Lenovo Legion Duel review: The coolest gaming smartphone on the market

The Lenovo Legion Duel is the first gaming smartphone from the Chinese producer, and boy is it spectacular at first look! Armed with a Snapdragon 865+ chipset, 16 GB of LPDDR5 RAM, a 144 Hz AMOLED display, a twin 5,000 mAh battery, you recognize that this can be a direct competitor to the Asus ROG Phone Three because it focuses purely on gaming and nothing else.

Good

  • AMOLED FHD+ 144 Hz show
  • 5,000 mAh battery
  • 90-watt quick charging supported
  • Powerful Snapdragon 865+ chipset
  • Temperature regulation
  • Pop-up selfie digital camera

Bad

  • Limited streaming mode
  • Boring design
  • Rear digital camera module lower than spectacular
  • Poor software program assist

Who is the Lenovo Legion Duel for?

The Lenovo Legion Duel was made obtainable for buy in France from October 15, 2020, with an asking value of €899.99 for the 12GB/256GB model. Those who would need the top-of-the-line mannequin must fork out €999.99 for the 16GB/512GB configuration.

Armed with a Snapdragon 865+ chipset, a 144 Hz AMOLED show, a beneficiant 5,000 mAh battery, 90-watt quick charging functionality, the Lenovo Legion Duel is the designed for cell avid gamers. It doesn’t shy itself from being touted as a direct competitor to the Asus ROG Phone Three which in my view, nonetheless stays the finest gaming smartphone on the market in the present day.

Compared to its major competitor, the Asus ROG Phone 3, its 5,000 mAh battery is smaller (you can see a 6,000 mAh behemoth in the ROG Phone 3), but it surely does recharge an entire lot quicker courtesy of the quick charging functionality at 90-watts.

Its digital camera module is barely much less spectacular, though there may be the pop-up selfie digital camera in entrance that does supply flexibility in photo-taking whereas shifting away from a notch or punch-hole digital camera design. Overall, the smartphone’s design just isn’t the most discreet however then once more, it’s unashamed about its gaming pedigree. The display is barely much less responsive with a touch-sampling fee of 240 Hz, which is only a shade lower than the ROG Phone 3’s 270 Hz.

The smartphone absolutely embraces its gaming heritage, make no mistake about it. Do not count on even the slightest compromise simply so it may possibly cater to being extra versatile and used as a each day driver at the workplace. No, the Lenovo Legion Duel was specifically designed for gaming and nothing else. While that may be true, I feel I may very well be completely proud of this (for now). 

 

Specially designed for gaming

The design of the Lenovo Legion Duel is something however mundane.
Forget about matte backs made out of plastic, forgive me for my fake pas, I meant polycarbonate, tapered curves, and curved shows. As etched on its holographic glass again, it proudly touts the Lenovo Legion Duel to be “stylish on the outside, wild on the inside.”

The Lenovo Legion Duel is a big, angular brick full with RGB LEDs. At the again lies the manifestly apparent “Y” emblem to indicate Lenovo’s gaming vary, which has been renamed “Legion”. This “Y” emblem will mild up in several colours and even sport customizable animation patterns.

The Lenovo Legion Duel locations emphasis on RGB LEDs – and it thrills me to bits! / © NextPit

There is nothing at the again that protrudes in an unruly method, and the double digital camera module stays recessed. There are hints of refined notches at each ends of the again to make sure optimum assist every time you maintain the smartphone in your palms – and these notches come in useful to supply additional grip, particularly when your palms are sweaty. In reality, the complete design clearly exhibits that this handset is supposed for use in panorama mode, making it the good orientation for gaming.

Volume rockers are situated on the left aspect and never on the proper, which is the proper transfer since it might go a great distance in stopping any interference with Bluetooth controller clips. There is the USB-C port situated at the backside phase, whereas Lenovo has cleverly positioned one other related enter in the centre of the left-hand aspect.

NextPit Lenovo Phone Duel L79031 usb
The Lenovo Legion Duel provides quick charging of as much as 90-watts / © NextPit

This alternative is critical for the double-quick cost characteristic to work, but it surely was additionally designed in order that it doesn’t intervene together with your proper hand if you maintain the smartphone horizontally to play whereas charging your smartphone.

