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Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Gen 2 review: good hardware, lacking software

Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Gen 2 on pavement
Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Gen 2
MSRP $400.00
“The Tab P11 Pro Gen 2 is a good update, but it's another tablet that is still held back by Android software that is not optimized.”
Pros
  • Slim and lightweight aluminum
  • Sleek dual-tone design
  • Beautiful 11.2-inch 2.5K OLED display
  • Quad speaker system with support for Dolby Atmos
  • Great battery life
Cons
  • Front camera is terrible
  • Uses Android 12, Android 12L coming later
  • Only up to 6GB of RAM

Lenovo is a brand that is best known for powerful desktop and laptop computers, but it also makes some nice tablets for on-the-go productivity and entertainment. Though it seems that the tablet market is largely dominated by Apple’s iPad, the Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Gen 2 is a strong contender.

The problem is not necessarily that Android tablets have bad hardware — it’s more about the software as Android is still better optimized for smaller devices like phones, rather than tablets. That holds true with the Tab P11 Pro Gen 2. However, Lenovo does well even within the limitations of Android 12. As someone who has primarily used iOS and iPadOS for more than a decade, the Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Gen 2 is a breath of fresh air.

Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Gen 2 design

Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Gen 2 on a park bench
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

The design of the Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Gen 2 is very similar to the first generation, though I admit I have no experience with that tablet. However, the Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Gen 2 reminds me of an iPad Pro in terms of design. The slim aluminum chassis has flat edges like the iPad Pro (as well as most of the iPad lineup these days), with the power and volume buttons on the edges, as well as the speaker grills, a microSD card slot, and a USB-C charging port. The display is 11.2 inches, and the device is incredibly lightweight, clocking in at about 1 pound.

The back of the tablet has a unique, dual-tone metallic finish, along with a single 13MP camera with LED flash in the corner. Though the dual-tone metallic finish looks beautiful in person, it is very prone to fingerprints, so I’d recommend a case. There’s a small pill-shaped outline on the back, which actually houses a magnet. This magnet stripe is designed to hold and charge the optional Lenovo Precision Pen 3, which is sold separately.

Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Gen 2 front facing horizontal camera
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

What’s interesting, at least for me, is the location of the front-facing camera. Like its predecessor, the Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Gen 2 is landscape-oriented, so the front-facing camera is actually on the longer, horizontal side. This is like the new 10th-generation iPad, which moved the front camera to landscape orientation instead of at the top in portrait orientation. Considering that people will mostly use a tablet in landscape mode for video calls, this only makes sense.

But if you’re like me and haven’t used a tablet with a horizontal camera before, it might take a bit of getting used to, especially with things like Face Unlock. Still, I think this is the right way to go with a front-facing camera on a tablet, and want to see it on more devices — especially Apple’s iPad lineup.

Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Gen 2 screen and performance

Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Gen 2 Home screen with Precision Pen 3
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

The Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Gen 2 comes with an 11.2-inch 2.5K OLED display with 2560 x 1536 resolution. It also has a 120Hz refresh rate. During my testing, scrolling through my social networks, email, messages, and calendars was smooth and responsive. The crisp resolution also means things look great, making this an excellent tablet to consider for your media consumption and gaming. Android 12 on the Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Gen 2 also has eye protection mode, which reduces the amount of blue light that you see during use. I don’t like using this on most devices, as it can mess with the colors too much for my liking, but it’s helpful if your eyes are feeling strained.

The display is also glossy and resistant to fingerprints. Of course, this doesn’t mean that it won’t ever have fingerprints, but it shouldn’t be too bad. I did notice quite a bit on my unit’s screen, though, so I would still recommend a screen protector.

Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Gen 2 power button
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

During my time with the Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Gen 2, I’ve mostly used it for consuming media, as I did not receive the optional keyboard case with my unit. Reading is fantastic on the high-resolution screen, and movies and shows were sharp and full of smaller details thanks to Dolby Vision and HDR10+ support.

And since the Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Gen 2 has Dolby Atmos spatial audio with the quad JBL speakers, it’s perfect for an immersive media experience. I could have the volume low and still hear everything well, and even at max volume, there is no distortion.

Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Gen 2 quick memo with "hello there!" on the canvas
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

I was sent the Lenovo Precision Pen 3 with my Tab P11 Pro unit, which I tested out. The design of the stylus is similar to that of the Apple Pencil 2 and the pen included with the Amazon Kindle Scribe, with one flat side that magnetically attaches to the back of the tablet. There’s a single button toward the bottom of the pen that can be clicked to bring up the Quick Memo notepad, and while in that app, you can double-click the button to quickly switch between the pen and eraser tools. The Precision Pen 3 is also pressure sensitive, so you can get a lighter or bolder stroke, depending on how much pressure is applied.

Lenovo made the Precision Pen 3 feel like an Apple Pencil, so I have that sense of familiarity with it. I’m not a digital artist, so I’ve used it for quick, handwritten notes. In my testing, the pen feels accurate on the screen, and the pressure sensitivity works well, allowing me to differentiate my strokes on the canvas. I also noticed that the Precision Pen 3 displays a cursor on the screen when it’s hovering above the display, similar to the new Hover Mode found with the iPad Pro with M2 and Apple Pencil 2.

Again though, I mainly just use the stylus to navigate and do quick little scribbles — nothing too serious or intense. However, the Precision Pen 3 has some other functionality, including screenshots, a laser pointer, magnifying glass, and a camera scanner. Enabling these functions can be quickly done by pressing the button on the pen in select apps.

Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Gen 2 precision pen 3 closeup
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

My Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Gen 2 unit comes with 6GB LPDDR4X RAM, which is tolerable. I did notice that switching between apps or just navigating around would sometimes have some stutter in the animations, and I’d imagine that it may be more frustrating if you are doing work on the tablet with the keyboard case and have a lot more multitasking involved. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to really use the tablet for work since I am lacking the keyboard case accessory, but I would not recommend using this as your only work machine if at all possible. If you insist, there is a productivity mode that turns the software into something that is more reminiscent of Windows with a bottom taskbar and floating windows.

For the price point, 6GB of RAM is not too bad. This model also has 128GB of storage, and you can expand the storage capacity with a microSD card. But again, if you’re looking for a solid tablet to use full-time for work, I think an iPad Pro would be a better overall choice, though I would personally ditch a tablet and stick with a laptop myself.

Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Gen 2 software

Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Gen 2 Android 12 app drawer
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

The Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Gen 2 comes with Android 12 out of the box. According to Lenovo’s website, the Tab P11 Pro Gen 2 should get the next two versions of Android, which should end at Android 14. It will also come with three years of security updates.

There is a version of Android 12 that is optimized for larger devices, Android 12L. Lenovo has said that the Tab P11 Pro will be its first tablet to get the Android 12L update, but it won’t be until next year. So right now, the Tab P11 Pro Gen 2 is still using standard Android 12.

Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Gen 2 showing productivity mode in settings
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

Simply put, Android 12 is just not super-optimized for larger screens. There are some apps that will feature multiple sections and make use of the larger screen space, but there are still a lot of apps on the Google Play Store that are still just blown-up phone versions that just don’t look nice or make use of the bigger display.

The Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Gen 2 also has Face Unlock, which I enabled because I’m so used to Face ID on my iPhone and iPad Pro. However, I noticed that with this turned on, the tablet is searching for a face as soon as the display comes out of sleep mode.

Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Gen 2 Face Unlock fail
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

When I was out shooting photos for this review, the screen kept waking up and looking for a face, even though I was photographing the back of the tablet. Or when I just pick up the tablet to move it, it instantly looks for a face.

When no face is detected, it will provide haptic feedback to let you know. This applies to both direct unlock and slide-to-unlock settings. The feedback when no face is detected right away is more annoying than anything. I wish it operated like iOS, where you can “wake” the screen, but not unlock it right away. Maybe it’s just an Android 12 thing, but it just feels overly sensitive for Face Unlock.

Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Gen 2 cameras

Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Gen 2 with pen pointing at rear 13MP camera on ground
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

The cameras on the Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Gen 2 are nothing to write home about. On the rear, you’ll find a 13MP camera with autofocus, and on the front is an 8MP selfie camera. I’ve never been a fan of using a tablet for photos, but the 13MP camera is fine when you need to scan a document or take a quick photo to share with someone.

However, the 8MP front camera is pretty bad, especially when you compare it to other modern tablets like the iPad. It’s low resolution, for one, and it is fixed focus, so you won’t be able to adjust it if it looks terrible (and it does). I also noticed that it washed my skin tone out quite a bit and made my bottom lip appear bright orange-pink, which is hilariously off from real life.

