Verdict: While budget tablets are normally seen as a device for work-from-home and homeschooling, the Smart Tab M8 takes it up a notch by being a good companion device for controlling smart home devices.
While it has mediocre cameras, modest internals, and it is still stuck on Android Pie, the Smart Tab M8 still does a great job of being a budget productivity tool and a device for managing your smart home.
The Smart Tab M8 is priced at Php 8,490 and is available at Lenovo Mobile’s official Lazada store.
Aside from the majority of the population resorting to work-from-home or study-from-home during the pandemic, there has been a rise of people building their smart home ecosystem. Starting from smart speakers and smart bulbs, a connected home makes usual tasks convenient since you can manage them with a device.
Lenovo’s Smart Tab M8 looks to complement those smart homes with an easy to use hub for controlling those devices, though its limited performance has it struggling with other tasks.
- Very useful smart charging dock
- Near stock Android
- Great battery life
- Modest internals make it struggle with multi-tasking
- Mediocre cameras
- Still stuck on Android Pie
The Smart Tab M8 comes in a white box with purple gradient accents on the side. In front, you have the Smart Tab M8 branding, along with the photo of the tablet docked on its smart charging stand.
Inside the box, you have the tablet, documentation, SIM ejector tool, smart charging dock, MicroUSB cable, and a 10w charger. It is rare to see an entry-level tablet to come bundled with a dock, making the Smart Tab M8 an interesting offering for under Php 9k.
While it is a budget tablet, the Smart Tab M8 has a solid unibody aluminum build with plastic tabs on the top and bottom for the antennas. The back panel has an anodized finish that makes the Smart Tab M8 feel premium.
Despite having an 8-inch display, the Smart Tab M8 has relatively slim bezels to keep it compact. I can easily hold the Smart Tab M8 with one hand, though that may vary for people with smaller mitts.
For the ports, you have a loudspeaker and headphone jack on top, SIM card tray, and POGO pins (for the smart charging dock) on the left side, power, and volume controls on the right side, and a MicroUSB port and another loudspeaker at the bottom.
The smart charging dock is meant to make you use the tablet in landscape orientation, and its built-in MicroUSB port means that you can juice up the Smart Tab M8 via the said port or through its POGO pins.
Display and speakers
You get an 8-inch IPS display with a 16:10 aspect ratio and a 1280×800 resolution with the tablet, which translates to roughly HD resolution in smartphone speak. The colors on the Smart Tab M8’s panel is fairly good for watching videos, and the brightness is just enough for use indoors—the panel struggles when used under direct sunlight.
As for speakers, the Smart Tab M8 gets stereo speakers, which are average at best: lows are relatively weak, while mids and highs are decent, which is expected on a budget tablet. If you want to improve overall sound quality, the Smart Tab M8 comes with Dolby Atmos, which offers various audio settings. Unlike with other devices that have Dolby Atmos, you can use the software-based enhancement feature with both wired and wireless cans.
You get a conventional set of cameras on the Smart Tab M8: 5-megapixel for the rear camera and 2-megapixel for selfies. While using tablets for photography is not the most practical idea, the Smart Tab M8’s rear camera does come with autofocus and can shoot Full HD video.
Don’t expect too much from the cameras, as overall image quality isn’t particularly great. The selfie snapper produced mediocre photos (not to mention it is not great for use with face unlock), and the same goes for the rear camera. If you really, really need to use the Smart Tab M8 for a quick photo and video, it is best to use it with adequate lighting.
Being a budget tablet, the Smart Tab M8 comes with modest internals: Helio A22 quad-core processor, 2GB LPDDR3 RAM, and 32GB eMMC storage. Here’s a quick rundown of its benchmarks:
Because of its internals, the Smart Tab M8 is not meant for gaming. While you can play games like Marvel Future Fight or Asphalt 9, you will need to stick to the lowest possible graphics settings to make them playable—as long as you don’t mind slow loading times and occasional frame drops. As a productivity device, the Smart Tab M8 does a fair job in switching between less demanding apps like Netflix, Spotify, GMail, and Chrome—provided that you limit multitasking to three apps.
The Smart Tab M8 makes up for its modest internals with a near-stock Android software. Save for a few Lenovo tablet-specific features, the Smart Tab M8 virtually has no bloatware pre-installed, so you can make the most out of its 2GB RAM and 32GB internal storage—the latter being expandable via MicroSD. As much as I appreciate the near-stock Android UI, I do hope that Lenovo rolls out an Android 10 update to the Smart Tab M8 soon.
The Smart Tab M8 brings in a couple of tricks when you charge it through its smart charging dock. Doing so enables Google’s Ambient Mode, transforming the Smart Tab M8 as a device controller for your smart home devices. In addition, Ambient Mode also lets you display the time a la Always-On Display, and let you give an overview of your day.
Another strong point for the Smart Tab M8 is battery life. Despite its 5000mAh cell needing to power an 8-inch display, we managed to get a little under 12 hours of battery life with our YouTube video loop test. That translates to at least a day of moderate use, which should be good if you intend to use the Smart Tab M8 as a productivity companion.
You don’t get fast charging with the Smart Tab M8, so it takes around 4 hours to fully top up its 5000mAh battery. The absence of fast charging should not be a big deal, especially since the smart charging station transforms the Smart Tab M8 as a smart home controller.
Wrap-up and conclusions
The main audience of the Smart Tab M8 is not for those who are looking for a tablet that can be used for heavyweight productivity. Instead, it is a basic tablet that acts more like a companion for your smart home devices while being a decent device for watching movies.
The Smart Tab M8 comes with modest internals, and despite its limitations, it should be fine for those looking for a handy controller for their connected homes.