Extra-large tablets are making all the headlines, but 10-inch slates like the Lenovo Tab 2 A10 still have plenty to offer, especially when they're this affordable. With its bright, accurate 10-inch display, super-long battery life and low price ($198), the Tab 2 is a compelling option for shoppers on a budget. Despite modest specs, Lenovo's budget slate provides solid performance and really strong battery life while running a clean version of Android 5.0 Lollipop.
With an elegant metallic blue polycarbonate shell, the Tab 2 has a sleek look. The back tapers in on the sides, which causes the 8-megapixel camera lens on back of the tablet to slightly protrude, but not awkwardly so. Lenovo's logo is also on the back of the case: small, silver and refined.
The placement of Lenovo's logo in the bezel on the longer side of the Tab 2 suggests using the device in a landscape position. On the top edge of the tablet, you'll find the headphone jack placed near the part of the bezel where you find the 5-MP front camera. The Tab 2 has a multi-speaker sound bar located at the top of the device's shell, in the middle of which the rear-shooting camera is placed.
The USB 2.0 micro port is located on the left edge of the Tab 2, next to the volume rocker and power switches, which are placed subtly, without any call-outs for functions. The microSD port is hidden underneath a flap on the right side of the shell. That covering is easy to remove and re-attach, which was something I had difficulty with on the smaller A8.
Measuring 9.72 x 6.73 x 0.35 inches and weighing 1.1 pounds, the Tab 2 is thicker and heavier than the Asus ZenPad S 8.0 (8 x 5.3 x 0.26 inches, 0.66 pounds), and it's similar in weight and thickness to the Acer Iconia Tab 10 A3 (10.1 x 6.7 x 0.4 inches, 1.12 ounces).
The Tab 2's 10-inch, 1920 x 1200 IPS display provides sharp, colorful images. Watching the trailer for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, the fiery-orange mockingjay logo looked nicely saturated, while the Capitol soldiers' white-and-gray armor was crisp and clean. Skin tones all looked realistic on the Tab 2's screen, from Katniss' face, young and full of life, to President Snow's aging wrinkled visage.
We measured the brightness of the Tab 2's screen at 380 nits, which is higher than the category average (354), the Iconia Tab 10 (369) and the ZenPad S 8.0 (299).
Also great at reproducing color, the Tab 2 displayed 94 percent of the sRGB gamut. That's more than the category average (90 percent), the ZenPad S 8.0 (92 percent) and the Iconia Tab 10 (75 percent). Its accuracy also surpasses the competition, with a relatively impressive Delta-E score (lower is better) of 2.42, making it more accurate than the category average (5.2), the Iconia Tab 10 (3.1) and the ZenPad S 8.0 (6.7).
The Weeknd's "Can't Feel My Face" came through crisp and clear when I set the Tab 2's Dolby Atmos settings to the Music preset. The Dolby app, which is located on the tablet's first screen by default, was originally set up for Movies, but even with those settings, audio didn't degrade.
The Music preset provided more balanced and open audio, giving Alessia Cara's strong, moody "Here" some space to breathe and fill the room.
Software and Apps
In reaction to user feedback, Lenovo made a point of keeping the Tab 2's experience as close to a stock Android as possible. The Tab 2 came running Android 4.4 KitKat, but I was immediately able to upgrade to version 5.0. Android Lollipop was fast and responsive on the tablet, making it an upgrade definitely worth making as soon as possible.
As a part of its effort to make this as close to a stock Android as possible, there's minimal app bloat on the Tab 2. There's Google's own apps (Drive, Gmail, Play, Photos, Maps and others), Lenovo's stock apps (including Calendar, Camera, Music, Email, SYNCit HD cloud backup app and its SHAREit file transfer app), and some useful third-party apps like Amazon Kindle, Evernote and Kingsoft's Microsoft Office-compatible WPS Office suite.
Powered by a 1.5-GHz MediaTek MT8165 64-bit, quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM, the Tab 2 is good for surfing the Web while listening to music or watching videos. Listening to a playlist stream in Spotify, Chrome let me jump from page to page with nimble speed as I clicked, scrolled and navigated around a dozen open tabs. Switching between apps, including YouTube and Evernote, was easy, thanks to Lollipop's new app-switcher navigation.
In the Geekbench 3 synthetic benchmark test, the Tab 2 earned 2,371, putting it below the category average (2,648) and the ZenPad S (2,858). It scored higher, though, than the Iconia Tab 10 (1,371).
This tablet didn't fare well in our 3DMark gaming benchmark test, either, notching 9,282. That's less than half of the category average (18,974). The ZenPad S (13,041) may have outdone the Tab 2, but the Iconia Tab 10 (5,379) got a worse score.
It took Lenovo's tablet 7 minutes and 19 seconds to transcode an HD video to 480p resolution in the Vidtrim app. That's longer than the category average (6:01) and the ZenPad S (6:46), but faster than the Iconia Tab 10 (9:20).
The 8-MP rear camera shot very nice photos off our roof here in the Flatiron District, capturing fine architectural patterns and cloud details, with relative clarity. The 5 MP front lens produced selfies with stellar detail and fine color balance.
The Camera app feature I really liked is Picture in Picture, which lets you take two photos at once, and place one in a polaroid-film frame in a spot of your choosing. It has a few potential applications, including being a nice way to send vacation photos.
Lenovo's Camera app comes with a "Face beauty mode," which is becoming fairly standard on most Android phones and tablets. It blurred my skin tone toward a pink, which looked unrealistic in comparison with a regular selfie.
A fully charged Tab 2 has enough battery life to let you stop looking for power outlets throughout the day. The device lasted an impressive 12 hours on the Laptop Mag battery test, which involves continuous Web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness. That's almost 3 hours longer than the category average (8:48), more than 4 hours longer than the Iconia Tab 10 (7:57) and over 5 hours longer than the ZenPad S 8.0 (6:47).
Configurations and Accessories
For $20 more, the Tab 2 comes with 32GB of flash storage, as opposed to our entry-level model's 16GB. Lenovo also offers a few useful accessories for the Tab 2, including a 16GB USB and micro USB flash drive, which costs $25. There's also a 5000mAh external battery available for $30, to support the 7200mAh battery inside the Tab 2, but you probably won't need it.
With its amazing battery life and bright, colorful screen, Lenovo's Tab 2 A10 ($198) is the best 10-inch budget tablet yet. The similarly priced Asus ZenPad S 8.0 ($199) offers better performance and comes with 32GB of storage, but the Tab 2 A10 has a better display and lasts almost twice as long on a charge. If you're looking for an affordable tablet that can go the distance, get the Tab 2 A10. We would just recommend that you spend the extra $20 on the extra 16GB of storage.