As a gamer, I always keep an eye on mobile gaming devices, especially in the past few years. Typically, gaming phones are bulky devices crammed full of features that would never be found on other smartphones. While a hefty amount of functions would help optimize the gaming experience, some users may be put off by the bulkiness of these devices. Luckily, Lenovo found a balance between power and convenience, and thus, the Legion Duel smartphone was born.
Interestingly, the packaging for the Legion Duel is as impressive as the unit itself. The box is designed like a Holocron with lines and accents that emulate a circuit board. A short audio clip plays out when you open a box, courtesy of an embedded sound chip within the packaging.
The Legion Duel at first glance has a gaming-oriented design with a sleek rear loaded with metallic and holographic touches. The Legion logo features a unique RGB lighting mechanic that changes color based on the current status of the unit. It flashes blue on standby mode and lights up red once an application becomes active. Moreover, the light shifts to green if the phone is charging.
Legion Duel‘s curved design makes it agreeable and convenient to hold in your hand. The volume controls are on the left, while the power button is placed at the right. Ostentatious as it may seem, the power button also acts as a placeholder for the phone’s pop-up selfie camera.
If anything, these are indications that the Legion Duel is primarily designed for landscape gaming, which makes sense since live streaming and gaming activities occur mostly in landscape mode.
Legion Duel sports a massive 6.65-inch AMOLED screen with a 2340×1080 resolution. While the display only supports full high definition +, the AMOLED technology allows the Duel to yield a superior viewing experience than other gaming phones combined. Colors are noticeably vibrant, and the visual details mostly pop out.
The display’s 144Hz display refresh rate also enables smoother visuals for most games, albeit titles such as Call of Duty Mobile can only support up to 60fps. Still, the experience isn’t relatively detrimental amid the framerate restrictions for some apps.
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 in FPS games.
The phone has the most impressive audio I’ve ever encountered on a smartphone, thanks to the Legion Duel’s dual-front speakers found at the top and chin of the unit. The placement of the speakers makes up for an immersive 3D audio experience that accurately captures certain sound effects such as gunfire, wind, and even streaming waters.
The sound has excellent clarity, and the volume level accompanied by a powerful bass effect is unexpected for a gaming smartphone. Users may find the absence of a 3.5mm audio connector disconcerting. Thankfully, Lenovo added an adapter to resolve this glaring issue.
Legion Duel is armed with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+ processor, which allows the unit to run games and apps at blazing speeds. Coupled with the Qualcomm Adreno 650 GPU and a unique dual-liquid cooling technology, the Duel can be overclocked to exceed its regular performance.
We tested the phone’s single-core and multi-core components, and it gave off the following benchmark rates:
The cooling is a more interesting feature to look at. For example, the Legion Phone Duel ran 2 degrees Celsius cooler than other smartphones. That implies that the temperature will build-up slower and dissipate faster, leaving room for continuous gaming activities.
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.
The triggers do not protrude, so there is no tactile feel to tell you they are there, but it is difficult to press in the wrong place. There is some force feedback, but it is of course not the same as having physical buttons. The haptic buttons are probably a better way to go in this case because physical buttons are more likely to be damaged as they get pressure applied in the pockets.
We tested the Legion Duel on a couple of mainstream games, and the results are nothing short of impressive.
I was able to run League of Legends: Wild Rift on max settings without compromising its assets and visuals. The inking popped out really well, and the colors look fantastic. The game even loaded and ran as fast as Barry Allen striding towards the speed force. Clearing minions and breaking turrets never felt fun like before.
Call of Duty: Mobile features a realistic mode that drives the app to yield graphic assets akin to its console counterparts. While the mode looked iffy for mid-range smartphones, Legion Duel did way better. The assets looked sharper, and the battlefield felt immersive like Modern Warfare. Furthermore, the phone’s dual-front speaker system made the shuddering of gunfire and bullets music to my very ears.
Most smartphones had trouble running Genshin Impact to its full settings. It isn’t advisable for mid-range phones to overclock the game in line with a number of heating risks. Fortunately, Legion Duel bypasses all those issues, as Genshin ran unexpectedly well. The game consistently retained its 60fps rate even at multiplayer raids. The haptic feedback also made the playing experience downright similar to a console gaming session.
The camera is often the area that gaming phones neglect, and that looks to be the same with the Legion 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 colors and decent detail. Colors 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.
The phone’s macro mode didn’t do any better. While it can definitely capture close-ups, the photos produce a hefty amount of grain and noise in the background, enough to push even a newbie photographer away.
Selfie cameras are usually not as powerful as rear cameras because they have smaller lenses and sensors. That’s the case with this device as well but casual testing shows that it does pretty well and is comparable to the realme 5’s selfie camera in both low-light and bright light situations.
In conclusion, Legion Duel pushes the boundaries for processor speed, sound quality, ergonomics, and display experience. With a number of features on its plate, gamers will surely get more than what they’re paid for.
Disclosure: Lenovo provided us a Legion Duel unit for review purposes and we receive compensation from companies we review. However, our reviews and opinions remain unbiased and factual.
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