NextPit Lenovo Phone Duel L79031 usb speaker
The placement of USB-C ports and buttons on the Lenovo Legion Duel is way smarter than different gaming smartphones / © NextPit

Even the selfie digital camera stays fastidiously hidden in a pop-up module, and is situated on the right-hand aspect. It pops out as soon as the smartphone is held horizontally, much like a webcam above a gaming PC’s monitor. In addition, this pop-up selfie digital camera additionally carries the lock button – a moderately unusual design in my view.

No doubt that the Lenovo Legion Duel is a heavy handset, tipping the scales at 239 grams. It can also be a wee bit thicker (9.9 mm) in comparison with different handsets. However, you’d have realized by now that this isn’t a smartphone that was designed to be a compact mannequin or one which carries a sensible type issue. The objective is to optimize one’s grip for gaming functions. On this level alone, I discover the design of the Lenovo Legion Duel to be an entire lot extra smart and related in comparison with the Asus ROG Phone Three or the RedMagic 5S.

NextPit Lenovo Phone Duel L79031 legion
The selfie “pop-up” digital camera of the Lenovo Legion Duel was designed for videographers and reside gaming streamers / © NextPit

144 Hz AMOLED FHD+ show is extraordinarily clean

The Lenovo Legion Phone Duel encompasses a 6.65-inch AMOLED FHD+ show with a 19.5:9 facet ratio and a refresh fee of as much as 144 Hz.
The show is flat and never curved, going in opposition to typical knowledge, whereas retaining a distinguished chin and brow that fortunately doesn’t stand out in order that it may possibly accommodate the stereo audio system.

As is usually the case, the excessive refresh fee implies compromises – and with the Legion Phone Duel, this implies taking out a 1440p show for a 1080p show. Frankly, this hardly issues for a show that small, particularly if you’re taking part in video games and your eyes will be unable to understand the barely extra element. It can also be not in the finest curiosity of all smartphone producers to bow to Samsung’s WQHD+ providing at 120 Hz, similar to on the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra.

Despite the barely lesser display decision, we nonetheless keep our view that this is a wonderful show with a most brightness of 620 nits. I didn’t run into any issues of reflection or colorimetry, and surprisingly sufficient, I occur to be certainly one of the uncommon customers preferring to have a clean show as an alternative of the highest attainable decision. Hz FTW versus DPI!

NextPit Lenovo Phone Duel L79031 screen
The 144 Hz AMOLED show of the Lenovo Legion Duel is exceptionally clean / © NextPit

One can clearly debate the usefulness of getting a 144 Hz refresh fee on every other gaming machine other than a PC. Even extra so on smartphones, the place solely a handful of cell video games are appropriate with such a excessive refresh fee, and these are few and uncommon to come back throughout in the first place.

For occasion, you may be caught at 60 FPS on Call of Duty Mobile or Fortnite. I do doubt that Lenovo, a giant identify in the world of gaming, is much less succesful than OnePlus and even Sony (who has negotiated to acquire an unique 120 FPS on Call of Duty Mobile on its newest Xperia) to work with recreation publishers/builders to be able to exploit its {hardware} to its full potential in the future.

This is certainly one of the main hurdles on the subject of cell gaming, but it surely additionally occurs to be certainly one of its most promising paths. Nevertheless, we nonetheless profit from certainly one of the smoothest gaming experiences obtainable on the market proper now – no less than visually. Even if will probably be troublesome to silence the critics of excessive refresh charges, one can really understand the smoothness past a 60 Hz refresh fee, even on a recreation that’s capped at 60 FPS.

I may go right into a 5,000-word article on enter lag, and I’d accomplish that in case you’re , however 144 Hz is greater than a welcome characteristic on the Lenovo Legion Duel.

The ZUI interface just isn’t intuitive

I’ve been utilizing this Lenovo machine for a number of months already, and at the time I’m scripting this assessment (January 2021), the Lenovo Legion Duel runs on the ZUI pores and skin that’s primarily based on Android 10.
The smartphone stays caught on the August 2020 safety patch, which is horrible when it comes to software program updates. In reality, this smartphone just isn’t even listed on Lenovo’s Android update roadmap. What a disgrace!

lenovo legion duel review zenui software
Personally, I discover the primary “vanilla” interface to be extra constant than the gaming interface / © NextPit

The interface is visually near inventory Android, though you may go for a extra aggressive gaming look. You can even entry further customization settings similar to altering the LED coloration at the again of the smartphone or the Always on Display (AOD) setting.

lenovo legion duel review zenui software customization
Interface customizations are moderately restricted however completely geeky / © NextPit

What is the most attention-grabbing could be the Legion Realm menu, which lets you handle all of the efficiency parameters and settings associated to totally different gaming modes.

