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Hands-on: Huawei MediaPad tablet and Vision smartphone

Chris Finnamore
8 Nov 2011
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New tablet and smartphone to lead assault on UK market

Huawei last night launched its latest Android-based assault on the UK tablet and smartphone market - the 7in MediaPad tablet and mid-range Vision smartphone. Huawei isn't a brand that will be familiar to many, but the company is huge - it makes most of the mobile broadband dongles available in the UK and is second only to Sweden's Ericsson in the manufacture of mobile network infrastructure.

MediaPad hands-on

The MediaPad is only the second 7in Honeycomb tablet we've seen, after the Acer Iconia Tab A100. Other sub-10in Honeycomb tablets have been announced, such as the Motorola Xoom 2 Media Edition, but have yet to hit the shelves.

MediaPad

It's a metal unibody design, with rubberised plastic inserts to make it more comfortable to hold in landscape mode, and feels like a classy device. The tablet also has an impressive specification. There's Android Honeycomb 3.2, a 1.2GHz dual-core processor, 1GB RAM, built-in 3G and a 1,280 x 800-pixel IPS touchscreen. With an RRP of £330 including VAT, the tablet is good value for a 3G model: the 3G Iconia Tab A101 is currently on preorder at various retailers for close to £400, and you'll have to pay £500 for the 3G version of the iPad 2. As it's a 3G tablet, you may well be able to buy it subsidised with a mobile phone data contract in the future, but this depends on what kind of deal Huawei will be able to strike with the networks. The company claims the tablet will be available "from Q1 2012".

MediaPad front and back

The tablet appears to be running a stock version of Android, and the operating system ran snappily. Huawei has preloaded some games onto the tablet, including Angry Birds and Let's Golf, but otherwise was custom application-free - which, depending on your point of view, is probably a good thing. The rubberised insert at the bottom of the tablet clips off to reveal SIM and microSD card slots - you'll need the microSD card slot as the tablet has a relatively stingy 8GB of onboard storage, but you can buy a 16GB microSD card for just £10.

MediaPad SIM and microSD slots

The bottom of the tablet has micro USB and HDMI outputs, and there's a 5-megapixel camera, but no flash, on the rear. The tablet is 10mm thick, which is pretty standard for a tablet, and weighs just 390g - so is 60g lighter than the Iconia Tab A100 and over 200g lighter than the iPad.

Vision hands-on

The Vision is a mid-range Android smartphone. Like the MediaPad, it has a metal unibody, and feels rather like a curvier HTC Legend. The phone's specifications are fairly standard mid-range Android handset. There's Gingerbread 2.3, a 3.7-inch 800 x 480 touchscreen, a 1GHz single-core processor and a five-megapixel camera.

Vision 3D carousel

Huawei has made some interesting tweaks to the homescreen, though; instead of several screens with icon grids, you have a 3D carousel of animated widgets for weather, world time and pictures, among others. The carousel runs very smoothly, but the normal Android app menu was much more jerky - you could probably solve this by installing a third-party launcher app, however.

There's no word as yet as to which networks will carry the phone, but Huawei claims that it will be available for free on a £25-per-month contract, and that "operator and retailer partners are expected to be confirmed for early 2012".

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