Artist Review: Lenovo P11 Pro & Precision Pen 2

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Lenovo P11 Pro and P11 are Android tablets released early 2021. Both tablets support the Lenovo Precision Pen 2 (with Wacom AES 2 technology) which has tilt and pressure sensitivity.

Lenovo P11 Pro is the mid-range tablet that starts at US $499 with 4GB RAM and 128GB storage, and US $549 with 6GB RAM and 128GB storage.

FYI, the Samsung Tab S7 (6GB and 128GB) is US $549 at the time of this review. You can get the Lenovo P11 Pro with at least $70 discount through AliExpress but after you add $50+ for the Precision Pen 2, the price is close to the Samsung Tab S7 which is a much better tablet in many ways.

The US $230 Lenovo P11 non-Pro competes with the $349 Samsung Tab S6 Lite. Specs and performance for both tablets are quite similar so that’s a much closer fight.

My review is from the perspective of an artist.

Below’s a quick comparison between the Lenovo P11 Pro and P11.

Model P11 P11 Pro
Display 11-inch IPS LCD 11.5-inch OLED
Resolution 2000 x 1200 (212 PPI) 2560 x 1600 (263 PPI)
Chip Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G Qualcomm Snapdragon 662
GPU Adreno 618 Adreno 610
RAM & storage 4 – 6GB RAM, 64 – 124GB storage 4 – 6GB RAM, 64 – 124GB storage
Port USB Type-C 3.2 USB Type-C 2.0
Battery capacity 8600 mAh 7700 mAh
microSD card slot Yes Yes
Weight 490g 485g
Price US $230 (4GB, 64GB) US $499 (4GB, 128GB)


The unit I bought was from Lazada, Amazon’s Asia competitor. I paid SG $594 (US $441) for the bundle that came with the magnetic flip case and pen. That’s considerably cheaper compared to the US $599 pricing on Lenovo USA website.

My unit has 6GB RAM and 128GB storage.

My unit is likely from the Chinese retail market since the packaging and manual are in Chinese. I’m not sure how the international warranty will work though.

Things included in the box:

  • USB wall charger
  • USB-C cable
  • Ejecting pin for the microSD card slot
  • USB-C to 3.5mm audio jack adapter

The accessories not included are the slim magnetic case, Lenovo Precision Pen 2 and keyboard case which are all sold separately, or available for purchase as a bundle with the tablet.


The slim magnetic case has auto wake function which is nice. The magnets are strong and snap tight to the back of the tablet.


However the slim case does not protect the sides of the tablet. My iPad Pro with a similar case has many dents on the metal edges so I highly recommend you get a case that also protects the sides of the tablet.


Design of the tablet looks fantastic with rounded corners, thin bezels, flat sides, beveled edges. The display is 11.5-inch OLED with 2560 x 1600 resolution (263 PPI) and maximum brightness of 350 nits.

The colours look terrific and this tablet is bright.


The display is laminated so there’s minimal gap between the pen tip and the line you create. There’s no parallax and misalignment. Cursor tracking is accurate despite some input lag.


This OLED display actually uses pentile matrix that actually makes the text slightly fuzzy. To me it’s not a big issue because the pixel density is still high enough so the text is still considered quite detailed.

The pentile matrix does not seem to affect drawing that much. Line quality still looks pretty good.

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The other downside to the OLED display is, when you scroll webpages in portrait orientation, there’s this wobbly jelly effect. In the photo above, you see the right side of the display refresh faster than the left which is still trying to move down. This wobbly jelly effect does not affect landscape orientation.


The third downside to this OLED display is there’s image retention issues under certain circumstances.


When I close the black and white line art file above, image of the line art will remain on the gray coloured background.


Here’s a closer look at the area with the photo enhanced for extra contrast. The line art can appear for a few seconds and image retention will happen. It takes much longer for the image retention to disappear on its own. In this case if I switch to a white background, the image retention is gone instantly.

If I close the same black and white art and the background is white instead of gray, there’s no image retention. That means scrolling webpages with black text on white background will not have image retention.

I will not be surprised if there are issues with burn-in in the future.

Oh, and this OLED display actually uses PWM so if your eyes are sensitive, you may notice the flicker from PWM.


The tablet is really thin at just 5.8mm, thinner than the Lenovo Precision Pen 2. Despite how thin the tablet is, build quality is solid with the full metal body. The metal has this nice matte texture throughout.


On the left are the power button which also works a fingerprint sensor, two sets of speaker grills and the microSD card slot.


On the other side are two more sets of speaker grills and the USB-C port with USB 3.2 speeds and video output capability.

Audio quality from the four-way speaker is quite good. Speakers are loud and have clarity.


These are connectors for keyboard case which is quite pricy so I did not buy that. Anyway, I prefer to use my own wireless Logitech Bluetooth keyboard that I can connect with multiple devices.


Face recognition from the selfie camera don’t work effectively so I only use the fingerprint sensor to unlock. Camera image quality is so-so from the 13MP wide, 5MP ultra-wide and 8MP selfie camera.


