A phablet refers to a mobile device which sits somewhere between a smartphone and a tablet in terms of screen size, and has been a love it or hate it piece of tech ever since the term was first coined. Even today, the phablet category caters to a niche audience and interested buyers not looking to spend a premium are limited to a few options only. While one of the most popular affordable phablets offering right now comes from Xiaomi in the form of the Mi Max (review), things could soon change with the recent launch of Lenovo’s PHAB 2 Plus (first impressions). Since, these are two of the hottest devices in this segment, we decided to compare them against each other to see which giant trumps the other.
The devices are very similar in terms of design with both Xiaomi as well as Lenovo encasing their respective smartphones in metallic bodies, which give the Mi Max and the PHAB 2 Plus a great finish and in-hand feel. However, metal-bodied smartphones have a tendency to slip and the gigantic screen sizes of both the devices doesn’t make gripping them any easier. Speaking of which, both the Xiaomi Mi Max and the Lenovo PHAB 2 Plus come sporting 6.4-inch full HD panels putting the pixel densities of their displays at 344ppi. If design and display are the only two parameters you consider before buying a device, then you’ll be getting similar experience regardless of which one you choose.
Performance is where these two devices draw differences with a Qualcomm Snapdragon chip powering the Xiaomi Mi Max and a MediaTek chip powering the Lenovo PHAB 2 Plus. Peeking under the hood of Xiaomi’s contender first, the Mi Max is powered by a Snapdragon 650 hexa-core processor with four processing clusters clocked at 1.4GHz and the other two at 1.8GHz. Lenovo’s gladiator on the other hand, packs an octa-core Mediatek MT8783 chip clocked at 1.3GHz. While we'd wait till we get to review the Lenovo phablet before commenting on its performance, the Qualcomm-equipped Mi Max does offer very smooth operation. Both the devices come equipped with 3GB of RAM.
In the storage department, the Mi Max comes with 32GB of onboard memory which can be further expanded up to 128GB via a microSD card. On the other hand, the Lenovo PHAB 2 Plus also ships with 32GB of onboard storage which can be expanded up to 256GB using a microSD card as well.
In terms of software, the Xiaomi Mi Max runs the loaded MIUI on top of Android Marshmallow. The UI comes with a lot of customisation options which allows users to theme the Mi Max to their liking. Lenovo on the other hand, has garnished the PHAB 2 Plus with a near-stock UI which utilises Android Marshmallow as well.
The Lenovo PHAB 2 Plus comes out on top with its 13MP dual-camera setup at the back compared to a lone 16MP sensor present on the back of the Xiaomi Mi Max. Lenovo’s brawler also packs a laser autofocus unit which helps in quickly switching between different subjects. The same is absent on the Xiaomi Mi Max. In terms of front-facing cameras, the PHAB 2 Plus takes the lead yet again with its superior 8MP sensor compared to the 5MP sensor found on the Xiaomi Mi Max.
In terms of battery, the Mi Max packs a superior 4,850mAh battery compared to PHAB 2 Plus’s 4,050mAh unit. Both the devices come with standard connectivity options along with support for 4G and dual-SIM cards.
The Lenovo PHAB 2 Plus is a great device for shutterbugs owing to its dual-camera setup at the back. However, buyers investing in the Xiaomi Mi Max should get better battery life from their smartphone. The Snapdragon processor on the Mi Max should be a better companion for gamers and hardcore users as well.
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