Hands on: Lenovo Tab 4 review

2017 Android tablets are off to a nice start

What is a hands on review?
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Our Early Verdict

Lenovo's new tablet range puts value ahead of tech specs, but its first-class design basically makes up for it.

For

  • Awesome value
  • Impressive all-glass design
  • Massive battery

Against

  • Missing a stand-out feature, but that's about as bad as it gets here

Android tablets have been waning since the surge in popularity of 2-in-1s, but Lenovo's Tab 4 series of tablets are an indication that there's still life in the sector yet.

With an 8 and 10-inch model, these two slates don't look to set the world alight with breakneck speeds or an insane sales proposition. But these could fill the void in the low to midrange of tablets that's currently dominated by Amazon and its Fire tablets.

Each running Android Nougat, stocked with adequate specs to chew through most apps and games, as well as a surprisingly premium design language makes the Tab 4 8 and Tab 4 10 ones to look out for - especially since they are launching for as low as $109 (about £87, AU$141) and $149 (about £119, AU$193) respectively.

Design

Designed primarily as a tablet for kids, the Tab 4 range is strikingly good-looking. Coated with glass on both sides, it looks as if it can do just as well in the hands of just about anyone looking for a palm-friendly slate. 

Each is trimmed in plastic, featuring all of the necessary buttons to make operating the volume and powering on and off simple. We were especially surprised to find that a few of the tablets in the range feature a fingerprint sensor. The Tab 4 8 Plus has one embedded directly into the side-mounted power button, while the 10 Plus has one located on the front, much in the way that many smartphones do.

Other desireable traits have made their way to the Tab 4 series, like USB-C connectivity, dual speakers with Dolby Atmos support, a microSD slot and quite a large battery in each. 

Compared to the Amazon Fire HD 8, there's no contest: Lenovo's new tablets simply look and feel better in the hand.

Performance

After a brief time testing, we can confidently say that the performance output in these tablets will be sufficient for most. Of course, it does depend on your usual work (or play) load. 

Each size has a plain and "Plus" option. The perks for opting for the Plus have almost entirely to do with specs and thankfully do not alter the design of the tablets, aside from the fingerprint sensors.

The Tab 4 8 and 10 feature a Qualcomm MSM8917 quad-core processor, a 1280 x 800 display, 2GB of RAM. And the Plus varieties amp things up to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 625, like the Moto G5 Plus, a 1920 x 1200 screen, as well as 3GB and 4GB configurations.

What's really nice to see is that each and every tablet in the range comes preloaded with Android Nougat. This feature alone will see these devices being more competent than most at multitasking and saving battery with its enhanced Doze mode that analyzes battery usage patterns to improve its performance.

Lenovo is also angling the 10-inch tablet as a productivity device. Heck, it even has a "Productivity Mode" that turns the operating system into something that looks more like Chrome OS than Nougat. To utilize this, the company offers a keyboard that nestles the tablet, then auto-pairs with it via Bluetooth.

In terms of battery capacity, each Tab 4 8 has a 4850mAh cell inside and the Tab 4 10 has a whopping 7000mAh battery. Either tablet you're interested in, you're getting a truly massive amount of battery here.

Early verdict

As stated before, the specs may not completely blow the door open compared to the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3, though these certainly serve a purpose in the tablet market.

The Tab 4 tablet series is a confident stroke of engineering prowess that certainly sticks out from the crowd and its low price point only helps its case.

It's not too common anymore that you can find a feature-packed tablet that's well-built, let alone four variations of said tablet. As such, we really look forward to testing these slates more in-depth for the full review closer to their May release.

MWC (Mobile World Congress) is the world's largest exhibition for the mobile industry, stuffed full of the newest phones, tablets, wearables and more. TechRadar is reporting live from Barcelona all week to bring you the very latest from the show floor. Head to our dedicated MWC 2017 hub to see all the new releases, along with TechRadar's world-class analysis and buying advice about your next phone.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Cameron is the US mobile editor at TechRadar, covering the tech that's in your pocket, wrapped around your wrist, and strapped to your face. He's based in New York City.

Find him on Steam, or listen to some of his favorite tunes on Google Play Music.

What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.