When it comes to gaming phones, we've seen some unusual designs. Take the Nubia Red Magic 3, for instance: It featured a built-in cooling fan, of all things. But for its first gaming phone, the recently leaked Legion Phone Duel, Lenovo has found a way to make an even more unusual device than we're used to seeing.
It's hard to know where to start with the Duel, so let's begin with its most eye-raising feature. In something of a call back to 2018, the phone includes a pop-up front-facing camera. While we've seen these on phones before, Lenovo has done something different here. The 20-megapixel camera slides up from the side of the device, making it all but useless for taking selfies but great for people who want to stream their play sessions on Twitch. In something of a running theme with the Duel, Lenovo has gone out of its way to design it for landscape use. To start, the phone's Android 10 software includes tweaks to make it easier to use in that orientation. It also includes two ultrasonic trigger buttons.
When it comes to the Duel's other cameras, Lenovo played it safer. For its primary camera, the phone has a dual array that consists of a 64-megapixel sensor paired with an f/1.89 aperture lens and a 16-megapixel ultrawide camera with a 120-degree field of view. By 2020 standards, a dual-camera setup is about two cameras too few for a high-end phone, but then the people who buy the Duel aren't going to get it for its photography capabilities.
Internally, the phone features Qualcomm's new Snapdragon 865 Plus processor. The updated chipset features a processor that is 10 percent faster than its counterpart on the Snapdragon 865, as well as a slightly higher clocked GPU to boot. Gamers overseas can buy a Legion Phone Duel with either 12GB or 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM (both options being overkill), and either 256GB or 512GB of fast UFS 3.1 storage.
To keep those high-performance components running cool, the Legion Phone Duel includes a "liquid cooling" copper pipe and uses two 2,500mAh batteries (for a total capacity of 5,000mAh) that Lenovo has physically separated from one another. The company says the placement helps prevent the logic board and batteries from heating one another up. Battery life comes in at about a full-day with "average use."
In some markets, the Legion Phone Duel will ship with a 90W charger. Lenovo says the adapter can charge the Duel's two batteries from zero to 50 percent in 10 minutes. Fully charging the batteries takes 30 minutes. The funky thing here is the phone also features two USB-C ports.
The Duel being a gaming-focused device, it comes with a smooth 144Hz 6.65-inch display with a 240Hz sampling rate to reduce input lag. If you want to use the phone with your gaming monitor or TV, you can. Home mode allows you to pair the phone with either a keyboard and mouse or controller, with support for keymapping included.
The Legion Phone Duel is clearly a beast of a device, but gaming phones are a tough sell — just ask Razer. The fragmented nature of Android hardware means most developers aren't willing to put the time, effort and money required to optimize their titles for specific devices. Take Fortnite, for example: It runs at 90 frames per second only when played on OnePlus 8 phones. It doesn't matter if you own another device with a compatible display — the game won't render at a higher frame rate. There's also the uncomfortable fact that the iPhone is the probably best gaming phone you can buy. Too many mobile games are simple time-wasters at best, but the titles that can most ably stand against their PC and console counterparts tend to wind up on iOS first. (That's something that the launch of Apple Arcade has only made worse.)
If none of that matters to you, buying the Legion Phone Duel may be tricky. It will be available in China later this month, where Lenovo will market it as the Legion Phone Pro. It will also make its way to select markets in Africa, Europe, the Middle East and other parts of Asia later this year. Lenovo currently doesn't plan to sell the Duel in the US, nor has it said how much the phone will cost outside of China.