We’re not sure if there’s a huge demand for them, but ~$1,000 gaming phones are something manufacturers keep pushing into the market. If nothing else, they’re interesting to say the least, and the latest entry, the “Lenovo Legion Phone Duel 2,” has one of the most extreme cooling solutions in a phone ever.
The phone’s design revolves around the camera bump – it feels like calling it a “camera bump” – a punch in the middle of the phone body. This bulge covers about 25 percent of the back of the phone and houses two cameras, an RGB LED lighting system, a landscape pop-up camera (!) two internal cooling fans.
Lenovo’s internal diagrams show a large amount of copper and graphite heat sinks in the phone; the plates contribute to the phone’s impressive 259g weight. In landscape mode, the fan in the lower left corner of the rear bumper appears to be exposed to the outside world and sucks in cool air. The air then flows along copper ducts and can exit the vent at the bottom or be blown out at the top by a second, all-internal fan in the top right corner of the rear hump.
The front camera is a pop-up camera, which also lives in the rear bump, and it shoots out the side of the phone, so it’s a landscape pop-up camera. Lenovo envisions that Twitch streamers would use the landscape pop-up camera to livestream a mobile phone game along with the camera feed. There’s even support for overlays and virtual avatars. The power button is actually on top of from the pop-up camera, which is strange.
The phone seems 100 percent designed to be held in landscape mode, and it seems like an interesting proposition to keep it in portrait mode, as you would a normal phone. It seems that the thickest part of the phone is right where you grip it. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad. Lenovo’s press release points to several thoughtful design considerations for landscape use, such as how the centrally placed SoC and cooling keep your hands away from the phone’s heat-dissipating areas, and how the dual battery, distributed over the left and right sides of the phone. phone, is “built for players to feel the weight of the phone more evenly in their hands”. Just like on a game controller, there are dual vibration motors.
There are six extra buttons on the back. Four ultrasonic shoulder buttons on the top of the phone (in landscape) replicate the L1/R1 L2/R2 design of most console controllers, and a touch point on either side of the rear bumper can also be used. Most smartphone games are touch-only, but you can usually map these buttons to virtual touch points on the screen, ensuring compatibility with most games.
As on the Asus ROG phones, there are two USB-C ports on this device, one on the bottom of the phone and one on the side, making it easier to charge the phone while playing in landscape. One of the crazier features of Lenovo’s gaming phones is the ability to use both USB-C ports simultaneously for 90W charging over two cables. We’re not kidding. The 90W charger for the phone (sold separately) actually has two USB ports, comes with two USB-C cables, and you’re supposed to plug them both in at the same time. Lenovo says that “ultra-fast dual charging” will charge the phone to about 80 percent in 17 minutes, with a full charge taking half an hour.
The specs are about what you’d expect from a high-end phone. You get a Snapdragon 888 SoC, 12 GB RAM, 256 GB storage, a 5500 mAh battery and Android 11 with Lenovo’s “ZUI 12.5” skin. The display is a 144Hz, 6.92-inch, 2460×1080 OLED.
Lenovo’s press release tries to justify the existence of the gaming phone market by saying there were 2.6 billion “mobile gamers” last year, but the company immediately jumps to the point that these are all hardcore PC gamers. who want to design RGB LEDs and edgy laser beam. The most popular games in the play store are all casual games like infinite runners, turn based games and puzzle games while these gaming phones are all about fragging people at 144 fps and pwn the competition. If there’s such a thing as “mobile gaming enthusiasts,” their best bet is probably to just buy an iPhone, which has better app support thanks to a more profitable app store and simpler, console-style hardware support.
The Lenovo Legion Phone Duel 2 will ship in China this month and will launch in Europe in May 2021, starting at €799.00 (~$950). Lenovo is leaving the door open for a US launch, saying, “Availability for North America to be determined.”
List image by Lenovo