Lenovo took the wraps off of three new Android tablets back at IFA this year. While the high-end Yoga Tab 3 Pro, with its integrated projector and audio enhancements, may be getting all the attention, the Chinese OEM has a couple of more budget-friendly tablets on offer as well, with the cheapest of the lot being the 8-inch variant of the Yoga Tab 3.
While retaining the unique design language that defines the series and being priced to be extremely affordable, does this tablet prove to be a compelling choice when compared to the stiff competition it faces? We find out, in this in-depth Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 8-inch review!
The Lenovo Yoga series may not offer the best specifications and features, and the affordable 8-inch Yoga Tab 3 is in fact, decidedly entry-level, but what remains a unique and defining aspect of the line is the design. Moving away from the standard slate design seen with most tablets, the Yoga Tab 3 8-inch, like all the others in the series, comes with a bulging cylinder at the bottom, when holding the device in the landscape orientation, that houses the key hardware features of the device, including the battery, a kickstand, and in the case of this particular tablet, the rotating camera as well.
The cylinder does result in a handling experience that takes some getting used to, but it helps that this 8-inch tablet is rather compact, and the tube does allow for an easy way to hold on to the tablet when using it in the portrait orientation. Helping with grip is the use of a matte finish plastic on the back, which looks and feels great. With the use of metal for the kickstand and the large battery the device packs, the Yoga Tab 3 8-inch does fall on the heavier side, weighing 467 grams, but the tablet is a sleek 7 mm thick, save for the cylinder.
The metal kickstand remains one of the excellent features of the design, but doesn’t offer the multiple positions and angles that are available with its larger sibling, the Yoga Tab 3 Pro. Instead, all you get here is a single position that lets you place the tablet in a stand or tilt mode. You may not get the same amount of versatility from this kickstand, but it still proves to be extremely useful, especially when it comes to media consumption. A button to release the kickstand is now available, and the resulting hole in the stand isn’t just to accommodate the button, but can also be used to hang up the tablet, even if there aren’t going to be a lot of situations where you will want, or need, to hang the device from a nail or rack.
Taking a look around the device, the power button is on one end of the cylinder, with a notification LED ring around it, and along that side, close to the button, is where you will find the microUSB port and the volume rocker. On the opposite end of the cylinder is the headphone jack. Opening the kickstand reveals a plastic cover that houses the microSD card slot. The camera unit is also now a part of the cylinder, and is placed on a rotating hinge, that lets you use it as both a rear and front-facing shooter. Up front is where you will find a dual stereo front-facing speaker setup with Dolby Atmos audio enhancements.
The unique design of the Yoga Tab 3 8-inch can take some getting used to, but the kickstand continues to be a very useful inclusion, and with the use of a matte finish plastic and metal for the stand, the overall build quality of the tablet definitely goes far beyond what its price point would suggest.
As the name suggests, the Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 8-inch comes with an 8-inch IPS LCD display with a 1280 x 800 resolution, resulting in a pixel density of 189 ppi. The tablet may not offer the highest resolution display out there, even when compared to other tabs that fall in this price range, but users will still appreciate the quality of the panel, with its accurate color reproduction, decent viewing angles, and a fair amount of brightness at the highest setting.
Like the Yoga Tab 3 Pro, this tablet also comes with a “super sensitive” display, which allows for the screen to be used when wearing gloves, and is a very nice feature to have. However, as was also the case with its larger sibling, the screen seems to be far too sensitive, and registers touches from things like sleeves and headphone cables, and a toggle to turn off this feature would certainly have been appreciated. The issue with the adaptive brightness not working on the Yoga Tab 3 Pro isn’t to be seen here however.
Performance and hardware
Under the hood, the Yoga Tab 3 8-inch comes with a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 212 processor, clocked at 1.3 GHz, and backed by the Adreno 304 GPU and 1 GB RAM. This is a decidedly entry-level processing package, and that is unfortunately reflected in the performance of this tablet, that is also not helped with the availability of just 1 GB of RAM, which makes multi-tasking very difficult.
While the device can handle everyday tasks pretty well, there was quite a bit of lag and stutter throughout, in addition to slow load times with quite a few applications. When it comes to gaming, playing casual games is the best that you will be able to do here, and you can expect to see a noticeable amount of dropped frames when attempting to run more processor-intensive games. Granted, the Yoga Tab 3 8-inch is an affordable and not surprisingly lower-end tablet, but even with that in mind, the performance leaves a lot to be desired, when compared to some other tablets that fall in the price range.