This menu gives you with entry to chose indicators, together with reception high quality, chip clock frequencies, display brightness, refresh fee, and inside temperature. You can even activate the recording perform and streaming mode right here.

lenovo legion duel review zenui legion realm
The Lenovo Legion Duel’s interactive Legion Realm menu is feature-rich for an enhanced gaming expertise / © NextPit

However, I feel that it’s a disgrace the stream mode would not robotically start recording if you play. It would not launch an actual stream both, however moderately, robotically redirects you to your Twitch or YouTube Gaming web page.

Hence, you may want a 3rd occasion seize and streaming software program (OBS model) to broadcast the content material displayed on your Lenovo Legion Duel. The stream mode is a straightforward “layout” shortcut that lets you have the interface of a stream with out performing any enhancing.

There is one other bug that ticks me off – the screenshot perform is simply accessible through the Legion Realm menu that should be scrolled in the method of a notification pane. The drawback is that this: if you press the screenshot button, the menu pane stays on the display and subsequently, ruins the complete screenshot.

So I discovered myself taking handbook seize screenshots by urgent the quantity button (situated at the backside) and the lock button, which is situated on the pop-up selfie digital camera. Doing so sees the pop-up digital camera retract beneath the strain of my finger. The stream mode is admittedly attention-grabbing and carries loads of potential, however it’s clearly not intuitive sufficient for use.

A strong monster with the Snapdragon 865+ chipset

The Lenovo Legion Phone Duel is provided with Qualcomm’s strongest chip in 2020, the Snapdragon 865 Plus SoC. 
This is an overclocked model of the Snapdragon 865, which occurred to see motion in most of final yr’s flagship gadgets. The Snapdragon 865 Plus comes with an overclocked Qualcomm Kryo 585 Prime processor of as much as 3.1 GHz, which is a 10 % improve over the base Snapdragon 865.

The Qualcomm Adreno 650 GPU provides 10 % extra graphics rendering functionality along with Qualcomm FastConnect 6900 compatibility that’s anticipated to ship Wi-Fi 6 speeds of as much as 3.6 Gbps. I made a decision to check the Lenovo Legion Duel to the efficiency of the Kirin 9000 that powers the Huawei Mate 40 Pro, the Snapdragon 865+ in the Asus ROG Phone 3, and the Exynos 2100 in the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra.

In order to take action, I launched totally different graphics benchmarks by activating the performance/gaming mode on every smartphone. For every benchmark, I carried out every check Three occasions by spacing them a number of minutes aside in order that these handsets have satisfactory time to chill down and ship the very best efficiency.

The scores you see in the desk under are the highest scores obtained amongst the Three classes of every check.

Lenovo Legion Duel

Graphics Benchmarks
Benchmarks Lenovo Legion Duel Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Asus ROG Phone 3 Huawei Mate 40 Pro
3D Mark Sling Shot Extreme ES 3.1 7773 7373 7724

8093

3D Mark Sling Shot Vulkan 3985 5175

7079

5217

3D Mark Sling Shot ES 3.0 9912 7291

9833

9920

Geekbench 5 (Single / Multi) 978 / 3350 942 / 3407 977 / 3324

Untested

MoveMark Memory

29.318 31.752

28.568

Untested

MoveMark Disc

102.595 81.108

124.077

Untested

The Snapdragon 865+ would naturally warmth up extra in comparison with the vanilla Snapdragon 865. However, the temperature management, or moderately the Lenovo Legion Duel’s warmth administration system, is spectacular. In addition to the traditional benchmarks that hardly ever say a lot, I additionally subjected the gadgets to the new Wild Life Stress Tests in 3D Mark.

