Lenovo Legion Phone Duel 2 Review

Summary

When I got my review unit for the Legion Phone Duel 2 in the post I was really excited. I’m a big gadget fan, and this phone is almost the definition of a gadget, it’s such an enthusiast device. Even better, it’s targeted towards gamers.

The Duel 2 is basically everything a gamer and phone enthusiast could want, it has a giant uninterrupted screen, basically the best specs you can get in a phone and even RGB lighting. I was really surprised by the Duel 2’s lack of compromises, especially for a price that’s a lot lower than you’d pay for flagship phones from Samsung and Apple.

Speaking of Apple, I’m coming to this device as an iPhone user. While I have used Android phones in the past, I tend to gravitate towards iOS due to a few factors. I’ve often found iPhones to be more stable and have a better variety of apps than Android, although in many cases I didn’t have these issues with the Duel 2 but let’s get into the review proper.

Design & Build

I want to get something out of the way up front – this phone is big, heavy and thick. If you’re struggling to get an iPhone into your skinny jeans then you’ll want to take a look at this phone in person before buying it. If you’re the kind of enthusiast who is in the market for a device like this then I think it’ll ultimately end up being worth it – though your mileage may vary.

The Duel 2 has a gigantic 6.92” AMOLED screen that extends edge to edge with no interruptions due to the hidden pop-up selfie camera. This is an incredible screen, and the standout feature of the phone for me. Many of the special features of the phone you would only take advantage of while gaming, but the screen is stunning for every single task I put it through from watching TV and movies to YouTube videos and even just scrolling social media. You can select multiple refresh rates up to 144hz which, for those that can see the difference in frame rates and such, will make the device seem blazing fast and buttery smooth. I’m unfortunately one of the lesser humans who struggle to see the difference in frame rates in games and on screens and didn’t see much difference between the 144hz Duel 2 and my 60hz iPhone 12, but it was a noticeably smoother experience using the Duel 2 to the last Android device I used which had a 60hz screen.

The build quality of the Duel 2 is great, as expected from Lenovo having used a few of their other devices. It feels very sturdy in the hand (probably due to the weight) and while the review unit I was sent did have some micro-scratches on the screen you couldn’t see them at all unless you were looking. The back of the device is very slippery and a fingerprint magnet, so I would recommend using a case for it. Luckily the Duel 2 comes with a case in the box, although I can’t speak to that as our review unit didn’t have one.

You’ll probably have noticed that the Duel 2 has a huge hump on the back where the cameras, RGB Legion logo and the fan sits. This is a really smart design move from Lenovo, essentially they have put all the parts of the phone that will get warm while gaming into this section, which has the fan and really great airflow. This enables you to keep gaming way longer than you might with a normal device, as the parts of the phone you hold to play don’t get hot at all. This hump is a bit unsightly, and stops the Duel 2 from being able to sit flat on a table which I know annoys some people. I felt the sacrifice of the odd shape was worth it for the cooling and gaming experience.

Gaming Experience

The Duel 2 is hands down the best way I have ever played games on a phone without a controller. I used the Duel 2 to play Call of Duty Mobile, Genshin Impact, Epic 7 and a ton of games on Xbox Cloud Streaming and Stadia. The Duel 2 never once struggled, skipped frames or froze. Honestly this is what I was expecting from a phone with the best processor on the market, the Snapdragon 888, and a lot of RAM, fast storage and active cooling. I only had the fan spin up a few times on longer sessions, but it definitely helped keep me gaming longer than I would have been able to with my iPhone. 

Normally with mobile games I will connect either my Xbox Series S controller or Razer Kishi, but with the Duel 2 I often didn’t need to as it has four built-in haptic touch buttons on one side of the device and two touch sensitive surfaces on the back (long live the PS Vita). The fact that you got feedback when you pressed each button made gaming with them much more comfortable than when using on-screen buttons. These haptic buttons made gaming with them even on games designed for controllers like Genshin Impact and Yakuza 0 (via Xcloud) really playable in a way they wouldn’t be on a touch screen.

