In 2021, the tablet market is much the same as it has been for years now: stagnant. The iPad remains dominant as both the best-selling and best-known device family, while what space is left is contested hotly. Amazon, Samsung and Huawei are the main players here, each has a niche which it works to own – and here Lenovo enters to try its luck.
The opening gambit it has chosen is the Tab P11 Pro, which is positioned as a direct competitor to Samsung in particular. With a 2K OLED screen, four stereo-effect speakers and a large battery, it will certainly appeal to cinephiles, however it also has an ace up its sleeve.
Perhaps playing to the business consumers who worship its venerable ThinkPad line of computers, the P11 Pro also comes supporting the ‘Lenovo Pen’ and a very smart-looking keyboard case with a kickstand.
The aforementioned screen is also a gem. Stretched across 11.5 inches with a 16:10 aspect ratio, it is roughly as big as a tablet can be without feeling enormous, and it displays most widescreen content nicely.
The OLED tech means that colors are punchy and blacks are infinite, however the screen is also nicely color accurate. It also gets bright enough for indoor usage (up to 500 nits), and is viewable outdoors in strong sunlight. With a high resolution, reading is particularly pleasant, as there is no jagged text. For movies, reading and games, this is an excellent panel – the only improvement would be a higher refresh rate.
The quad-speakers put on a good showing too. They get plenty loud without distorting at high volumes, and make a decent go at stereo separation. Bass in particular is a highlight, though there is also detail in the mids and trebles, so these are particularly well suited to action movies.
Audiophiles will be disappointed with the omission of a 3.5mm headphone jack – on a device which will primarily be used at home or in the office, the inability to use wired audio is an annoying inconvenience.
Build quality is good. The tablet is constructed from a sturdy feeling aluminum, with a unibody design. There is no creak or flex, and it has a reassuring heft without feeling too weighty. Color options are limited, however this seems intended to be used either in an office or a living room, and ostentation is not a priority for either use-case.
But the software is a mess, or more accurately, Android on tablets is a problem. There is a critical lack of apps which recognize they are being used on a tablet, leading to scaling issues, stalls and crashes.
There’s also the matter of app availability. If your work is primarily done through the G Suite you’ll be fine, but Android is still not widely compatible with a host of essential apps in various industries. For writing on the go or for drawing work with the pleasant Lenovo pen, this will work in a pinch, but it works far better as a media player than a workhorse.
A big win for the tablet though is battery life. On Wi-Fi (an LTE option is available) we were able to eke out over 10 hours of screen-on-time across several days of use.
This is an excellent showing, and is complemented by the ability to fast charge and strong standby times. The P11 Pro will be a welcome companion to those who like to binge an entire season from Netflix in one go.
Performance is mostly adequate. The Tab P11 Pro undercuts several rival models available from Samsung by offering a weaker processor, the Snapdragon 730G, which is paired with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage.
It has enough oomph to make it through basic tasks and the interface without issue, but there is significant lag as it tries to perform more intensive work, such as games. This may be due to the high resolution display.
The Lenovo Tab P11 Pro is a strong challenger to the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Plus. It offers a lovely display, strong speakers and a premium design at a price that undercuts the high-end competition. As a productivity machine however, it doesn’t make sense – Android for tablets, after 8 years of existence, is still not ready for prime time.
If you are looking for a tablet as a mini-TV replacement with great media chops, the Lenovo Tab P11 Pro is one of the best options for the price. Business users however are best sticking to laptops.
Lenovo Tab P11 Pro price and availability
- Available in the US and UK from $499.99 / £449.99
- Landing in Australia from May 2021 for AU$549
- Wi-Fi only and LTE enabled options available
The Lenovo Tab P11 Pro is available now in the US and UK directly from Lenovo, with an Australia launch planned for May. One color option is available at the time of writing, and two different configurations are available.
The base model is available with Wi-Fi only, while a more expensive model is available with LTE via an included SIM tray. Memory and RAM configurations are standard, there are no options with either more storage or RAM.
- Metal unibody design, 485g
- Keyboard and kickstand available
- No headphone jack
The Lenovo Tab P11 Pro is clearly intended for two very specific use cases. One is as a replacement TV, to be a sofa buddy during long winter evenings. Its shape, its aspect ratio and more conform to this – though not every aspect does.
Amazon manufactures several lines of tablets, such as the Amazon Fire HD 10, with similar intent, but the build materials are completely different. The Lenovo is no plastic fantastic, it comes with a full aluminum unibody design and feels as though it could survive a tank, so overkill for the living room then.
This is down to its second use case, as a mobile workstation. It has a preponderance of straight lines and sharp edges, straight out of an industrial design handbook. It will fit into any office or boardroom, and will look smart when on the go also. This is only complemented by the keyboard and kickstand case.
