It’s no secret that we take technology for granted. Features that are magical when introduced, become the expected. Take the GPS for example. We were amazed when it was originally introduced and today, you can’t imagine a smartphone not equipped with it. I have the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro with me which is the very first device equipped with Google’s Project Tango- an incredible technology that makes the impossible possible.
The Lenovo Phab 2 Pro comes packaged in a rather large box with a cutout on front showcasing the multiple cameras present on the device. Along with the phone, box has a charger, a headset and a quickstart guide.
Measuring 179.8 x 88.6 x 10.7 mm, the Phab 2 Pro is a rather large phone- definitely bigger than any other phone I’ve tested recently. It’s also quite weighty at 259g. However, that’s somewhat expected considering the technology it packs. I will also add that the Phab 2 Pro will most likely be a secondary device for most people that are interested in it and considering that, the size of the Phab 2 Pro is non-issue. The Phab 2 Pro has a very solid feel to it- I’m scared to drop it on my foot as it might break a bone or two.
Lenovo has put the large footprint of the Phab 2 Pro to good use. The front has a massive 6.4-inch IPS screen with QuadHD resolution that looks impressive and is almost as big as a tablet. In fact, that’s exactly what my daughter referred to it as when I was testing the phone out. Below the screen are capacitive buttons while on the right side sits the volume rocker and power button. At the bottom is the USB charging port and the top houses the 3.5mm audio jack. On the back, Lenovo has put a fingerprint sensor as well as the cameras for Tango to work properly.
The Phab 2 Pro uses a very specific Qualcomm based Snapdragon 652 processor that has been tweaked for Tango. This quad core processor is complemented with 4GB RAM and 64GB storage. Lenovo allows you to equip the phone with a MicroSD card if you need more storage. For connectivity, Dual SIM cards are supported along with the usual WiFi and Bluetooth. The primary camera is of 16MP while the front camera can take picture at 8MP. All of these make the Phab 2 Pro a a good phone that runs fast enough. But all that is secondary. Let’s talk about the real reasons someone would buy this phone: Tango.
It’s a new technology from Google that that enables augmented reality gaming and utilities. It does this using depth & motion tracking sensors and an infrared camera that work together to detect the environment around you. Think of it as a GPS system that works indoors. The question is- what can you use it for and what advantages does it bring? I used the following apps on the Phab 2 Pro that require Tango technology.
The first app is made by Google and as the name suggest, allows you to measure objects. You can measure anything such as walls, floor tiles or even someone’s height. It’s super simple to use- you point your camera to the start of an object, just tap and keep moving between end points. I found the measuring app to be very accurate- for example, I measured the tiles on my floor which I know are 60x60 and measure reported them at almost that- I blame my shaky hands at the slight discrepancy.
Basically Holo will insert a hologram into the camera’s viewfinder. This is quite fun to use, as the holograms have a bunch of actions, and you can also do a lot of things with them. However, the cameras on the Phab 2 Pro are not that great at scanning the environment in Holo, as sometimes the holograms end up loading sideways. You also get hologram packs such as Donald Trump or even a zombie doing the Thriller dance.
Raise was one of the apps that was the most looked forward to with the Project Tango. With this app, you can have an AR based pet, with which you can play with and even train. You can’t really choose what pet you get, we ended up with a blue dog. You are also pushed to be creative, as the pet sometimes won’t like the name you give it and you will have to pick another name. The response time with this app could be a little better though, with objects spawning in mid air, or moving through objects.
Aimed more at the football fans, this app allows users to spawn a football player and juggle a football by tapping the player. A simple game, focused more on accuracy and timing, Chelsea Kick is a great way to kill time. Be careful when you spawn the character though, as sometimes it can get a little too close or big.
This is by far our favorite app. Scenes allow you to scan your environment and create a 3D render of it. Great for measuring your room, or just getting a good 3D image of something, Scenes is a lot of fun to play with. The practical applications of this app are also quite amazing. However, you have to be careful when recording your environment, as every slight movement can make or break your render.
Now I’ll be be honest- none of these apps are perfect. However, this is still very new technology. This makes you realize how impressive these apps are, and what we could potentially get in the future. For example, apps like measure can make a significant impact on people that deal in real estate. Imagine the real estate agent being able to map an entire home or apartment before they list it. A potential buyer can then overlay their furniture or appliances to see how things look or fit without even before stepping into the property.
While the Phab 2 Pro is a decent overall phone it’s primary market isn’t everyone. It’s a device that will get a small set of users very excited- those that want to ride the first wave of Google’s Tango technology. At AED 1749, I think it’s quite well priced as a secondary device, which is how I see it. Yes, you can use it as a primary phone- it has a good screen and decent specs but for the price it’s asking, there are better handsets for the average consumer. But really, the Phab 2 Pro is primarily aimed at those curious about Tango and Lenovo has made a solid device for that market.