattern to recognize the button by your fingertips and the volumerockers. On top you can find the 3.5mm audiojack. Finally on the back there is a dual rear camera setup which which placed vertically on the back, with the flash and laser AF between the two cameras. Overall the Lenovo Phab 2 Plus has an unique, solid design despite its size.
Ofcourse the first thing you will notice on the smartphone is the 6.44 inch FullHD display which has a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. The display isn’t the brightest which also affects the use in direct sunlight. The viewing angles are very good by the way. When looking to the color reproduction it is very good and the display has a 344 ppi pixel density. Furthermore the black levels are good which is very pleasant when watching movies for example.
On the inside there is a MediaTek MT8783 octa-core chipset, along with 3GB of RAM and an ARM Mali-T720 MP3 GPU. It’s a pity that Lenovo has chosen for this configuration, the smartphone now feels a bit sluggish during daily tasks and lags during heavy gaming and multi-tasking. The sluggishness is also confirmed during our Antutu Test were the Lenovo Phab 2 Plus only gets a score of 38463.
The Lenovo Phab 2 Plus has a fingerprintsensor on the back and performs as expected. Furthermore the device comes with 32GB of internal storage which can be expanded upto 128GB. Other features are dual SIM support which is a hybrid setup for the MicroSD card and supports nano SIM cards. A big device comes with a big battery, the Lenovo Phab 2 Plus features a 4050mAh battery which helped us through the day with normal to above normal use. Not bad, but with such big battery we were expecting a longer battery life than just one day.
A more highlight for us is the speaker setup. The Lenovo Phab 2 Plus has Dolby Atmos audio which should give you surround sound. Unfortunately Lenovo has chosen to use a single speaker which means it won’t produce the sound as expected from a Dolby Atmos supported device but it still sounds very good in our opinion. The sound was loud and clear and it’s very nice to watch some Netflix movies with it. The JBL headphones that were added in the package perform above average for normal users and have a comfortable fit.
According to Lenovo the camera is, next to the Dolby Atmos support, one of the highlights of the Lenovo Phab 2 Plus. The device has a dual camera setup with two 13 Megapixel camera sensors with laser and phase detection autofocus to shoot better photos where the second camera of the setup is used for depth perception and post processing. On paper, again, this setup should give you beautiful photos but unfortunately it performs average compared to other dual camera featured smartphones. Photos taken in daylight have a quite good image quality with a small amount of noise and the colors are slightly undersaturated.
In lowlight conditions the camera produces photos with low contrast and to much smoothness. Due to this, the photos are missing it’s detail. Also the camera snaps it’s pictures very slow in dark en light conditions. Photos taken from a short distance are nothing to complain about though, also the flash LED performs in the dark performs avarage.
The dual camera, which can create the bokeh effect, is also something that is not developed well by Lenovo. The background defocus effect is not really reliable and it sometimes cannot separate the foreground object successfully enough from the background.
The Phab 2 series, mostly the Pro version, are set in the market as AR phones. Unfortunatly the Plus version does not support Google Tango so you have to do it with 4, quiet lame, AR modes which are fun for the first time. During the AR mode we noticed a lot of lags which confirms that the phone simply does not have enough power to render 3D objects in real time.
The selfie camera with a 8 megapixel sensor has some problems with shooting pictures too. The selfie cam has an auto beautify option which corrects, even with the level on 0, to much. Due to this the photos are again to smooth in day and night conditions.
Shooting videos with the Lenovo Phab 2 Plus is okay, although it has some focus issues sometimes, it’s good for shooting videos on a daily base. Unfortunately the camera misses optical or electronic stabilization, but can record sound at it’s best thanks to the dolby chip.
The Lenovo Phab 2 Plus supports various bands and we had 4G/LTE at Dutch local cariers: KPN and T-Mobile. Of course it is possible that there is no 4G support at your carrier, so please check the used band before purchasing. The supported bands are:
2G/CDMA1X / EVDO (BC0)
GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz (B5/B8/B3/B2)
3G/WCDMA 850/900/1900/2100MHz (B1/B2/B5/B8)
FDD-LTE 1800/2100/2600MHz (3, 1, 7)
While testing the calling quality was very good with a clear sound and no hickups. Also calling hands free with the speakers was above good with also a clear crisp sound. In connectivity way the Lenovo Phab 2 Plus features Wi-Fi 802.11 A/B/G/N/AC 2.4GHz/5GHz, Bluetooth 4 and GPS. The first time the GPS had a fix within 10 seconds, on point and stayed stable while driving.
In the past, before the start of this blog, we already had some experience with the Lenovo K3 Note which was full of bloatware. When starting up the Lenovo Phab 2 Plus we were expecting this again. Fortunately it was an almost clean system with just some Lenovo demo’s on it, a check told us the device was virus free also. Speaking of the check, the device comes with a buildin securitycenter to protect the phone at its best. The Android version on the device is Android 6.0 Marshmallow and runs sometimes with some lags due to its specifications. Also despite the English language there were still some things not translated like for example the cities of the weather app/widget.
For a brand that is also active on the Western market and the advertised key features we had high expectations of the Lenovo Phab 2 Plus. Overall the Lenovo Phab 2 Plus is a device that did not impress us and needs a lot of work. The performace of the device is slow, has an avarage battery and the AR functionality of the Plus is just a gimmick compared to the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro.
Is the Lenovo Phab 2 Plus good at some points? Yes, the phone has a really good build, the software is relatively clean (a couple of removable apps are installed) and the camera performs well in daylight and at close distance.
So, should I buy it? Of course it’s all up to you, the big screen is very useful during meetings at work, writing emails, surfing the internet and watching some movies. Keep in mind, the device has a pricetag of € 169/ $186 which is on par with what you are paying for. For the record, the mentioned pricetag at CECT-Shop is €130/ $142 lower than the pricetag of Lenovo is asking for through it’s European partners which means the price at CECT-Shop is a real bargain compared to the local European prices.
If you would like to have a phablet device you can consider it’s direct competitor, the Xiaomi Mi Max, which has a better camera, performance and battery. If you take the shortcomes for what it is, you can buy the Lenovo Phab 2 Plus at CECT-Shop here.