A fantastic media-consumption companion for those on a tight budget
Positives

-Classy, elegant design
-Excellent speaker quality
-Close to stock Android 5.0 Lollipop
-Good battery life
-Affordable price tag

Negatives

-Low amount of memory
-Slower processor
-Mediocre display
-Poor camera

Rating
Battery
7.0
Display
6.0
Camera
3.0
Software
8.0
Design
8.0
Bottom Line
7
7
Lenovo Tab 2 A8 : great sound on a tight budget

While not without its flaws, the latest budget-friendly tablet offering from Lenovo absolutely delivers when it comes to the audio experience. Combined with its unbeatable price tag, the Lenovo Tab 2 A8 will be a fantastic media-consumption companion for those on a tight budget.

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Over the last year or so, budget-friendly device manufacturers have been focusing on a particular key aspect, in order to help their device stand out in the over-crowded and highly competitive market. Some offer fantastic battery life, some attempt to provide a great camera, and some, like in the case of Lenovo’s latest budget-friendly tablet, are focused on the audio experience. Does Lenovo deliver with regards to audio quality, and what else does the Lenovo Tab 2 A8 bring to the table? We find out, in this Lenovo Tab 2 A8 review!

Related: Lenovo Tab 2 A8 cases

Design

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The design of the Lenovo Tab 2 A8 can best be described as simple, but elegant. The rear plastic panel with a matte finish wraps around the sides of the tablet to meet the display frame, and this device is available with navy blue as the color option, which is a pleasant change from the default black that is sported by many devices in this class.

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Going around the device, the power button and volume rocker are on the right side, and while neither is exactly within easy reach, it doesn’t take a lot of hand gymnastics to get to them. The disappointing thing about the buttons is the fact that they do sit quite flush with the body of the tablet, and don’t offer much tactile feedback when pressed. At the back is a flap that houses the microSD card slot, and has an additional space, presumably for a SIM card for those that opt for the LTE version of the device. The front-facing stereo speakers are above and below the display, and both the headphone jack and the microUSB port are at the top.

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The tablet has a thickness of 8.9 mm and weighs 360 grams, and while it is a little too wide for comfortable one-handed use, the handling experience is standard for a tablet in this size category. Overall, the Lenovo Tab 2 A8 does feel really good in the hand, and features a build quality that goes beyond what its extremely budget-friendly price point would suggest.

Display

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The Lenovo Tab 2 A8 comes with an 8-inch IPS LCD display with a 1280 x 800 resolution, resulting in a pixel density of 184 ppi. The display is certainly capable and colors on the screen do look quite good, but the viewing angles aren’t the best, and the low resolution does make for a display that is average at best. That said, this resolution is standard at this price range, and while this display doesn’t stand out, it isn’t any worse than even some more expensive devices out there.

Performance and Hardware

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Under the hood, the Lenovo Tab 2 A8 packs a 64-bit quad-core MT8161 processor for the Wi-Fi-only model, and a 64-bit quad-core MT8735 for the LTE model, both clocked at 1.3 GHz, and backed by the Mali-T720 GPU (Wi-Fi-only model) and 1 GB of RAM.

While the processing package leans towards the lower-end, it does handle tasks quite well, with no obvious issues in performance. Understandably, it can feel a little slow at times, but not when doing what you might want a tablet for, which is watching a video or listening to music. 1 GB of RAM is somewhat limiting when it comes to multi-tasking though, but at least the device handles gaming very well, including some popular titles like Need for Speed – Most Wanted.

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The Tab 2 A8 comes with 8 or 16 GB of internal storage, further expandable via microSD card, but only by up to a further 32 GB. The standard suite of connectivity options is available, including GPS, which is great to see, given that it isn’t available with some other budget-friendly tablets. Being able to use the tablet for offline navigation is certainly a big plus, and something that can be useful for a lot of users.

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Coming to what is the biggest selling point of the Lenovo Tab 2 A8, the front-facing stereo speakers: featuring Dolby Atmos Cinematic Moving Audio, the fantastic quality of these speakers is very apparent when listening to any audio. This speaker setup allows for a truly immersive experience when watching a movie or playing a game, and is huge plus when it comes to the media consumption experience.

On the battery front, the Tab 2 A8 packs a non-removable 4,290 mAh battery, that provides a battery life that’s better than average. In my usage, the battery lasted for about 7 hours with over 5 hours of screen-on time, and usage that consistently mostly of watching videos or writing, with very little standby time, while using Wi-Fi, and with the display brightness set to 100%. Overall, most users shouldn’t have too difficult a time getting a full day of use out of this device.

Camera

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The Lenovo Tab 2 A8 comes with a 5 MP rear camera and a 2 MP front-facing camera. Being able to take pictures isn’t really a part of the tablet experience, and as such, very rarely will you find a tablet with a good camera. While some do allow for decent shots in a pinch though, that is unfortunately not the case here. The shots taken by the rear camera lack sharpness, color, and detail, and are basically just not very good. Overall, the camera feels like quite an unnecessary addition.

Software

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The Lenovo Tab 2 A8 comes with a very slightly customized version of Android 5.0 Lollipop. The only noticeable changes in the user interface are in the form of custom icons, a few changes to status bar and Quick Settings menu, and the presence of an the actual representation of a home button, instead of just a circle.

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A big change that has been made to the software experience is with regards to the animations, which have been disabled, making transitioning between various elements seem very abrupt. This has likely been done to accommodate the lower-end processing package, but you do have the option enable animations in the Android Developer options.

There’s not a lot in terms of additional features, but one that can be quite useful for some is Notification Log, which, as the name suggests, provides a log of dismissed notifications. Things otherwise remain close to stock Android with only minor modifications to be seen here and there, which is a very nice change from the quite heavy Vibe UI that Lenovo uses.

Specifications

Display8-inch IPS LCD, 1280 x 800 resolution
184 ppi
Processor1.3 GHz 64-bit quad-core MediaTek MT8161
Mali-T720 GPU
RAM1 GB
Storage8 GB/ 16 GB
expandable up to 32 GB
ConnectivityWi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n
Bluetooth 4.0
GPS
microUSB 2.0
Camera5 MP rear camera
2 MP front-facing camera
SoftwareAndroid 5.0 Lollipop
Battery4,290 mAh
Dimensions210 x 125 x 8.9 mm
360 grams

Gallery

Pricing and Final Thoughts

The Lenovo Tab 2 A8 is available for $130 for the 16 GB model, and currently, the only color option available is navy blue. That is an extremely impressive price tag, and there’s not a lot of devices at this price range of a similar caliber.

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So there you have it for this closer look at the Lenovo Tab 2 A8! Lenovo has undoubtedly built a very solid tablet that goes beyond what its very budget-friendly price point would suggest. While not without its flaws, with its slower processor, the availability of just 1 GB of RAM, mediocre display, and bad camera, the Tab 2 does deliver in the area it was meant to, and that is in the audio experience. You’ll be hard-pressed to find such an excellent speaker setup with even a twice as expensive tablet, and to be able to have that with a device that is priced at just $130 is amazing. If media-consumption is the primary objective, and you are on a budget, the Lenovo Tab 2 A8 should be under consideration.

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