Over the years, we have seen a number of innovative devices come and go without gaining traction in the market. The 2009 Dell Streak 5 is one example: Dell introduced an Android device based around at-the-time high end Android hardware with an outrageously enormous 5.0-inch screen. The Streak was billed as a combination of a smartphone and a tablet, either as an oversized smartphone that worked well in landscape mode, or a tablet with voice functionality. Samsung followed up the Streak with the original Galaxy Note, which had more of a smartphone feel about it but an even larger 5.2-inch display. Roll forward to 2015 and it is unusual to see a flagship device without a display of between 5.0 to 5.5-inch, with some models coming with a larger display. Over the years, technology has been refined such that handset bezels have been reduced, meaning that manufacturers can squeeze a larger screen into a smaller chassis. We have seen manufacturers pushing screen sizes into even larger dimensions and this is where I will introduce Lenovo's latest oversized smartphone effort, the PHAB family.
Lenovo's marketing literature explains that the name PHAB comes from a combination of "phone" and "tablet." They are today announcing two models in the PHAB family, the PHAB and the PHAB PLUS. I'm writing about the PHAB today, which is a smartphone based around a 7.0-inch, 720p resolution IPS LCD panel. Under the skin, there's a quad core, 64-bit Qualcomm processor backed up by 1 GB of RAM. There's 16 GB of internal storage plus a MicroSD card slot that can accept cards of up to 64 GB capacity. Perhaps because of the sheer size of the device, or because Lenovo can envisage it being used for conference calls, the PHAB has a three microphone array set up on the device, which means it supports sophisticated noise cancelling and group talking technologies. Around the back, there's a 13MP rear camera complete with a flash and on the front, there's a 5MP front facing camera (Lenovo sell a front flash accessory device). Customers can expect 4G LTE, WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0 radios and everything is kept alive by a 4,250 mAh battery with the promise of 24 hours of talk time. The device also comes with Dolby Atmos 3D Surround Sound should you wish to watch a movie during down time.
The Lenovo PHAB will be available in four colors – black, white, red and blue – at a price starting from just $179. Whilst some of the specifications of the device look decidedly low end, the microphone array and long battery life look tempting. The PHAB runs Android 5.0 Lollipop and has been optimized for one-handed use, although it is not clear what Lenovo mean by this. Still, this is a lot of device for not so much cash and as it's a dual SIM device, so could be idea for the road warriors amongst us.