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Lenovo Legion Phone Duel Review

A dream smartphone for those who want to become a professional on-the-go game streamer

Verdict

The Lenovo Legion Phone Duel is a high-end gaming phone packed with quirky features such dual batteries, pop-up selfie camera and ultrasonic shoulder keys. Such features makes this a dream phone for mobile gamers, especially if you fancy streaming your screen to an audience, but those looking for a jack-of-all-trades smartphone can find far better value elsewhere.

Pros

  • Unrivalled performance for Android games
  • Useful gaming software features
  • Vibrant AMOLED display
  • Super-long battery life

Cons

  • Too large for most people
  • Ugly design, even for gaming hardware
  • Poor camera compared to competition

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £799.99
  • 6.65-inch (2340 x 1080) AMOLED
  • Refresh rate: 144Hz
  • Snapdragon 865+ 5G CPU
  • Up to Up to 16GB RAM
  • Up to 512GB storage
  • Dual 2500mAh batteries

Gaming phones are typically extravagant devices, crammed full of bells and whistles that would never be found on an Apple or Samsung handset. The Lenovo Legion Phone Duel takes the absurdity up a level with a number of uniquely zany features.

Firstly, the Legion Phone Duel bizarrely features ‘dual architecture’, which means the smartphone has doubled up on batteries, charging ports and liquid cooling systems. Lenovo’s reasoning for this is to optimise the phone for horizontal mode, so the areas your hands rest when gaming are kept the coolest. 

You’ve still only got one processor running the show, but with Lenovo opting for the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+ 5G chip, the Legion Phone Duel is one of the most powerful phones currently available. 

Other quirky features include ultrasonic shoulder keys, 3D motion sensors and a pop-up camera on the side that can help you become a professional game streamer. But while it’s loaded with game-ready features, is the Lenovo Legion Phone Duel worth its lofty price?

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Design – Large and ugly, even for gamers

The Lenovo Legion Phone Duel is absolutely humongous, with a whopping 6.65-inch 19.5:9 screen that’s comfortably one of the largest you can find on a smartphone. 

I personally found this problematic, as it’s not so easy to stuff inside your pocket, and my small fingers struggled to stretch across the keyboard when using one-handed. Of course, there are obvious benefits to this super-sized screen when gaming or streaming Netflix. 

I’m not a fan of the looks of the phone either. Flip the phone over, and you’ll see the Lenovo logo on a glossy red (or blue if you prefer) surface. The Logo glows a bright red when the phone is activated, which not only looks tacky, but is also a needless battery drain. 

Textured grey triangles emerge from both the front and bottom. They’ve clearly been incorporated to allow gamers a better grip, but they don’t half look ugly. To make matters worse, the words “Stylish Outside” and “Savage Inside” have been emblazoned onto the back, which is so cringeworthy I’d be embarrassed to show a friend or colleague. 

The phone looks better on the front, with an almost edge-to-edge screen with a flat and a narrow black bezel visible on the edges. There’s no need for a notch here, with the front-facing snapper located in a pop-up camera on the side. 

There are no buttons on the phone’s face, with a fingerprint scanner embedded into the screen itself, but you’ll find a power button on the right side and a volume switcher on the left. 

Lenovo Legion Phone Duel

There are two USB-C charging ports, with one located at the bottom, and another found on the side, which is extremely atypical for a smartphone but allows you to continue using the phone in horizontal mode when charging. Having two charging ports also allows you to half the time it takes to charge up the phone, but more on that later. 

Unfortunately, Lenovo found no room for a headphone jack. A USB-C to headphone jack adaptor is bundled in the box as a workaround, but it’s still a faff to carry around whenever you want to use wired headphones. 

The dual speakers – one up top, and another at the bottom – make up for the lack of headphone jack to some extent, as they’re able to hit very high volumes and create an immersive 3D audio effect when gaming. The audio quality is outstanding, accurately capturing the blast of grenades and the shuddering of gunfire. The speakers are decent for music playback too, although sounds a tad screechy at high decibels when compared to my computer’s sound system. 

Display – Gorgeous AMOLED with high refresh rate

The Lenovo Legion Phone Duel features a massive 6.65-inch AMOLED screen with a 2340 x 1080 resolution. That’s FHD+ as opposed quite Quad HD, which means the Razer Phone 2 has a sharper display, but the sparser pixel count is hardly noticeable at this size. 

