Lenovo Tab4 Review: Inexpensive Android Tablets for the Family

by Reads (2,863)
  • Editor's Rating

    Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

      • Design
      • 7
      • Features
      • 7
      • Performance
      • 6
      • Durability
      • 7
      • Total Score:
      • 6.75
      • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10
  • Pros

    • High-quality hardware for the price
    • Front-facing speakers
    • Notification LED
  • Cons

    • Below average battery life

Quick Take

The Lenovo Tab4’s hardware is great, and the performance is acceptable for light duty, but a longer battery life would have been nice.


The market for small and mid-size Android tablets is very competitive, and the Lenovo Tab4 is in the thick of the fight thanks to its affordable price.

This device is available in 8-inch ($129.99) and 10.1-inch ($179.99) versions. Our review unit is the 8-inch variant, but screen size is one of the few differences between these two so much of this article will apply equally to the larger model.

No matter the size, the Tab4 runs Android 7.1 on a Snapdragon processor, with 16 GB of storage.

Lenovo Tab4 Build and Design

The 8-inch version of this tablet is 8.3 by 4.9 by 0.3 inches, and 0.7 pounds. That makes it easily portable in a purse, backpack, etc.

There are certainly devices with similar feature sets but lower prices, like the Amazon Fire HD 8, but Lenovo’s product offers a much better look and feel. It’s smaller and lighter, and the design is much more professional.

The build quality is excellent, and our review unit gave only slightly to our efforts to bend or flex it. This despite much of the casing being plastic. Those who want some extra protection (which we recommend) can invest in Lenovo’s Folio Tablet Case ($24.99), which also comes with a screen protector.

The unit we’re testing has a black casing. A version in white is also available.

The 10.1-inch version of the Tab4 is 9.7 by 6.7 by 0.3 inches. That makes it almost as easily portable as its smaller sibling, despite it larger screen.

Display

The 8-inch screen has a 1280 by 800 pixel resolution, which puts it at 188 pixels per inch.  High-end tablets offer up to 266 PPI, but the Tab 4’s screen looks fine when displaying text, images, or video.

Colors are vivid, with none of muddiness that once was an issue with inexpensive devices. And the display can be easily viewed at a wide range of angles.

The maximum screen brightness is 350 nits. That’s not great, but our real world usage found it bright enough to be used outdoors, just not in direct sunlight.

An 8-inch display is the best size for an ebook reader, and it’s a much better option for watching video than a phone screen. That said, this really isn’t the right device to write a novel on.

The bigger, 10.1-inch Lenovo Tab4 also has a 1280 by 800 pixel screen resolution. On the larger display, this works out to be 150 PPI, which is a bit low. Still, those who really want more screen area will be interested to know the 8-inch model has just 63% of the square inches of its bigger brother.

Ports and Buttons

The microSD card reader is behind a protective door on the left side of the Tab4. This has been tested with up to 128 GB cards, providing plenty of opportunity for extending this computer’s storage.

A micro-USB port is on the top edge, making it easier to charge the slate while it’s being used. Beyond that, flash drives with micro-USB connectors can be plugged in, and purchase of an optional USB Type-A adapter enables the use of more. We used such an adapter to test this slate with a standard keyboard and mouse with no issues, for example.

 
 

The power button for the Lenovo Tab4 is on the right side, and it has an unusual texture that makes very easy to use… and also makes it look a bit like a speaker.

All other buttons are on-screen, virtual ones, as Google recommends for Android devices.

The Tab4 has an LED that blinks to indicate the user has notifications pending, a welcome feature that has become all too rare.

Speakers and Cameras

Lenovo included a pair of speakers to the left and right of the display when the device is being held in landscape mode. In our tests, these put out enough sound to be easily heard in a moderately loud environment. This was surely aided by the fact that they are pointed toward the listener, unlike virtually every other tablet on the market. Even better, they support Dolby Atmos for high-quality audio.

A 3.5 mm audio/microphone jack is on the top edge of the tablet. There a microphone on the bottom edge.

