Lenovo Phab Plus hands-on: A big phone with a weird name

It also has — if we're honest — a terrible, terrible name. The Phab Plus. Part phone, part tablet is the message Lenovo is unabashedly selling with this one, claiming that the number of people actually making calls is dropping. The number of people two-handing their big-screen phones and getting stuff done is increasing.

And so here we are. We caught up with it at IFA 2015 this past week in Berlin.

While the name is pretty bad, the phone itself actually isn't. Once you get over its massive dimensions. Unlike some previous crossovers like the ASUS Fonepad, the Phab Plus is designed like a phone with a large screen, not a tablet with a phone built in. That means it's not so awkward when you actually do want to make a phone call. It's just big.

You get slim side bezels, a metal unibody, 6.8-inch full HD display and a Snapdragon 615 CPU inside with 2GB of RAM powering Android 5.0 Lollipop. The camera on the back is a 13MP shooter and there's a decent sized 3500mAh battery squeezed into it's slender frame.

Of note, also, is that Lenovo's software seems to be drastically improved on phones of old which much less in the way of heavy customization. Maybe it's the Motorola effect starting to shine through or maybe someone just saw the light. In any case, it's not overpowering and there's certainly signs of Lollipop underneath. Something that would have been unheard of even 12 months ago.

One software feature that is pretty handy to have on a phone this size is the one-handed mode. If you draw a "C" shape on the display you'll get a much smaller version that you can reach without having to two-hand it. What's also neat is that as you switch the phone between left and right hands the user interface automatically switches sides. There are also options to move it further up the screen or make it a little bigger.

It does look a fair bit like an iPhone 6 Plus from the back, but that kind of comparison is harder and harder to avoid if you're doing a large, metal phone such as this. It's not a high end flagship class smartphone, but it's very well priced. Coming in at the equivalent of $299 it's pretty good value for money.

Richard Devine