The Duel 2 has a special interface you can access when gaming which allows you to overclock the phone, mute messages, control the fans and much more. It’s a really smart software interface that gives you very quick access to system controls, but it replaces the standard Android pull-down menu making it harder to check notifications or change quick settings that aren’t gaming related. In one slight negative for this it did enable itself a few times on apps that weren’t games, but it wasn’t a huge issue.

Cameras

I was really impressed with the Duel 2 overall in almost all areas but this one – the cameras. As a parent my phone is my primary camera to take photos of my family and unfortunately the Duel 2 was not high enough quality that I would be comfortable switching to it permanently as my primary device. The photos are absolutely serviceable if you want to share something you saw with a friend, or if you want to post a selfie to social media. But they’re just not at the level of quality I get from my iPhone 12, which is the same RRP as the Duel 2. It’s not exactly fair to compare the cameras of these two as one is invested in cameras and the other has gaming features you just cannot get from an iPhone, but they’re the two devices I have to compare right now.

Here are some samples from the rear facing cameras:

 

The pop-up selfie camera is a lot of fun. When I first showed it to anyone they always thought it was really cool and the quality of the camera is actually not that bad. It’s on the side of the phone and the lock button sits on top of it. I had a few annoying times when it would pop out after accidentally tapping the camera button in apps like Instagram or Tiktok but for the most part it was more fun than annoying. I also really liked just having a whole uninterrupted screen for watching content on.

Here is a sample from the front facing camera: 

Issues with Android as an iPhone user

If you’re a happy Android user you can probably skip this short section, but I just wanted to talk about this quickly for iPhone users who might be considering the jump due to the gaming capabilities on offer here. I had a few small issues during my time with the Duel 2 that annoyed me that I thought I’d relay here.

Firstly I was unable to change the wallpaper. There was some bug which caused it to error out every time I tried, which was very annoying. If this had been my phone and not a borrowed review unit I would have probably tried to resolve this a bit more, but a quick Google search didn’t help. The biggest thing I found with Android that I haven’t experienced with iOS is that you should be prepared to have to triage your device issues every now and then. Apple devices are so locked down that they very rarely present issues, but the more open nature of Android means that apps can interact poorly with one another or you can make mistakes that will take time to resolve.

Gesture navigation (swipe up to go home etc) was added to Android a while ago, and I really like the added gesture of swiping in from the left or right edge of the screen to go back. I wish that iOS had this as it would make a bigger screen device much easier to operate one handed. I almost never noticed any issues with this navigation format, but the one problem I had was the pre-installed keyboard. It hugged the bottom of the phone screen and as a result when swiping up to leave an app with the keyboard open it would often type a bunch of letters onto the screen. iOS and some Android devices get around this by putting a gap between the bottom of the screen and the bottom of the keyboard, but this wasn’t possible to enable in the Gboard on the Duel 2. I was however able to install an alternative keyboard that I could move up a few millimetres and escape this annoyance. 

Conclusion

All in all I think that if you’re deep into mobile action games like Genshin Impact or Call of Duty Mobile and you’re willing to sacrifice a little in the camera and size/weight departments the Duel 2 is probably for you. It’s an exceptionally well-priced device in my opinion at only £699 direct from Lenovo and the gigantic screen really blows a lot of my other minor criticisms out of the water.

While personally I will be sticking with my iPhone 12 as my daily driver I am sad I have to return our review unit to Lenovo as I had so much fun testing this device. I think possibly a middle ground between the gaming monster phone that is the Duel 2 and a smaller more general audience focused device would probably end up being a fantastic device for me.

Pros

  • Gigantic, beautiful screen
  • Incredible for gamers
  • Battery for days

Cons

  • Heavy and oddly proportioned
  • Weak cameras

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