The Lenovo Tab4 has a 2 megapixel front-facing camera that’s more than adequate for video conferencing. The rear-facing camera is 5 megapixels, which is plenty for a device not really meant to be frequently used to take pictures. Our tests showed that it takes fine images in bright lighting, but the lack of a flash makes it less useful in dim conditions.

Lenovo Tab 4 Performance

Both the 8- and 10-inch versions of this tablet run Android on a Qualcomm MSM8917 Snapdragon 64-bit quad-core processor that has four CPU cores, each running at up to 1.4 GHz. This is a serviceable chip, but the days when it was high-end are long gone.

We tested the 8-inch variant with Geekbench 4, and its performance on the multi-core portion of this benchmarking software was approximately the same as one of its top rivals, the Amazon Fire HD 8:

In real-world terms, the Tab4 is quite fast enough for average use, like email, web access, and light gaming, but it’s not up to more challenging tasks. This isn’t surprising, given its price.

This Lenovo model has 2 GB of RAM, which is enough to allow it to keep several applications running simultaneously.

The only version available in the U.S. has 16 GB of storage, which is plenty for someone who intends to use this tablet for social networking, web access, watching streaming video, and/or ebook reading.  Those who want to store large amounts of images, video, or music will need to invest in a microSD card. Inexpensive 16 GB cards are easily available, and they now go all the way up to 400 GB.

Android Software

The Lenovo Tab4 runs Android 7.1 Nougat, the most recent version of this operating system that’s in wide circulation. This appears to be a nearly “stock” version of Google’s OS, without the modifications that Amazon and others make to their offerings.

As tablets like this one are often shared within a family, Android makes it easy to set up different accounts, something iPads can’t do.

The Tab 4 comes with Google’s suite of productivity and entertainment applications, and there are 3 million more on the Google Play app store. This is a significant advantage over the Fire HD 8, which can’t access Google’s app store.

Wireless

This tablet includes WiFi (802.11 b/g/n) on a single 2.4 GHz channel, which isn’t all the standards more expensive devices offer. Most notably absent is support for 5.0 GHz, as Bluetooth and other wireless devices can interfere with 2.4 GHz WiFi.

Bluetooth 4.0 is also included, and can be used to reliability communicate with wireless accessories like keyboards. We had no issues using the Tab4 with a Logitech K780, for example.

Battery Life

Lenovo included a 4850 mAh battery in the 8-inch version of the Tab4, which the company promises is good for over 10 hours of video playback or web access over Wi-Fi. We tested this by having the tablet constantly stream video over Wi-Fi, a “torture test” that determines the minimal battery life users can expect.

The device lasted 8 hours and 11 minutes in our test, which is a bit low for a tablet.  It’s up to a full day of moderate use, but any family taking this computer on a weekend getaway should bring a charger.

Speaking of which, the necessary cable and charger are bundled with this product. Fully recharging the Tab4 8 with them takes over 5 hours.

The Tab4 10 has a 7000 mAh battery, which Lenovo says is good for over 13 hours on a single charge. As we don’t have a review unit in this size, we can’t test this claim.

Lenovo Tab4 Final Thoughts

A 6-inch phone screen is an acceptable way to read books, play games, or watch video, but the 8- or 10-inch displays offered by the Lenovo Tab4 make all these better. And the Tab4’s front-facing speakers really improve games and video.  It’s an entertainment device well suited to be shared by a family, or it could be a child’s only computer.

The hardware is great, and the performance is acceptable for light duty, but a longer battery life would have been nice.

The Tab4 8 has a list price of $129.99. It’s top rival, the Fire HD 8, is $79.99 but is so closely tied to Amazon that we have a hard time recommending it to anyone who isn’t a Prime member.

The Lenovo Tab4 10 is $179.99. It’s top competitors include the Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1, which goes for $279.99 or the Apple iPad (2017) starts at $329.  Just keep in mind that both those models justify their higher price tags with nicer screens and faster performance scores.

Pros:

  • High-quality hardware for the price
  • Front-facing speakers
  • Notification LED

Cons:

  • Below average battery life

 



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