This story was originally published and last updated .
Aside from Samsung, Lenovo is one of the few Android OEMs that bothers to release tablets. The company has a tendency to be showy with products in the Yoga series, especially the one with that weirdo keyboard. But this ain't no Yoga — the Android-powered Tab P11 Pro is a typical tablet with an optional keyboard accessory. It was announced last year and launched just recently.
It swings hard against the pricey Galaxy Tab S7+ by packaging the tablet with a keyboard and pen for just $600. But is all of this hardware going to help you achieve the productivity you'd expect? After all, it's still just an Android tablet.
|Display||11.5" OLED 2560 x 1600|
|Audio||Four JBL speakers w/ Dolby Atmos|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G|
|RAM||4GB or 6GB|
|Storage||64 or 128GB + microSD up to 1TB exFAT/256GB FAT32|
|Power||8,600mAh battery w/ 20W charging|
|Cameras||Front 8MP AF + 8MP FF
Rear 13MP AF + 5MP FF
|Connectivity||USB 3.2 (Type-C), 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, Pogo, fingerprint sensor (power button)|
|Peripherals||Keyboard Pack (two-piece keyboard and kickstand), Lenovo Precision Pen 2.0 (active, 4,096 pressure levels)|
|Dimensions||Tablet 264 x 171 x 5.8 mm / 485g
With keyboard 265 x 186 x 13.9 mm / 924g
|MSRP||4GB RAM/64GB storage - $500
6GB RAM/128GB storage - $550
6/128 with keyboard & pen - $600
|Build||The tablet has a substantial, durable industrial design, a decent load of on-board peripherals, and adequate horsepower for its pricing.|
|Media||The display is sharp and plenty vibrant to sink into shows with. The speakers provide vast, warm sound.|
|Package value||$600 for a tablet at this tier plus a keyboard, and stylus ain't too bad when you consider other options.|
|Accessories||The keyboard isn't as comfortable or responsive as comparably-sized alternatives and the kickstand can be fussy to deal with.|
|Software||Productivity Mode doesn't seem particularly thought out for multitasking and Android seems to get in its own way of making itself useful.|
|Tablet value||$500 for just the tablet? Doesn't make sense when you account for Android's shortcomings.|
Design, hardware, what's in the box
The Tab P11 Pro has two configurations and a starting price of $500, tablet-only. We have the model with 6GB of RAM plus the two-piece keyboard case and the Precision Pen 2, complete with replacement pen tip. You can get the pen a la carte (for $60), but not the keyboard. Oh, and there's a 20W wall charger and cable included.
The tablet itself is a sturdy yet sleek affair with an aluminum alloy unibody build and narrow bezels surrounding the 11.5" OLED display — nice on viewing angles and sharpness, terrific on colors.
No 3.5mm headphone jack here, just four speaker grilles with drivers from JBL and tuning from Dolby Atmos. The tablet has four Pogo pins meant for connecting to the keyboard at the bottom. Rounding out our tour, the USB-C port is on the right, the volume buttons on the top edge toward the left corner, and the power button/fingerprint scanner combination on the left edge near the top.
There are two cameras on the back and two on the front. When it comes to biometric authentication, these sensors seem to do their jobs well enough, but camera-based face unlock isn't as secure without a proper 3D sensor.
The two-piece keyboard case features woven fabric on its anterior surfaces — ubiquitous in home technology and mobile accessories these days, but it feels nice enough. The kickstand panel magnetically clamps to the back of the tablet and has a carve-out for the camera. The stand flap pretty much requires both hands to manipulate: one on the top half, the other to bend the bottom. Adjusting just the bottom flap can sometimes force the whole panel to detach. Other than that, the case does its job of protecting the tablet quite well.
I found the keyboard to be one of the more cramped QWERTYs I've dealt with, even for the 11" category. The left and right bezels are notably wide for the size and the right-side punctuation, return, and backspace keys in particular get short shrift. The trackpad is stubborn on how it detects left- or right-clicks, especially as your fingers drift anywhere above the very bottom bit. Some users may also lament the lack of Bluetooth connectivity, though the keyboard was designed to be a lightweight complement to the Tab P11 Pro. On the bright side, the function keys at the top row have been replaced with handy, duplicative shortcuts for OS navigation, volume and display controls, screenshot, device lock, and voice commands.
The Precision Pen 2 comes with a silicone holster that has an adhesive surface that can be glued onto the case or wherever else, we don't judge. The holster can also be left on its plastic sledge and linked to a lanyard instead. At the top of the pen is a USB-C port which allows it to charge so that you can use its two buttons to tweak how your pen tip behaves.
Software, performance, battery
Samsung users familiar with DeX will find plenty of similarities with Lenovo's flavor of Android 10. Its most notable customization is the desktop-style Productivity Mode which opens up each app in its own scalable window. You can toggle this mode on or off manually, but it always activates if you clip on the keyboard and I find that annoying. Even apps that don't like their dimensions getting messed around with can be brute-forced into the rectangle of your desires though they can't be taken fullscreen.
