Which is the best budget Android tablet?
The EE Eagle is a budget Android tablet. It costs £199 – a pretty common price among low-cost Android tablets – but it has 4G connectivity. You never normally get this in cheap tablets.
But is the EE Eagle worth considering over the reigning king of Android tablets the Nexus 7? Here’s how the two compare.
Nexus 7 vs EE Eagle – Design
The Neuxs 7 and EE Eagle take two quite different approaches to design. Where the Nexus 7 isn’t afraid to show that it is made of plastic – it uses a simple soft-touch black plastic design – the EE Eagle wants to show off a bit.
Its rear is made of aluminium, with plastic cut-outs for the camera lens and the flap that covers the microSD slot and SIM slot.
Neither is quite an iPad mini retina-beater in terms of design, and the Eagle is a bit larger than the Nexus because its screen is a full inch larger. At first feel the aluminium finish of the Eagle is attractive, but we think the Nexus 7’s build is actually a little better.
The reason becomes a bit clearer when we look at who actually makes these devices. The Nexus 7 is made by Asus, the EE Eagle by Huawei, a company that traditionally makes very price-aggressive devices that often have slightly uninspiring build.
Nexus 7 vs EE Eagle – Screen
One of the clearest ways the Nexus 7 is superior to the EE Eagle is in its screen. While the Eagle’s display is a full inch larger – eight inches to the Nexus’s seven – it’s also lower resolution and of lower quality.
The Neuxs 7’s 1080p display offers far better sharpness than the 1,280 x 800 pixel resolution of the Eagle, and it’s immediately obvious. You can see individual pixels in the Eagle fairly easily if you get up close.
A couple of years ago we were happy with 10-inch 1,280 x 800 pixel 10-inch tablet screens. But now that res looks out of date even in an 8-inch tablet.
Colour reproduction and contrast are also a lot better on the Nexus 7 too. While an extra inch of space works in the Eagle’s favour when, for example, watching video, we’d generally much rather look at the Nexus 7.
Nexus 7 vs EE Eagle – Power
The EE Eagle has a rather unusual CPU. It’s a quad-core 1.6GHz HiSilicon chipset, made by a company that is part of Huawei – the company that makes the Eagle for EE.
It’s not a bad chipset, but isn’t as powerful as the Snapdragon S4 Pro used by the Neuxs 7. That Snapdragon chip is a couple of generations behind the Snapdragon 801 used by the Galaxy S5, but it remains a fairly powerful processor.
The HiSilicon is newer, but performance is marginally better in the Snapdragon CPU. There’s not an awful lot in it, though, and both tablets will be able to handle high-end games and just about any app on the Google Play store.
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Nexus 7 vs EE Eagle – Connectivity
One of the main selling points of the EE Eagle is that it provides 4G mobile internet in a tablet for not much money.
For the £199 price, you can only get the non-3G, non-4G version of the Nexus 7. However, now that the price has dropped a bit you can find deals for the 4G version for around £279.99.
Other than the difference in mobile internet connectivity, the EE Eagle also has the memory card slot missing from the Nexus 7. It’s found on the tablet’s rear under a removable plastic flap. Both have basics like Wi-Fi, though, and both have GPS, which is sometimes missing in cheaper tablets.
Nexus 7 vs EE Eagle – Software
The EE Eagle’s software is one of the key places where we see the influence of Huawei, the tablet’s manufacturer. It uses the custom Huawei Android interface. It’s a bit of an acquired taste, and doesn’t look quite as good as the standard Android used in the Nexus 7.
The biggest change is that the EE Eagle rejects the normal apps menu in favour of dumping everything on your home screens. We find it takes a bit of getting used to.
Google’s Nexus 7 is simpler, especially if you’ve used an Android tablet before. And day-to-day performance is likely to be a bit better.
Tech fans out there will be able to tinker with the software to get the two looking reasonably similar using other third-party interface apps, though.
The Nexus 7 is getting on a bit, but it gets the basic right where some of the EE Eagle’s specs are slightly wide of the mark. Getting a 4G tablet for £200 sounds like a bargain, and it is, but if you can stretch to the £280 for the 4G Nexus we don’t think you’ll regret it.
Next, check out our top Android 4.4 tips and tricks