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Lenovo Yoga Smart Tab Review: Good Tablet With Netflix Issues

In my Lenovo Yoga Smart Tab review you learn how good this tablet with Google Assistent really is. And yes, there are problems with Netflix.

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With its integrated grip and kickstand, the Lenovo Yoga Smart Tab offers an innovative design that we don’t see like this from other companies. At the same time, it features a pretty display, good speakers, and thanks to the Google Assistant Ambient Mode you can use it as a smart display. It is a perfect tablet for many. However, it does have some downsides. In this Lenovo Yoga Smart Tab review, you’ll learn all the important details.

Lenovo Yoga Smart Tab on* Amazon

Design & Build Quality

A couple of words about pricing first. In Europe, the version with 3GB of RAM and a 32GB storage costs 249 Euros. For 4GB of RAM and 64GB storage, you’ve got to pay 299 Euros. Right now, it’s not available elsewhere but once it is, prices should be very similar in US Dollars.

Lenovo Yoga Smart Tab design

The biggest highlight of the Lenovo Yoga Smart Tab is its design. It is a 10-inch tablet that has a round grip build into its body. With that one, you can hold it comfortably while surfing the web or reading books on your sofa. Build into the grip is a kickstand with which you can place the tablet onto a table in several angles. You can even hang it somewhere in your kitchen or bathroom because the kickstand has a hole for exactly this purpose.

Lenovo has released several tablets with this design in the past. One was running Windows, another one had an integrated projector, and some were very affordable. So, the design is not new, but it continues to be innovative and one of a kind.

While I like the design a lot, it also means that it’s not super thin or light. It weighs 580g and is between 8.5 and 24mm thick – depending on where you measure it.

The kickstand and grip are metal but most of the body is made of plastic. Yes, that’s not ideal, but I think it’s okay in this price range. It is charged using a USB C port on the right side. I like that we get a standard headphone jack on the left side because those are getting less and less common. That’s where the power button and volume rocker are located too.

You can insert a microSD card into a slot that sits below the kickstand.

Lenovo Yoga Smart Tab kickstand

Speakers: Lots Of Bass

The Lenovo Yoga Smart Tab has two separate stereo speakers that sit on the left and right sides. Unlike with some of its competitors, they’re far enough from each other so that you can hear a real stereo separation.

For a tablet, the speakers are quite big. And the sound quality is very good. Especially when Dolby Atmos is turned on, I noticed a surprisingly strong bass. With that activated, it sounds better than the Apple iPad 7 does which costs a bit more.

Read: These Are The Best Lenovo Tablets

Camera & Facial Recognition

Its main camera on the back offers a resolution of 8 megapixels and videos and photos look fine. Not perfect of course, but certainly good enough. The 5-megapixel front camera disappointed me a bit though. Selfies are okay but it can only record 720p videos and Lenovo sharpens them so much, that it doesn’t look good anymore.

Using the webcam, you can use facial recognition to unlock the tablet. That works well most of the time as long as the lighting is good. Not always but most of the time. However, since there’s no additional sensor I’m guessing it’s not as secure as Apple’s Face ID or Microsoft’s facial recognition is.

Display & Netflix

Lenovo Yoga Smart Tab display

The Lenovo Yoga Smart Tab has a 10.1-inch screen with an aspect ratio of 16:10. It has a full HD resolution with 1920 x 1200 pixels, and it is a laminated IPS display. So, the viewing angles are wide and there’s no air gap below the touchscreen. That’s great.

I think a full HD resolution is high enough on 10 inches. Texts look sharp enough. And in this case, contrast and color reproduction are good too. Its brightness is alright. I used it in a room that’s surrounded by bright windows and I could still see everything just fine. But you should know that as is the case with many tablets, it transforms itself into a mirror in direct sunlight.

Overall, I like the display. With that being said, I noticed one problem with Netflix. On my unit, I’m not able to watch Netflix in HD. That might be the case for all.

