As anticipated, Lenovo, at their event today,showcased its intuitive Phab 2 series smartphone lineup with additional hardware that underpins Google’s Project Tango and Augmented Reality. While the major focus here has been appointed towards the former, only one of the three models actually features specific sensors for that. The rest are limited to AR effects and gaming. Despite packing supplementary cameras, Lenovo has managed to keep the price on the lower edge as the base variant starts at a competitive cost of merely $200. Hence, let’s take a closer look to understand what these devices are and what differentiating characteristics they exhibit.

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Lenovo Phab 2

First and foremost, let’s the get basics out. The lower end model, Lenovo Phab 2 offers a massive 6.4-inches HD panel on the front that sounds astonishingly disappointing at this point. Underneath, it runs on a 64-bit MediaTek MTK8735 Quad-Core processor backed up by 2GB of RAM, 16GB internal storage expandable via a MicroSD card, 4G LTE, Dual SIM and a 4050mAh battery pack with smart power management. It flaunts a 13MP rear camera along with a 5MP shooter up front. Lenovo has also crammed in some impressive audio components including Dolby Atmos, Dolby 5.1 audio capture and three microphones that support active noise cancellation. There’s nothing peculiar about this one, although, fun AR effects can be achieved using Lenovo’s custom camera application that situates objects dynamically onto real world environment. This is something Sony has been packing in their Xperia flagship phones for quite some time, they’re neat but nothing that will boost sales. The Phab 2 will retail starting from September 16 at $199 in the US in two color options – Champagne gold and gunmetal grey.

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Lenovo Phab 2 Plus

Moving on, next is a considerably more powerful – Lenovo Phab 2 Plus. It comes with a much better 6.4-inches Quad HD 2.5D curved glass display, 64-bit MediaTek MTK8783 Octa-Core processor, 3GB of RAM, 64GB internal memory that can be expanded, 4G LTE, Dual SIM and the same battery and audio setup. Additionally, the Phab 2 Plus sports an impressive aluminium unibody 7.9mm chassis and a fingerprint scanner, something which is entirely missing on the Phab 2. The camera department houses two 13MP rear lenses with a dedicated Pro image processor, Dual LED flash and an 8MP front facing camera. Along with the basic AR effects, users can also play dynamic Augmented reality games thanks to the auxiliary sensor and processor. The Phab 2 Plus will cost $299 with two color options in the US, sales for which commence from September 16.

Augmented Reality

The Augmented Reality capabilities present on both of these devices let you play around with surroundings and project objects like cartoons or animals. On the Phab 2, this is limited to mostly gimmicks but things get a bit interesting on the Phab Plus that constitutes extra hardware for measuring depth which enables live gaming where you’ll be able to, for instance, shoot dragons off your dining table. The Plus variant could succeed, however, the Phab 2 offers extremely low-end specifications by today’s standards and doesn’t live up to the expectations.

Lenovo Phab 2 Pro

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Lastly, there’s the showstopper – The first Project Tango phone, Lenovo Phab 2 Pro. On the specifications side, it features the same 6.4-inches Quad HD panel with 2.5D curved glass and assertive display that intelligently adjusts screen brightness by taking hints from where you are. There’s a 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 Octa-Core processor powering the massive handheld, 4GB of RAM, 64GB internal with MicroSD expansion, 4050mAh battery pack with fast charging, aluminium build , Dual 4G-enabled SIM support and a fingerprint sensor. The fundamental factor here is the multiple camera arrangements, it rocks a usual 16MP RGB camera with Tri-LED layout assisted by an ultra-wide fisheye lens and a separate depth sensor for calculating the time for light to travel between an object and the lens. Don’t worry, Lenovo hasn’t disregarded selfies, there’s also an 8MP front shooter. The Phab 2 Pro is available in the same color configurations and will retail at $499 from September 16. A global launch is certain, although, a timeframe hasn’t been fixed yet.

Project Tango

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The point of focus here is beyond these numbers, it’s the Project Tango integration that matters. For starters, Google’s Project Tango let’s mobile devices map the space including walls, floors, furniture around them in an interactive digital sample. A general run-of-the-mill phone doesn’t inhibit a sense of its surrounding. However, the Phab 2 Pro is qualified to measure physical objects in real-time and figure out how close or far and of what size they are. This opens a wide world of opportunities and applications that make use of this information in order to create an efficient virtual environment.

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For example, imagine buying furniture and positioning a sofa in your living room without actually going to the store and moving it manually. Organizations can generate Tango supported blueprints to guide a user inside their offices or calculate distance while building something. Another application can be entertainment and arcade games that turn your room into a haunted place or any other related activity. Lenovo has devised a Tango hub or portal where a user can download compatible titles to try out. Some of the worthy names include Autodesk, GuidiGo, Ghostly Mansion and a bunch more.

Lenovo’s substantial attempt at penetrating the smartphone industry with yet another promising technology does sound futuristic and profitable. However, it will be tough to sell mostly because of the huge size. The Phab 2’s success looks definitely uncertain right now, although, the Phab 2 Plus and Pro have the potential for breaking into the industry because first and foremost, they’re really capable smartphone with enough power to impress on paper. This is the first attempt by Google for bringing in one of their projects to the consumer market, it will be absolutely followed by more products that for sure will be comparatively practical as a smartphone.


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Shubham is based out of Ahmedabad, India and is studying to be a Computer Engineer, while specializing in mobile applications. He loves covering what's new in the smartphone space and aims to make it his primary profession some day.