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Vankyo MatrixPad Z4 review: Cheap and nasty

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £90
inc. VAT

It’s cheap, but not good value. Vanks, but no vanks


  • It’s usable, with patience


  • Awful performance
  • Terrible screen
  • Below-par battery life

Far be it from me to cast aspersions, but there’s something very fishy about the Amazon reviews for the Vankyo MatrixPad Z4. In all, 28 reviews have appeared since the tablet launched two weeks ago, and 24 of those are gushing five-star affairs. Only two are dissenting, highlighting its sluggish performance, lousy screen and habit of regularly crashing.

Reader, I stand far closer to the one-star two. The Vankyo MatrixPad Z4 is the kind of device that would make a tablet newbie wonder why the hell anyone would ever want one in the first place.


It’s a miserable product that struggled to complete our standard benchmarks and astonishingly manages to feel cheaper than its low, low cost of entry, proving once again that low price and good value are not synonymous with each other.

Vankyo MatrixPad Z4 review: What you need to know

To be blunt, the only thing you really need to know is that the Vankyo MatrixPad Z4 should go nowhere near your shopping basket, but since you asked…

You’re looking at a 10.1in tablet with a 1,280 x 800 resolution screen that runs Android Pie. Vankyo says the device packs a quad-core 1.5GHz processor but is alarmingly tight-lipped about which one. In the end, I had to use the CPU-Z app to get answers, and it’s a Rockchip RK3066 processor. Yeah, I haven’t heard of it either, but it certainly ain’t no powerhouse.

That chip is supported by 2GB of RAM and 32GB of built-in storage, with a microSD card allowing you to add up to 128GB more, should you wish.

Vankyo MatrixPad Z4 review: Price and competition

Vankyo is asking £90 for one, putting it squarely at the budget end of the market where it clearly belongs.

It’s a good start, managing to undercut Amazon’s Fire HD 10 by a clear £60, although Amazon’s largest tablet is frequently reduced in flash sales – especially around Prime Day and Black Friday. Last time the price was reduced to £95.

Price difference aside, the main problem is that the 10in Fire HD hasn’t been refreshed since 2017, so what else have we got? Well, the 8in version, which was released in 2018, goes for £80 and got a glowing five-star review. It also works as a makeshift Echo Show, if you buy the accompanying charging dock.

Drop another inch and the price goes even lower, hitting just £50. The Fire 7 has also been refreshed for 2019, but it’s pretty sluggish even at that cheap price.

Where is Apple in all of this? Not even in the same postcode. The cheapest iPad, unimaginatively called “iPad”, still retails for £319, although it comfortably wipes the floor with all of the above in terms of performance, and has Apple Pencil support. 

Vankyo MatrixPad Z4 review: Design

At a glance, the Vankyo MatrixPad Z4 is a pretty standard-looking tablet. Yes, perhaps the bezels are a bit thick, and the back is unabashedly made of plastic, but then why shouldn’t it be? It is, after all, a tablet that costs less than £100.

It’s when you pick it up that the first signs of doubt wash over you. The plastic is smooth, but it feels insubstantial in the hand. Like you’re holding something that’s more hollow than any piece of technology should be. If there’s one thing you can usually say for plastic-backed tech, it’s that it doesn’t leave unsightly fingerprints. Here, weirdly, it does. 

Worse is the screen, which feels like it has a kind of rubbery resistance when you swipe. Sometimes this, combined with the extremely slow internals, makes things so bad that entering a pattern to unlock the tablet just doesn’t register the final line. To be clear, I compared it to the Fire HD 8, and that’s not perfectly smooth, either. However, it seems to cope better thanks to the increased level of responsiveness it offers. More on that later.

Still, the Vankyo tablet does have one thing going for it: connectivity. Both a 3.5mm headphone jack and a microSD card (up to 128GB cards supported) are in place alongside the usual power switch, volume rocker and microUSB charging port. All of these are along the side when held in portrait perspective, for some reason.