The Lenovo Precision Pen 2 is the new stylus released together with the P11 Pro. That stylus is sold separately. I paid extra US $50 for the bundle.


It supports WGP and Wacom AES 2.0 technology. It supports tilt and 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity.

The pen has a hexagonal design, is comfortable to hold, and has excellent build quality with the full metal body. The diameter is just slightly larger than a typical wooden pencil. There’s a nice weight that makes this stylus feel substantial and premium.


The two side buttons have firm feedback. The shortcuts you get from these buttons will vary depending on the app you use. The side buttons can’t be customised within Android, and not all apps allow you to customise the side buttons.


Pen tip design is tapered so there’s nothing to block the line of sight from the line you draw. There’s this matte texture or finishing on the tip of the pen tip to provide that bit of friction. The pen tip does glide smoothly on the glass and thankfully is not too slippery.

There’s minimal movement to the pen tip, and any movement is the lateral type of movement. It’s a firm pen tip so drawing with it feels like drawing with a pencil, except it’s smoother on glass.


USB-C charging port is hidden at the back. The battery life for the pen is rated to last for at least 100 hours so that allows you to draw non-stop for days before needing a charge.


Included with the stylus is a flexible silicon case, a plastic back that you can stick the case to, and one replacement nib.

At the time of this review, I wasn’t able to find any online stores that sell replacement pen tips. Hopefully the pen tip can last for a long time, and hopefully replacement tips will appear in a few months time. Lenovo should have included a few pen tips. These plastic tips are so inexpensive to include.

Drawing performance and experience


This is my setup for drawing on tablets. I use a Parblo PR100 stand to prop up the tablet. The flip case will not hold the tablet in place firmly for drawing.


The tablet is light enough, even with case on, for holding with one hand and drawing on the other.


Default palm rejection works alright, but since the Lenovo Precision Pen 2 is an active stylus, perfect palm rejection is possible but you have to turn on strict palm rejection (goes by different name) with the apps you use. You’ll see a cursor when you hover the pen tip above the display.

With strict palm rejection turned on, the tablet only draws or writes with pen input, but you can still use finger gestures for navigation.


Overall drawing performance is good. Lines above were drawn with Clip Studio Paint.

There’s no jitter when drawing diagonal lines slowly.

Lines can taper nicely but you may need to adjust certain settings to get the lines to taper gradually.

Line transition from thin to thick is smooth, lines can turn smoothly as well.

It’s easy to maintain consistent pressure to get lines with uniform thickness.

Initial activation force is low but pen is not that sensitive when drawing with really minimal pressure.


With Clip Studio Paint, the pressure curve can be adjusted from the preferences to get pen sensitivity you desire. This functionality is not available with Android and many other drawing apps.


The actual drawing area is wider and slightly taller than A5-sized paper. Active area is 24.5 x 15.5cm.

Aspect ratio is 16:10. With the exception of iPads and Microsoft Surface products, majority of Android tablets use either 16:10 or 16:9 aspect ratio which is really more suitable for media consumption than for drawing. With smaller screen sizes, 4:3 or 3:2 aspect ratio is more useful.

The Android version of CSP is the same as the desktop version. The palettes can take up a good amount of space. But thankfully, there’s still a good amount of canvas space to draw on.


User interface of CSP is the same as desktop which is designed for mouse usage. Tapping on the small buttons with finger is not easy.

CSP is best used with a keyboard because all the keyboard shortcuts are available and can improve productivity significantly.

CSP is the best drawing app available on Android. It is a subscription-based app at US $25/year which to me is really worth the money if you’re someone who draws often. That’s just US $2+ per month.


This is a sketch drawn with Concepts. The user interface here is designed for fingers and touch gestures so overall workflow and experience is smoother and more pleasant.


Most of my sketches don’t have many layers or textures so I can’t really say whether the P11 Pro is powerful enough to handle larger art files. But for casual sketching or drawing, there’s definitely no issues.


Navigation (pan, zoom, rotate) is quite fluid with most drawing apps I’ve used. Samsung Tab S7 will have instant navigation. Here with the P11 Pro, there’s that split second delay before canvas will move when I pan. But thankfully it’s not the irritating type of lag, it’s just very minor delay which is probably only noticeable if you compare tablets side by side.


Tilt sensitivity works great with Autodesk Sketchbook. Lines were able to transition from thin to thick (drawing with side of pen) smoothly.


Concepts also supports tilt sensitivity but the transition from thin to thick lines is abrupt. I also find it more difficult to maintain consistent pressure with Concepts.


There’s input lag with all the drawing apps. Lines will try to catch up to the pen tip. That’s just the way it is with 60Hz display. Medibang Paint Pro has more noticeable input lag compared to drawing with Concepts, Autodesk Sketchbook and CSP.

