Lenovo launched the PHAB 2 Plus in the PHAB series in India earlier this month exclusively on Amazon.in earlier this month for Rs. 14,999. This is the successor of the PHAB Plus that was launched last year. The PHAB 2 Plus gains dual cameras, more RAM, slightly bigger battery and also improves audio, but is the phablet worth the price? Let us find out in the review.
We unboxed the PHAB 2 Plus recently, check out the video below.
- Lenovo PHAB 2 Plus smartphone in Champagne Gold color
- JBL Hybrid earphones with microphone
- 2-pin charger (5.2V-2A)
- Micro USB cable
- SIM ejector tool
- User manual
Display, Hardware and Design
The Lenovo PHAB 2 Plus has a huge 6.4-inch display with a pixel resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixel and a pixel density of about 344 PPI. The display is bright, but there is a black border around the screen, which makes it look awkward. The viewing angles are not impressive, so the display is not clear in certain angle if you are viewing a video from a certain angle. The phone has a screen-to-body ratio of about 74%, which is similar to the Mi Max.
It has an earpice above the display, which has a unique design. There is an 8-megapixel camera next to it with f/2.2 aperture, 1.4 μm pixel, 75-degree wide angle lens and there is also LED flash on the left side of the earpiece. The front-facing camera is good for seflies and video chats. Flash light on the front glows continuously when turned on, and is not bright so it is not much useful in dark conditions.
There are usual set of proximity and ambient light sensors next to the camera. You can also find a tiny notification LED next to these sensors that glows in red when the phone is charging and blue for notifications. It also has gyroscope and magnetic sensor, otherwise known as magnetometer.
It has the usual set of capacitive touch buttons below the display. These are backlit and offer haptic feedback when pressed.
Volume rockers and power button are present on the right side. Loudspeaker grill is present on the bottom on the right side of the micro USB port, while the primary microphone is present on the left side, under the grill.
On the left side, there is a hybrid SIM slot that lets you use a micro SIM and a nano SIM or a microSD.
The phone has a unibody metal design and the phone feels solid, even though it is huge to hold and weighs 218 grams.
It has dual 13-megapixel rear cameras with dual-tone LED Flash and Laser Auto Focus. Since there is a bump near the camera module, the glass gets scratched easily when the phone is placed on a flat surface. Apart from Champagne Gold, the phone also comes in Gunmetal Grey color. Overall the build quality of the phone is good.
It has a dual 13-megapixel cameras on the back with dual-tone LED Flash, f/2.0 aperture, Futjitsu Milbeaut ISPs, 1.34μm pixel size, Laser Auto Focus and phase-detection-auto-focus (PDAF).
The camera UI is simple and is similar to most other Lenovo smartphones that includes a toggle for front and rear camera, HDR toggle, flash toggle, settings, image preview, video recording and camera shutter buttons.
It has option to change modes (capture, AR, Pro (to adjust white balance, focus, shutter speed, ISO (100 to 1600) and exposure), Dual Camera, Group Selfie, Panorama and Night.
Coming to image quality, Daylight shots are good and have crisp details and colors. Macro shots are good as well, the focus is quick, thanks to Laser autofocus and PDAF, but touch to focus doesn’t work properly, so you have to use point to focus to focus on something. HDR shots came out well, low-light shots have a lot of noise as usual. Images with flash are decent, and the dual-tone LED flash helps to maintain skin-tone, but it might be overpowering for close up shots.
Coming to dual cameras, the secondary camera lets you capture the depth of field in the Dual Camera Mode and allows focusing after capturing the image. This doesn’t work that well, since the blurring effect is not even and the final output is reduced to 0.8MP or 1040 x 780 resolution. The background replacement is interesting, which lets you cut a part of the image and place it different images, including your own images that are on the phone.
The AR mode lets you insert an animated virtual object into your photos and videos. You can choose Dragon, Cat, Dog and Fairy that will also perform some actions. The final image is in size of 1280 x 720 pixels. Lenovo asks you to aim the phone at a flat surface for a better experience. This will impress kids, but it is nothing much. The company could have provided an option to download more characters.
The front-facing camera is good for seflies and video chats. The flash light on the front glows continuously when turned on, and it is not bright so it is not much useful in dark conditions.
Overall, it’s an average camera for the price and there is nothing exceptional with dual cameras seen in some high-end phones like the Honor 8.
Check out some camera samples below (Click the image to view full resolution sample.)
Dual camera mode
It can record videos at 1080p full HD resolution at 30 fps. Video quality is good, but it is not bright and has focusing issues just like the images. Thanks to Dolby Audio Capture with Triple Array Microphones, audio is crisp. It also has HDR mode for video, which makes the video bright. Check out the sample videos below.
Check out the complete set of Lenovo PHAB 2 Plus camera samples here.
Software, UI and Apps
The smartphone runs on Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) with Lenovo’s own Vibe UI on top. Quick settings has Flashlight, Cast Screen, Dolby and lots more features. It also has brightness adjustment slider. You can edit these notification bar icons easily. You can also launch the dialer or the camera directly from the lockscreen.
