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Hands on: Lenovo Phab 2 Pro with Tango

March 10th, 2017 | by Wilson Wong
Hands on: Lenovo Phab 2 Pro with Tango
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Lenovo Phab 2 Pro. PHOTO: Handout

After testing out Lenovo’s large-screen Phab 2 Pro during an exhibition at the Arts Science Museum last month, I was able to have a closer look at the phablet in closer detail.

During the short time I had with it, I was actually quite impressed with the performance. It quickly transformed a staid-looking interior of the Art Science Museum into lush greenery through augmented reality (AR) mapping, thanks to Google’s Tango technology embedded in the device.

The huge 6.4-inch screen is thankfully matched with a QHD resolution (2,560 x 1,440) so you won’t see jagged edges around images, which can be common on lesser Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) screens. The audio is powered by Dolby Atmos that recreates an surround sound environment through my earphones. These features alone make the Phab 2 Pro a good option for a Netflix fix.

Despite the ‘Pro’ moniker, the Phablet’s Snapdragon 652 processor, 4GB RAM and 64GB storage seem quite “regular”, or rather, above average. Fortunately, when it comes to normal tasks that I usually do with my mobile device, such as messaging or Web surfing, the Lenovo machine doesn’t display any perceptible lag.

SCREENSHOT: Wilson Wong

It does hit some snags though when I power up some AR apps. There is some noticeable lag here. And despite the generous 4,050mAh battery, and the processor being optimised for Tango applications, the phone just guzzles power. It lasted me 7 hours on an average day and even lesser if I played with Tango applications.

And that’s not all. The AR games and apps can surely be improved. For example, I powered up an app to play with a virtual pet and it was happily running around the screen and “flying” through the air. I expected the phone to sense a table ledge so my pet should stop at the edge. It didn’t.

There are shooting games too where you have to turn around and hunt for targets but they don’t fully utilise the environment I am in. The targets can perhaps hide behind the wall or behind the table for instance but they just appear out of nowhere. Predictably, I got bored fairly quickly.

SCREENSHOT: Wilson Wong

In the camera department, Lenovo also has some improvements to make. I would say using the phablet’s camera is as frustrating as the Lenovo Vibe Shot, which I reviewed back in 2015.

Its focusing system is still not fixed as I cannot get the camera to lock the focus up close. The colour rendition of my portrait shots show hot flushes on my subject’s face when there are none. The camera controls are definitely not well thought out too, making the Phablet’s picture taking capability a passable experience at best.

If you are looking for a device that provides you with a great video watching experience, the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro gets the job done. Going for S$199 with a two-year contract with StarHub, the Phab 2 Pro won’t cost a bomb, either.

What I’m less sure about is the Tango AR experience. That’s not just Lenovo’s issue, since the technology is Google’s, but it still feels a little unpolished right now as a standalone feature.

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