The input lag is something to get used to. With my typical drawing speed, the input lag is within acceptable limits for me. If you want almost instantaneous performance, currently only the Samsung Tab S7 and S7+ can give you that performance.

Glitches

There’s a tendency for Clip Studio Paint (ver 1.10.7) to freeze too often for my liking. When the freeze happens, I can’t use finger gestures and draw.


To break the freeze, I’ve to use the pen to access the menu, thereby introducing a stray stroke which I have to delete later. This problem does not appear on the Samsung Tab S7, and does not happen with other drawing apps.

With some drawing apps (not CSP), sometimes while drawing the tablet will detect the finger gestures incorrectly. Sometimes I get undos because the tablet things I’m tapping with two fingers when I’m just drawing with my palm on the display. Sometimes the canvas will rotate slightly as if I’m using two fingers to rotate but I’m not. Minor annoyances, but not as irritating as the CSP freeze issue.

Other stuff

The tablet runs Android 10. I can’t tell if stock Android because the user interface is very clean.


There’s no bloatware except for NetFlix which was pre-installed. And yes there’s Google Play Store.


Snapdragon 730G is a mid-range chip but still powerful enough to provide smooth performance. Together with the 6GB RAM, I was able to get smooth performance with web browsing, switching tabs and apps, checking email and social media, watching videos. I did not experience significant lag with general usage. Speed is fast for file saves, downloads, web surfing, opening apps.


Lenovo has this Productivity Mode which is supposed to be the desktop mode or UI. It’s kinda like SamsungDex except it doesn’t work that well.

When you connect tablet to an external monitor, Productivity Mode will mirror the display and resolution. When the 16:10 content from the tablet is mirrored onto my 16:9 monitor, there are black bars on the sides. Certain apps are unable to expand full-screen.

Having the desktop mode with an Android tablet can be very useful, but that functionality is not that good on this Lenovo tablet, yet.

Battery life

Battery life is very good. For normal usage, you can probably get 10 hours of battery life.

If you use the tablet for drawing at 100% brightness, battery life is probably around 6 hours which is pretty decent considering you’re not going to be drawing non-stop for 6 hours.

Conclusion

The Lenovo P11 Pro is a tablet for those who want an OLED display at more affordable prices.

Lenovo P11 Pro’s OLED display is beautiful but there are many downsides:

  • Pentile matrix so text have fuzzy edges
  • Wobbly jelly effect when scrolling in portrait orientation
  • Image retention under certain circumstances
  • PWM

So I don’t really see the advantage OLED has here over LCD. Yeah, OLED is brighter and can produce more vibrant colours. That’s not to say that LCD displays are lousy because good LCD displays can look fantastic. E.g. See LCD displays from iPad, Samsung Tab S7.

Between Lenovo P11 Pro and P11, it’s US $499 (4GB 64GB) vs US $230 (4GB 64GB). It’s not just OLED vs LCD of course. The P11 non-Pro has weaker specifications but the $270 savings is huge.

And remember as mentioned earlier, you can get the tablets at cheaper prices on AliExpress if you don’t mind not having official 1 year warranty.

Overall drawing performance and experience on the Lenovo P11 Pro is good but let down by some glitches, e.g. app freezes with CSP and random incorrect detection of finger gestures. Hopefully the CSP issue can be solved with app updates and is not a tablet issue. It’s not good if there are glitches with the best drawing app on Android.

Lenovo P11 Pro is certainly better than the Samsung Tab S6 Lite (US $349), but not as good as the Samsung Tab S6 (discontinued) and definitely nowhere near the Samsung Tab S7 with the LCD display.

If you really have to work within a specific budget for your tablet purchase, yeah, the Lenovo P11 Pro is good, maybe even worth the money. But if you can stretch your budget by $100, the Samsung Tab S7 is much more capable and solid performer.

Pros and cons at a glance

+ Beautiful design
+ Solid build quality
+ Light and portable
+ Vibrant colours from OLED display
+ Bright display
+ 2560 x 1600 high resolution (263 PPI)
+ Excellent battery life
+ microSD card slot
+ 4-way speakers have good audio quality
+ Supports Lenovo Precision Pen 2 with tilt and pressure
+ Smooth performance overall
+ No bloatware except NetFlix. Looks like stock Android.
+ Fingerprint sensor on power button works well
+ Good drawing performance overall
+ USB-C to 3.5mm adapter included
– Productivity Mode’s (desktop mode) is not fully realised
– PWM flicker may be noticeable by some
– OLED image retention under some circumstances
– Wobbly jelly effect when scrolling in portrait orientation
– Replacement pen tips for Lenovo Precision Pen 2 not available yet
– App freeze issues with Clip Studio Paint
– Finger gestures sometimes incorrectly detected while drawing
– Face unlock unreliable
– Camera quality is so-so

Availability

At time of this review, the tablet is not available on Amazon yet.

You can find the Lenovo P11 Pro on AliExpress with prices lower than official retail. Make sure to get the ones that mention Global ROM, Global Firmware.

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Source: parkablogs.com

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