Lenovo Phab 2 Pro: Augmented reality for home, not on the go

Interacting with a completely digital world through virtual reality is pretty cool, but having the digital world interact with the physical world through augmented reality is a whole new level. And this is the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro, the first phone to feature augmented reality via Google Tango. So, let’s explore it.



Lenovo Phab 2 Pro Specs

First off, let’s go over some specs of the phone. It features an absolutely massive 6.4” Quad HD IPS display accompanied by 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. It can be expanded with micro SD cards, up to 128GB. There’s a 4,050mAh battery with fast charging, as well as the 16MP rear camera and 8MP front facing camera. That’s all powered by the Snapdragon 652 processor. So, while the specs are nothing super fancy, they are definitely suitable for this phone.

As for software, it’s running Android Marshmallow, as well as being the first phone to be Google Tango compatible — Google’s augmented reality project.

Who is this phone for?

If you’re looking for a new phone to become your primary phone and think this is an option: don’t. Stop right now and look at other phones. The Lenovo Phab 2 Pro is not meant to be a daily driver. Even if you’re into big phones and think this is the holy grail of them all, just don’t. The absolute size of this phone, not to mention the .57lb weight, makes this an enormous pain to carry around.

So who is this for? Augmented reality enthusiasts and developers looking to build apps for Google Tango. This is a phone you’ll want to keep around the house. Because of that, I’ll be focusing less on the normal phone aspects and more on the augmented reality part.

Augmented reality basics

Augmented reality (or AR) is taking an existing part of the physical world and letting the digital world interact with it. So, instead of riding an imaginary roller coaster through an imaginary park as you would with virtual reality (or VR), you might ride an imaginary roller coaster through your house. Google’s Tango is their stab at making augmented reality a thing. So far, it’s working a little bit, as we have a couple apps and this phone to play around with AR.

What are its uses?

The exciting part about AR is that there is so many useful things to do with it, where VR is more for entertainment. One of those uses already available is the measure tool. This allows you to pick a point on an object, and then measure the size of that object. It’s pretty handy if you need a general idea of how big a late object is. Amazon, Lowes, and Wayfair also have similar useful apps that allow you to place virtual items like TVs, appliances, and chairs in your home so you can see how they look. Sure, it’s not perfect, but for a brand new technology, it’s pretty good.

AR also has plenty of entertainment uses, provided placing a Mariachi band in your living room is your idea of a fun afternoon. Of course, there’s plenty of other entertainment options available, like games and random figures that appear. One of my favorite ways to play with Tango was with Lenovo’s demo app, which lets you place a cat, dog, dragon, or fairy in your room. It’s a pretty fun way to show people the technology and what you can do with it at a basic level.

How well does AR work?

Considering there are not any other Tango enabled phones on the market yet, it’s hard to judge how well this works. But in my testing, I found it to be pretty satisfactory. Downloading Tango apps isn’t that fast because they are quite big, and launching apps takes a bit as well because they are big. But while using the apps, I didn’t notice any considerable lag or frequent crashes. Overall, the AR experience is solid.

Hardware

One of the nice things about the Phab 2 Pro is how well it’s built. The back and sides are aluminum, while the whole front is glass. There’s nothing too special about this build, as it’s quite common, but it is nice to see on a specialized phone.

Software

The software on this phone is a slightly modified version of stock Android. The notification panel bears resemblance to Huawei’s EMUI, but other than that, it looks just like Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

Other features

To describe the screen, battery, camera, and speakers of the Phab 2 Pro, I’d say “typical.” Nothing jumps out to me as being special, but it’s not lacking at all, either. The screen is pretty nice, the battery is an appropriate size for the phone, the camera isn’t going to take amazing photos, but it will get the job done just fine. The speakers, well they get the job done as well. Now because this phone isn’t for daily use, these aspects of the phone aren’t that big of a deal. However, for what this phone does well, and that’s AR, these functions of the phone do their job quite well. There’s also a fingerprint scanner on the Phab 2 Pro, which is a nice touch. It works fairly well, although it’s placement below the camera can be confusing. It’s also a bit low to use comfortably.

Final thoughts

The Lenovo Phab 2 Pro is a great phone for AR, but that’s it. I don’t recommend this, at all, for carrying around with you on a daily basis. Instead, it’s best to leave it at home to play with, or use as a small tablet. If you can afford to get this phone to play around with, then you won’t regret this purchase. You can find it for around $425 online, from Amazon and Lenovo — links below.

Get it from AmazonGet it from Lenovo