Bypassing Productivity Mode, however, you still get the sense that you're still on a "desktop mode" of sorts which presents some pitfalls. For one, certain apps like Instagram open up in vertical orientation no matter which way you're using the tablet.
I do bear resentment toward the huge title bar for each window, but then again, having minimize, fullscreen, and close buttons you can hit is important. So while you can open up two windows of Chrome, which is great, the trade-off is all the visual cruft you have to deal with compared to opening a split-screen instance on Android devices not on a desktop mode. You're better off disabling Productivity Mode if you want that extra space, but you do lose out on dual-wielding Chrome windows.
All of that lost space!
Lenovo has also pre-loaded a few apps including Alexa, Amazon Music, Prime Video, Microsoft Office and OneNote. There's Squid for note-taking and Bamboo Paper for general scrawling — both support the Precision Pen. If you've got capable hands, the stylus can definitely produce great sketches. I found it most helpful as a replacement for my finger to open up apps and links without smudging the screen.
In any case, it may be Android and not the tablet per se that presents the biggest challenge to productivity, namely in apps. Developers may not include certain features or integrations leaving them less useful than their equivalent program on a different platform. Even if those programs are available to use on the web, the OS can still get in the way with malformed interfaces or bugs like text duplication when hyperlinking a passage.
I haven't been able to turn on Smart Navigation, an on-screen shelf that gives users shortcuts to screen recording, beauty filters, a note-jotting app and other tools. It remains off no matter how many times I toggle it on in the settings. I don't see it as a major loss, but it's something that's definitely not working as intended.
Silicon-wise, the Snapdragon 730G and 6GB of RAM proves competent for gaming — a bit of Fortnite, a dash of PUBG Mobile — multi-tasking, and a lot of time off the charger. I suspect the lower-grade model with 4GB RAM would stand up about as well. I popped the tablet out for a few hours at a time at least once a day for some reading, writing, and meme watching. Between those sessions and the long nights on standby in my knapsack, it can last a good 3 to 5 days away from the outlet.
The dual-camera setup on the front not only allows for slightly better facial authentication parameters, but for portrait-like background blur that can be used during conference calls. The 13MP rear camera isn't particularly amazing, but it is able to scan documents. Otherwise, you can take pictures and video with these cameras if you really, really, really need them.
Should you buy it?
Perhaps. Maybe you do need a tablet for all the Disney+ and HBO Max you're consuming. And sure, the Tab P11 Pro fits the bill with its colorful screen and reverberating speakers, but I'd rather you not pay more than $500 for that use case alone.
Then there are those who'd like to try using a keyboard and stylus with a tablet that happens to run Android. You can save big off an $850 Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+ by grabbing Lenovo's whole kit and kaboodle and going to town. You will have to make peace with the keyboard — it's been the highest hurdle for me. And then there are all of Android's tablet quibbles which really make the iPad with its cohesive ecosystem shine. In fact, you may be better off with one of those instead. A 128GB 8th-gen iPad with a better-designed keyboard and Apple Pencil costs just shy of $700.
As of mid-March, Lenovo is the only place you can get the Tab P11 Pro bundled with the keyboard and pen at full MSRP of $600. Alternatively, Newegg and Walmart have the 4GB RAM model for $390 while the 6GB version is $440. They also sell the 6GB tablet with the pen for $490. We've got purchase links below.
Buy it if:
- You want an all-in-one remote workstation for a fair price: tablet, keyboard, pen, and;
- You refuse to venture outside Android land
Don't buy it if:
- You just need a Netflix buddy
- You need a bigger, better keyboard
- You don't have patience to deal with Android's tablet shortcomings
One month later
I've been on and off the P11 Pro for the past month since publishing this review and have found myself using it less for work and more for playing games and chatting with friends — though to be fair, those are great activities to be doing on this tablet. The physical keyboard, while not exactly to my tastes, is a bonus because then I don't have a virtual one eating up screen real estate, nor do I have to wait for a virtual keyboard to open every time I want to type something. Plus, a third-party market has been brewing for keyboard cases at under $40 a pop — I'd pick one up if I could and you can take a look at them for yourself at Newegg, just scroll down.
I always come back, though, to the fact that I can't fully utilize the tablet based on my needs because Android has such mediocre support for the tablet form factor. I keep wondering if I would be able to adjust my expectations if this all-in-one kit was priced significantly lower, and I haven't been able to answer with a specific price point. The full MSRP is just too much, though.
Those thoughts come at a time when Lenovo and participating retailers are promoting the Tab P11 Pro by taking $100 off MSRP. The tablet alone at $400 is on the edge of justifying itself in my mind, but again, my utility factor would make spending another $50 or $100 for the extra first-party stuff a waste. Let’s be honest, though. You can get an iPad for less than the P11 Pro, and that’s probably what most people should do.