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Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 review

Tom Morgan
4 Dec 2015
Expert Reviews Recommended Logo
Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 - hero
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
150
inc VAT

It’s not a powerhouse, but the Yoga Tab 3 is ideal for kicking back with Netflix

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With a distinctive bulging base and integrated kick stand, Lenovo’s Yoga Tab range has always been distinctive, and the third iteration is no different. The large cylindrical base gives you something to grip when holding the tablet in one hand, makes room for a larger capacity battery and makes room for the unique hinged stand that can prop the screen up for hands-free use. It’s sturdy enough that you can tap the screen without sending it tumbling over. There’s even a hole that you can hang the tablet from, making it ideal for reading recipes in the kitchen.

Lenovo has improved the formula this year by integrating the camera into the base. Instead of one camera sensor on the front for video calling and a second on the back for taking photos, you get a single module, mounted on a 180-degree rotating hinge so it can be pointed in either direction. With the tablet held horizontally, the camera app automatically re-orients the live view when you rotate it from front to back, so all your photos will be the right way up. Admittedly the angle isn’t particularly flattering when the tablet is in Stand mode, but the 8-megapixel sensor is a big improvement over typical front-facing tablet cameras, so image quality is much better.

In fact, picture sharpness and level of detail are both very impressive for a budget tablet, with outdoor images showing all the textures you would expect from brick, tile and concrete surfaces. It somehow managed to blow out the sky and white painted brickwork, however, despite it being a particularly cloudy day and it not being especially bright.

HDR images take well over three seconds to capture, making camera shake a real issue. While the effect managed to restore some of the detail in the overcast sky, it oversaturated the brickwork of nearby buildings. The resulting image didn’t look natural at all.

^ The 100% crop shows a surprising amount of detail, but colours are way off in this HDR shot

Moving indoors reveals the need for lots of light to get noise-free images. Unless it was well-lit, all my test shots looked grainy and lacked fine detail. Colours were at least more accurate, but the results weren’t exactly fantastic. The camera also struggled to focus, despite indicating it had done so onscreen, leaving test images looking blurry. It will do in a pinch, but the Yoga Tab 3 won’t replace your smartphone camera.

Photos and videos looked bright and colourful enough on the 8in display, although objective tests reveal that Lenovo has used a fairly average quality panel. With 78.2% sRGB colour gamut coverage and a 700:1 contrast ratio, colours weren’t as accurate as more expensive tablets like the iPad Mini or as vibrant as the AMOLED panel on Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S2. They were only slightly behind Tesco’s excellent-value Hudl 2, however, and are better overall than EE’s more expensive Eagle tablet.

A maximum brightness of 368.2cd/m2 is fairly average for an 8in tablet, and is high enough to use comfortably indoors or outside. While viewing angles are very good, the glossy screen finish could make light reflections an issue. Black levels were also disappointingly high at 0.53cd/m2, leaving dark images looking slightly greyer than I would like. You don’t have to get close to the screen to spot individual pixels, with the 1,280x800 resolution only equating to a pixel density of 189ppi. It can make small text look very blocky and difficult to read.

Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 - front

The lower screen resolution also helps when it comes to performance, as the processor and GPU aren’t working as hard as they otherwise would be on a Full HD tablet. The quad-core, 1.3GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 212 isn’t exactly a powerful chip, especially when paired with just 1GB of RAM. It still manages to open apps fairly quickly, but there’s the slightest hint of lag with every tap. With mediocre scores of 315 and 1105 in the Geekbench 3 single- and multi-threaded benchmarks respectively, the Yoga Tab 3 is slower than virtually every 8in tablet we’ve reviewed this year, so is definitely more suited to single light-use tasks rather than more demanding apps.

It was a similar story when web browsing, with a Peacekeeper browser benchmark score of 524 putting it below average and media-heavy websites forced to redraw a lot more often than on other, more powerful tablets.

The Adreno 304 GPU is moderately capable, playing 3D games smoothly and playing back HD video clips without any issue, but scores of 244.1 (4fps) and 113.5 (2fps) in the GFX Bench 3 Manhattan onscreen and offscreen tests are disappointingly low. The Tab didn’t meet the minimum specifications for Blizzard’s Hearthstone, and while you can ignore the warning and play regardless, animations can stutter and the game takes quite a while to load.

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