Project Tango came from Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects lab, and it’s designed to bring new indoor tracking and augmented reality capabilities to the world right from your smartphone. Prime uses include better augmented reality gaming, or even interior decorating a home via an app just by pointing your phone around you. Google has now dropped the “project” from Tango, seeing as it has fully matured into a commercial product.
To utilizes these features, you need the right hardware — that’s why Lenovo announced its partnership to make the first smartphone enabled with Tango at the beginning of 2016. It’s finally here, along with two other devices the company announced at its second annual Lenovo Tech World convention.
Releasing multiple devices in a series seems to be the craze these days, with the new Moto G4 line featuring three mid- to low-range devices, and Sony’s Xperia X line boastingfour smartphones. Lenovo isn’t doing anything unusual by following the trend with two more additions to the Phab2 series — the Phab2 Plus and the Phab2.
Lenovo Phab2 Pro
At 6.4-inches, good luck fitting the Phab2 Pro in your pocket. Lenovo’s AR-ready device is aiming more toward tablet territory than phablet, but a phablet it is nonetheless.
Getting the basic specs out of the way, you’ll find it’s powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 652, with 4GB of RAM. The Phab2 Pro comes with 64GB of internal storage, which is nice, considering several manufacturers still ship with 16GB or even 8GB starter options. That’s just not enough these days. If you want even more, there’s MicroSD card support, and you can double your storage up to 128GB.
The IPS display sports a resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels, and the edges of the glass are rounded at 2.5D. The design looks somewhat similar to the new line of Moto G devices, which makes sense considering Lenovo now owns Motorola. The Phab2 Pro is more rectangular, though, and its unibody is made of aluminum alloy. The rear camera features 16-megapixels, as well as a depth sensor and a motion-tracking sensor, which is required to make it Tango-certified. The selfie camera is packed with 8 megapixels.
Its thickest point is 10.7mm, which makes it a little chunky, especially when you put it next to other flagship devices like the iPhone 6S Plus, which is 7.3mm. But that ultimately spotlights the purpose of this device — to showcase Google’s Project Tango vision in a smartphone. Naturally, as the technology improves, the components will get smaller, leading to to a smaller, thinner device. The Phab2 Pro is simply the start of Tango-ready phones.
The device runs on Android 6.0, and while it’s not exactly stock Android, it’s pretty close. It also can record video in 4K, and features fast-charging. Hopefully, its 4,050mAh battery can help keep that big display running for a relatively long time. The Phab2 Pro comes in champagne gold and gunmetal gray, and included in the box are a pair of JBL earphones.
All of this comes at a price point of $499, and Lenovo says the phone will be globally available in September. In the U.S., the Phab2 Pro will be sold at Best Buy, as well as select Lowe’s stores “nationwide and online” by the end of 2016. Lowe’s may be a strange choice, but it’s because the home improvement retailer has developed a Tango-enabled app called Lowe’s Vision. It lets people “measure spaces and visualize” how furniture and appliances will look in their home.
Lenovo Phab2 Plus
Lenovo is touting the 13-megapixel dual camera setup of the Phab2 Plus, which apparently lets you “shoot like a pro.” The rear camera setup improves low-light shots, introduces more manual settings, and allows for features like post-shot refocusing, background swap, and augmented reality special effects.
There’s nothing else special on the outside of the Phab2 Plus when comparing it to the Phab2 Pro — it runs Android 6.0, has the same aluminum alloy unibody, comes in the same gold and grey colors, and has a 6.4-inch IPS display, though with a resolution of 1,920 x 1080 pixels. The front camera even seems to be the same, with 8-megapixels, and you’ll even find the same 4,050mAh battery.
Where it differentiates is through its internal specs. Lenovo has opted to use MediaTek’s less-powerful processor, the MTK 8783, to power this phablet. It comes with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage, which can be expanded to 128GB thanks to a MicroSD card slot.
Of course, the Plus doesn’t have the sensors required to make it Tango-compatible — you’ll have to stay with the Phab2 Pro for that. The Phab2 Plus will be globally available in September at $299.
Lenovo Phab 2
The best thing about the Phab2, according to Lenovo? It’s price. At $199, the Phab2 certainly slides into the budget device category, and that’s the only notable thing about it. On its massive 6.4-inch screen, you’ll find a poor resolution of 1,280 x 720 pixels. The rear camera has 13 megapixels, and the front one is packed with 5 megapixels, though the selfie cam does have an 85-degree wide-angle lens.
It’s probably not made of aluminum, seeing as Lenovo didn’t mention the material for this device but did for the other two. It’s powered by MediaTek’s 8735 processor, runs on Android 6.0, and has 3GB of RAM. It has the same internal storage setup as the Phab2 Plus, with 32GB on board and a MicroSD slot that can add up to 128GB of additional space. You’ll find the same 4,050mAh battery, and it comes in gold and gray colors like the rest of its family.
The Phab2 is the only one of the three that will not come with JBL headphones, but it will also be globally available in September.
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