Vankyo MatrixPad Z4 review: Screen

Aside from feeling pretty unpleasant to the touch, how is the screen in general? If you guessed “pretty dismal”, then congratulations.

For starters, this is among the dimmest displays we’ve ever seen, reaching a peak brightness of 162cd/m2. How bad is that? Well, let’s just say that our standard battery test involves setting all phones and tablets to 170cd/m2 because that’s a level that balances readable brightness with battery-saving economy in normal indoor conditions. A tablet or phone not even reaching that threshold is very unusual. Even Tesco’s £99 Hudl 2 managed 373cd/m2 back in 2014.

Viewing angles are equally poor, and the screen itself is quite reflective. All this points to a device you won’t be using in bright sunlight.

What about in a darkened room? Still not great. Only 74% of the sRGB colour spectrum is covered from a gamut volume of 78.8%. Colours look alarmingly washed out across the entire palette. The contrast ratio is better but still a touch disappointing at 592:1. 

Okay, but this is a budget tablet we’re talking about, so is it really that bad compared to Amazon’s budget offerings? Yes, in short. Even the £50 Amazon Fire 7 has a contrast ratio of 1,205:1 and manages to hit a peak luminance of 374cd/m2.

Vankyo MatrixPad Z4 review: Performance

I could forgive all of the above if the Vankyo MatrixPad Z4 wasn’t such a pig to use. With apologies to pigs, which probably move a fair bit faster than the MatrixPad in a pinch.

There’s likely a reason you haven’t heard of the Rockchip RK3066 processor before. Performance is pretty dreadful, slowing things down to a halt in just about everything it does. Tap on the Google Play icon and it finally loads after about six seconds. It takes a total of three seconds for the keyboard to slowly stutter onto the screen after pressing the search bar.

Even transition screens on the homescreen leave a slow ghostly trail as you see more frames of the movement than you should. These things get marginally better as it warms up, but it’s not great –  and speaking of warming up, try watching YouTube videos for a minute and feel the plastic back begin to heat.

But don’t take my word for it. Let’s see what the benchmarks say, shall we?
Ouch. To put that sorry chart into perspective, I found just one device on Expert Reviews’ database that failed to break into four figures on the multi-core score since we made the switch to GeekBench 4. That was the Nokia 2, a phone that cost £100 in 2017. 
Phone trivia aside, the most important thing to take from the graph above is that every single Amazon tablet beats the Vankyo MatrixPad Z4 in terms of performance – even one that costs £30 less, which we described as “disappointingly sluggish”.
Gaming performance is actually a fairer fight, with both the cheaper Amazon Fire tablets providing the same meagre 4fps in our GFXBench test. The 10in version offers a more palatable 10fps.

One final kick in the face from the Vankyo MatrixPad Z4 before I wrap things up: battery life is disappointing, with the tablet giving up after 7hrs 32mins of our looped video. That’s not the worst battery life we’ve ever seen in a tablet but, considering how dim that screen is, it’s still disappointing.

Vankyo MatrixPad Z4 review: Verdict

If I were to distil my verdict into one word – assuming expletives are ruled out – my choice would be “don’t”. Just don’t. It shouldn’t be possible to pay £90 for a 10.1in tablet and feel ripped off, and yet the Vankyo MatrixPad Z4 manages it.

From the unpleasant resistance of the screen to a maximum screen brightness that actually broke our fair system for testing a device’s battery life, the Vankyo MatrixPad Z4 is a stinker from soup to nuts. To call it sloth-like would be an insult to all honest, hard-working sloths everywhere.

The only reason it avoids the one-star fate is that, despite everything, it does work with a bit (well, a lot) of patience and, if you just want something to keep kids entertained with YouTube, this will work. Also, the bar for terrible tablets does have a league below this, as this review from our sister site Alphr proves.

But seriously: another Amazon sale will no doubt be upon us soon, and you’ll be able to grab a Fire HD 10 for a similar price. Don’t, for the love of God, even consider putting this in your basket as a cheap alternative. You may as well save yourself the trouble and just burn your money instead: at least then you’ll get a decent level of brightness.

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