Basically, these are the 2 checks that simulate intensive gaming use, one taking a minute whereas the taking 20 minutes. Over a brief 1 minute session, for instance, the Lenovo Legion Duel is of course much less highly effective than the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra and its SoC Exynos 2100 on the subject of uncooked efficiency.

lenovo legion duel review performance raw
The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is of course extra highly effective than the Lenovo Legion Duel when it comes to uncooked efficiency / © NextPit

But over an intense 20-minute session, the Lenovo Legion Duel widens the hole with the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra. The distinction lies in its temperature management and resistance in opposition to pointless thermal throttling (limiting the efficiency of a processor to forestall smartphone overheating).

Compare the graphs under. The efficiency distinction between the first check loop (inexperienced curve) and the final loop (purple curve) is considerably better on the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra. This displays a lack of efficiency as the gaming session progresses.

On the Lenovo Legion Duel, the two curves stay practically an identical, therefore efficiency is extra constant all through an intense gaming session. However, each smartphones skilled a reasonably related temperature rise.

But we are able to see very clear efficiency losses, together with framerate drops (FPS) as the temperature rises (purple curve, second row in the illustration) and as the battery life decreases (inexperienced curve, third row in the illustration).

lenovo legion duel review performance temperature control
The Lenovo Legion Duel gives considerably higher temperature management than the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra / © NextPit

No doubt we are able to absolutely admire the significance of getting an environment friendly cooling system. It’s actually certainly one of the key standards that distinguishes gaming smartphones from different flagships. Anyone can run video games easily, however gaming smartphones are ready to take action for longer durations of time whereas minimizing loss in efficiency.

An common 64 MP digital camera module aside from the selfie digital camera

No doubt the weakest level of the Lenovo Legion Duel could be the digital camera module, specifically, the one at the again. This gaming smartphone is provided with the following digital camera module: 

  • a 64 MP wide-angle predominant lens, f/1.9 aperture, 25mm, 1/1.72″, 0.8µm, PDAF
  • a 16 MP ultra-wide-angle lens, f/2.2 aperture, FOV 120˚, 16mm
NextPit Lenovo Phone Duel L79031 cameraThe twin 64 MP digital camera module on the Lenovo Legion Duel is clearly not its sturdy level / © NextPit

The smartphone’s predominant sensor employs pixel binning to seize 16 MP pictures, however you even have the potential to take full 64 MP decision photographs to acquire a greater diploma of element.

lenovo legion duel review photo 64MP
Under perfect situations, 64 MP photographs are richer intimately and have a wider dynamic vary / © NextPit

Overall, the Lenovo Legion Duel digital camera module is remarkably unimpressive for a smartphone on this value vary. Yeah, I do know we’re speaking a couple of gaming smartphone and the digital camera is not imagined to be the killer-feature similar to these discovered on the different “classic” flagships.

But nonetheless, at nearly $1,000 a pop, I feel Lenovo may have accomplished higher. In daylight, and beneath good lighting situations, the predominant sensor performs moderately admirably. Software processing is aggressive and we observed an oversaturation of colours in the sky, foliage, and grass.

lenovo legion duel review photo day
The predominant 64 MP sensor suffers from an excessive amount of software program processing / © NextPit

I discover that the photographs lack sharpness and digital smoothing creates a type of veil that drowns out the most refined textures of the shot.

The ultra-wide-angle is clearly not pretty much as good when it comes to advantageous element, however Lenovo manages to supply a moderately constant colorimetry on the subject of wide-angle pictures along with moderately respectable publicity administration, though the dynamic vary is clearly not the predominant attraction right here.

Naturally, one can zoom in as much as 8x however will merely must be glad with pure digital magnification. The lack of element is noticeable however I have to admit that the Lenovo Legion Duel manages to carry out harm limitation so long as we’re glad with 2x zoom.

lenovo legion duel review photo zoom
The Lenovo Legion Duel’s zoom doesn’t come near what Huawei provides /© NextPit

Despite the in the end pedestrian digital camera efficiency, the star of the Lenovo Legion Duel digital camera module occurs to be its “pop-up” selfie digital camera. This digital camera is situated at the proper aspect, and was designed to stream in “face cam” when you are gaming.

Basically, the thought is to facilitate content material creation for streamers or YouTubers who’re cell gaming lovers. This might make even the most hardcore amongst you chortle, however the smartphone gaming scene is growing with every passing day. In 2020, many eSport tournaments happened on Call of Duty Mobile with prize swimming pools of a number of million euros.

