Lenovo Tab P12 Pro review
(Pocket-lint) – Want a plus-sized tablet? The two series that are stealing headlines are the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 and the iPad Pro 12.9.
The Lenovo Tab P12 Pro is your second option. It’s quite a bit cheaper than some of the biggest names, and that’s really the angle here, folks. All important technology, for a little less money.
However, it’s not exactly what we’d call killer value. It’s nowhere near as powerful as an iPad Pro, and the processor is also a significant step down from the one used in the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8+. The slight decrease in costs also comes with a dip in technology.
The Lenovo Tab P12 Pro is a slightly more affordable alternative to an iPad Pro 12.9 or Samsung Galaxy Tab S8+. It can do much of the same as the Samsung, but has a slightly less sharp screen and a lower processor.
Our primary question is whether it costs enough less than the Galaxy to make it a noteworthy deal. You should at least shop around before you buy to see if you can’t find the Samsung at a similar price.
However, there is nothing wrong with the Lenovo Tab P12 Pro if we turn down the value obsession. The speakers are great, the stylus is powerful and comfortable to use, and Lenovo has done enough with the software that it’s not a terrible idea to use it a bit like a laptop – at least for the basics.
However, the value king of value digital art tablets remains the slightly ancient Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite for now.
- Good including stylus
- Bold display
- Slightly cheaper than the Samsung and Apple alternatives
- Not even close to an iPad Pro in raw performance
- Samsung and Apple 12-inch screens are slightly sharper
- No headphone jack
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- Quality in aluminum and glass
- No headphone jack is a bit annoying
- Very good quad driver speaker array
The Lenovo Tab P12 Pro is a 12.6-inch tablet. It’s a biggie, but is about as slim and light as these giant tablets come.
It weighs 567g according to our scales, and is less than 6mm thick – far slimmer than most phones. There is no hiding the large footprint of the Lenovo Tab P12 Pro, but Lenovo has done what it can.
Build quality is also about a match for Samsung’s and Apple’s. The back is a single piece of aluminum with a two-tone finish, and the screen edges are about as slim as on the Galaxy Tab S8+.
We ran out of interesting new things to say about tablet design years ago, but the Lenovo Tab P12 Pro is at least a pretty one.
There’s some good stuff going on inside too. It has four speakers, of similar quality to the Galaxy Tab S8+. That means plenty of volume, a great stereo effect and commendably powerful bass given that the P12 Pro is less than 6mm thick. They are film ready.
You can unlock the tablet with a fingerprint or your face, and there’s actually a dedicated 3D time-of-flight camera on the front to make face unlock a little more secure.
The set of little gold pipes on the bottom also hint at what else you can do with the tablet. Lenovo makes a two-piece keyboard cover for the P12 Pro. A back cover adds a kickstand. The keyboard part itself is separate, and clips into the bottom of the screen.
Unfortunately, this is not included. And Lenovo didn’t send us any. But it should be fine as it costs an extra £150. It’s Microsoft Surface keyboard money.
- Includes a good Precision Pen 3 pen
- Not quite as sharp as the Samsung and Apple rivals
- Bold OLED panel
The Lenovo Tab P12 Pro is a gadget that’s mostly just a screen with some stuff inside, so you’d hope it would be good. It’s a 12.6-inch OLED panel with an aspect ratio of 16:10. This is taller than the classic widescreen style of old Android tablets, and makes it feel like there’s more space to play with in, for example, drawing apps.
The color is great, the maximum brightness actually beats the Tab S8+ and the contrast is theoretically infinite thanks to the illumination per pixel of the OLED screen. It’s also a fully laminated display, which makes the panel look almost completely black when turned off, while avoiding the recessed look that some cheapo tablets still have.
The top surface is Gorilla Glass 5, found in Samsung’s best tablets, and a 120Hz refresh rate makes Android appear super-smooth in motion. When there are no microstrains, anyway.
Next to the Galaxy Tab S8+ and iPad Pro 12.9, the screen resolution is a bit low at 2560 x 1600 pixels. The pixel density is around 10% higher on these rivals. But this thing isn’t exactly pixelated.
You also get a stylus in the box, the Precision Pen 3. This costs £50 on its own, and feels a lot more serious than most tablet pens simply because of its size. It feels like a real pen.
The specifications are also good. Precision Pen 3 supports 4096 pressure levels and tilt detection, which can be used in, for example, Infinite Painter to modulate the behavior of your digital paint brushes.
When we first used the Lenovo P12 Pro, we noticed some stylus lag, but that seems to have improved with software updates. It is now instantly felt in most apps.
This is a wireless stylus that allows you to bring up the pen menu when you press the side button. It also requires a battery, which is charged wirelessly when you attach the pen to an invisible magnetic part of the back.
