Lenovo’s massive new phablet, the PHAB Plus, was officially launched today. We were invited to test out the company’s extravagantly large smartphone yesterday for a quick tour of the device’s capabilities, and here’s our first impressions.
For a large device, the PHAB Plus is surprisingly thin and light. At just 7.6mm thin and weighing 229g, feels more of a large phone than a small tablet – it even managed to comfortably fit two different slim-fit jeans pockets…though it is likely that women would need to place this in their handbags.
There’s also no denying that the PHAB Plus looks very reminiscent of a (very) big iPhone. At some angles, especially from the side, the PHAB Plus Honey Gold version looks like a dead ringer to the iPhone. On the other hand, the phablet feels similarly premium, with a metallic unibody that delightfully wraps around the display.
The PHAB Plus is powered by a 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 octa-core chipset with 2GB of RAM, a 6.8-inch Full HD IPS display, 32GB of expandable storage, 13MP/5MP rear and front cameras, dual-SIM LTE, Dolby Atmos support, and a surprisingly small 3,500mAh battery – all for RM1,199. The software is still running on Lenovo’s Vibe UI on top of Android 5.0.2; one fun fact I came across in our media preview session was in the phone’s settings: the PHAB Plus is actually classified as a tablet.
The PHAB Plus has several new software additions, which mainly serve to accommodate the large display. You can draw a “C” shape on the home screen to shrink the display and then tilt it to the right or left, and another “C” gesture enlarges the display again. You can also set the keyboard to “one-handed keyboard mode”, allowing you to type on the device with one hand.
There is also an omnipresent tiny circle on the screen that appears wherever you are on the device. This is Lenovo’s Wide Touch shortcuts feature, which allows you to access favourite apps and quick settings toggles easily, without needing you to swipe down from the top of the display or to press the Home button. It works largely the same way as the iPhone’s AssistiveTouch button, but with more customisation options.
That aside, one area that proved less impressive is the camera. Lenovo fitted a 13MP rear camera on the PHAB Plus, and it is surprisingly disappointing. In broad daylight the camera proved rather sluggish with slow shutter speeds, while in low-light conditions the camera struggles to produce anything beyond a grainy image that’s oftentimes off-focus. In fact, autofocus was painfully slow in the few hours spent using the device.
Delving deeper, the camera also does not have a dedicated Manual mode – though there are the usual HDR, Panorama, Action, and Night modes. There are some limited manual options, such as ISO and exposure settings, but they’re oddly located in the camera’s settings, alongside options like shutter sound toggles and image size.
Nevertheless, if all you’re looking for on a smartphone is a device with a (very) big display, the PHAB Plus is definitely worth taking a look. The premium metal construction is impressive, and the little software touches helps users navigate a lot better.
The Lenovo PHAB Plus is now available for RM1,199 in two colours, and can be purchased at all Lenovo outlets nationwide.