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Lifewire / Jason Schneider
Excellent build quality
Solid battery life
Reasonably affordable price point
Display lacks a bit of definition
Some software quirks
While the P11 Pro doesn’t exactly earn its Pro distinction, it does manage to be a really nice tablet.
We purchased the Lenovo P11 Pro so our reviewer could put it to the test. Keep reading for our full product review.
The P11 Pro is Lenovo’s latest attempt at a truly premium Android-based tablet. And, while the build quality and spec sheet do make a compelling case for the “Pro” distinction, the experience of using the tablet might just leave something to be desired. To be fair, the Android tablet space isn’t exactly reliable—forcing users to dip well into the budget Kindle Fire territory or shell out major cash for something from the Galaxy Tab S lineup.
While this P11 is calling itself Pro, it’s probably just a little more at home in the mid-range part of the market. To see how capable this approximately $500 Android slate is, I spent a few weeks running it through the usual tests. Read on for my first-hand thoughts.
The first thing I noticed when I unboxed the P11 Pro is just how seriously Lenovo is taking the hardware experience in this battle of the tablets. Once you get the protective packaging off, you’ll find a device that’s strikingly similar to the design language found in both the Galaxy Tab S7 and iPad Pro lines. It’s a premium, dark grey, aluminum unibody design that has some off-colored antenna lines and a very Lenovo-leaning dual-tone color scheme (there’s one strip on the back of the tablet that is an ever-so-slightly darker gray).
Measuring a mind-boggling 0.22 inches thick, the only other tablet on the market that rivals it is the Galaxy Tab S7+.
But it isn’t the color and material choice that is so striking here—it’s the unbelievable level of sleekness that Lenovo has managed to fit this (pretty large-screened) tablet into. Measuring a mind-boggling 0.22 inches thick, the only other tablet on the market that rivals it is the Galaxy Tab S7+. Sure, the iPad Pro line only measures 0.1 inches thicker, but it’s oddly noticeable when you get the P11 Pro in your hands. If sleekness is your priority, this thing will totally deliver.
The final point here is surrounding the keyboard cover accessory. Unlike the PU-style, almost leather-esque materials chosen by Samsung and Apple for their corresponding tablet keyboard accessories, Lenovo has chosen a light, heather grey, cloth keyboard cover. This actually gives the tablet an incredibly premium look when it’s all closed up, and though it will certainly be a magnet for dirt and will be difficult to clean, I think this is a nice touch.
It’s odd to say it this way, but I think I like the P11 Pro best when I’m just admiring the hardware’s build quality. There are some qualms I have with the display, software, and performance (which I’ll get into in those corresponding sections), but there’s really no denying that Lenovo is offering a seriously well-built device. The unibody design feels sturdy, and when holding the device, the smoother sides feel both comfortable and durable.
To be fair, the thinness of a tablet in this class has a lot of implications for durability, so if you plan to throw it into a bag a lot, you’ll definitely want to get a case. But, I do like the quality of the overall body as it doesn’t seem super-prone to fingerprints or scratches.
One of the key reasons you might be considering the P11 Pro over another Android tablet is because of the display. The smaller Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 doesn’t sport the AMOLED display of the bigger S7+. So if you want a display that’s around 11 inches (and you demand an OLED screen), the P11 Pro is basically the only option in the game right now.
And, on paper, that display is pretty great: 11.5 inches, WQXGA OLED tech, 2560 x1600 resolution, and 350 nits of brightness. That all sounds great, but the OLED is just not as sharp as that resolution would imply. Lenovo isn’t super clear on their website about what the display tech is here, but most reviewers think this is due to the screen’s Pentile build (instead of standard RGB OLED tech).
The 350 nits of brightness offers plenty of range and the 11.5 inches of real estate make it an excellent screen for watching videos and gaming.
It’s beyond the scope of this review to get into what that means. The short answer is that Pentile OLEDs double the green pixel makeup as a way of giving you a more efficient display at lower resolutions—ultimately tricking your eyes into thinking you’re looking at a standard RGB display. What does this do for the P11 Pro’s screen in the real world? Essentially it feels very slightly fuzzier than the ultra-crisp AMOLED on the Tab S7+.
In general, I do really like the screen: the 350 nits of brightness offers plenty of range, and the 11.5 inches of real estate make it an excellent screen for watching videos and gaming. Plus, thanks to the bright Dolby Vision and the JBL-tuned quad-speaker array, it really does feel like a cinematic device. But, if you’re hunting for fuzziness by looking at really small text, you can discern it, and that might be a turnoff for some users.
One of the refreshing aspects of the P11 Pro’s software experience is its simplicity. This holds true in the setup phase because, in order to get the tablet up and running, you have to go through Android’s stock Google account sign-in and various security opt-ins.
There’s no bloatware to activate or additional accounts to sign in to like you’ll find on Samsung products. I do recommend digging into some of the settings and adjusting them to your liking, but it’s nice to see a device try to stick pretty closely to stock Android.
I think Lenovo is doing itself a disservice by calling this tablet the P11 Pro. While the standard P11 is very clearly an affordably priced tablet with a less impressive display and chipset, the P11 Pro isn’t exactly a high-dollar device. But because the word “Pro” is involved, there’s an expectation that you’re getting top-tier processing power. The device runs a Snapdragon 730G Octa-Core Processor, which is hardly Qualcomm’s flagship chip, new or old. So tempering your expectations on performance is important.
But, if you focus on the tablet as more of a mid-tier, or mid-to-premium-tier device, the performance actually holds up pretty well. Geekbench scores put it well below the Tab S7 lines and nowhere near Apple’s Bionic chipsets, but compared to even laptops in this price range, it holds up okay.
