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Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 review

In late 2013, Lenovo recruited Ashton Kutcher – yes, that Ashton Kutcher – as its celebrity "product engineer" to collaborate on the original Yoga Android tablet. In all fairness, wasn't like other Android tablets around at the time, and that hasn't changed much to this day. With an unusual design and claims of killer battery life, there were certainly things to help it stand out from the crowd.

But inferior hardware and less than ideal software performance let it down. Lenovo tried again earlier this year with the Yoga 10HD+ with improved hardware, but now its back again – as is Kutcher – with an all-out sequel. The Yoga Tablet 2 is a family of devices that covers both Android and Windows and boasts a 13-inch 'Pro' edition complete with a Pico Projector.

And so it comes time to review. We've got the 10-inch Android version in – because the Windows 8 tablet wouldn't belong here, would it? – to put through its paces. Is it a winner this time around? Read on to find out.

About this review

This review has been written after using a European, WiFi only version of the Yoga 2 over a period of two weeks running on Android 4.4.2 and build number 1050F_140822.

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 video walkthrough

The design and using the Yoga 2

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2

The Yoga 2 looks a lot like the first Yoga tablet, and that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Once again, the whole tablet hinges around the fold-out kick stand at the base. As such we're left with an insanely slim tablet for the most part, and a 'hump' at the base where we find the stand, and a honkin' great battery inside.

You could certainly slice some cheese pretty well with it

One critique we had of the original Yoga was that due to it's design it was difficult to actually hold. The same applies to the Yoga 2, which is actually a few grams heavier than its predecessor. It's also worth pointing out that the stand is still pretty sharp around the edges. It's not going to cut you every time you pick it up, but you could certainly slice some cheese pretty well with it.

If you're looking for a tablet to consume vast amounts of media, though, Lenovo has nailed it with the stand. Prop it up on a table and thanks to a pretty nice looking 1080p display and stereo speakers with Dolby sound, it becomes a superb mobile video machine.

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2

One thing the stand adds to the Yoga 2 that is new is the so-called "Hang" mode. Because it's got a hole cut into it you can now hang it up from a hook as an alternative to standing it up on a surface. It's got niche appeal, sure, but if you use your tablet a lot in the kitchen for looking at recipes it's ideal.

When it comes to actually holding the tablet, we've found that going "upside down," that is, with the heavy part at the top, is a more comfortable experience. It also makes using the camera easier since it's located in one corner of it. If you're holding it by the hump, the camera is really awkward to use.

Overall, the design of the Yoga 2 is what differentiates it from the rest of the Android tablets out there. You'll either like it or you won't, either way it remains one of the more interesting parts of it. And it's what's going to catch your eye in the store before anything else. On that front Lenovo has done well — variety is never a bad thing.

The specs

OSAndroid 4.4 KitKat
ChipsetQuad-core Intel Atom Z3745 (up to 1.86GHz)
Display Size8- or 10-inches IPS
Display Resolution1920x1200
Cameras8MP f2.2 Rear
1.6MP Front
Internal Storage16GB
External StoragemicroSD
Connectivity802.11b/g/n Dual-Band Wi-Fi (2.4 and 5 GHz) , Optional 4G (in select countries, not US): WCDMA (900/2100 MHz), GSM/EDGE (900/1800/1900 MHz), Integrated Bluetooth® 4.0
Weight419g (8-inch), 619g (10-inch)
BatteryUpto 18 hours on a single charge
Audio2x front large-chamber speakers, Dolby® Audio, Wolfson® Master Hi-FiTM

The hardware

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2

There seems to be plenty enough horsepower underneath

With the Yoga 2 Lenovo has gone for hardware more suitable of a higher-end Android tablet. We've got a 1920x1200 resolution IPS display, Intel's latest 64-bit, quad-core CPU and 2GB of RAM. In theory that should provide plenty of power. The display is attractive enough on the whole, though there is some weirdness – and it's hard to describe it as anything other than that – with rendering and sharpening that leaves text and images fuzzier than they ought to be. There seems to be enough horsepower within to run the Android UI with almost no perceptible lag. It does creep in from time-to-time but largely things are pretty smooth.

Inside you're getting 16GB of onboard storage, and that's it. But, there is a microSD card slot to expand that, which is good to see given the obvious media consumption pretentions. There are two cameras, 8-megapixel and a 1.2-megapixel units, and both could probably be in better locations on the tablet. The front-facing camera is on one of the short edges, yet would surely be better along the top for using with the tablet standing up. We'll look at camera quality in more depth further on.