Last November, Amazon launched its SportOn streaming platform in the United States, which was devoted solely to cell gaming. With this pop-up selfie digital camera and a selfie + gameplay recording characteristic on hand, the Lenovo Legion Duel may very well be a fantastic starter package for content material creators headed on this course.

NextPit Lenovo Phone Duel L79031 front camera
The pop-up selfie digital camera of the Lenovo Legion Duo was designed for streamers / © NextPit

The distinctive 20 MP wide-angle sensor with an aperture of f/2.2 (25mm equal, 1/3.1″, 0.9µm) supports HDR and 4K video capture at 30 FPS. This is clearly not the best performing selfie camera available, but I found it to perform decently. 

However, the available recording options, ability to create clips retroactively (after a flash of genius in the middle of a multiplayer session), the ability to turn your head away such as seen in old-fashioned Level One shows…all of these really made me appreciate the “Stream Mode” on the Lenovo Legion Duel.

lenovo legion duel review photo selfie stream mode
The Stream Mode of the Lenovo Legion Duel is a cool characteristic, and subsequently completely indispensable (for avid gamers) / © NextPit

The digital camera’s placement in the middle if you maintain the smartphone in panorama mode prevents you from obstructing the digital camera together with your fingers, fairly in contrast to the typical punch-hole or notch setup. The 4 microphones used for voice recording apply energetic noise discount to undesirable noise.

I do know that it I do not make it in tech journalism, I can at all times get into cell gaming on YouTube or Twitch.

Solid battery life with a speedy 90-watt cost

The Legion Phone Duel incorporates two 2,500 mAh batteries that may be charged individually. By doing so, it allows the handset to realize a quick 90-watt cost.
You can even use each USB-C connectors for charging concurrently, now how about that? 

There is a USB-C 3.1 port with DisplayPort assist on the left aspect whereas the different USB-C 2.Zero port is situated at the decrease finish. The Lenovo Legion Duel’s battery life is superb. During my many weeks of testing, punctuated by intensive gaming classes and prolonged use of as much as a number of hours with the graphics settings pushed to the max, I used to be at all times in a position to final two days with none drawback.

The enormous charger comes with twin USB-C ports to be able to join two cables at the identical time to cost each batteries in the Lenovo Legion Duel. In most circumstances, I used to be in a position to cost the smartphone from Zero to 100% with out having the clock cross the 40-minute mark. 

Double charging already exists due to producers similar to Oppo with their Oppo Find X2 Pro. But Lenovo appears to have pushed the idea additional to the excessive by throwing on an extra charging port.

With such a long-lasting battery life and a quick cost, I’m able to neglect the absence of wi-fi charging. Anyway, a gaming smartphone would not work nicely for gaming if you place it on a Qi stand, however you may at all times proceed gaming by having it stay plugged to the energy outlet. 

Conclusion

The Lenovo Legion Duel is unquestionably the coolest gaming smartphone on the market. I really like the strategy of the producer who refuses to make any compromises and would not care about seducing a bigger, extra mainstream and informal viewers.

The Lenovo Legion Duel doesn’t lie in no man’s land and takes the plunge into a distinct segment often known as smartphone gaming – for higher or for worse. It is unquestionably fairly a performer, as the smartphone is able to doling out spectacular gaming efficiency ranges when the state of affairs requires it.

The strong battery life attributable to the 5,000 mAh twin battery and the twin 90-watt quick cost (very quick) functionality will certainly assure lengthy gaming classes with out operating into overheating points or dropped efficiency.

But Lenovo’s clear option to focus on gaming makes the Lenovo Legion Duel irrelevant for every other customers. The design is off-putting for many who favor discreet and unobtrusive type components. The digital camera module is clearly not one thing that’s interesting to shutterbugs. Above all, the type issue is unsuitable for small arms or tiny pockets.

Nevertheless, the value near €1,000 simply to select up the Lenovo Legion Duel versus a extra traditional and refined balanced flagship, bears some considering. This is particularly so when it comes to uncooked energy, the place high-end smartphones outfitted with the new Snapdragon 888 or the Exynos 2100 will in all probability widen the hole in 2021.

Let us not speak about the A14 Bionic chip present in the iPhone 12 that is still forward of everybody else, based on near all the benchmarks that exclude Apple’s smartphones. This has actually compelled the gaming facet of this Lenovo handset to shine. I’d advise you to select it up provided that you see your smartphone as a secondary console or perhaps a major console.

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