The AMOLED screen technology arguably allows for a superior display than the Razer’s, with blacks appearing inky dark for a lovely contrast. Whether I was watching Umbrella Academy on Netflix or gawping at the emerald green meadows of Genshin Impact, colours always appeared gorgeously vibrant. 

Lenovo Legion Phone Duel

The 144Hz display refresh rate also ensures smoother visuals for select games, although the list of Android games unlocked to exceed 60fps is still frustratingly low with both Genshin Impact and Call of Duty Mobile disappointingly restricted to 60fps. The list of mobile games to support 144fps is growing, with noticeable titles including Fortnite, Alto’s Adventure and Minecraft, so it’s certainly still a very useful feature to have on a gaming phone. 

The 240Hz touch sampling rate also helps to reduce the time it takes for the phone to register your swipes and prods on the touchscreen. It’s hard to see how much of a difference this makes compared to a more conventional smartphone, but I definitely found it to be very responsive when aiming my gun in Call of Duty. 

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Performance – One of the most powerful phones yet

The Lenovo Legion Phone Duel is among the most powerful Android phones you can buy thanks to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+ 5G which features the integrated Qualcomm Adreno 650 graphics. And with a superb dual-liquid cooling system, the performance can be overclocked to incredible heights. 

This extra grunt proved to be very beneficial when running the likes of Genshin Impact, as I was not only able to push the graphics settings up for some breath-taking visuals that wouldn’t look out of place on a PS4, but also to ensure a consistently smooth 60fps performance. 

For comparison, I used my Samsung Galaxy S9 – which is admittedly old hat these days – to run Genshin Impact, and was restricted to a ‘low’ graphics settings, and still suffered a janky performance that made me feel slightly ill when rapidly turning during combat.

Our benchmark tests showed just how powerful this Legion phone is, swatting aside the Razer Phone 2 with ease in the battle of the gaming phones.

Lenovo Legion Phone Duel Razer Phone 2
Geekbench 4 single-core 4545 2347
Geekbench 4 multi-core 13,367 8915
3DMark Sling Shot Extreme 7743 4689

An ‘Overclocked’ mode lets you push the performance further if you fancy even higher frame rates, but I rarely saw the need to do so. 

Despite playing numerous demanding games, I never felt the phone heat up to uncomfortable heights. Thanks to the dual architecture, the phone remained cool where my hands gripped the edges. It only became noticeably warm in the centre, and even then it’s never scorching hot.  

There are a couple of extra features that improve the gaming experience, including the ultrasonic shoulder keys. These use vibrations to simulate a button press on the edge of the phone, acting similar to the triggers on a PlayStation and Xbox controller. While normally I’d have to juggle numerous on-screen buttons with my thumbs, it felt substantially better to instead hit the vibrating shoulder keys to gun down in Call of Duty. 

With Wi-Fi 6 and 5G support, you can ensure – at least on paper –  internet speeds are fast enough to stream games from the likes of Xbox Games Pass and GeForce Now. In practice, you’ll need to make sure your router supports Wi-Fi 6 to reap the benefits, and only certain locations currently see 5G coverage. 

There are two storage options available – 256GB and 512GB – and while I recommend the latter if you’ve got a big collection of mobile games, both options should have ample enough space. 

Software – Oodles of game-ready features

The Lenovo Legion Phone Duel features a basic Android UI, with apps stored in a vertical app drawer. You’re able to drag apps up onto the home screen to create a shortcut, so you don’t have to scroll down and search for Instagram every time you want to snoop on your friends.

Lenovo has introduced a couple of cool gaming software quirks too. If you push down on the two shoulder keys, the phone will immediately launch the Legion Realm app, which automatically stores all of your installed games. It seemed very good at recognising which apps were game flavoured, even including the likes of Steam Link and GeForce Now. It also has the option to manually add installed apps to the list, just in case it failed to recognise one of your favourites.

Lenovo Legion Phone Duel

The drag-down Legion overlay is even more useful, displaying metrics such as the game’s frame rate, the phone’s temperature and your internet’s ping quality. You can even trigger an overclock if you fancy boosting the performance.