It has smart assist features such as one-hand settings that lets you adjust dialpad position and also adjust the position of the numeric passcode keyboard according to the grip angle. Smart Shortcut lets you create a floating bar for accessing utility apps like camera, music, calculator and more. It has some gestures such as double-tap to wake up the screen. Smart Reduce automatically reduces ringtone volume when picking up a call and smart answer lets you automatically answer a call when bringing your phone to your ear. It doesn’t have fingerprint gestures, micro screen or VR mode found in Vibe K5 Note.
Out of 3GB RAM, 2.8GB of RAM is usable, out of which about 1.2GB of RAM is free when default apps are running in the background. Out of 32GB of internal storage you get about 23.8GB of usable storage since OS and apps take up about 7.1GB of space. You can set the SD card as the default write disk and also move the apps to SD card if format SD card as internal storage.
The phone has a fingerprint sensor on the back. Placement of the sensor on the back is perfect, since it is where your index finger rests when you are holding the phone. It is quick to unlock the phone most of the times, immediately after you place your finger on the sensor and also unlocks the screen. It gives haptic feedback only when it doesn’t recognize your fingerprint. It doesn’t recognize your finger properly if it’s wet. It also warns you if you use the same fingerprint again. You can add up to 5 fingerprints.
Coming to apps, the phone comes pre-installed with some apps. Apart from the usual set of Google apps and utility apps, it comes pre-loaded with McAfee Security and Netflix.
Music Player and FM Radio
It doesn’t have a separate music player, so you have to use Google Play Music. It can play a range of audio formats and it has FM Radio with recording. Thanks to Dolby Atmos, loudspeaker output is good and clear even in full volume. Audio output through headphones is good as well. Bundled JBL in-ear earphones is just average and doesn’t offer good bass, compared to other premium earphones.
Calling and Messaging
It has stock dialer and messages that you find in most other MediaTek-powered phones. You have option to switch to either SIMs when calling or sending messages or set it to Always ask. It has Google keyboard as default. We did not face any call drops, but the earpiece volume is low, so you can’t hear the other person if you are in a noise environment.
Dual SIM and Connectivity
It has 4G support with support for VoLTE for Reliance Jio. This can be enabled by enabling Enhanced 4G LTE Mode in the network settings. When VoLTE is enabled, it is displayed as HD in the status bar. Both the SIMs support 4G, but you can enable 4G only in one SIM at a time, while the other goes to 2G. You can set the default SIM for voice call, messaging or data connection. It has Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (dual-band), Bluetooth 4.0, GPS and USB OTG support.
Performance and Benchmarks
Coming to the performance, it is powered by an Octa-Core MediaTek MT8783 processor with eight ARM Cortex-A53 cores clocked at 1.3 GHz per core along with Mali-T720 GPU, even though CPU-Z shows it as MT6735 SoC. Performance is good without any lags in the UI even though the UI consumes more RAM. Thanks to 3GB of RAM multitasking is smooth too, but gaming performance is just average and is not on par with mid-range Qualcomm CPUs like the Snapdragon 650 found in the Xiaomi Mi Max. It gets a bit warm, but we did not face any heating issues during gaming or 4G use. Check out some synthetic benchmark scores.
AnTuTu Benchmark 6
It managed to score 39272 points in the AnTuTu 6 benchmark.
Vellamo 3 Browser – Web
It scored 2289 points in the Vellamo 3 Web Browser benchmark.
Vellamo 3 MultiCore
It scored 1690 points in the Vellamo 3 Multi-Core benchmark.
Geekbench 3 Multi-Core
It managed to score 2905 points in the Geekbench Multi-Core benchmark.
3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited
It managed to score 7328 points in the 3D Mark Ice Storm Unlimited benchmark.
Basemark OS II
It managed to score 884 points in the Basemark OS II benchmark.
Coming to the battery life, the 4000mAh built-in battery offers just average battery life. On full charge, it lasts for a day with 4G and both the SIM cards on use, but increasing the brightness reduces the battery life. It has power saver mode that reduces the screen and GPU power consumption.
It achieved One Charge rating of 10 hours and 16 minutes, which is less compared to Mi Max. Since it doesn’t have support for fast charging, it takes about 2 hours to charge the phone. Check out the complete set of battery life test results here.
Overall, the Lenovo PHAB 2 Plus is a good successor to last year’s PAHB Plus, but it might not be the best phablet in the market for the price of Rs. 14,999. It has good build quality and the audio output is good as well, but the performance, especially gaming performance is not up to mark and the hybrid dual SIM slot might not be preferred by everyone. Dual cameras look good on paper, but is not very useful for everyday use since you will not use blur effect and background replacement often since it takes a lot of time. Battery life is also not impressive. This goes head to head with the Xiaomi Mi Max, which has an edge when it comes to battery life and performance. The phone is currently available only on Amazon.in. To summarize, here are the pros and cons of the smartphone.
- Good build quality
- Good audio output
- Fingerprint sensor is fast
- Decent performance
- Average gaming performance
- Average battery life
- Earpiece volume is low
- Hybrid dual SIM might not be preferred by everyone