If you absolutely must use the Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Gen 2 for things like video calls or snapping a quick photo, it will technically work — just don’t expect it to look great.

Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Gen 2 battery life

Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Gen 2 held in hand
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

Lenovo packed an 8,000mAh battery into the Tab P11 Pro Gen 2 and claims that the tablet can last around 14 hours on a single charge. Since I was unable to use it as a work machine, I’ve been testing it primarily as an entertainment device.

With light use, the Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Gen 2 can last for a few days before needing a recharge. If I go heavy on the streaming and gaming, it will still make it through the day, but it would be best to charge it up overnight.

Lenovo’s tablet can show the battery remaining in the status bar, but it also tells you how much longer you can use it with the current charge. However, this can be inaccurate depending on what you’re using the tablet for, so don’t rely heavily on it.

Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Gen 2 price and availability

Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Gen 2 duotone back with Precision Pen 3 on top on blue background
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

You can find the Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Gen 2 on Lenovo’s website starting at $400 for the base model with 4GB RAM and 128GB storage. The model I received for review, which has 6GB of RAM, is slightly more at $430. However, you can easily find it on sale for less cash.

The Lenovo Precision Pen 3, which is the optional stylus that works with the Tab P11 Pro, costs $70 separately. The Lenovo Keyboard Pack, which adds a protective back cover with a kickstand and keyboard for the tablet, costs $100. Both of these accessories can also be found on Lenovo’s site.

Honestly, it’s hard to find a good Android tablet in a market that is largely dominated by Apple’s iPad. If you are looking for an Android tablet that is mostly going to be used for multimedia and maybe a smart home hub, then you should consider Lenovo’s older Yoga Smart Tab instead. Performance is pretty good with the Snapdragon 439 processor, and you have dual JBL Hi-Fi speakers with Dolby Atmos support. The Yoga Smart Tab also has a built-in kickstand, so you don’t need extra accessories if you just want to prop it up and watch a movie — you can even hang it! It’s also slightly less costly, coming in at under $300 regularly.

John Velasco/Digital Trends

Samsung also has some affordable tablets, like the Galaxy Tab A8. The 10.5-inch size is portable, and you get decent midrange performance with the Unisoc Tiger T618. It’s lightweight, slim, and has good battery life too. But if you want the best overall Android tablet, then take a look at the slightly more expensive Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Plus. It’s a little larger at 12.4 inches, but it has a 120Hz AMOLED display, fingerprint sensor, 12MP front-facing camera, and more. It’s more expensive at $700, but it’s a far better overall tablet.

Galaxy Tab S8 atop the tenth generation iPad.
Nadeem Sarwar / DigitalTrends

Of course, I think for the price, an iPad is a better overall buy. The iPad Air tops our best tablets list, but you can also consider the newest base model iPad as well, which is similar to the Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Gen 2 in some features and price.

If you really want a landscape front-facing camera, the iPad is better in terms of quality, and Center Stage is a neat feature that always keeps you in the center of the frame.

A good Android tablet, but not a great one

Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Gen 2 on ground
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

The Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Gen 2 is not a bad tablet by any means. In fact, it’s pretty decent for the midrange price point. It’s just a bit limited due to the current inclusion of Android 12 — Android 12L optimization will not arrive until sometime in 2023. My usage was also slightly hindered since I did not have the accompanying keyboard case, so I could not try doing a full day of work on it, which is what I would normally use a tablet for.

It is quite good for a media consumption device thanks to the sharp 11.2-inch 2.5K OLED display with Dolby Vision and HDR10+. And with a quad-speaker system with Dolby Atmos spatial audio, you can get immersed in whatever it is you’re watching. Even at max volume, there’s no distortion, which is nice for a tablet in this space.

For the price, the Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Gen 2 is a good travel companion or entertainment consumption device. The extra accessories will complete the experience, but they are sold separately and will add to the overall cost. The hardware is nice and feels mostly premium (sans the front camera), and it’s just the software that is holding the tablet back from being great.

In the end, though, I think there are some better options out there, especially when you look at the Apple iPad lineup. That’s been the case for a lot of cheaper Android tablets for a while, and the Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Gen 2 doesn’t really do anything to change it.

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