Gadget review: Big delivery with Lenovo Phab Pro 2 phone

Big is not always better but Lenovo's new Phab Pro 2 proves that size can matter.

At Dh1,999, the Lenovo Phab Pro 2 is good value for money for those looking for a larger smartphone that gives small tablet functionality, or vice versa. Courtesy Lenovo
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The Lenovo Phab 2 Pro is not a phone for those with small hands or tight trousers. Rather, it's a 6.4-inch slab of a device that feels more like a small tablet with phone capabilities rather than a large smartphone in the mould of the Huawei Mate 9 or iPhone 7 Plus.

Size matters, however it isn’t everything, as the Phab 2 Pro is also the first device to run Google’s Tango augmented reality (AR) software, enabling you to do funky things like measure furniture with its camera, and make your nightmares come true by putting virtual velociraptors in your living room.

The Phab 2 Pro certainly doesn’t let its size go to waste. Its 2K IPS display offers a high-pixel density and pleasingly deep colours, making movie trailers, rugby highlights and everything in between look great. Its size also makes it great for general web-browsing and reading text, with considerably less squinting than smaller rivals.

The trade-off inevitably comes with form factor. Its solidly designed (but very heavy) body works fine when held and used as a small tablet, but its sheer size makes it a clunky smartphone. Particularly awkward is the low placement of the rear fingerprint reader, squeezed in below a 16MP camera, fish-eye lens and infrared depth sensor.

Those last two hardware features are part of Google's Tango AR experience, allowing you to run a small but growing number of AR apps available via Google Play. Tango is still in its earliest iterations though, meaning that while some of the apps are quite fun, it falls well short of being a "must-have" feature for all but the earliest adopters.

At Dh1,999, the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro is good value for money for those looking for a larger – scratch that, enormous – smartphone that gives small tablet functionality, or vice versa.

The addition of Tango is likely to appeal only to early adopters, and those looking for a compact smartphone should look elsewhere.

For those who believe that big is better however, it’s a very worthwhile purchase.

q&a reality, but not as we know it

John Everington explains some of the technicalities associated with Lenovo’s new Phab Pro 2:

Tell me more about Tango. Does it have anything to do with the popular British soft drink?

Tango is an augmented reality platform that has been in development by Google for several years, that uses motion-tracking, area learning and depth perception. As far as I know, it has nothing to do with the popular fizzy orange drink.

And remind me what augmented reality is and what it’s used for?

Live Science defines augmented reality as “using technology to superimpose information on the world we see.” Once a techie curio, AR exploded into the mainstream last year with Pokemon Go, providing the technology to make Pikachus appear in your office car park.

Ah, Pokemon Go, now I’m with you. So what Tango apps are available today?

They are few and far between, especially in the UAE. Google Measure lets you measure any physical object in front of Phab Pro 2’s camera with a couple of clicks, while Dinosaurs Among Us lets you create virtual dinosaurs (including velociraptors) to run around your home. Domino World, meanwhile, lets you create virtual domino courses on any flat surface.

Is the Phab Pro 2 the only Tango device available right now?

Google produced an early tablet and smartphone for developers to play around with, but the Phab Pro 2 is the only consumer device available for the moment. Asus’s Zenfone AR, unveiled at CES in January, also runs Tango, but hasn’t been commercially released at the time of writing.

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