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Lenovo Tab Extreme review: mistaken identity?

The Android tablet that thinks it’s a laptop

Lenovo Tab Extreme lead

What has a big screen, a keyboard, and a trackpad? No, not a laptop – it’s the Lenovo Tab Extreme. This giant 14.5in slate serves up more space to watch, game and work than many notebooks. With its Apple-esque optional keyboard dock, it weighs more than slim laptops like the Asus Zenbook S 13 and latest Apple MacBook Air.

Android hasn’t historically been a patch on iPadOS when it comes to productivity, though. It’s taken tab-masters like Samsung to make the experience competitive, with highlights including the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra, and even then third-party apps can look janky. For the £899 Lenovo wants for its impressive-looking tablet, you could pick up an iPad Pro or an M1 MacBook Air. So should you – or is Lenovo’s two-in-one the best of both worlds we’ve been waiting for?

Buy the Lenovo Tab Extreme from Lenovo here

Design: Tab almighty

Even ignoring the keyboard and pen, the Lenovo Tab Extreme is still worth talking about. It’s one of few oversized Android tablets, being almost as gargantuan as the 14.6in Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra. Like Samsung’s behemoth, the Tab Extreme combines a huge footprint with a slender metal frame just 5.85mm thick.

Made from recycled aluminium, the matte, blasted, flat metal frame is relatively easy to grip, and around the back is a stepped glass strip across the top quarter. The cameras sit on one side of the strip while the pen magnetically docks and charges in the centre. It also adds a point of visual and stylistic differentiation too, and an element around the back to grip onto, with the glass being a bit less slippery than the blasted metal across the majority of the Tab Extreme.

Available in one colour, Storm Grey, Lenovo doesn’t do anything particularly divisive with styling – the size alone will likely make it niche enough – but does a good job with small flourishes to help it stand out alongside other Android tablets.

Where Lenovo edges ahead of Samsung is connectivity. The Tab Extreme has two USB-C ports on the right side – one USB-C 3.2 for charging and DisplayPort out, and a USB-C 2.0 for charging and DisplayPort in. Pogo pins around the back tease compatibility with other accessories, too.

Screen and sound: Lose yourself

Size isn’t everything, but the Lenovo Tab Extreme also delivers quality visuals. The OLED panel’s 3000×1876 resolution is slightly sharper than the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra, with 245 pixels per inch inch (PPI) of screen. That does still fall a bit behind the iPad Pro 12.9 (2022) and its 265 PPI clarity.

In the Tab Extreme’s favour, its OLED panel looks deeper side-by-side with the iPad, especially in dark areas. A 120Hz refresh rate makes it as smooth as the competition, and we like that it can be set to either dynamic, 60Hz, 90Hz, or 120Hz; that smoothness will only sap as much battery as you want it to.

The screen hits around 500 nits peak brightness, so can be viewed indoors or outdoors in most conditions. It also enjoys superb viewing angles, and its 16:10 aspect ratio is well-suited to varied content and split-screen working, although editing documents might be more comfortable on taller screens like those of iPads.

Eight speakers dotted around the Tab Extreme sound fantastic, with JBL tuning and an easy-to-listen-to quality. There isn’t as much depth as a standalone speaker, but that’s a small sacrifice for a tablet that can comfortably be listened to at 75% volume while playing back a whole film.

Accessories: Could it be Magic?

Three official Tab Extreme accessories are worth talking about: the bundled stylus and folio, and the optional keyboard cover. We’re used to seeing pens ship with Samsung tablets, but covers are rarely included. The pair found here are good enough, and outclass the competition as an out-the-box offering.

It’s the keyboard folio that really sets the Tab Extreme apart. It comes with a kickstand that magnetically affixes to the back of the Tab, independently of the keyboard, which is perfect for keyboard-free watching when you don’t fancy holding 740g of tech.

Android keyboard input can be hit or miss, but after using it to write this review, we’re happy to report Lenovo has ironed out most of the kinks. The keys don’t have a huge amount of travel, but enough click feedback to let you know what you’re doing. The full-sized, spacious layout means that there wasn’t a learning curve to be able to touch type on it.

The backlit keys have two brightness levels, and there are plenty of Android shortcuts. Some are a bit overbearing: Ctrl+Shift+N in a web browser should open a private tab, for example, but on the Tab Extreme, it pulled down the notification menu. The folio is also heavy.

Niggles aside, the non-existent learning curve and varying angles it can tilt the tablet to for easy viewing make it a must-have purchase for anyone thinking about picking up the Tab Extreme for productivity.

Performance: Android with a twist

Lenovo has customised Android to within an inch of its life for the Tab Extreme. For the most part, that’s a very good thing. ZUI adds a taskbar and support for floating windows, as well as quick access to split-screen working. A multi-device feature called Freestyle supports file sharing across devices, screen mirroring and desktop extending from a Windows machine to the tablet.

