Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 review: The media junkie’s tablet

4 Dec 2015

Today we take a look at the Lenovo Tab 3, a tablet that promises great performance on a budget, but does it compete with its similarly cheap competitors?

Currys PC World

We’re continuously told these days that tablets are going to go the way of the Microsoft Zune and eventually fizzle out as people realise that their smartphones are increasingly becoming small tablets themselves and performing all the same tasks, or else they want the performance of a desktop computer or laptop.

And yet, we still have tablets being released every month, most notable of late being the rather large iPad Pro with its 12.9in screen, and the ludicrous Samsung Galaxy View tablet with its 18in screen.

So what does the Lenovo Tab 3 (€229.99 from Currys PC World) bring to the table and who is it geared towards? Is it for the business-conscious designer, or a casual tablet for home use?

Design – stands out from the crowd

Straight away you’ll notice that the Android-powered tablet stands out from the hundreds of tablets using the same operating system due to its rather large weighted base or sidebar, depending on where you’re holding it.

Housing its battery, camera and kickstand, you can tell straight off the bat that this is not really expecting to be used as a tablet that you’d want to walk around with for an extended period of time.

That’s not to say you can’t, but the rather slick-looking stand that’s capable of turning 180 degrees is pretty crucial to its functionality.

Whether you want to flick out the stand to watch it like a TV, or hang it from a wall, it will do it.

Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 stand

But, using it as a handheld tablet I didn’t really have any problems either, in fact, the stand acts as a nice little bezel to hold it with, rather than putting the palm of your hand on the screen itself or holding it awkwardly.

The flippable 8Mp camera in its base is also well done from a design perspective given that a camera that can do front and rear facing is a lot better than fiddling around with the buttons to change it.

Also in the base/bezel of the Yoga Tab 3 is the speaker system, which kicks out a fair amount of sound, ideal for watching a film or streaming some music.

The screen – sharp and bright

In terms of actually using the Tab 3, it’s pretty much the same as you would expect from a modern Android tablet, well, at least for one that seems to only be getting Android Lollipop at the time of writing.

On the main menu, you have the typical default apps from Google, but also a whole load of ones pre-installed by Lenovo, including one just to explain some of the other apps it’s included, which, safe to say, I quickly hid.

I have to say, the 1280×800 resolution on the screen was pretty damn impressive, with plenty of colour to add to the video content I was watching, which looked great on a 10in screen, and sharp too.

Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 screen

While the bezels are prominent, in my opinion it doesn’t take away from the experience, but I would say that the lack of front-facing camera and sensor means you’ll have to manually change the brightness depending on the setting.

You might also want to have a screen cloth handy if you can’t ignore fingerprints all over the screen, which doesn’t bother me, but could annoy others.

From testing, the camera performs adequately for most situations, but certainly isn’t anything to write home about, frankly. But, as far as I’m concerned, a tablet’s camera should only ever be used to stream video calls, not take family photos.

Performance – laggy, but not where it’s important

I don’t think Lenovo can claim this to be a high-performance tablet. With its Quad-Core 1.3 GHz Qualcomm processor and 1GB of RAM, it’ll do a job, but you can tell that it’s best not to run a whole load of programmes at once.

Loading up Netflix and YouTube, it performed perfectly, however, and video-viewing is definitely something where this tablet excels and is arguably geared at. Even with catch-up TV apps, typically badly optimised, it worked a treat.

However, with games I found that even for the most mainstream of titles out there the loading times were a little too long for my liking, and switching out of them left that second or two of lag that is not exactly easy on the eye.

Wi-Fi is obviously standard on such a device and appeared to run smoothly without complications, but it’s also worth noting that it houses an optional SIM card slot for those looking to browse on-the-go.

Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 hanging

Battery – Duracell would be proud

While I said that Lenovo was probably not pinning its hopes for the Yoga Tab 3 on its performance in terms of processing power, it has definitely stepped it up a gear when it comes to the performance of its battery.

Adding that weight to the base is the tablet’s 8,400 mAh, which on the box offers 18 hours of usage on a single charge, and comes pretty close to it in the real world, with it in the region of around 15 to 16 hours.

This pretty much overshadows most of the similarly-priced tablets on the market and, if I were looking for a tablet to take on a long journey, what I’d be looking for is battery performance ahead of computing performance.

Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 base

Verdict – the media lover’s tablet

At €230 from Currys PC World, the Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 is certainly cheaper than some of the more household brands like the Galaxy Tab A tablet, which comes in at just under €300, but you still get a perfectly good piece of kit.

Essentially, it’s the perfect media-streaming tablet for Netflix, YouTube et al and, with the long battery life, it would be brilliant for taking on long trips where you’re expecting to be stuck on your posterior for hours on end.

It also helps to have the sleek aluminium stand for plonking down on the table, rather than trying to prop it up against something.

Just don’t expect to be using any computing-heavy applications and be willing to put up with slightly slow loading times when you try to load large games.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic