Digital Trends may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

Lenovo Tab P11 Pro review: Great hardware sabotaged by Android

lenovo tab p11 pro review 5
Lenovo Tab P11 Pro review: Great hardware sabotaged by Android
MSRP $500.00
“It's probably the best Android tablet in its price range, but the Tab P11 Pro is seriously let down by a subpar software experience.”
Pros
  • Stunning design
  • Excellent accessories
  • Solid performance
  • Excellent battery
Cons
  • Subpar software experience
  • Android apps on tablets are terrible
  • Middling camera

It’s hard to make a case for Android tablets these days, especially if they cost more than a few hundred dollars. Sure, some companies make stylish tablets with beautiful displays and top-tier performance, but they’re still held back by Android — which is awesome on phones, but not so great on tablets. Lenovo, however, thinks it has cracked the code with the new Lenovo Tab P11 Pro.

There’s no denying it: The Lenovo Tab P11 Pro is a stunner. It’s thin, has a beautiful edge-to-edge display, and boasts solid performance thanks to the Snapdragon 730G. At first glance, it seriously makes a case for itself as a slightly cheaper alternative to the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7, which is our top pick for Android tablets.

Ultimately, though, the Android experience is best-suited to the smartphone, and Lenovo fails to change that. Here are our thoughts on the device.

Design and display

Lenovo seems to have nailed the design aspect of its tablets. The Lenovo Tab P11 Pro is sleek and stylish, looks modern thanks to its edge-to-edge display, and is built with premium materials. It reminds me a lot of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7, which is a good thing — I loved the overall design and feel of the Tab S7, and while the Tab P11 Pro could reasonably be called a design copy, it still looks great.

As is the trend these days, the tablet has nicely rounded corners, with a metal unibody build. On the back you’ll get a slate gray color scheme reminiscent of Apple’s Space Gray, with an antenna line on the top edge and a dual-sensor camera. The camera module protrudes a fair amount from the back of the tablet, but with the included back cove,r it’s not a big deal. We’ll go into the included accessories a little more later.

When you hold the tablet in portrait mode, the power button (with its built-in fingerprint sensor) is on the top right, with the volume rocker just next to it on the right side. On the bottom, there’s a USB-C port. There’s no headphone jack on the Tab P11 Pro.

Also on the right side is a set of sensors and cameras that can be used for facial recognition. Unfortunately, face recognition doesn’t really work all that well in my experience, and you might want to opt for the fingerprint sensor instead. Facial recognition worked accurately, it’s just that it usually took a few seconds to actually unlock the device. The fingerprint sensor worked quickly and accurately most of the time.

At only 6.9mm thick, the Tab P11 Pro feels great in the hand. At a little over a pound, it’s not overly heavy, and the bezels are the perfect size — they leave just enough room to hold the device without accidental screen touches. You wouldn’t want them any narrower.

Speaking of the screen, it’s a doozy. The Tab P11 Pro ha an 11.5-inch OLED display with a 1,600 x 2,560 resolution and a brightness of up to 500 nits. It’s beautiful. Text is nice and sharp, colors are vibrant and bright, and the tablet is perfect for watching movies and gaming. But it’s not perfect. As someone who regularly uses an iPad Pro, I would have loved to see a high refresh rate here, but it’s hard to really count not having a high refresh rate against the tablet given its price range.

Our first Tab P11 Pro had a screen burn-in issue right out of the box, and Lenovo quickly replaced the review unit. If you experience a similar issue, it should be covered under the limited warranty for manufacturer defects.

Performance, battery, and camera

The Lenovo Tab P11 Pro is a little cheaper than the Galaxy Tab S7, and one of the ways it cuts down on costs is with a slightly cheaper processor. But don’t take that to mean that the tablet is underpowered — it can still handle the vast majority of tasks you can throw at it, thanks to the Snapdragon 730G processor, which is coupled with either 4GB or 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.

Frankly, it’s more than powerful enough. No, the Snapdragon 730G isn’t as powerful as the Snapdragon 865, but it can still handle multitasking, gaming, and more. Playing Call of Duty: Mobile was a good experience, with few skips and good load times. The tablet generally handled multitasking well, including browsing the web, sending emails, using Microsoft Word, and so on.

That’s not to say it’s a performance beast. It still has its limits, and if you plan on using it as a replacement to a laptop, for example, you’ll reach those limits. We recommend going for the 6GB of RAM model, if you can afford it, and if you plan on using your tablet for more than just media consumption. It’s only $50 more, and it will make for a smoother experience.

Frankly, it’s more than powerful enough. No, the Snapdragon 730G isn’t as powerful as the Snapdragon 865, but it can still handle solid multitasking, gaming, and more.

The battery life on offer by the Lenovo Tab P11 Pro is excellent. The tablet comes with a massive 8,600mAh battery, which is more than enough to get it through days of use at a time. If you charge it up and don’t use it for a few days, you can expect that it’ll still have over 90% of its battery left. If you heavily use the tablet, you should still get at least a few days of use out of it before you need to charge it up.

Unlike on a smartphone, the rear-facing camera on the tablet just isn’t as important as the front-facing camera, given the fact you’ll probably use your tablet for video chatting more than taking actual photos. Unfortunately, neither of the cameras on the P11 Pro perform great.