We had it connected to an external monitor, working on documents, web browsing, messaging and using multiple windows, as well as playing video across both screens. At no point did we experience any slowdown, instability, or significant heat buildup.

This was reflected in benchmark results, with the Tab Extreme’s MediaTek Dimensity 9000 CPU and 12GB of RAM pulling in 4300 in the Geekbench multi-core test. With a 3DMark Wildlife Extreme score of 2350 it can’t keep pace with gaming phones, but comfortably ran most 3D titles we tried. Editing a five-minute 4K video in Lumafusion was just a hair faster than the same edit on the Samsung Tab S8 Ultra.

With apps like Google Docs, Microsoft Office 365, and the preinstalled WPS Office, the Tab Extreme is a powerful workhorse that should meet the needs of most professionals. Creatives and some power users will be hamstrung by the limitations of Android and would be better off with an iPad, owing to iPad OS apps like Apple’s Final Cut and Keynote, Adobe Illustrator and DaVinci Resolve, which have no equal on Android. The ability to drag windows across displays isn’t available on Lenovo’s slate, either. Windows are locked to the screen they’re opened in, whereas Apple’s Stage Manager supports dragging and dropping across windows on M1 iPads.

Available with 256GB storage as standard, the Tab Extreme also takes a microSD card, so you can easily boost the internal space by up to 1TB.

With a 12,300mAh battery, Lenovo’s top-tier tab easily made it through a full day in our tests, outlasting both our 12.9in iPad Pro and Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra. Plug it in with the 80W charger the tablet ships with, and it will hit those 68W charging speeds and power up in just under 90 minutes. 

Cameras: Use your phone

Lenovo Tab Extreme rear cameras

Tablet cameras are never as powerful as their smartphone counterparts, and the Lenovo Tab Extreme doesn’t break this tradition. It does, however, give you a bit more imaging oomph than most tablets, with a primary cam and secondary ultra-wide. The main camera has a 13MP resolution, an f/2.4 lens and autofocus, so can double up as a document scanner in a pinch. The ultra-wide camera is less versatile, with its lower resolution 5MP sensor, and a fixed-focus f/2.2 lens.

Photos look mediocre in all environments, loaded up with that dappled effect we’d associate with 2017/18 smartphones. They’re usable, but we wouldn’t pinch into pixel peep at detail. The main camera is definitely the one you’ll want to lean on for anything remotely important, but if you have your phone to hand, it will very likely be a better option than the Tab Extreme.

The 13MP selfie camera is good enough for video calls and very casual selfies in good lighting, but nothing of any notable quality that’s worth sharing beyond unimportant WhatsApp messages, especially when the light drops.

Lenovo Tab Extreme verdict

Lenovo Tab Extreme Stuff magazine landscape

The Tab Extreme is one of the best Android tablets we’ve tested for straddling work and play. It also sounds fantastic, and is neck-and-neck with the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra as the best tablet for movie watching, bettering even the iPad Pro. Performance is reliably stable, even when working across multiple screens, and great battery life means Lenovo’s tablet is poised for long-haul flights and games aplenty. Lenovo’s design and accessories are also superb.

Still, we can’t help but feel its hardware excellence isn’t quite realised. Occasional usability roadblocks hit home that Android still isn’t the tablet OS we wish it was. Some apps don’t look great in landscape, and not being able to drag windows across an extended display is a pain. These niggles hit harder given the price. We can’t help but wonder: had this run Windows, or even Chrome OS, would it have been better suited to multi-screen and browser-based productivity?

The Lenovo Tab Extreme is still a superb option that will justify its high price to specific users who want a do-it-all device and are happy with a handful of limitations for the luxury.

Stuff Says…

Score: 4/5

A high price and Android’s limitations don’t hold the Lenovo Tab Extreme back from greatness; perfect for anyone looking to straddle work and play with one device.

Good Stuff

Stunning screen

Nippy performance

Fantastic keyboard dock

Mighty speakers

Bad Stuff

Expensive for an Android tablet

Laptop price, tablet software

Limited extended display support

Must-have keyboard accessory sold separately

Lenovo Tab Extreme technical specifications

Screen14.5in, 3000×1876 OLED
CPUMediaTek Dimensity 9000
Storage256GB on-board, microSD expansion
Cameras13MP, f/2.4 + 5MP, f/2.2 ultrawide rear
13MP front
Operating systemAndroid
Battery12300mAh, 68W wired charging
Dimensions328x211x5.9mm, 740g

Buy the Lenovo Tab Extreme from Lenovo here

Profile image of Basil Kronfli Basil Kronfli Stuff contributor

Areas of expertise

Smartphones, tablets, laptops, cameras and cookies