Phone

Phab Plus offers best features of tablet and smartphone

Lenovo's Phab Plus smartphone costs $499 - a good price for a device that does not scrimp on hardware and offers mobile features on a tablet-type device.
Lenovo's Phab Plus smartphone costs $499 - a good price for a device that does not scrimp on hardware and offers mobile features on a tablet-type device.PHOTO: LENOVO

With 78-inch TV sets invading homes and 12-inch tablets filling work desks, should anyone be surprised by a 6.8-inch smartphone any more?

You can call Lenovo's latest Phab Plus a giant smartphone or a small tablet. The Chinese tech firm is the latest to churn out an oversized communication device that stretches the definition of mobility.

The Phab Plus compares well to earlier and similarly sized phablets from Sony and Samsung, and trumps them in portability and design. For one thing, it has a sleeker profile: It measures 186.6mm in length, only a tad more than the 179.4mm of the smaller 6.4-inch Sony Xperia Z Ultra from 2013.

It is housed in an all-metal chassis, with rounded sides that hark at the Apple iPhone. There is no physical Home button though, with the Power and Volume buttons acting as its only physical interfaces.

The hardware is what you would expect from mid-range devices, starting with a full high-definition screen and Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. Sure, the 615 chipset is one generation behind the 800 series, but the octa-core processor ensures things run smoothly.

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: $499

    PROCESSOR: Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 615

    DISPLAY: 6.8-inch, 1,080 x 1,920 pixels

    OPERATING SYSTEM: Android 5.0 (Lollipop)

    CAMERA: (Front) 5MP (Rear) 13 MP, 4,128 x 3,096 pixels, autofocus, dual-LED (dual tone) flash

    MEMORY: 32GB, 2GB RAM (Expandable microSD up to 64 GB (uses SIM 2 slot)

    BATTERY: 3,500 mAh

    RATING


    FEATURES: 3/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 3/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 3/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

Lenovo has continued the tradition China manufacturers have adopted, of allowing the use of either a second SIM or microSD card with this device. The 13MP rear camera took decent snaps.

The Phab Plus really stands out in its $499 price. This is a good price for a device that does not scrimp on hardware and offers mobile features on a tablet-type device.

Naturally, the device is still not something that anyone can casually use as a phone, but there are enough wireless or wired accessories in the market, so there is no fear of looking silly when answering calls. The screen is comfortable to hold with one hand and is great for watching videos, with the single front firing speaker delivering audio with a punch.

That said, colours on the screen are not the best, with pastel hues coming across as rather pale. This is obvious when looking at photos.

While shots taken by the camera have nice colours and good details, there is a slight shutter lag that prevents users from snapping consecutive shots quickly.

• Verdict: An all-in-one wonder that tries to squeeze in the best features of a tablet and smartphone, and with an affordable price tag.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 21, 2015, with the headline 'Phone Phab Plus offers best features of tablet and smartphone'. Print Edition | Subscribe