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Hands On: Huawei MediaPad X1 review

On paper the MediaPad X1 is set to give its rivals a real run for their money

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Our Early Verdict

For

  • Premium design
  • Impressive spec sheet
  • Powerful cameras

Against

  • Screen not a sharp as expect
  • UI is childish

The Huawei MediaPad X1 is one of two tablets the Chinese firm has launched at MWC 2014, but this 7-inch slate has much more going for it than its 8-inch brother the MediaPad M1.

A quick flick through the spec sheet for the MediaPad X1 and it looks to be a strong contender against the likes of the Nexus 7 and Amazon Kindle Fire HDX who currently dominate the small form factor tablet market.

The MediaPad X1 packs in a 1.6GHz quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, microSD slot, 4G connectivity and a 5000mAh battery - far bigger than the 3950mAh offering in the Nexus 7.

Even the IPS screen is up to scratch, boasting a full HD 1200 x 1920 resolution with 322ppi pixel density keeping it in line with the competition.

Huawei MediaPad X1 review

A slight sticking point for the MediaPad X1 could be its price, as Huawei was unable to give me an idea of how much it will set you back.

Considering the MediaPad X1 is slated for release in the second half of 2014 the likes of Google and Amazon may have already refreshed their tablets offerings, which may leave the X1 feeling rather dated.

I was pleased to see a slender bezel surrounding the 7-inch display making the MediaPad X1 smaller than the Nexus 7 and Kinde Fire HDX, and in turn this means it's easier to grasp in one hand.

Huawei MediaPad X1 review

With measurements of 183.5 x 103.9 x 7.18mm it's one of the smallest 7-inch tablets out there, increasing its portability and I found it sat very comfortably in my palm

The centralised power/lock key located on the right (in portrait mode) is easy to hit, as too is the volume rocker switch just above it, while the top of the tablet plays host to a headphone jack and the base houses the microUSB port.

Those buttons do feel a little loose in their sockets and when I shook the tablet they both rattled, raising questions over the durability of certain aspects of the device.

Huawei MediaPad X1 review

The MediaPad X1 looks more premium than its bigger brother - the M1 - with a silver band running round the circumference and metal plate on the rear making the tablet feel like the real deal.

While the screen does have a full HD resolution, I didn't find it as sharp as the Nexus or Kindle Fire - with noticeable blurring around app icons, due in part to Huawei's Emotion 2.0 UI overlay.

The MediaPad X1 runs Android 4.2.2 at its heart, but the Huawei overlay stifles that somewhat, and its style makes the on-screen experience feel like a child's toy.

Huawei MediaPad X1 review

This is a shame as the X1 does look relatively premium in terms of hardware, but the icons Huawei forces upon you are disappointing.

A nice touch is the ability to hide the navigation bar at the bottom of the screen, allowing you to take advantage of the full 7 inches, and a simple swipe up from the base sees it return.

Moving around the MediaPad X1 things seem to flow pretty well, but it does lack the zip of other tablets I've used - but Hauwei reckons that's down to the fact the unit I got hands on with wasn't running final software.

Huawei MediaPad X1 review

The Chinese firm is making a big deal about photography on the MediaPad X1, as it's equipped it with a 13MP rear camera and a 5MP front facing snapper.

That does seem rather excessive for a tablet, and rarely do manufacturers go above 5MP rear lenses for their slates, but to be fair to Hauwei the small size of the MediaPad X1 makes it a slightly less ridiculous device to take photos with.

Even though there's a decent camera of the rear I wasn't impressed with the snaps I managed to take during my time with the tablet, with photos appearing very grainy - even at the highest resolution.

Huawei MediaPad X1 review

Shutter speed was also sluggish, but hopefully these are software related issues which can be fixed before the MediaPad X1 hits stores.

A cleaver feature in the Media Pad M1 is the ability to charge another device (such as your smartphone) via the microUSB port on the base of the tablet.

You'll need to buy a special charging cable, but I can see this being a useful feature if your smartphone is nearly dead, yet your tablet still has plenty left in the tank.

Huawei MediaPad X1 review

Early verdict

If Huawei can sort out the lag in the interface and improve the image quality from the camera the MediaPad X1 is set up to be a serious contender in the 7-inch tablet market.

Its Achilles heel however could be its time to market, as by the time it's managed to get into stores the competition may have introduced their next-generation tablets - putting the Media Pad X1 out of contention before it's even started.