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2

We've looked at the design, but how about the construction? How well is it put together? On the whole, very well. The base and the stand are metal while the screen housing is plastic. It works well this way because to offset the weight added by the honkin' great battery in the base, the rest of the tablet is insanely thin and light. The back has a slight texture which makes it reasonably easy to hold on to, and the stand is silky smooth to fold out.

The speakers are loud and they sound great

We can't ignore the front mounted stereo speakers, either. With backup from on-board Dolby software to tweak the output, once again Lenovo has delivered with sound. They're loud, and sound great whether you're watching a movie, listening to music or catching up on podcasts.

And it's a small touch, but the charging light around the power button is a pretty awesome addition.

The software

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2

Lenovo is still doing its own thing with software, and on the Yoga 2 its taken its own paintbrush to Android 4.4 KitKat. The launcher remains without an app drawer – Lenovo certainly isn't the only one going that way – and so all your apps add to an ever increasing number of home screens. You also still get a legacy menu button on the home screen, tucked away discreetly down there in the bottom right.

Lenovo is still doing its own thing with software

Aesthetically it's not so bad, though, and it's a definite improvement on previous efforts from Lenovo on this front. The notification drawer has a translucent effect showing through just the slightest hint of whatever it behind it, and the lockscreen has a very sparkly effect when you unlock the tablet. While it won't be to everyone's tastes, it's clear some effort has been made.

Lenovo's software comes with a few useful features baked in, too —

  • 4-app multi-window: Sure, the list of apps you can use is limited, but with a tap of the button in the bottom left you can drag-and-drop 4 different applications to use at once making great use of the screen real estate. Apps can be resized, too, within reason.
  • Swiping up from the bottom of the display opens a control center in much the same light as we've seen before from Apple and even Huawei. It's best thought of as an alternative to quick settings in the notification tray. With a tablet of this size, swiping up from the bottom is an easier motion than pulling down from the top all the time.
  • Smart Switch: Different display modes optimized for the different modes the tablet can be used in. Honestly, the "Hold" setting adds a pretty nasty looking Sepia tone over the display, perhaps best suited when you're using it that way to read a book. You can alter things manually, too, and even tweak the Dolby sound while you're fiddling with the display.

Lenovo Yoga 2

Some of the biggest issues with the software aren't even necessarily Lenovo's to fix. Apps not supporting landscape viewing is a big one, especially for a tablet of this size and form factor. The more nerdy among us will know there are ways and means to deal with this, but sadly the more casual user may not.

The same exact tablet can be had with Windows 8.1

On the whole, though, it's a notable step forward from Lenovo compared to some of its previous attempts. Some will love it, some will downright hate it, but there's enough good stuff inside to please most of the people, most of the time.

And it's worth remembering that should you prefer it, the same exact Yoga Tablet 2 in 8-inch or 10-inch sizes can be had with Windows 8.1 instead of Android 4.4.2.

The cameras

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2

If you're into taking photos with your tablets then you'll be pleased to know that Yoga 2 comes reasonably well equipped. There's an 8-megapixel f/2.2 shooter on the back teamed up with a more pedestrian 1.6-megapixel unit round the front. Tablet cameras are rarely exceptional, but before getting to the image quality there's a more pressing consideration — the positioning.

The Yoga 2 isn't exactly your regular slab, and as most of it is insanely thin the rear camera finds itself on the thickest part of the tablet. Right down there on that hump in the bottom corner. You can't use it with the stand open at all – though perhaps why you'd want to anyway is a better question – so instead the best way of using it at all is to flip the tablet upside down. This is also the most comfortable way to hold the tablet, so perhaps it's a good idea in the end. It's just a little awkward.

Outside in well lit conditions is where it shines

The position of the front facing camera seems to be best suited if you're holding the tablet vertically. But given that most of the time you'll surely be standing it up it then puts the camera off on the left hand side. It still works fine it's just more difficult framing yourself up properly with the Yoga 2 used in this manner.

So, the pictures, how does it fare? As far as tablets go it's far from the worst we've seen. Indoors in lower light it actually does better than some smartphones, though outside in well lit situations is where it shines. Things go a little awry when you're facing the sun with images getting very washed out, very quickly, but with the light behind you it's possible to take some pretty satisfying shots. The front facing camera does as good a job as it really needs to for those quick selfies and video chatting situations. Check out a selection of samples for yourselves in the gallery below.