To watch Netflix with HD resolution or higher, certain DRM standards must be supported and then the tablet gets a so-called Widevine level of L1. Okay, now it gets a bit complicated. The Lenovo Yoga Smart Tab does have a Widevine level of L1. But with my unit, Netflix thinks it has a level of L3. So, I can not watch movies in HD.

I guess the tablet got the L1 Widevine level with an update. However, Netflix checks that only once when the app is started for the first time. I’ve had this problem several times with other tablets. Usually, you just have to reinstall Netflix for it to work. But in this case, Netflix is preinstalled, and Lenovo does not allow you to remove it. So, it’s not possible to uninstall and reinstall it. A complete factory reset did not help either. Netflix is still thinking that is has an L3 level.

Well, that’s quite a bummer. Netflix runs of course, but not in HD. Please keep an eye on the comments and see what others are saying. Maybe Lenovo will fix it – or it works with new ones already. I’ll keep an eye on it for a while. If you have this tablet, please write us in the comments. Can you watch Netflix in HD on your Yoga Smart Tab?

Software & Google Assistant

Lenovo Yoga Smart Tab with Google Assistent

Lenovo is advertising the Yoga Smart Tab as a smart tablet, so, they want to compete with a Google Home or Amazon Echo devices. For this, the Google Assistant is preinstalled. Well, it works with every tablet of course, but in this case, they’re advertising the Ambient Mode in particular. Once you activate it, you can use this tablet as a smart display.

On the hardware front, the Google Assistant is supported by three microphones that can recognize the “OK Google” command from the distance all around the tablet. That works well. It recognizes my voice even when I’m standing at the other end of a large room.

You’re probably familiar with the Google Assistant already. It works like Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri. Using voice commands, you can get information about the weather, hear what’s on your calendar, or start a timer. The display is used to show further information regarding what you’re looking for. And it gets even more useful if you’re using Smart Home devices that are compatible with Google. I don’t though.

Well, once you turn on the Google Assistant Ambient Mode, the display is turned on the whole time and you can see some information on the screen. Again, it’s only useful if you use the services from Google and/or are using Smart Home devices. In the settings, you can configure the Ambient Mode to be turned on automatically when you charge the tablet. Or, when it’s in standby. But remember that the battery will be empty much faster if you do that.

Android 9 Pie

Lenovo Yoga Smart Tab with Android 9 Pie

Let’s get to the rest of its software. Out of the box, the Lenovo Yoga Smart Tab is running Android 9 Pie. I don’t know if it’ll ever get an update to Android 10. In the past, Lenovo sometimes did release updates for their tablets and sometimes they didn’t. Samsung is usually rolling out two big updates for most of their tablets. Sadly, with Lenovo, the update history is not as stable.

In the past, I always liked a lot that Lenovo used pretty much vanilla Android. However, that is changing now. At first glance, it still looks like normal Android 9 Pie. However, there are some additional features, and some are totally useless.

With that, I mostly mean the so-called Lenovo Entertainment Center. There’s a button that’s always visible on the home screen and if you swipe it to the right, you get to the Lenovo Entertainment Center. I’m not sure why that’s there because it’s basically just YouTube with a bit different UI and you can log in with a Lenovo ID. I don’t know why that’s there. It seems to be a complete waste of resources.

The normal YouTube app is preinstalled, of course, and works much better.

Read: The Best Android Tablets Of The Year

Another new feature is the Display Assistant. You can access it by swiping from the right. With the Display Assistant, you can activate a blue light filter, change the color mode, take screenshots and record the screen. You can also use it to annotate the screen or draw on it. For some, this feature might be useful.

Desktop Mode & Kids Mode

Lenovo Yoga Smart Tab with productivity mode

For some, the productivity mode might be useful too. Lenovo has been including that one in a couple of tablets in the past. It’s a kind of desktop mode but it’s not as complex as the ones from Samsung or Huawei. Once you turn it on, you get a taskbar at the bottom. Those three Android buttons get relocated to the left side and on the right side, you can see icons of currently opened apps. Yes, that kind of looks like Windows or other desktop operating systems. I think the productivity mode can be useful if you’re using it with a real mouse. But otherwise probably not.

