User Score

Review Price £330.00

Key Features: 1.2GHz dual-core processor; 7in 1280x800 pixel IPS screen; 4GB internal memory; Android Honeycomb 3.2; 5-megapixel back camera

Manufacturer: Huawei

Most tablets of the past 18 months haven't sold as well as their manufacturers expected, leading to drastic price drops of products like the BlackBerry PlayBook and, most notably, the HP Touchpad. Part of the reason for disappointing sales in almost all cases was quite how high the retail price was in the first place. Due to sell for around £330, Huawei's MediaPad undercuts some of its rivals, but is it cheap enough to attract a crowd around such a little-known name as Huawei?

Huawei says that its strategy is to appeal to buyers other than the affluent male demographic that has made up a large proportion of tablet users to date - including plenty of female buyers. It's not pink, thankfully, but is smaller than most Android tabs. It has a 7in screen, rather than the 10.1in screen used by the majority of Android Honeycomb devices.

MediaPad 1

There's a natural assumption that something smaller will offer less power, but not so here. The Huawei MediaPad features a 1.2GHz dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM, which should make it at least as powerful as Tegra 2 models such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.

The size does help it shave off a lot of weight, though. At 390g, that it's significantly lighter than larger tablets is immediately obvious. The large widescreens and 600g-plus weight of 10.1in tablets tends to make them feel unwieldy, and by comparison the MediaPad feels very comfortable, petite and lightweight enough to hold comfortably in one hand for extended periods.

Its metal-bodied construction also helps to make it feel great in-hand. Most of the back is anodised aluminium, which offers a reassuring hardness that plastic can't hope to replicate - without adding too much bulk or weight. It has that premium feel missing from the one 7in Honeycomb tablet we've tested to date, the Acer Iconia A100. MediaPad

Huawei's claims of innovation are perhaps over-egging it, though. The design is clearly indebted to the iPhone 4 and iPad (primarily the first one), going as far as to include little black lines on the side that mimic the antennae indicators of the iPhone 4S.

However, the back design reminds more of HTC's phones, such as the HTC Salsa and HTC Legend. There are two plastic cutaways, the bottom of which can be removed to reveal the microSD card slot and the 3G SIM slot. Not all MediaPads will allow 3G, and the £330 price quoted is for the Wi-Fi only model, which has 4GB of internal memory.

MediaPad 2

Something of a copycat it may be, but at least it pinches inspiration from some good-looking devices - and at 10.5mm thick it's slim enough to claim ultra-thin cred. While no 7in tablets have been roaring successes yet, we still believe in the form factor. It's large enough to make web browsing much more pleasurable than on a mobile phone, and yet small enough to be fully portable - which 10.1in tablets arguably are not.

On its sides are a micro HDMI port, 3.5mm headphone jack, microUSB and a dedicated power jack. As yet, we're not sure if it allows charging over microUSB. But what is it like to use?

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Russell Peto

November 9, 2011, 2:28 pm

To be fair, Huawei is an 18 billion pound company that is only smaller than Ericsson for mobile electronics worldwide. Pretty much everyone who uses a mobile dongle in this country already owns a Huawei product. Even your own review of one of their products (3 Mobile MiFi) gave it a 9/10.
To claim it is some sort of rank unknown that should aim at the bargain basement market seems a bit parochial. If the product is good, it should be able to charge a reasonable price.


November 9, 2011, 2:45 pm

Hi Russell,

Yes Huawei's everywhere - but it has a problem that most people going into phone shops to buy the latest HTC or iPhone largely have no idea who Huawei is (or how to pronounce its name, in some cases). We're well aware of its importance, but with devices like this and the Vision, the company is trying to become something different.

When we give the phone a full review, we won't do it down for "being a Huawei". I was just trying to express that it has a tough road ahead. These new devices represent a very good start, though.

aluminum honeycomb panels

September 24, 2013, 7:05 pm

There's also an unusual paucity of pre-installed apps, and none of them are Huawei's.

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