Each of these are constructed of an artificial fiber weave which feels hard-wearing and is easy to clean. The kickstand case is held in place with powerful magnets, while the keyboard connects with a set of pogo pins on the base. This means no fiddling with Bluetooth connections when trying to get work done – the connection to the tablet is rock solid.
Each of these feel nice, but the overall package is where things start to get a little difficult. The movement of the keyboard and the sharp kickstand mean that this won’t be the most comfortable or practical ‘lap-able’ option for work across long periods.
The keyboard itself is a typical Lenovo, which isn’t to say that it has the quality of a ThinkPad, but that it has broad key caps and decent key travel – certainly for this kind of effort and at this size point.
The inclusion of a touchpad seems somewhat incongruous however, especially as the tablet runs Android. Its tiny footprint means it is tricky to use, and its presence removes the possibility of an extra row of keys. In all we could have easily worked from a combination of the touch screen and the keyboard keys.
Lenovo has also baked in ‘smart’ pen functionality, the Lenovo Pen sports 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity and tracked our rudimentary doodles well. Though it may be good enough for doodling, there are some reservations as to whether it will be suitable for a digital artist, mostly due to the paucity of either quality or optimized apps of this sort available which work well on Android for tablets.
A point which may rankle some is the absence of a 3.5mm headphone jack, as for a tablet intended to serve as a media companion it is an annoyance. Around the screen the bezels are pleasingly thin, though the included panel is large even for a tablet. Its footprint is small however, and so it feels elegant in the hand. This is complimented by the svelte nature of the device (5.8mm thick), so it should easily fit into a bag.
An interesting inclusion is a face scanner, which allows for secure face unlock logins from the lock screen. More often than not we found that this didn’t work, and that the included fingerprint scanner/power button was a quicker and more secure choice. The execution on this isn’t quite up to snuff quite yet.
In all, the Lenovo Tab P11 Pro feels more than worth its price tag – while simultaneously being tough enough to take a few bashes and keep on going.
- 11.5-inch 1600 x 2560 display
- AMOLED technology
- No high refresh rate
As with any device, a tablet lives and dies by the quality of its display, but the question of use case is arguably more important than the ‘objective’ quality of the panel. This is certainly a display capable of hanging with the best from any metric. It is bright, sharp at 1600 x 2560, contrasty and color-accurate.
For movie watching, it is therefore a dream. HDR-compliant content is treated well by the infinite AMOLED blacks, where it is available. No matter the kind of content, whether action, documentary or otherwise, this is the kind of screen that makes the viewing experience come alive, to a degree.
That it doesn’t have a high refresh rate option isn’t a killer, but it is a slight shame. For video content and reading it will not make much of a difference, but for gamers this may be a deal-breaker.
From a work perspective, the picture remains positive. Though this will not get accurate enough for serious photo editing, colors are pleasingly true while also having a little of the trademark AMOLED ‘pop’.
The screen ratio of 16:10 is great for video content; however it is a little less ideal for document work. Though more of an annoyance than a general problem, 3:2 screens are a little taller and allow a bit more of any document to be reviewed. There was clearly a balancing act being performed here, and the skew was towards video.
Though the lack of any winter sun presented few opportunities to test this device in strong sunlight, it fared well outdoors. When it is possible to travel once again, it will likely be usable in a whole range of differing environments.
From a holistic perspective, much of the ‘spend’ in the manufacture of this table has gone towards one area: the screen. This investment has paid off, the panel on the Lenovo Tab P11 Pro is a joy to use and a step beyond what is available at lower price points.
- Two cameras on the rear (13MP + 5MP)
- Two cameras on the front (8MP + 8MP)
- Poor performance, especially in low light
The question has been asked again and again: who takes photos on a tablet? Clearly there is an audience, otherwise rear cameras on tablets would have gone the way of the dinosaurs.
The Lenovo Tab P11 Pro sports four snappers, two on the rear and two selfie cameras. No great claims are made for any of these, which is just as well given that they are all lacking in quality.
Detail, dynamic range, contrast, saturation, all the accoutrements of a ‘nice’ photo are generally missing. The cameras here are for snapping a quick shot of a whiteboard or for document scanning, nothing more. This will not replace a dedicated camera on holiday.
As might be expected, each camera struggles particularly in low light, offering little but a noisy mess. These conditions should therefore be avoided.
An unfortunate point too is the poor quality of the selfie camera. In a world where video conferencing has become nigh on impossible to avoid, it feels like an oversight. Although there are few included webcams which are ‘good’ in any given device, our presence during work calls was as a ghost haunting the frame – not exactly a good look by any definition.
