New week, new Lenovo phone. It has become almost like clockwork. Lenovo is launching phones after phones every month and the latest to join the ranks is the Lenovo P2. This phone was first unveiled by the company in the middle of the last year at IFA. Since then Lenovo is gradually rolling it out across the world. Now it is coming to India. The Lenovo P2 launched in India today at a price of Rs 17,999. This price is for the 4GB RAM version. The one with 3GB RAM costs Rs 16,999.
I am glad it has arrived here because this is one of the best Lenovo phones I have seen and used in a long long time. While reviewing the Lenovo P2, I found it distinct, unlike the K6 Note or the K6 Power that seem generic even if they are good phones, and I saw that it offers consumer the kind of experience that makes it a good deal at its launch price.
Also read: Lenovo P2: Top specs, key features, India price & everything you need to know
The reason why the Lenovo P2 seems like one hell of a phone is simple: It’s an all-rounder. It does have some weaknesses, but overall all that is good about it shines brightly enough to overshadow everything else. It has got decent hardware and the software has, compared to the earlier Lenovo phones, improved up to the point where it no longer feels in your face and bloated, although it is still a bit too colourful, too loud, for my taste. But all of this in a while, first let’s take a better look at the phone.
Most stylish Lenovo phone ever?
The Lenovo P2 is a good looking phone, although it is not the most stylish Lenovo phone ever. That continues to be the Lenovo Vibe S1 — and up to an extent the Lenovo K900. But the P2 is not at all shabby. When compared to some of the other recent Lenovo phones, it looks mighty slick. The design is still not original. We have seen similar lines, similar curves, similar design curves in other phones. But in the P2, all of them come together to create a phone that you will not like to hide under a case. The P2, with its clean lines, chamfered edges, expertly cut buttons and an all-metal body looks like a premium phone. It looks like a phone that ought to cost more.
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In the mainstream phones — devices that cost less than Rs 20,000 — we have seen there are plastic inserts on the top and bottom part of the rear cover. This is one way to keep the cost of the phone down, without resorting to exotic solutions for the good antenna performance. The P2 too has the plastic inserts. But they are smaller compared to what I otherwise see in phones. The brushed metal finish on the plastic also hides them well, giving a more uniform look to the phone. Finally, there is the build quality, which is impeccable with the P2. Every edge of the phone feels well crafted and the buttons are snug, with just the right amount of clicky feel.
Also read: Lenovo K6 Note review: Another Note in the wall
Despite being a big phone and despite packing in a big battery inside it — this is one fact Lenovo is very proud of — the P2 is remarkably slim. It has a 5.5-inch screen and has a huge 5100 mAh battery. Yet it measures 8.3mm, which is laudably thin for a phone with big battery. The tall boy design, combined with the slim profile, also means that the P2 fits in hands very well. It is an easy to carry and easy to use phone.
The P2, with its clean lines, chamfered edges, expertly cut buttons and an all-metal body looks like a premium phone. It looks like a phone that ought to cost more
Lots of praise. But no phone can be perfect. Right? The design of the P2 does have a flaw or two. One thing that I don’t like about the phone is its fingerprint scanner, which seems to be the exact copy of what is there in the Moto G4 Plus. Although, this is understandable because the G4 Plus is a Lenovo-designed phone. But that front fingerprint scanner on the G4 Plus looked out of place and it looks the same on the P2. Performance-wise the fingerprint scanner on the P2 is fine. It’s fast and precise. But it position I don’t like.
I also don’t like the fact that there is so much blank space under the screen. The P2 uses on-screen navigation buttons. But then, I guess that is a trade-off Lenovo engineers made. The extra space under the screen, necessitated by the fingerprint scanner, helps Lenovo stuff a large battery inside the phone. Getting rid of this space, and moving the fingerprint scanner to the rear cover might have made the phone more compact but it also possible had affected the size of the battery. Tradeoffs. Though personally I would have accepted a smaller battery in return for a more wholesome design.
Also read: Lenovo P2: Top specs, key features, India price & everything you need to know
Brilliant screen, occasionally brilliant camera
One of the reasons why the P2 is such a good phone is because of its hardware. I reviewed the phone’s version with 4GB RAM and 32GB internal storage and came away impressed with its performance. The good things as far as the P2 performance is concerned start immediately as soon as you power it on. It’s rare to get a SuperAMOLED screen in a sub-Rs 20,000 phone but the P2 has it. And this is a fantastic screen. It’s not as good as the AMOLED screens you get in Samsung’s more expensive phones, and it doesn’t seem to be as colour accurate as the one in the more expensive OnePlus 3, but for practical purposes you will love this screen. It shows brilliantly rich colours and is bright enough to be usable under the direct sunlight. The fact that AMOLED always has this fantastic contrast also helps it here.
The resolution of the screen is 1080p but is adequate and the display, whether used to read web articles or to watch movies, is sharp enough.
The colours that the screen shows are accentuated by the Lenovo’s extremely vibrant user interface. The icons have rich and deep colours and the wallpapers that have been bundled with the phone too are full of some punchy colours. In fact, it is all too colourful, complete with icons that are still not as slick as what you get on some other phones.