Lenovo preinstalled a kids mode too. Since I don’t have kids, it’s always hard for me to evaluate how useful they really are. But it seems to be fine for very young kids. I’m sure a bit older kids will be fine with normal Android.

Hardware & Performance

Lenovo Yoga Smart Tab benchmarks

Let’s check out the internal hardware. The Lenovo Yoga Smart Tab is shipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 439 octa-core processor. You can choose between 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage or 4GB of RAM and a 64GB storage. LTE 4G is an option as well. I’ve got the one with 4GB of RAM and 64GB storage. Out of those 64GB, 10.77GB are used by the system.

My benchmark comparison shows that while the performance of the Yoga Smart Tab is fine, it’s certainly not its strongest feature. In AnTuTu and Geekbench it is faster than the one-year-old Lenovo Tab P10. However, especially its graphics performance is much weaker than the cheaper Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1 2019. I would get that one if you’re looking for an affordable gaming tablet.

Lenovo Yoga Smart Tab gaming

So, I can’t recommend the Yoga Smart Tab as a gaming tablet. Games like PUBG Mobile do run, but with the lowest graphics only. Simple games work great, of course. And the ones that have a great soundtrack sound great with these speakers.

On the positive side, I like that we’re getting 3GB to 4GB of RAM. Because of that, apps are not closed that fast in the background as is the case with tablets that have less RAM. I also noticed that the multitasking performance is pretty good. You can open and use two apps at the same time without any issues.

Battery Life

Lenovo Yoga Smart Tab battery life

In my battery test, the Lenovo Yoga Smart Tab got a runtime of 16 hours. For this, I’m always looping an HD video at medium brightness.

You can see in my battery life comparison that 16 hours are very good. Especially for a 10-inch device of this price range. Regarding this, Lenovo’s Yoga tablets have always been excellent.

Lenovo Yoga Smart Tab Review: My Final Verdict

Lenovo Yoga Smart Tab tested

Let’s get to the end of my Lenovo Yoga Smart Tab review. Can I recommend this tablet? That depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re mainly looking for a gaming tablet and a good ratio of value and performance, this is not the one for you. It’s too pricey for that.

The Yoga Smart Tab gets super interesting though if you like the design with its integrated grip and kickstand. Because of that, it’s a great tablet to use in the living room or even in the kitchen. It’s great if you want to use the Google Assistant or are looking for an entertainment tablet. For that, I think its almost perfect thanks to its good speakers and long battery life.

While reviewing it, I watched tons of YouTube with it and it is great for that. It’s good for Amazon Prime Video and Netflix too. But again, you can’t watch Netflix in HD right now.

Lenovo Yoga Smart Tab back

Let’s check out some alternatives.

A cheaper alternative is the Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1 2019. It’s cheaper and has a better graphics performance, so it’s better suited for gamers. Samsung will probably push out updates longer too. The display is very similar but the Samsung one has weaker speakers and shorter battery life.

You should also check out the Apple iPad 7. While it is a bit pricier, its performance is much better. The speakers are not as strong, but instead, you get excellent multitasking with iPadOS. And it offers a much larger selection of tablet-optimized apps. If you want, you can also get it with a stylus and keyboard. However, with those accessories, it’s much pricier.

Lenovo Yoga Smart Tab Review: The Lenovo Yoga Smart Tab offers a fantastic design with its integrated grip and kickstand. It has good speakers, a solid display, and a very long battery life. The Google Assistent Ambient Mode can be very useful for some too. Sadly, the graphics performance is okay only. And a big disappointment is that you can't watch Netflix with HD resolution.
  • Excellent design
  • Integrated kickstand
  • Long battery life
  • Good speakers
  • Google Assistent Ambient Mode
  • Solid display
  • Performance okay only
  • Netflix without HD support
Buy at* Amazon
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