The camera app itself is quick to launch and as barebones as might be expected. An odd inclusion is a flash (for those late night club sessions) and an ultra-wide camera on the rear. In all, no one buys a tablet for its camera prowess, and the Lenovo Tab P11 Pro very much conforms to that expectation.
Specs and performance
- Snapdragon 730G chipset
- 6GB of RAM
- 128GB of storage
High-end power is not always something you’d expect from a tablet. These are devices which cater towards video content and document editing, neither of which are particularly power-intensive. Those who need more from their devices, gamers and power users, tend to pick up a different form factor – such as a laptop – when they want portability.
The Lenovo Tab P11 Pro does nothing to challenge that stereotype. The included Snapdragon 730G is perfectly capable of powering most experiences without a hitch, but quickly works up a sweat when a little more is asked of it.
With a single-core score of 527 and a multi-core score of 1,614 on Geekbench 5, performance is very roughly analogous to the flagship Snapdragon 845 from 2018.
The included 6GB of RAM is enough to keep a few apps in memory without an issue, and the 128GB of storage should last most users at least a few years.
An issue when it comes to gaming is the 2K screen. More power-hungry titles, such as PUBG, did not have a fun time trying to run at a reasonable frame rate while also pushing full resolution. The tablet will easily power more casual experiences, but this isn’t going to replace a dedicated console any time soon, and it is no iPad Pro.
A bigger problem for power users however than the lack of raw performance bite, is the wonkiness of Android on tablets. Android has run on tablets for near enough a decade, across multiple iterations of the software system, with new features regularly being added. The experience does not reflect this.
Though the interface is mostly stable, apps are the problem. Most commonly, these are not optimized for the tablet form factor. These apps ‘expect’ to open on a smartphone, and the program window is sized accordingly, with no way to go full screen. More often than not these apps will also refuse to work in a landscape orientation, which is an inconvenience when using the keyboard especially.
Plugging the keyboard in initiates a ‘productivity’ mode, which can be toggled regardless. Activating this mode worked well for the most part, however in some cases it triggered an endless cycle of app crashes that only a restart would resolve.
Those looking to get any work done may run into a bigger issue than app compatibility however, which is app availability. Android does not have nearly as well developed an app ecosystem for tablets as exists for iPads. Those looking to make a potential switch should make sure everything they need is on the other side before progressing.
For light work, the P11 Pro is more than adequate – it is a good writing companion in particular. It will work for spreadsheets in a pinch, and the G Suite of apps is well suited to collaborative work. More specialist or demanding users will be better suited by a laptop, even at the same price point.
For the kind of tasks one might traditionally expect of the tablet form factor, the Lenovo Tab P11 Pro is more than capable.
- 8,600mAh battery
- 18W fast charging
- Lasts a long time between charges
If the Lenovo Tab P11 Pro has one complete triumph to its name, it is battery life.
Try as we could, across multiple days of use, it proved nigh-on impossible to kill. With mixed light to medium use we were able to coax around 10 hours of screen-on time from the device, which is impressive.
This will mean that, when long distance travel is once again possible, it will make an excellent companion for frequent fliers. Standby times were a particular highlight, with the device only dropping a few percentage points per night.
Running the TechRadar battery test (a full resolution video on Wi-Fi at max brightness for 90 minutes), the device dropped from 100% to 91%, which is a strong showing overall.
A nice addition too is the inclusion of a relatively fast charger in the box. Charging an 8,600mAh battery is a considerable undertaking, so this kind of charger is almost compulsory.
How it will fare on the go with LTE active is impossible to see at the moment, however, color us impressed. Having this kind of longevity on tap is a considerable convenience for every kind of consumer.
Should I buy the Lenovo Tab P11 Pro?
Buy it if…
You need good battery life
With its big battery the Lenovo Tab P11 Pro can keep going and going, whatever you use it for, making it a great choice for long journeys and any other time a charger isn’t to hand.
You need a small TV replacement
This tablet has a fantastic display and good speakers, so it will make a welcome living room companion for most.
You want a versatile writing companion
Though it isn’t a productivity powerhouse, the Lenovo Tab P11 Pro is an excellent complement to any writer’s arsenal due to its versatile form factor.
Don’t buy it if…
You need to do serious work
Beyond word processing and light spreadsheet work, a laptop is a better choice, or even a non-Android tablet, given the lack of optimized apps here.
You need absolute stability
Android on tablets suffers from frequent bugs, stutters and inconveniences, and there’s no sign of that changing. If you’re easily frustrated, this isn’t the device for you.
You need the most powerful tablet money can buy
The Lenovo Tab P11 Pro is many things, but despite the ‘Pro’ in its name, a processing powerhouse it is not. It’s good for media, but less so for gaming or any other demanding task.
First reviewed: March 2021