Software and performance
- Mid-tier CPU performs well, but is not iPad Pro powerful
- The software has been updated to Android 12
- Productivity mode provides a more portable experience
This tablet ran Android 11 at launch, but has since been updated with Android 12. There have also been some tweaks to how this works as a tablet, making it feel a little less like a giant phone that can’t take calls.
Still, in default mode, that’s pretty much what you get in the Lenovo Tab P12 Pro. You’ve got your home screens and app drawer, while the persistent home screen app dock serves as a nod to the extra screen space this tablet has to play with.
Lenovo Tab P12 Pro also has productivity mode, accordingly Samsung DeX. This is primarily intended for use with the keyboard accessory, but you can try it out whenever you want.
It aims to bring the interface closer to something like MacOS or Windows, and disables a bunch of the gestures that Androids rely on. Swiping down from the top of the screen no longer brings up function switches or notifications. You have to click on the bottom right of the screen to, for example, change the brightness of the screen.
In productivity mode, the app drawer becomes a pop-up panel like Windows’ old Start menu. And apps run in movable windows instead of taking over the entire screen by default.
This is a powerful tool, but one that also addresses the main issue with the Lenovo Tab P12 Pro Productivity mode. Apps start as long slim windows, the same shape as a phone screen. The full screen button at the top of each window is usually grayed out, and resizing each window feels awkward. It may mimic a portable interface, but it’s always clear that this isn’t really one.
Productivity mode feels miles better than the default if you want to use a keyboard and mouse. But is it a similar replacement for a Mac or Windows laptop? Absolutely not.
However, Lenovo lets you push this tablet pretty far. Since we didn’t have the keyboard, we connected it to a Caldigit TS4 Thunderbolt docking station with a monitor, mouse and keyboard attached. Here’s how to use the Lenovo Tab P12 Pro as a dual-screen setup. Install some Office-style apps and of course you can do some serious (but light) work with this thing.
Alternatively, the tablet can be used as the second screen for your laptop if you install the Lenovo Freestyle app on your Mac/PC.
The features are here, but despite Lenovo’s best efforts, there’s some residual clunking when trying to make an Android device feel more like a laptop.
The performance of the Lenovo Tab P12 Pro is also significantly lower than that of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8+ or iPad Pro 12.9. It uses the Snapdragon 870. This is a mid-range CPU that is a boosted version of the 2020 flagship Snapdragon 865.
It’s one of the best mid-range phone processors out there. In mid-range phones, it’s a corker. But you don’t pay intermediate prices here.
The CPU side of the Lenovo Tab P12 Pro is only slightly weaker than the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8+, but the graphics side is almost twice as powerful in the Samsung. And the iPad Pro 12.9’s M1 processor gives them both, with more than double the CPU power and more than four times the GPU power of the Snapdragon 870.
This difference is not going to be obvious all the time, or even most of the time. But it highlights why the Lenovo Tab P12 Pro costs a little less than the Samsung Galaxy Tab 8+. It’s not because Lenovo is just a little more generous with its prices.
Battery life and cameras
- Long battery life of up to 15.5 hours
- Dual rear cameras, one of which is OK
- Solid front camera
The Lenovo Tab P12 Pro has a 10200mAh battery, and like most previous Lenovo tablets, endurance is great for light stuff. Five hours of constant YouTube streaming takes 32% of the battery, which suggests it should be able to soldier on for around 15 and a half hours.
90 minutes of 3D action game Ark: Survival Evolved gets a 19% discount, which suggests that the Lenovo Tab P12 Pro will last just under 8 hours of gameplay. Max everything, melt the CPU/GPU and make the screen as bright as it wants and the battery will last around three hours.
It supports 45W charging, but in a disappointing move you only get a 30W in the box. It uses the QuickCharge 4.0 standard, so you have to be careful if you want to maximize the charging speed. USB-PD chargers are more common these days.
We’ve left out the cameras so far because, let’s be honest, most of them aren’t that important in a tablet. While the main 13MP rear camera looks good on the tablet screen, you’d need a pretty low-end phone for it to take worse photos. They are just fine here. And the 5 MP ultra-wide camera is very basic.
Around the front, the Lenovo Tab P12 Pro has an 8MP camera, and that’s arguably the most important. The picture is considerably softer than the best selfie cameras on the phone, but it will blow most portable webcams out of the water, making this a very good video chat gadget.
The Lenovo Tab P12 Pro still makes a lot of sense if you’re here for digital art, and the included full-size Lenovo Pen feels great. Lenovo has also ensured that no element feels left out. Well, except for the headphone jack, which is omitted entirely. The Lenovo Tab P12 Pro’s speakers are great, the screen is powerful and the ultra-slim design helps you forget how big a footprint this thing has compared to classic tablet designs. We don’t see new standards being set here, but if you can find the Lenovo at the right price online, go for it.
Written by Andrew Williams. Editing by Verity Burns.