The device runs a Snapdragon 730G Octa-Core Processor, which is hardly Qualcomm’s flagship chip, new or old. So tempering your expectations on performance is important.
The configuration I bought came with 6GB of RAM, which is basically a non-negotiable if you’re planning to do any sort of actual work on this tablet. I did uncover a few stutters when playing heavier games like Call of Duty Mobile and Fortnite, but when browsing the internet with multiple tabs and going back and forth between Google Docs and YouTube videos, the tablet holds up just fine. There is some noticeable stuttering when you first wake up the tablet after a long time asleep, but I’ll wager this is more of a software snafu than an issue with raw performance.
Like competing tablets from Samsung and Apple, the P11 Pro includes the option to bundle the device with a keyboard case and Lenovo’s second-gen Precision Pen. And right now, that package is only an additional $50 on top of the higher-RAM tablet.
The keyboard actually feels a lot more premium than I was expecting. Thanks to a generous amount of key travel and the expanded 11.5-inch footprint, this keyboard is just about as nice to type on as any similarly sized laptop I’ve ever used. Even the trackpad, from a hardware perspective, is pretty solid.
The Precision Pen, on the other hand, is a little clunkier. Because the display on the P11 Pro offers a standard 60Hz refresh rate, there’s a vaguely noticeable lag when writing or drawing on the display—not nearly as smooth as the Tab S7 or iPad Pro equivalents. The pen itself does feel very premium physically, presenting a nice amount of weight and giving you the feel of a nice drafting pencil or pen. However, there’s no place to store the pen on the tablet itself unless you want to stick the silicone holder that comes with it right onto the back of your tablet, but that’s a fairly clunky experience.
It probably goes without saying, but if you’re buying a tablet of any type, specifically for the camera quality, then you’ll likely be disappointed. Lenovo has put a dual-camera system on the back, with a 13MP main sensor and a 5MP fixed-focus secondary camera. But, because Lenovo doesn’t have nearly the camera software prowess of the larger brands, the rear-camera pictures are nothing to write home about.
The front-facing setup consists of an 8MP standard sensor, plus an 8MP IR camera. This allows for fairly secure face unlock and pretty decent video call quality. And because Lenovo has placed the camera on the top bezel when the tablet is in landscape mode, the orientation will be really natural when using the tablet in laptop mode during conference calls.
Another surprisingly standout feature for the P11 Pro is just how much use you’ll get out of the tablet on a single charge. According to the spec sheet, you should expect about 15 hours of use doing normal things like watching videos or taking on basic productivity tasks. In my experience, that figure feels a little too conservative because even though I was sometimes streaming video while typing Google Docs and flipping between Chrome tabs, I was trending closer to 18–20 hours.
Battery life with any device is heavily affected by what you’re actually doing, and a tablet is an extreme example of this. If you’re doing a lot of gaming, or you want to use the P11 Pro as your workday slate, you’ll probably get under 15. Either way, this tablet should stick around even for a fully intensive, 8-hour shift.
When I purchased the keyboard bundle, I was really eager to test out what Lenovo calls a “productivity mode.” There’s a similar option on the Samsung Tab S7 line called Dex, which lets you toggle the device into a Chromebook-like layout with resizable windows and a taskbar.
Lenovo’s take on this is far simpler. By default, when you snap the keyboard onto the tablet, it enters a PC-like layout with a taskbar and resizable Windows. Other than some trackpad scrolling speed options and some keyboard customization, there really aren’t a whole lot of ways to make the experience “yours.” Resizing windows is nice, and calling back apps on a taskbar is familiar, but it’s all cosmetic. And, likely because Android as an OS isn’t optimized for mouse use, there were plenty of annoying trackpad mis-clicks in everyday use.
By default, when you snap the keyboard onto the tablet, it enters a PC-like layout with a taskbar and resizable Windows.
The rest of the software experience is going to feel pretty familiar to Android users. The P11 Pro runs Android 10, and because Lenovo isn’t exactly on the top of the list for Google to update, there’s no telling when Android 11 will be available. But as I mentioned, I really like the Lenovo launcher because it feels very close to what you’d get on a Google Pixel device. All the same, hiccups are also present, most notably the fact that Android apps just aren’t that suited for the larger tablet display. But, as long as you keep your expectations leveled appropriately, the experience is fine here.
The base configuration of the P11 Pro goes for right around $500, but to get the extra 2GB of RAM, you’ll pay about $550. The package I purchased is only $50, and $600 is a really solid deal for the full offering. To put that in perspective, the launch price for the Galaxy Tab S7 and its keyboard cover was well over $800.
So, while this is Lenovo’s pro-level Android tablet, the price sits more at the high-end of the mid-range. That would be fine if the tablet was just a little more powerful. But, as it stands, with the slightly more sluggish Snapdragon 730G and the unideal Pentile OLED screen, the price feels just a tad too steep.
With such a slim lineup of Android tablets on the market, the most direct comparison to the P11 Pro is the only other 11-inch Android tablet worth looking at: the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7. The build quality between the tablets is pretty similar, but I like the design of the P11 Pro just a bit better.
Almost every other aspect of the Tab S7 is superior, however. A crisper screen, better software productivity, and unmatched performance make the Tab S7 a truly impressive device. But you’ll pay more for it, so as long as you temper your expectations with the P11 Pro, you’ll save some money for a pretty solid device.
A nice tablet with some drawbacks.
While there are only a few things to really get excited about with the P11 Pro (the build quality, the keyboard cover, and the battery life, for instance), there also aren’t a whole lot of things to hate about this device. While the Pentile-style OLED leaves a bit to be desired, it’s totally fine for media consumption, and the mid-tier Snapdragon processor will handle most tasks you throw at it.
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