Lenovo has announced its first gaming phone, the Legion Phone Duel, and I’ve got to address its most interesting feature up front: the pop-up selfie camera that’s embedded along the phone’s side, just like the rumors in May suggested. Given that most popular games are played in landscape mode, it’s a logical place for the camera to be since it ensures that your palm won’t obscure the lens if you’re video chatting or live-streaming during a game.
The pop-up camera is a 20-megapixel sensor with an f/2.2 aperture and an 81.7-degree field of view. This might not lead to the best selfies or video quality, and it isn’t an ideal location for taking a quick selfie. Lenovo provided enough room in the camera’s enclosure to include a status light for the camera, like what most laptops feature.
That said, the Legion gaming phone isn’t a laptop, and even though I can envision a few use cases where it’d come in handy to have a side-mounted selfie cam on a phone, I’ll admit that I’d hate to be seen taking a selfie with this phone. The rear camera array is located right in the middle of the phone’s backside, which isn’t the most convenient location either. Nevertheless, gaming phones have become a playground for interesting features like these, so I’m willing to give Lenovo credit for trying something new here.
The Legion Phone Duel’s dual 2,500mAh batteries can be fully charged in 30 minutes by plugging USB-C cables into each of its ports. Image: Lenovo
The Legion Phone Duel (or the Legion Phone Pro, as it’s called in China, where it will release first this month) features the Snapdragon 865 Plus processor, up to 12GB of LPDDR5 RAM, and 512GB of UFS 3.1 storage. With this chipset, it’s also a 5G-ready phone that can take advantage of the sub-6GHz spectrum. Lenovo has also packed in dual vibration motors that it says will make games feel more immersive, as well as ultrasonic touch-sensitive sensors so you can map what would normally be on-screen virtual buttons to the edge of the phone itself, mimicking the feel of a real controller.
Like the Asus ROG Phone II, the Legion Phone Duel has multiple USB-C ports, with one at the bottom of the phone when held in portrait mode and another opposite the pop-up selfie cam on the side. You can use either to charge the phone, but interestingly, you can quickly charge the phone’s two 2,500mAh internal batteries in around 30 minutes by plugging USB-C cables into both ports. It might look silly, but at least you’ll be powered up quickly.
Now for the bad news: Lenovo doesn’t have plans to release this phone in the US. It’s coming first to China in July, then to select markets in Asia, Latin America, and the EMEA regions (Europe, Middle East, Africa). That is a little disappointing to hear because, frankly, I think we all deserve a phone that has the words “Stylish Outside” and “Savage Inside” lasered onto its back.