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Lenovo Tab 4 (8-inch) review: A small, simple tablet that's priced to sell

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The Good The Lenovo Tab 4 is an affordable, small tablet with good battery life. It has front-facing speakers and a microSD card expansion slot. Works with the Lenovo Home Assistant dock.

The Bad It runs an old version of Android.

The Bottom Line The Lenovo Tab 4 is a solid small tablet that won’t break the bank.

7.0 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 7
  • Performance 7

The 8-inch Lenovo Tab 4 is a great choice if you're interested in a small and affordable tablet and don't want to splurge on an iPad Mini 4.

Starting at $130 on Lenovo's website, the 8-inch Tab 4 is perfect for leisurely checking email, reading on the train, or catching up on the new season of "Stranger Things."

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A smaller version of the 10-inch Tab 4.

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The Tab 4 a smaller version of the 10-inch model, with a comparably competitive price. Though neither is particularly stylish, at such competitively low prices, one can't complain too much.

Official UK and AU pricing hasn't been announced. Prices convert to £96 and AU$163, respectively.

Amazon offers the closest competition, with generally well-received 8-inch and 10-inch tablets. Those may offer a smoother, more user-friendly environment and smoother performance in some apps, but they're locked to an Amazon-centric ecosystem, unless go through the extra effort of sideloading the Google Play store.

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You won't find the Google Play Store on Amazon Fire HD tablets.

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Smaller things

The 8-inch Lenovo tablet and its 10-inch big brother confusingly have identical names. Both share the same screen resolution, memory and storage, but the smaller model is more portable and easier to pack when traveling.

As a budget tablet, the Tab 4 doesn't feel cheap. It's solid and comfortable to hold, thanks to its rounded corners and smooth matte back. It's small enough to securely hold in one hand, and though It's not fashion-forward in any way, its basic, unadorned design is forgivable for its low price.

The 1,280x800 screen resolution, which is frankly on the low end, looks a lot better on the small tablet's 8-inch screen. While not the highest resolution, HD video still looks crisp and clear. Colors are also vibrant without being oversaturated. The Amazon Fire HD 8 has the same resolution, and you'll generally have to trade up to a 10-inch tablet (but not the Tab 10) for more pixels.

Screen specs

  • 8-inch LCD IPS touchscreen
  • 1,280x800-pixel resolution

Performance was smooth for casual tasks. If many apps were open in the background, it took a few seconds to switch apps or orientation. 

When keeping it simple and sticking to one task at a time instead of constantly cycling through apps, it ran a lot smoother. Don't expect too much in terms of overall performance from the Snapdragon CPU here, but it's competitive in the under-$200 small tablet category.

Specs

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MicroSD card expansion slot if hidden behind a flap.

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  • Android 7.1
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8917 CPU
  • 2GB of RAM
  • 16GB of internal storage
  • MicroSD card expansion slot
  • MicroUSB port

In streaming video tests, the tablet averaged 10 hours. That's impressive for a relatively slim budget tablet, but doesn't outdo the super-cheap Amazon Fire HD 8's 12-hour average.

The Tab 4 is compatible with the Lenovo Home Assistant, an Echo-like speaker. The tablet docks into the speaker, turning its screen a status window for Alexa. It requires a specific Lenovo app and only works with the Tab 4 tablets.

No Fire, but still hot

The Lenovo Tab 4 is a great deal in comparison to the $400 Apple iPad Mini 4, but not when compared to the Amazon Fire HD 8.

The 8-inch Amazon tablet starts at $80 ($95 without ads). And for $20 more, the 10-inch Fire HD model offers a bigger screen -- if you're primarily interested in watching video. However both use Amazon's ultra-curated app store and an Amazon Prime account is necessary to take full advantage of many of the tablet's features.

The main advantage the Lenovo tablet has over the Amazon tablets is access to the Google Play Store and an unaltered Android interface. If you don't want to be restricted by Amazon's custom UI skin or limited app store, the Lenovo Tab 4 is a solid alternative.

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