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Lenovo First To Market With Project Tango Smartphone, The Phab 2 Pro (Update: Availability)

Update, 11/1/16, 8:40am PT: Lenovo announced that the Phab 2 Pro is now available for $499, unlocked, from its website.)

As Lenovo promised earlier this year at CES and then again recently at Google I/O, it will apparently be first to market with a Project Tango smartphone, the Phab 2 Pro. 

It also happens to be a reasonably well-appointed device. It's huge (6.4 inches) but offers a 2560x1440 resolution display, and it runs on (what appears to be) a specially-built Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 SoC, with a whopping 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of onboard storage. The 4,050 mAh battery is no joke (although considering the intensive applications it will endure, anything less would be problematic). The rear camera assembly is 16MP and includes a depth sensor and motion tracker.

Although initially we were expecting the device this summer, Lenovo plans to ship the Phab2 line in September. The price tag is just $499, unlocked, and the Phab 2 Pro will be available at Best Buy and--oddly--Lowe's. 

Lenovo Phab 2 Pro
Display6.4-inch Quad HD (2560x1440), 2K IPS Assertive2.5D curved glass
CPUQualcomm Snapdragon 652 Processor (Built for Tango)
Memory4 GB
Storage64 GB (up to 128 GB via microSD)
CameraRear: 16 MP PDAF Fast-Focus, Depth Sensor and Motion Tracking Sensor for TangoFront: 8 MP Fixed-Focus (F2.2 aperture)
Battery4050 mAh Li-ion + Fast-charge Standby time: over 13 days Talk time: 18 hours
Dual SIMYes
Connectivity802.11a/b/g/n/ac, 2.4 GHz / 5 GHz Wi-FiBluetooth 4.0
SoundTriple array mic w/ Active Noice CancellationDolby Atmos + Dolby Audio Capture 5.1
SensorsG-Sensor P-Sensor L-Sensor E-Compass Gyroscope Hall Sensor Vibrator
ColorsChampagne Gold, Gunmetal Gray
BodyAluminum alloy (unibody)
AvailabilitySeptember (global)
Price$499, unlocked (at Best Buy)

What About Intel?

Intel is working on its own Project Tango phone, and although we've seen some intriguing innovations there--not the least of which is hand-tracking--the chipmaker seems to be backing off a bit. We've noticed how little direct attention Project Tango (now know as simply "Tango") has gotten this year from Intel (I had to hunt to find the team at both CES and Mobile World Congress), and the company is no longer selling dev kits. As I've noted before, though, Intel was probably never going to sell Project Tango smartphones anyway--it wants to sell RealSense cameras to OEMs who will make smartphones. Like Lenovo. And so here we are.

Curiously, few if any other companies seem to be developing Project Tango devices, which is too bad, because it holds a great deal of promise, especially on a smartphone. Area learning, multi-user experiences, and a multitude of AR (and even VR) experiences are all readily possible with Project Tango. We've seen several simple but compelling demos, and those were all using technology that had no shipping products.

Make no mistake, Lenovo is making a wager on AR here. If the Phab 2 Pro flops, Lenovo itself will have egg on its face, and the fate of Project Tango hangs in the balance. However, if the Phab 2 Pro is successful, Lenovo will be branded as a brave innovator--and will be a step ahead of its competitors, who will be scrambling to catch up. 

Lenovo, though, sounds like it's already all-in. From the stage at Lenovo Tech World, Lenovo's VP and GM of Android and Chrome Computing Jeff Meredith said that Lenovo now has an entire unit devoted to building tablets, smartphones, and even Chromebooks, many of which will employ Project Tango technology.

Seth Colaner is the News Director for Tom's Hardware. Follow him on Twitter @SethColaner. Follow us on Facebook, Google+, RSS, Twitter and YouTube.

  • Jeff Fx
    Project Tango was a Google ATAP project that eventually migrated from those secretive labs to public demos and now to actual products. Simply put, the technology uses a depth-sensing camera on a mobile device to map any space in (basically) real time. It can then superimpose images and such on top of the real world, which you can see by looking at the device’s display.

    http://www.tomshardware.com/news/lenovo-intel-project-tango-smartphones,30980.html
    Reply
  • bit_user
    Lenovo First To Market ...
    In a race of one, can you really call it "winning"?
    ;)

    Congrats to Lenovo, for sticking with it. I'll probably buy one, if/when they actually hit the street. Let's hope this is just a prelude to a set of AR glasses, or else it'll be another soon-forgotten misstep in the long history of tech.
    Reply
  • 3ogdy
    Whopping 4GB? What is this, 2010? That's standard on a new phone nowadays.
    Thank God for microSD support, though.
    It's got a big battery, but 6.4" is tablet (phablet, whatever) territory, which comes with that sort of power consumption. Well, I hope they won't pull a Samsung with this one: "Look! A 1.4GHz quad core CPU, a 4.7" screen, this, that...-> puts a 2.100mAh on the device and users are forced to use it in power saving (read: SLOW) mode all day long and avoid using the device to the fullest because enabling functions eats into the battery like they're suffering from wartime hunger.

    Smart asses...or engineers , as they call them nowadays.

    Of course! Of course! Of course the picture with the camera assembly couldn't just ducking miss. It couldn't. How on Earth could we call it basic marketing nowadays?
    "Oh no! I didn't see the camera taken apart, it must have a trucking problem! Oh my God, I'm not buying that smartphone, there are no pictures like the one on this page with a camera taken apart!" is most likely what everyone thinks when the cheap ass marketing department fails to provide that specific picture.
    Reply
  • hoofhearted
    Wonder if the battery is user replaceable.
    Reply
  • bit_user
    18809810 said:
    Of course! Of course! Of course the picture with the camera assembly couldn't just ducking miss. It couldn't. How on Earth could we call it basic marketing nowadays?
    "Oh no! I didn't see the camera taken apart, it must have a trucking problem! Oh my God, I'm not buying that smartphone, there are no pictures like the one on this page with a camera taken apart!" is most likely what everyone thinks when the cheap ass marketing department fails to provide that specific picture.
    Perhaps you're not aware that the cameras are basically the selling point of the entire phone. This phone is designed for AR at a level nearly akin to Hololens. That also goes some ways towards explaining the large screen.

    If it were just an ordinary cell phone, then I'd agree that the camera disassembly would be slightly excessive.
    Reply