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Compared to the software in Lenovo phones earlier, the company has toned down the user interface. But it is still too loud and vibrant. That said, there are good things afoot here. Just the way it was seen in the K6 Note and the K6 Power, the P2 too has the interface that is somewhat easier on animations and features. It tries to keep things simple, although notification shade still looks too busy. A lot of third party apps, including apps like True Caller, are pre-installed on the phone. But you can remove them. You can remove all of them. At the same time, Lenovo has put in a number of unique features, which are not part of the Android Marshmallow — pity, that companies are still using it months after Android Nougat release — but are useful. Features like ability to lock apps using the fingerprint scanner or option to run two copies of the app on the same phone — two WhatsApps on the same phone FTW — are useful.
The good bit is that the software, for all its busy ways and colours, is easy on the hardware. It seems to be optimised well and that combined with the good hardware inside the phone makes the P2 a speedy performer. The phone comes with 4GB RAM and the Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor. This is an octa-core processor that handles web browsing, movie playback, social media use and even gaming with games like the Asphalt 8 well enough. The animations are smooth and the processor remains cool enough. I wouldn’t say that this phone is as fast as something like the OnePlus 3T — again a more expensive phone — but it surely feels responsive, especially for a phone that costs less than Rs 20,000.
What is brilliant about the P2, however, is its battery. Combined with power-efficient processor and the AMOLED screen, the 5100 mAh battery just keeps pulling the phone, hours after hours
One area where the performance could have been better, however, is the camera. The P2 has a 13-megapixel rear camera and a 5-megapixel front camera. Both cameras are capable of clicking fantastic photos, but just the way we saw it with the earlier Lenovo phones the performance is inconsistent.
In good light, the rear camera in the P2 can click some astoundingly good images. The key is to get the focus right. In good and even light, the camera also gets the exposure right. When all of it comes together, you get images that have lots of details and fantastic light (see the puppy photo). But more often than not, it also underexposes images, especially when the light is uneven. To properly expose shadows, you can manually set the metering point but then highlights are blown in a big big way. In low light the performance is more even. Although, the underexposure is a problem here too. But at least, you don’t get too much noise in the images and you get good colours, even if the light is low.
Also read: OnePlus 3T review: Best phone in India right now
The speed of the camera is on the lower side. It is possible to click sharp-ish photos of pets with it (the sniffing dog, for example) but the hit rate is something like one in 5, which is not bad but not great either.
Here is an example of P2 overexposing an image when the exposure was manually set to highlight the shadows.
The front camera, which clicks 5 megapixel images, is good when the light is nice — read sunshine — but quite average in lower light or shadows.
The camera app is easy to use, though. And there are various modes — HDR modes stand out — that may help you click some artistic photos. It is easy to access these modes and I feel that they can be really popular with users.
Overall, the P2 doesn’t have the camera that we can say is the best in its class. But it’s not bad either. It is quite good, especially for landscape photos in good light. It captures lot of details, and a brilliant when it gets the exposure right. I just wish it was more consistent.
What is brilliant about the P2, however, is its battery. Combined with power-efficient processor and the AMOLED screen, the 5100 mAh battery just keeps pulling the phone, hours after hours. Even with heavy use — say two SIM cards and lot of internet — you will easily get around 18 to 20 hours of battery life with this phone. A bit of frugal use, and you can make it last two days, partly because of its splendid standby performance. It just doesn’t lose the charge. If you want a phone where battery can last long, like really long, the Lenovo P2 should be your choice.
Some other things
— Not only the battery life of the P2 is phenomenal, the rate at which this battery charges with the supplied charger is also fantastic. The phone’s battery, which is huge by the way, can be fully charged in around 1 hour 45 minutes. The supplied 24W charger, even though the P2 has a USB 2 port and not USB C, can supply power at a rate that is seemingly faster than what the OnePlus Dash charger can manage.
— There is small button on the left side of the phone. Toggle this button and a battery-saver mode kicks in. This is very useful.
— The phone supports dual-SIM functionality. But one SIM card uses hybrid slot. This means you can either use two SIM cards or one SIM card and a microSD card.
— The phone comes with a pathetic set of earphones. If you are buying a phone that costs above Rs 15,000, also get a Rs 500 earphones to go with it. The bundled ones aren’t good.
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— The single speaker in the P2 is decent enough, but don’t play metal music through it.
— On the front, the screen has a layer of curved glass, which gives the phone appealing looks.
— Inside the box, Lenovo bundles a clear plastic cover and the USB-To-Go adapter. Some people will find it useful, some won’t.
Should you buy Lenovo P2
The answer to this is tentatively yes. The P2 is a good phone. In fact, it is one of the best phones Lenovo has released in the last one year. The price of Rs 16,999 is good. But why I said tentatively is because of two reasons. One, if you are more into the stock Android, try the Moto G4 Plus. Two, if you want a better camera, again look at the Moto G4 Plus.
But then there are also some advantages of going with the Lenovo P2. With P2, you get phenomenal battery life. You also get a better screen, better build quality, and a more attractive phone. At Rs 16,999 it is one of the most well-rounded I have seen, especially since the mighty Moto X Play. If you are eyeing it, go ahead. You won’t be disappointed