The Eagle has fast 4G connectivity with excellent battery life, but only average performance
Processor: quad-core 1.6GHz Hisilicon Kirin 910, Screen size: 8in, Screen resolution: 1,280×800, Rear camera: 5 megapixels, Storage: 16GB, Wireless data: 4G, Size: 214.4×120.7×7.9mm, Weight: 329g, Operating system: Android 4.2
The Eagle from EE isn’t really from EE; it’s actually a re-branded Mediapad M1 8.0 from Huawei. In fairness, this isn’t even something EE has gone to great lengths to hide; the USB cable provided in the box is still clearly Huawei-branded and plugging the tablet into a PC causes Windows to recognise the tablet as its original identity. The Eagle stands out among other Android tablets by being a 4G tablet at a reasonable price.
Other than slapping an EE logo on the back of the case, little has changed. The Eagle uses a quad-core 1.6GHz Hisilicon Kirin 910 system-on-a-chip (SoC) paired with 1GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage.
The screen is an 8in 1,280×800 IPS panel. With a pixel density of 188ppi, this is a small resolution by modern standards. The relatively low resolution doesn’t make for a great reading experience. Firing up the pre-installed Amazon Kindle app, text wasn’t very sharp, and the same could be said in the web browser. The screen acquitted itself well in our calibration tests, however, with a fair contrast ratio of 942:1 and reasonable colour accuracy of 75.8%.
The Eagle is a reasonable-looking tablet, and at 7.9mm thick is quite svelte. With its two front facing speakers at the top and bottom of the tablet, it looks a lot like a HTC One smartphone. This placement means you have stereo speakers when the tablet is held in landscape mode when watching movies. The speakers were particularly loud for a tablet, which will be handy if you don’t want to always be using headphones or want to watch anything as a group. You’ll find a Micro SIM and microSD port hidden away behind a removable backplate on the bottom of the tablet, and the tablet supports up to 32GB microSD cards to supplement its built-in 16GB capacity.
The Eagle’s Android 4.2 Jelly Bean operating system uses Huawei’s Emotion UI. There are some visual modifications from stock Android, with EE having coated everything in pastel colours and using shades of white and grey for the menus in the default theme. There are also other theme options if this isn’t to your liking, and you have a choice of menu transition effects.
EE has also done away with the app drawer; instead all your apps are available by swiping from the home screen in a similar way to iOS. This may frustrate those who like to keep their most-used apps on the home screen alongside their widgets, with most apps relegated to the app drawer; on the Eagle, everything has to share the same space. The tablet also comes pre-installed with all Amazon’s apps including the Kindle eBook reader.
The Eagle also comes with various power plans including Smart, Endurance and Normal that adjust CPU and network usage to save power. You can also see a list of background power-intensive apps so you know what is causing the battery to deplete most rapidly. The Eagle will also recommend different optimisations to get the most out of the battery, such as turning off the vibration or auto-rotate, and all these options are conveniently listed in one place.
Battery life was actually one of the Eagle’s strong points; in our video playback test it managed to last 12 hours and 25 minutes while using the Normal power mode, which is impressive and makes the Eagle one of the longest-lasting compact Android tablets we’ve tested.
The real selling point of the Eagle is that it comes with a 4G SIM, giving you access to seriously high-speed mobile internet. Like buying a new smartphone, purchasing the Eagle is a minefield of different tariffs with varying upfront costs and contract lengths. The tablet is available in a more straightforward prepay option for £210 including 2GB of data to start you off, although the data is only valid for 30 days. The tablet has a Wi-Fi hotspot toggle in the notification area, making it simple to tether a laptop or other device to share the Eagle’s 4G internet.
The Eagle has a rear 5-megapixel camera and a one-megapixel camera on the front. As the tablet’s built-in mobile internet makes it simple to upload to social networking apps wherever you are, we would have liked the Eagle to have had a half decent camera. Disappointingly, this was not the case. Photos lacked sharpness and there was a lot of noise in the shadows. We also found the colour temperature was too cold. The camera app does come with some useful features, though, such object tracking to help keep a moving object in focus, complete with a moving target reticule. There’s also Capture Smiles mode, which triggers the shutter automatically when a smile is detected, but we found this worked inconsistently.
The Eagle is very reasonably priced for an LTE-capable tablet, but its performance is lacking compared to the Google Nexus 7 and its screen is considerably worse. Its battery life was excellent, however, so if all-day battery and LTE connectivity are important to you it’s still a good choice. If you just want a compact tablet the Nexus 7 is still king of the hill at this price, while those who are willing to consider slower 3G mobile data should look at the much cheaper Vodafone Smart Tab 4.
|Quad-core 1.6GHz Hisilicon Kirin 910
|Memory card slot (supplied)
|S8 – 301L