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The Lenovo Tab Extreme is the iPad Pro competitor we're not talking about enough

It's an outstanding 2-in-1 tablet, with a powerful processor and gorgeous screen. Just cross your fingers that it's in stock.
Written by Maria Diaz, Staff Writer
Lenovo Tab Extreme with Keyboard and Pen
Maria Diaz/ZDNET

I almost heard a swell of harps as I unboxed the Lenovo Tab Extreme. In all its grandeur, with a 14.5-inch OLED display, the Lenovo Tab Extreme promises both entertainment and productivity experiences from the comfort of your lap. And it delivers.

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2-in-1 tablets are a hot commodity right now, and this $949 tablet is no exception; You'd be lucky to catch it in stock. But even with how popular 2-in-1 tablets are, the Lenovo Tab Extreme likely sells as well as inventory will make you believe because it's just a really good device. Let me break it down.

View at Lenovo

To start, it's built for consumers who want to go from work to leisure without skipping a beat. The Tab Extreme has a Storm Grey exterior and features 12GB of RAM, 256GB of storage, a USB-C 3.2 port, a USB-C 2.0 port, and a microSD card slot. At 12.9 x 8.3 x 0.23 inches, the Lenovo Tab Extreme doesn't go unnoticed, and it weighs a healthy 1.6 pounds.

The top half of the Extreme is like a high-end laptop condensed into tablet form. It's designed to be robust yet versatile and sleek, built with a vibrant OLED 3,000 x 1,876 pixels display for deep blacks and rich colors. You can buy one, along with a dual-hinge keyboard folio case, right now for $1,000 (currently $100 off).

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

At almost two pounds, moving around with the Lenovo Tab Extreme is not an easy lift, so to speak. But arranging the tablet with the keyboard addition makes getting the bundle a must. I can't imagine having the same experience of a 2-in-1 tablet without the included keyboard case. The Tab Extreme's keyboard case lets you smoothly switch angles for a more comfortable view. 

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The truth is, I can imagine going without the folio case, having tested the Samsung Tab S9 Ultra, which is roughly the same size and does not come with a keyboard case -- and it's not the same experience. The keyboard case combines the functionalities of a tablet and laptop into one, which makes me reach for the Lenovo Tab Extreme more often than any other tablet I have at home. 

But it's not just about look and feel; the Lenovo Tab Extreme performs as well as it looks.

Lenovo Tab Extreme with Keyboard and Pen
Maria Diaz/ZDNET

The MediaTek Dimensity 9000 is a top-tier processor that makes for smooth app launches, loading, and efficient multitasking without draining your battery. It makes it easy to edit images in Photoshop while listening to music and writing this article without experiencing any noticeable lag. 

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The battery has consistently lasted over eight hours of continuous use for me, with its best day topping out at nine hours and 52 minutes. I tested it over a few days to browse the web on Wi-Fi and streamed videos when I was not actively using it until the battery drained to zero. 

Those numbers are not as long-lasting as competing tables, like the iPad Pro and even the Samsung Tab S9 Ultra, but it also charges fast, going from a dead battery to 68% in about 39 minutes. 

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I did find some drawbacks in the Lenovo Tab Extreme's performance, which can be traced back to its Android-based software, and the inability to use some Windows-supported services means I can't guarantee that the Tab Extreme will be a laptop replacement for all.

Lenovo Tab Extreme with Keyboard and Pen
Maria Diaz/ZDNET

While there are some helpful multitasking features like floating windows, you may encounter some bumps when quickly switching between services. For example, jumping between Photoshop and Outlook led to some stuttering every now and then. These little bugs, though short-lived, are noticeable and can be frustrating. 

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The Lenovo Tab Extreme's 3K display is a beautiful thing to behold, making 1080p videos look better than they should and large enough to make you forget that it's a tablet you're watching that new Netflix show on. The only problem is that the display brightness struggles when outdoors. 

The display only reaches up to 500 nits at peak brightness, which is only about half of the peak brightness on the iPad Pro and the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra. For reference, my iPhone 14 Pro Max has a peak brightness of about 2,000 nits. 

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This means it's a gorgeous tablet to enjoy a book or stream a movie on during a fun trip to the beach, as long as you're under a parasol.

Lenovo Tab Extreme with Keyboard and Pen
Maria Diaz/ZDNET

Video calls on the Lenovo Tab Extreme run quite smoothly thanks to the 13MP front and rear cameras. The front camera placement is in the middle of the screen when the tablet is in landscape mode or on the keyboard folio case, which is the right orientation for tablets.

This placement makes for a better experience than the iPad Pro's front-facing camera, which is at the top of the screen when the tablet is in portrait position, resulting in people looking like they're looking off to one side when they have video calls with the iPad in landscape orientation. 

Lenovo Tab Extreme camera vs iPhone Cam

The Lenovo Tab Extreme camera (left) captures shareable images, even compared to the iPhone 14 Pro Max camera (right). 

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

Because the Lenovo Tab Extreme supports video output through the USB-C port, it's perfect when used as an external monitor for work and play.

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The Lenovo Tab Extreme also has Freestyle, an integration similar to Samsung's Second Screen capability. Freestyle is a free app included in the Lenovo Tab Extreme that gives users the ability to collaborate with others by connecting the Tab Extreme to a Windows computer. This extends the desktop experience into the Lenovo tablet. 

ZDNET's buying advice

The Lenovo Tab Extreme is an outstanding competitor to the iPad Pro, especially considering it's cheaper than Apple's flagship tablet, albeit with some compromises in performance and brightness. 

From movie buffs, readers, audiophiles, and professionals, the Lenovo Tab Extreme best suits creatives and executives. If you're in the market for a premium 2-in-1 tablet with a large, high-quality display, you can't go wrong with the Lenovo Tab Extreme with the keyboard folio case for $1,100, which is (fortunately) in stock at the time of writing.

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