On the back of the device, you’ll get a dual-camera setup, with one 13-megapixel main camera and one 5MP ultrawide. On the front, there’s two 8MP cameras, one for photos and one for face recognition. They’ll both do the job in decent lighting, but add any complexity to your photos or videos and you’ll likely run into issues.

Software

The Lenovo Tab P11 Pro has a stunning design, an excellent display, and a great battery life. But ultimately, it doesn’t matter how great the hardware is if the software isn’t up to the task. Unfortunately, it’s not in this case.

Now, that’s not all Lenovo’s fault. Android is a great operating system, but it’s not really built for tablets, and even the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7‘s software experience isn’t the best. It’s really a shame, and it’s frustrating that despite how mature Android is as an operating system, it’s still not the productivity powerhouse that it could be.

That’s not to mention the fact that Android apps just aren’t really optimized for tablet use. Twitter on the tablet is basically just a stretched-out version of the smartphone app, and it looks terrible. By comparison, the iPad app splits out into columns that really take advantage of the space on offer by the big screen. That, of course, is Twitter’s fault, but it highlights the fact that Android tablets have really been forgotten — and Android tablet manufacturers look bad because of it.

As you would expect, Lenovo builds its own features into the software of the Tab P11 Pro. The tablet can be used in two different modes — a normal Android tablet mode and a so-called “productivity mode.” Productivity mode switches on by default when you connect the device to its included keyboard, but you can also turn it on without the keyboard.

Productivity mode is kind of like Lenovo’s take on Samsung DeX, but without the years of refinement. Apps are windowed instead of full screen, and you’ll get a row of recent apps on the bottom of the screen for multitasking. It’s a fine approach but it feels very unfinished. Apps, for example, don’t snap to the edge of the screen, and they load in a tiny window when you first open them up. It’s really not very well implemented, and you might actually be more productive in normal mode.

But I wouldn’t turn to the Tab P11 Pro for productivity in the first place, or at least not for its primary purpose. The device will work fine for the odd job, and actually, given the solid keyboard, might work well for things like replying to emails or writing into a word processor without needing to multitask. But don’t expect to get more productivity out of it and still retain your sanity.

All of this is made even worse by the fact that the tablet ships with Android 10, which is over a year old now. Given Lenovo’s track record with Android updates, it’s entirely possible that the tablet will never get Android 11, let alone Android 12. I’d be happy to be proven wrong, though.

Keyboard and stylus

The Lenovo Tab P11 Pro comes with a range of accessories to support different types of use, and these accessories are really quite nice. That’s to say, it’s a shame that the tablet’s software isn’t really built for productivity.

Protecting the tablet are a back cover and a keyboard, which can be used separately. I actually ended up simply keeping the back cover on the tablet all the time. It has a nice textile look and feel to it, plus the kickstand means that it’s easy to prop a tablet up on the table when needed. And the kickstand is infinitely adjustable, so you can set it at the angle you want. The only frustration I have with the back cover is that the hinge creates a bump along the middle of it, which means that it can’t lie flat on its back.

The keyboard matches the design of the back cover, and attaches magnetically to the bottom of the tablet. Once attached, it works pretty well. It’s not the best-feeling keyboard out there, but for a free, included accessory, it’s not bad. Keys could use a little more travel to them, but that’s a small complaint, and I still generally enjoyed typing on it … but only on a table. The kickstand design means that this is not the best device for using on your lap.

The tablet also comes with a stylus andm while it’s not bad, I didn’t get much use of it. Unlike on the Galaxy Tab S7, the stylus doesn’t attach magnetically to the tablet itself. Instead, it comes with a sleeve that you can attach to the device with an adhesive, but that’s a pretty permanent approach. Alternatively, you can attach the sleeve to a keychain. Neither of these are good solutions.

Price and availability

The Lenovo Tab P11 Pro starts at $500, however, as mentioned, I recommend upgrading to the 6GB of RAM model for $550 if you want to use the tablet for any kind of productivity or multitasking. It’s available straight from the Lenovo website.

Our take

The Lenovo Tab P11 Pro is a tough sell. It’s probably the best Android tablet in its price range, thanks to its excellent hardware, and the fact that there isn’t much competition out there — unless the Galaxy Tab S7 is on sale, in which case it’s a better option. Unfortunately, the Tab P11 Pro is seriously let down by a subpar software experience, making it hard to recommend to anyone who wants to do more than basic media consumption and very basic productivity.

Is there a better alternative?

If you’re set on sticking within the Android ecosystem, then there are a few alternatives to consider. Perhaps the most notable is the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7, which was available for $550 at the time of this writing. The Tab S7’s software experience still isn’t perfect, but it’s better than the Lenovo Tab P11 Pro, plus it offers improved performance thanks to the Snapdragon 865+.

If you’re not dead set to Android, the iPad Air is our top pick for the best tablet out there — and for good reason. It also has a stunning modern design and excellent performance, as well as a top-notch software experience for work or play. It’s a far better product in almost every way, except for the fact that you’ll have to pay extra for accessories like a keyboard and stylus. Even the entry-level iPad is worth considering, and while it’s not as premium-looking, it’ll still make for a better overall experience than the Tab P11 Pro.

How long will it last?

The Lenovo Tab P11 Pro is built with metal and should last for at least two years of use without physical damage or any major slowdowns. You may be able to get three or four years of use out of it if you take good care of it, but be aware that it will start to slow down and that the software will feel pretty dated.

Should you buy it?

No. Get an iPad Air or Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 instead.

Editors' Recommendations