16 GB is the only option available when it comes to built-in storage, but expandable storage via microSD card by up to 128 GB is possible. The device also comes with a standard suite of connectivity options, and while the tablet seen in this review is a Wi-Fi only model, a 4G LTE capable version will also make its way to consumers soon.
Audio is another area where Lenovo continues to excel, and the Yoga Tab 3 8-inch comes with a dual front-facing speaker setup, with Dolby Atmos enhancements, that sound really good, and get plenty loud. These speakers allow for a great media consumption experience, and that would have been true as far as gaming is concerned as well, if not for the somewhat poor performance.
As mentioned, packed into the cylinder is a large 6,200 mAh battery, and given the capacity, it’s not surprising that the battery life available with the Yoga Tab 3 8-inch is exceptional. With moderate usage, the battery allowed for an average of about 11 hours of screen-on time, and along with very impressive standby times, the device lasted for no less than three days. The battery life may just be the biggest selling point of this device, if that is what you are looking for, you won’t have to look any further than the Yoga Tab 3.
On the camera front, the Yoga Tab 3 8-inch comes with a 8 MP camera that is on a rotatable hinge, allowing for it to function as both the rear and front-facing shooter, and if you are looking to get creative, the hinge holds its place at various other angles in between as well. While the implementation is quite unique, the performance of the camera when it comes to image quality proves to be a let down.
The camera produces below average results, even after making concessions for this price point, with image lacking dynamic range and detail, along with the colors appearing to be washed out. As always, tablets were never intended to be your primary mobile camera, and while this might do in a pinch, it is certainly not going to be an appropriate replacement for your smartphone camera.
The Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 8-inch is running a near stock version of Android 5.1 Lollipop, and while there are a few minor changes to be found, the software experience here is far more vanilla when compared to the Vibe UI found with the Yoga Tab 3 Pro.
As expected, a lot of Material Design elements are seen throughout the user interface, and there is also an application drawer now, which is pleasant change from previous generations of Lenovo’s software packages. Some of the changes to be seen include the Clear buttons in the multi-tasking menu, and the Settings icon animations in the notification shade, actually end up taking away from the overall polish of the experience. Lenovo has also kept the bloatware to a minimum, and apart from a few Lenovo applications, McAfee Security is the only big addition here, but even that can be uninstalled.
|Display||8-inch IPS LCD display 1280 x 800 resolution 189 ppi|
8-inch IPS LCD display 1280 x 800 resolution 189 ppi:1.3 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 212
Adreno 304 GPU
8-inch IPS LCD display 1280 x 800 resolution 189 ppi:1 GB
8-inch IPS LCD display 1280 x 800 resolution 189 ppi:16 GB on-board,
microSD expansion up to 128 GB
8-inch IPS LCD display 1280 x 800 resolution 189 ppi:8 MP rotating camera
8-inch IPS LCD display 1280 x 800 resolution 189 ppi:6,200 mAh
8-inch IPS LCD display 1280 x 800 resolution 189 ppi:Android 5.1 Lollipop
8-inch IPS LCD display 1280 x 800 resolution 189 ppi:2x front-facing speakers,
Dolby Atmos 3D Surround Sound on Speakers
8-inch IPS LCD display 1280 x 800 resolution 189 ppi:209.8 x 145.8 x 7 mm
Pricing and final thoughts
The Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 8-inch is priced at $169 for the Wi-Fi only model, and the LTE variant, which is expected to launch soon, will set you back an additional $30.
So there you have it for this in-depth look at the Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 8-inch! While this tablet checks a lot of the right boxes, with it featuring an excellent design and build quality, exceptional battery life, a near-stock software experience, and a very affordable price tag, it stumbles when it comes to the lower resolution display, disappointing camera, and performance issues.
This is certainly not a bad tablet, and the unique form factor and built-in kickstand are big positives as well. However, if that isn’t important to you, there are some better options out there that fall in the price range, such as the ASUS ZenPad S 8.0, or even the still very capable Nexus 7 (2013), that are much better performers, and offer a better package overall.