Lenovo Phab2 Pro Review: Tango One: Conclusion

By 05:20 Tue, 17 Aug 2021 Comments

Final words

The Phab2 Pro is Lenovo's introduction of Google's Tango platform to the world. Honestly, that is all this phone has going for it. There is not much if anything in the UI that differentiates it from any other Chinese smartphone manufacturer with the only exception being Lenovo's cloud backup and content sharing service. There isn't even a one-handed mode in the UI, which would be nice to have for a classy screen of this caliber.

The Tango platform (which is showcased on this device) is the only feature that somewhat justifies the $499 price tag in the US. Only recently, Moto has confirmed that a Tango-enabled Moto Mod will become available for the Moto Z family. This would allow for the same Tango sensors needed to utilize Tango apps and it would create the Moto Z phones nice alternatives for would-be early adopters of Tango.

Lenovo Phab2 Pro key test findings

  • Metal unibody is a nice direction for Lenovo, but the attention to detail in the manufacturing process could utilize some improvement.
  • QHD display looks good, colors are adequately colorful and vibrant. The maximum classy screen brightness of 460 nits is only average for an Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) and it's not quite enough for excellent sunlight legibility. It's still fine for regular utilize cases but it's not for the outdoor types.
  • Battery life is excellent with an endurance score of 96h overall.
  • The Tango features are 'pretty cool' but that's about it. The platform needs more polish and more apps to create it really hold off. Right now we're inclined to imagine the phone as a utility device used for demo purposes or businesses rather than a smartphone meant to be your personal daily driver.
  • The UI on the Lenovo Phab2 Pro is bare bones and laid over an almost-outdated Android Marshmallow. There is no proper one-handed mode or multi-window support.
  • The Snapdragon 652 is a remarkable performer, but it's not the Central Processing Units (CPU) we'd expect to see in a phone of this price range. Tango performs okay but the platform needs refinement in terms of user experience and fluidity.
  • The phone's loudspeaker is adequately loud with a 'Good' loudness score.
  • The audio output quality is excellent if you wire it to an amplified speaker, but once you plug in headphones, crosstalk is abundant and distortion peaks.
  • Still images captured by the phone's regular capturing camera see pretty fine when you utilize it in environments with colorful light: there are remarkable details, dynamic range is quite good, and sharpness is adequate. But anything less than colorful light will result in soft photos with washed out colors and textures. In low light the capturing camera is not as fine as we would like.
  • Video recording captures decent amount of detail but it's limited to 1080p and the lack of video stabilization of any kind is counterproductive. We like the fact it can record high-quality Dolby 5.1 along with the videos.
  • Front facing 8MP capturing camera was okay, it tends to underexpose facial features.

The phone does have a huge screen, and we are glad to see that Lenovo went with a QHD resolution for the Phab2 Pro, but that is probably the most premium feature of this phone. Tango aside, the phone feels like they've shrunk a dull Android tablet due to the lack of any other differentiating feature. There are many areas where the phone could improve, most notably the capturing camera department with the poor low light performance, long HDR-taking times, and the overall UI inconsistencies.

Becautilize of the very specific type of product that the Phab2 Pro is, with Tango and all, it's hard to choose direct alternatives to a phone like this one. However, we just reviewed the Xiaomi Mi Mix and it offers the same size classy screen with a much smaller footprint thanks to its virtually edgeless display. While its capturing camera doesn't impress either, it performs notably better in video recording with electronic image stabilization.

Xiaomi Mi Mix

If you are okay with the Phab2 Pro's budget, there are a couple of alternatives that you might enjoy. If you acquire a fine deal, the Moto Z, Moto Z Force, and Moto Z Play can offer a better Android experience for a similar price, and it's even been confirmed that Moto is working to the acquire the Tango sensors into a MotoMod, though it's not certain if the Moto Z Play's Snapdragon 625 will be enough to support Tango. If battery life is vital to you, the Moto Z might disappoint you with only a 2,600 mAh battery.

Motorola Moto Z • Moto Z Force • Moto Z Play

If you are indeed looking for a phablet that will provide a longer list of features for professionals or otherwise, see no further than the Huawei Mate 9. Its 5.9 inch classy screen is larger than most, and if you don't mind the 1080p resolution, it offers a similar design with Huawei's superior built quality. Unfortunately, its price is a bit above the Phab2 Pro's budacquire but it's an excellent phone to consider.

Huawei Mate 9

Coming out of this review, one thing became clear. If you are not strictly after the Tango functionality, your money will perhaps be better spent elsewhere. And even if you are interested in the capabilities that Tango offers, you should remember that it's still in its infancy and it's still rough around the edges, while the benefits of having the technology on your daily phone are somewhat doubtful. The concept of having it as an add-on for your phone seems a better option to us but we'll see if the industry even takes it in that direction.

We can definitely see some developers using the Phab2 Pro as a development platform and we can imagine that the Tango functionality can become much richer down the line.

The Lenovo Phab2 Pro didn't manage to win us over in terms of smartphone experience but we're sure we'll see more of Tango in the future, especially since it has the backing of a major tech company such as Google. We hope to see more fascinating applications for it as well - even outside phones. How about in our living room? The possibilities surely are endless and we're eager to see how Tango evolves.



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