Review: Lenovo Phab 2 Plus in a close fight with Xiaomi Mi Max

Lenovo Phab 2 Plus is the second truly big smartphone in the Phab series. Only this time, it is competing against Xiaomi Mi Max, and both phones have their strong points


The Lenovo Phab 2 Plus is meant for users who like truly big screen phones.
The Lenovo Phab 2 Plus is meant for users who like truly big screen phones.

Buoyed by the increasing popularity of big screen phones, phone makers have been trying to go beyond the 5.5-inch mark from time to time. Sony came up with Xperia Ultra, Oppo released the F1 Plus and Xiaomi launched the Mi Max and Max Prime. Lenovo has done it twice now, with the Phab and now the Phab 2 Plus, which is priced at Rs 14,999. We liked the Xiaomi Mi Max (Rs 14,999) on account of its sleek profile, premium looks and giant (6.4-inch) display. Lenovo’s Phab 2 Plus is a very similar device when it comes to screen size. We take a look at this new big phone and where it stands next to the Mi Max.

The Phab 2 Plus comes with a solid metallic exterior
The Phab 2 Plus comes with a solid metallic exterior

Design: Big and bulky

The Phab 2 Plus comes with a solid metallic exterior. The slightly curved back design and flat side spines offers a solid grip over the phone. However, managing it with one hand is not going to be easy as it is 173.9mm tall, 88.3mm wide, 9.6mm thick and weighs 218g,making it one of the heaviest and tallest smartphones around.

Due to the unibody design, the SIM/microSD card slots are placed on the side panel and can be taken out with a SIM extractor or pin. It is a hybrid slot so can accommodate one micro SIM and microSD at a time or one micro SIM and nano SIM.

The phone comes with a finger print sensor too. Its is placed in the back and is accurate most times. The Mi Max also has a metal finish, but due to its sleeker (7.5mm) profile and lighter (203g) form factor, looks a lot more elegant and feels lighter in the hands. The Mi Max’s finger print sensor is equally good and is easily accessible on the back panel.

The 6.4-inch display has a resolution of 1,920x1,080p
The 6.4-inch display has a resolution of 1,920x1,080p

Display: Big screen looks sharp

The 6.4-inch display has a resolution of 1,920x1,080p, which is impressive considering that we still get to see big screen phones with lower resolution displays. The Vivo V5 which offers 1,280x720p resolution on a 5.5-inch display, for example. The screen size, the sharpness and ability to reproduce colours accurately makes the Phab 2 Plus ideal for reading ebooks, writing, watching movies and playing games. The display looks a bit reflective but never really affected visibility in bright light. The wide viewing angles are good too.

Like most Lenovo phones, this one too allows user to change colour, saturation and contrast levels in the display settings. The only issue with the display is that some apps are not scaled for this screen size and may not work as well as expected. We noticed this with a few games such as EA’s FIFA 16 and apps like Apple Music.

Xiaomi Mi Max also has a 6.4-inch display with screen resolution of 1,920x1,9080p. There is little that separates the two phones in terms of colours and crispness.

The only benefit in the Mi Max is that it offers a layer of scratch resistant Gorilla Glass 4 on the display.

The Lenovo smartphone runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow
The Lenovo smartphone runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow

Software: Near plain Android looks good

The Lenovo smartphone runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow with an almost plain version of stock Android. There is no option for a built in secondary interface unlike the Vibe series phones. This is a light and clean looking interface with very few customisation options.

Xiaomi’s MIUI interface is more directed at users who like to tinker with their phone’s interface too often. It can be a bit overwhelming for first time users, but offers some interesting features such as hidden folder where you can hide photos and documents, child mode which allows segregation of apps for children, reading mode that automatically.

Performance: Smooth under stress

Equipped with MediaTek MT8783 octa-core processor with 3GB RAM, the Phab 2 Plus can handle most day to day tasks as well as games such as Asphalt 8 without any delay in response or over-heating on the back. The phone offers 32GB of internal storage and 256GB of expandable storage via microSD card. This big sized phone comes with a big 4,050mAh battery that can eke out about a day and a half on one charge. The two SIM slots are compatible with all 4G device networks and support VoLTE (Voice over LTE) calling too.

It rival the Mi Max runs on a more powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 650 hexa-core processor with 3GB RAM but is on equal footing when it comes to performance, storage, 4G connectivity. The only area where the Mi Max has an edge is the battery backup. Its 4,850mAh battery can muster about two days of backup comfortably.

The 13-megapixel camera on the Phab 2 Plus is a mixed bag
The 13-megapixel camera on the Phab 2 Plus is a mixed bag

Camera: Mixed bag

The 13-megapixel camera on the Phab 2 Plus is a mixed bag. In landscape shots, it can muster a fair amount of detail but the colours look a bit inconsistent. Dark colours look a bit brighter. In close-up shots, while the object under focus looks good, the background again looks too dark or blurry. The camera’s low light results did not yield any surprising results. Most objects look blurry and washed out. The Mi Max comes with a 16-megapixel camera which handles colours better but the level of detailing is barely acceptable.

Verdict

The Lenovo Phab 2 Plus is meant for users who like truly big screen phones, and the greater flexibility they offer because of the extra screen space. Its clean Android interface, high quality audio output gives it an edge over the Mi Max. But if you are looking for a better looking phone, with more battery, and a customisable interface, the Mi Max is a better device.

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