Lenovo P2 Review
If you are in store for a big phone with a great battery life and a very affordable price, the Lenovo P2 will inevitably show up as an option.
The 5.5-inch phone by Lenovo features a gigantic, 5,100 mAh battery, a OnePlus 3-esque design, and a price of under $300 (€300).
The P2 also stands out with its one-of-a-kind physical side button dedicated solely to enabling battery saving mode and… with the rather frugal Snapdragon 625 chip running the show, it’s all about maximizing battery life.
Is it a good phone overall, though? Isn’t it too thick? How is the camera? We answer these and other questions in our detailed review, let’s jump right in.
Design and Display
Old-school design that looks solid, but lacks refinement. Display quality is not terrible, but whites are greenish and colors are not well balanced.
The Lenovo P2 is a phone that is made to impress with battery longevity, and a bigger battery usually means a thicker and unsightly phone, but the P2 is none of that. It features a sturdy metal construction: it’s metal for the frame, the sides and side buttons, and the back cover is metal as well (with two tiny strips of plastic for the antenna, but those are painted the same color as the metal back cover and do not poke out in any weird way).
In fact, if we had to look for similar phones, we would say that the Lenovo P2 looks very similar to the OnePlus 3 and 3T, two devices that we have complimented on their looks in the past.
But wait, we hear you asking, isn’t the Lenovo P2, with its 5,100 mAh battery, significantly thicker too? True, it is a thicker phone, but the difference is really not that noticeable: the phone has a slightly curved towards the edges back cover that measures just 8.3mm thick (the OnePlus 3 measures 7.35mm). We are impressed that Lenovo fit such a huge battery in such a manageable form factor, and we definitely do not feel that the P2 is too thick.
Other details include a fast and responsive fingerprint scanner up front, built-in the home key, a 3.5mm headset jack strangely positioned at the top of the phone, and a microUSB port for charging (we really wish it was a USB-C).
Forget about water-proofing, though: this phone is not protected from the elements in any special way, so you need to be more careful handling it.
The Lenovo P2 features a 5.5-inch Super AMOLED 1080 x 1920-pixel Full HD screen with all the typical characteristics of an AMOLED display: deep blacks, excellent contrast, great viewing angles, but also colors that are not perfectly balanced.
You have two color modes to choose from: one with vivid, punchy color, and one with more neutral colors, but interestingly, whites appear a bit greenish, which definitely affects image quality all across. Other colors are also not properly balanced and appear oversaturated. We would say that color reproductions is decent, but not really great. There is a weird Night mode settings that further dims the screens, but does not filter out the blue light, so you’d need a third party app for that.
Interface and Functionality
Clunky Lenovo interface on top of an old version of Android and no promise for updates.
The Lenovo P2 ships with a heavy custom skin on top of Android 6.0 Marshmallow. Both the skin and the outdated version of Android are a disappointment. Lenovo has promised to update the phone to Android 7.0 Nougat in April 2017, a few months later than most others, but still it's something in a world of cheap phones that rarely get updated.
The Lenovo UI on top is not a pretty thing either. It looks ugly, outdated, with icons and visuals that would have probably looked in theme when Android 2.3 Gingerbread was all the rage, but are a sad sight in early 2017. Sure, you have themes to pick from and various customization options on board, but none of them are much better, so the best that you can get is a look that is tolerable. We recommend using a custom launcher on the Lenovo P2 and with a couple of hours invested in fine-tuning the visuals, you might get a much better interface in many places. Yet still, we found that the original P2 software was in places buggy: playing a particular song in the music player would crash and reboot the phone, setting a different launcher than the stock one would work at first, but then the phone would randomly return to the stock launcher with no warning, and a few other issues nagged on.
There is a long list of inconsistencies in this user interface, and we hope Lenovo works hard on bringing it up to date and make it bug-free.
Processor, Performance and Memory
The frugal Snapdragon 625 runs smoothly in daily tasks, but is not a powerhouse.
The Lenovo P2 is powered by the frugal Snapdragon 625 system chip, an octa-core SoC with eight A53 cores running at up to 2GHz.
And it was a mostly smooth experience for daily tasks, so we have no complaints in this regard.
Of course, benchmarks show that this is not a processor that is among the fastest ones, nor is it a dream for gamers, but if you care about daily tasks and things like browsing the web and Facebook, we’ve had no major issues with speed.
In terms of storage, you have a decent 32GB on-board allowance on the P2, with the option to add additional memory via the microSD card slot.
Internet and Connectivity
4G LTE works perfectly well in Europe with support for all major bands.
The Lenovo P2 is not a phone officially sold in the United States, so you should not be surprised that it does not support 4G LTE bands for any of the major U.S. carriers like Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint.
However, the Lenovo P2 is equipped perfectly proper for the European and Asian market. The European model supports 4G LTE bands 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 20, 28, or put simply it should work on the overwhelming majority of networks in the Old Continent.
You have support for LTE Category 6 and download speeds top up at 300 Mbps, while upload speeds max out at 50 Mbps.
Other connectivity options include Wi-Fi b / g / n with support for only the 2.4GHz channel (this is not great because in dense urban areas you often get much slower speeds on this channel). There is also USB 2.0 support, GPS, Bluetooth 4.1 and the phone does support NFC.
