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Interface and reliability
- Stock Android with a few alterations
- Runs 7.1.1 Nougat out of the box
As recently as a few years ago, Lenovo was one of those manufacturers that insisted on layering its own ‘skin’ over stock Android. Luckily those days have now passed, and the Lenovo Tab 4 8 Plus benefits considerably.
Running a close to stock version of Android, it is well-optimized under the hood and just flies in day-to-day use. Whether swiping through the interface, firing up a game or simply browsing the web, it blitzes through with aplomb.
That isn’t to say that it has escaped with no alterations, for there are a few pre-installed apps. On the home screen, various folders are laid near the bottom with all of them conveniently placed for a quick uninstall.
Of course, the full Google suite can be found, in addition to various Microsoft Office apps, Skype, OneDrive and Outlook – it is somewhat foreseeable that at least a few people will find them to be of use.
What is less excusable is the inclusion of ‘SHAREit’, ‘SYNCit HD’ and ‘Lenovo TAB 4 8 Plus’. The former two are near useless services that can be uninstalled immediately with no issue, while the last is a ‘how-to’ guide that doesn’t really explain anything.
A file manager has also been included, and somewhat annoyingly Lenovo has chosen to omit a dedicated gallery app.
While Google Photos is indeed powerful, it isn’t quite ready to replace a gallery app wholesale, having particular issues sharing with services that Google doesn’t like.
Regardless, the Lenovo Tab 4 8 Plus runs full Android Nougat 7.1.1, and received two updates within the review period. There is no word on whether it will receive an upgrade to the latest version of Android, 'Oreo', however Lenovo doesn’t have the best track record in this area.
One thing to note is that the monthly security patch level is still June 2017, which might be a cause for concern for some.
Throughout the review period, we found no bugs or quirks. Android has come on leaps and bounds since its ugly early days, so most using it now can be assured of a smooth, dependable experience.
There is the wider issue of Android on tablets being a general mess, though this is mainly an issue in apps rather than throughout the user interface. Many make poor use of the extra space, and those that can function in landscape mode are vanishingly rare.
Movies, music and gaming
- Satisfying 8-inch 1,200 x 1,920 screen
- Good enough performance for games
The measure of a good set of speakers is difficult to take. Different people have varying tastes, some preferring bass, some preferring volume.
We found that, easily being able to drown out the sound of a shower, the Tab 4 8 Plus does enough to impress, especially at its price point.
Though a tablet may not be the first choice of many for listening to music, it does a good job of providing a pleasant experience. One thing we were especially impressed by was its performance over Bluetooth audio, providing enough volume and impressive clarity.
No music app is included for listening to locally stored audio, instead users must rely on Google Play Music, which has its ups and downs. Dolby Atmos audio is also included, providing a little ‘oomph’ where desired.
Watching video content is a pleasant experience too, as might be expected. Though a kickstand might have been appreciated, such as the one found on the Microsoft Surface series, holding the svelte Lenovo Tab 4 8 Plus was still no issue.
YouTube is included with other services out of the box, while those looking to rent or purchase video content can do so through Google Play Movies & TV. Again, there is no dedicated app for playing locally stored video, but this can be resolved, as with so many other things, by a quick trip to Google Play.
As for gaming, this little device is a belter. At many times across the past year, in becoming the mid-range chip of choice for many manufacturers, the Snapdragon 625 has proven to be a strong performer.
Games such as Asphalt 8 (though not running on the highest graphical settings) run without issue, and the device never became hot to the touch. Those who enjoy their mobile gaming will be well served.
Performance and benchmarks
- Runs cool
- Can handle a heavy load
As has been stressed several times throughout this review, good performance in a tablet at this price point is never a given.
Luckily, the Lenovo Tab 4 8 Plus, while not reaching the laptop-like heights of the iPad Pro series, is certainly capable of running alongside smartphones at a similar price point.
This is borne out by Geekbench results - where the Tab 4 8 Plus achieves an 851 single-core score and a 4,202 multi-core one. Though benchmarks are never a true indicator of real world usage, they are certainly useful for comparisons.
Here we can see the beauty of Qualcomm’s design. Eight low-power A53 cores are combined, running together when the performance requirements are high and individually when the pressure dies down. In addition to keeping the price down and performance at an adequate level, this also ensures that the chip is very power efficient.
In all, those looking for a little more performance from a tablet will not be disappointed.
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Sean is a Scottish technology journalist who's written for the likes of T3, Trusted Reviews, TechAdvisor and Expert Reviews.