The overlay also allows you to activate the selfie camera, which sees the camera pop out from it’s hiding space and output your face in a little box in the top-right corner of your screen while gaming. This allows you to show your reactions of in-game moments when streaming to an audience. This makes the Legion Phone Duel a very good option for professional game streamers, although I’m unconvinced there are many benefits here for normal folk.

Other overlay options include mapping the shoulder keys to certain actions, toggling vibration and preventing notifications and phone calls to show up when you’re in the middle of a game. I was really impressed with the huge number of useful options here.

Unfortunately, this overlay only seems to be accessible when playing games natively. That meant a lot of these features couldn’t be used when using cloud-streaming apps such as Xbox Games Pass.

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Camera – Passable, but comparatively poor

The camera is often the area that gaming phones neglect, and that looks to be the same with the Lenovo Legion Phone Duel. The rear-facing 64MP sensor (paired with a 16MP wide-angle lens) is still a competent snapper when the target is still and up close, but it’s well below the quality of similarly priced phones such as the iPhone 12 and Pixel 5.

Photos taken with the Legion’s camera benefit from bright colours and decent detail. Colours do appear unnaturally vibrant when viewed on the phone itself, but I think that’s more to do with the Legion’s screen as photos didn’t look as artificial on my monitor’s display. Still, having inaccurate colour accuracy on the phone’s screen makes it irritatingly difficult establish how the end product will turn out.

I made use of the camera’s ‘AI photo assistant’ in order to, hopefully, take better pictures – as my own snapping skills aren’t particularly good – but this occasionally resulted in ugly motion blurring issues.

I also struggled to take decent snaps of faraway subjects, with the image quality deteriorating rapidly as soon as I pushed past the 1x zoom, making the cityscape shot below appear unflatteringly harsh.

The 20MP selfie camera saw more consistent results, but presents a different problem since it pops out of the side of the phone. The front-facing camera is smart enough to automatically switch your selfies into portrait mode, but you have to position it at an awkward angle to capture the front of your face. The camera does at least pop up very quickly, so you don’t have to wait ages for it to spring into action.

I did quite like the ‘Dual’ feature of being able to record footage with your rear camera while using the selfie cam to frame your face into the corner of the feed. This could be useful for reaction or unboxing videos, although I’m not sure there are many benefits outside of gaming. Speaking of video, the Legion is capable of recording video in 4K at 30fps, which isn’t too shabby at all.

Battery – Long stamina, and speedy dual charging

Dual 2500mAh batteries are fitted inside the Lenovo Legion Phone Duel, along with two separate USB-C charging ports. Only one cable is required to top the battery up to its maximum capacity, although two cables will reduce the charge time significantly. 

The phone always comfortably lasted over 24 hours before requiring a recharge, even if I hammered it hard with hour-long gaming sessions throughout the day. If you’re using it for basic phone tasks, such as checking emails, calling friends and scrolling through social media, you may well see the battery life approach a second full working day. 

Lenovo Legion Phone Duel

Lenovo claims the battery can be fully replenished in 30 minutes when simultaneously charging up both batteries via the Type-C 90W turbocharger. Unfortunately, this charger is not included in the box and is not available at launch. 

That said, the bundled charger does a competent job, topping up the battery in a respectable 45 minutes when plugging two USB-C cables into the phone simultaneously. Having to plug in two cables at once is a bit of a faff, but it took me more than 2 hours to fill the tank when just using one, so it’s very much worth the hassle. 

Should you buy the Lenovo Legion Phone Duel?

The Lenovo Legion Phone Duel has arrived at an awkward time for gaming phones, with cloud streaming solutions such as GeForce Now and Games Pass offering more cost-effective and exciting gaming solutions for smartphone users. Is there much point in buying a gaming-focused phone when a Samsung or OnePlus can run the likes of Assassin’s Creed and Gears 5? 

But if native mobile gaming is a priority for you, the Lenovo Legion Phone Duel is an excellent option. It ticks almost every fundamental gaming box there is, from a gorgeous 144Hz display to a super-lengthy battery life. You also get unique game-ready features here, such as the incredible vibrating shoulder keys and the pop-up camera that’s made for game streamers. 

In terms of gaming phones, the Lenovo Legion Phone Duel is among the very best. But there are one too many compromises you have to make, from the unwieldy design to the underwhelming rear camera, to prevent you from pining for a more traditional jack-of-all-trades, smartphone.

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