Decent, but not great. 4K video does not look as sharp as you’d expect.
The Lenovo P2 features a 13-megapixel main camera with an LED flash and the neat capability to record video at 4K resolution, while up front there is a 5-megapixel camera for selfies. The main shooter is flat with the surface, so the phone will not weirdly wobble when placed flat on a table.
The camera app supports the useful quick start shortcut (double click the power / lock key to start it, even from a locked screen). The app itself has a ton of ‘smart’ options: it features smart scene recognition, so a sign pops up to inform you when you are shooting landscape, or portraits, or macros, and this should also switch the camera settings to the optimal ones for the scene.
But what about the actual quality of photos and videos? The Lenovo P2 is a decent camera, but it’s not great by any stretch of the imagination.
It captures images with nice exposure and lively colors that look very nice… in some cases. Whenever you have something a bit brighter in an image, it will almost certainly get blown out of proportion. The P2 simply cannot handle the highlights in an image well, burning them and losing all possible detail. If you don’t shoot against the bright sun or if your image does not have such a huge swing in dynamics, the Lenovo P2 is able to lock focus fast and capture a surprisingly good-looking image. But those are a lot of ifs.
While the main camera still gets a decent rating in our testing, the front camera almost always misses the focus in our selfies. Practically every selfie we shot had its focus on the background, with the fact that was supposed to be the subject often coming out blurry and with poor detail.
Going back to the main camera, we look at video recording quality. The P2 can shoot at up to 4K video resolution, but do not get overjoyed. The issues with blown out highlights persists and have the potential to ruin a lot of your video moments, and the phone also lacks any particularly notable video stabilization. Do not expect to see 4K video of the same clarity, detail and caliber as flagship phones here, what you get is something that just borders on decent.
The Lenovo P2 features a single bottom firing loudspeaker, and the loud part here is well deserved. This speaker can pump out some very loud tunes at a very decent quality for a phone. Does that mean it has some depth and bass to it? Of course not. It’s just loud, loud, loud. And it’s a bit tinny and delivers somewhat squeaky vocals, but since we often have to deal with depressingly quiet output from the speakers, we are happy to see that Lenovo can go extra loud. It’s useful for those urgent times when you need to show that important YouTube video to your friends on a bustling street and you absolutely need them to hear it.
A true marathon runner.
Because you know the P2 is all about that battery, ‘bout that battery, no every day chargin’.
Here is the big number: a 5,100 mAh unit lies inside the P2.
Other 5.5-inch phones? The S7 Edge has a 3,600 mAh battery, the OnePlus 3T has a 3,400 mAh cell, iPhone 7 Plus has a 2,900 mAh one.
But it is after you use the phone that you really start appreciating the game-changer that is such a big battery.
With moderate use, you can count on charging this phone once every three days, and even more intense use will likely get you two days off the charger. We actually cannot imagine how is it possible to drain this phone’s battery in a single day.
Well, we can technically. That’s what we did in our battery test: we run a custom test that gives the phone a typical run with its screen set at 200 nits, a level comfortable for indoor use. We run the same test at the same brightness level on all phones.
The result that the P2 scores is outstanding: it gets nearly 12 hours, which easily puts it among the longest lasting phones on our test. This results is much higher than the 6 to 7 hour average we get for most flagship phones, including the Galaxy S7, iPhone 7, Google Pixel and so on.
The P2 also has a dedicated physical switch on the left side that allows you to quickly go into power saving mode. We used it once to try it and never again: with a 5,100 mAh we do not actually need that mode all that much and it’s way too limiting when it’s in use (it basically turns your smartphone into a feature phone). It would have been great if Lenovo gave us the liberty to use this as a mute switch or some other custom shortcut, but it does not, so this button is completely useless in our usage.
Unfortunately, we could not test recharge times for the P2, but the device does come with a bundled quick charge adapter, so it should not take too long.
At the end of the day, the Lenovo P2 is a big phone with a big battery and a small price.
It’s not a miraculous wonder-phone: it has a terribly outdated user interface, it runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow, it has some occasional bugs (but nothing deal-breaking), its camera is decent, but has trouble with highlights and 4K video recording has the same troubles and lack of detail.
But that is not entirely unexpected from a $300 phone. In fact, for this price the Lenovo P2 pros outweigh its cons.
There are really no true alternatives to this phone: no other phone from a first-tier brand offer such an amazing battery life. But if you are looking for options, you have the slightly smaller, but prettier and more nimble Honor 8 for $50 more. The OnePlus 3T is nearly 50% pricier, so we do not really consider it in the same price tier, but if you can afford it, you would get a better camera and much faster and more pleasant user interface. You can also get the Huawei nova or nova plus, but both of them are more expensive options.
Soon, you will be able to also order the Moto G5 Plus, and this is the phone that gives the Lenovo P2 a true run for its money: it's expected to feature great battery life (not quite as P2 great), it has newer and much more nimble software, and it has a faster camera. But if you’re all about that battery and can overlook its flaws, the Lenovo P2 is definitely a very good option.