As far as video goes, the Yoga 2 will record at 720p from the rear camera, and you're not going to be shooting any Hollywood blockbusters on it. But if you're using it to grab some quick clips of your kids, pets, and the like, it'll do just fine. The biggest issue with both the front and rear cameras is that it automatically seems to zoom in on whatever you're shooting. So you really need to stand back to frame things up properly. Or to make sure that your video chats don't involve looking up your nose.

Battery life

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2

Battery life on a tablet is a less pressing issue than on your smartphone – unless you rely on your tablet more than your smartphone – but the Yoga 2 comes packing regardless. Lenovo doesn't actually specify just how big the battery is, just that they're claiming 18 hours use from it between charges.

In our testing that's worked out to be around two days, but it's been two days with some pretty heavy gaming – mostly Asphalt 8 and The Walking Dead, if you're curious – and media use thrown in, as well. It could absolutely go more than two days but it's screaming out to be used to watch Netflix, play your favorite tunes and kick back with a little gaming.

But since most of the hump at the bottom of the Yoga 2 is full of battery, there's little reason to worry about it. It's certainly up there with the best of them.

The bottom line

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2

The Android tablet space is a crowded one and it takes something truly out of the ordinary to stand out from that crowd. By its design alone alone, the Yoga 2 does that. Sure, it's the same basic design Lenovo has fielded previously, but in a sea of black (and white) slabs it's easily noticeable. As far as tablets go for consuming media – and lots of it – the Yoga 2 is worth consideration alongside anything else on the market.

It isn't without its flaws, though. The auto-display setting for holding it vertically is appalling, there's the odd sharpening effect you see on the display that's hard to unsee, and the software will be polarizing. However it is competitively priced, and unlike the previous Yoga tablet it's got enough hardware muscle to deliver a smooth user experience.

Ultimately, the decision to buy or not will come down to what you want from a tablet. If a little light work and a lot of play time is top of the list, the Yoga 2 might just be the Android tablet for you.

  • I know my mom would love this tablet for recipes alone. Whether hanging it up or using the stand.
    Great review and all, but no links to buy the thing and no pricing mentioned? Posted via Android Central App
  • Does using the Google Now launcher fix the lack of an app drawer? Posted via Android Central App on my Moto X
  • Yes. Posted via the Android Central App
  • No mention of the fact that the software skin is just a poor copy of iOS. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Shhh don't.
  • *shoves $100 in your pocket* and it better stay that way m8 Posted from the amazing whatever device I can afford because I'm a broke college kid.
  • This one's on my shortlist but I'd like to know whether it's likely to get an upgrade to Lollipop. Anyone know or like to hazard a guess? With my 2 year old Xperia tablet still stuck on 4.1.1 (Thanks, Sony) I don't want the same thing to happen with my next purchase.
  • I can't say anything definitivly, but lenovo is typically not great with software updates
  • I've just bought a Yoga 2 32GB and found the update to 5.0.1 ready and waiting to be installed, so the answer to your question is yes.
  • Same here, i am sorta hoping that the update makes the tablet a little smoother when web browsing etc.........It is not terrible at the minute but it could be a load better.
  • I've had this tablet for 3 weeks or so now and we've been very impressed. I quickly changed to the Google Now launcher but other than that it is nothing short of a beast with battery life. I've had nearly a full week on one charge with a couple movies watched in that time. Posted via the Android Central App
  • That was first thing I did, change to Google now launcher.
  • Me too!
  • Can you buy this from any where other than lenovo website? I have checked everywhere.. Noone carries it. Id like to see it before I buy it.
  • Depends where you're from. In the UK it is available from many retailers. It's under £250. Had a trial unit and thought it was great. Posted via the Android Central App
  • It's currently reduced to £199 at Amazon AND you can claim the VAT back bringing it down to about £167. Bit of a bargain.
  • I bought mine at Best Buy. I was able to check it out cuz they have many products set out for you to actually pick up and turn on. Honestly, the different look of this tablet first caught my eye. I've only had it one day but so far no complaints. It is very slippery when set on most surfaces. I'm considering a couple non-slip stickies to place at the corners and maybe two more where the fat battery pack is. Best Buy had the (8) inch 16g w/ both SD & Sim card slots on sale for $199.99. Compared with the Samung4 $149 the Yogas 8mgpixels were bigger as was the diplay and the Yogas amnt of SD storage space maxed at 64gig where Samsung only went to 32gigs. That was the deal breaker for me as I need space for game apps & pics so I bought the Lenovo Yoga2-830F w/ Android loli 4.4 Haven't checked around for a better price only cuz this was the first time I've seen it. Probably won't check cuz I don't want to know if I could've gotten a better price. Its already bought and paid for. I'm trying to understand what the Sim card space is for. My booklet claims there is not a space for my model but there is. ???
  • Has anyone who owns this found a way to set lock screen wallpaper to something other than Lenovo's pre-installed ones? Home screen you can change no problem, but the lock screen limits you to their defaults. It's driving me nuts!
  • Forgot add that im in the US
  • Doesn't this tab also have a built in pico projector in the base? Supposedly you can project the tab onto any surface up to 50 in.
  • The pico projector is on the 13" version of this tablet..... listed for $499 on the Lenovo web page...... on sale for Black Friday for $449!.... AC was only reviewing the 8" and 10" models that they had on hand...
  • Demi Moore hates this tablet so I won't support
  • I'm having a problem watching BT sports app UK on my Lenovo Yoga 2. I can watch it no probs on my LG G3. I've looked at my settings. If I am missing something, I don't know what it is. The app plays for a few seconds than says BT sports has stopped, report. Even download added to iPad it worked. Any help would be fine. It's got the be a setting. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I found out the problem. BT called me it's nationwide, most android devices can't use BT sports since a November update. Promised me there will be a new updated app before Xmas. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Sometimes it freezes when I try to unlock it. The touch does not work it get's off. I have to reset it to switch it on. Anyone else with this problem?
  • Is the reset button on the back where sim goes? Do you lose everything on the tablet
  • I bought a first generation Yoga 8, and it's STILL my favorite tablet of any I've ever used! The kickstand and the battery life are the main reasons, but there are others. The front camera being on the side isn't a problem if it's sitting on the desk. To me, it looks more natural to see someone facing slightly sideways, rather than down. Maybe because I watch a lot of documentaries? And, yes, Lenovo seems to be pretty good about software updates. Mine came with Jellybean and auto-upgraded to KitKat (though they took their sweet time getting around to it). Also, I use Nova launcher (free from the app store) because I dislike having icons everywhere. It also lets me run widgets for calendar, weather, etc. Plus I've got Navigator (also free in app store) that makes it work just like a TomTom. So it sees many an hour hanging on my motorcycle (case required). I will definitely be trading this for a new Yoga 2 (if I can ever afford it)!
  • Lenovo Yoga tab 8 2? Love it, yup, this is my kind of tab! My wife was always stealing mine, so now she has the original Yoga tab 8 (does not like her Panasonic Galaxy Pro). Review says the Yoga Tab is difficult to hold,is; have you tried to hold the Galaxy Pro or it's siblings for any length of time without hitting the screen accidently with a stray finger or thumb? Course you can put it into one of those faux leather cases from Amazon, give yo some meat to hang on to. Great until you try to tap anything in the corners along the edges. The Yoga 8 2 has the perfect handle for that for either hand. Battery life is great wifi sensitive enough to reach from the office in the front of the house to the far western corner of our backyard where we clink glasses together during happy hour while watching Fox News Live, "Yesterday" GB TV, or Dallas TX local news. Good picture great sound from those from firing speakers. No the picture is not so sharp that it will cut your eyeball but then that's what the wall hugger, (wall hider), Is for? I am currently running 5.0.1, so far nothing appears to be broken. Gotta run, need a little time before you he weekend to get Kodi up and.HDHR up and running keep the grandkids happy while we are at the lake. Ciao!
  • Hi,
    Has anyone used the 10" version of this tablet to read pdf files? I need to read a lot of research papers, which usually come in pdf format. I was wondering to buy this tablet, but the cylindrical design at the bottom made me wonder how comfortable one would be to hold it for reading pdf. My other choice is Samsung Galaxt T4 10.1. Any help would be highly appreciated. Thank you!
  • I've just recently got this slate and i also have to read many PDF's and i find it works absolutely great no problems at all. And for the price you cannot really go wrong can you ?