By December 23, 2010

Huawei S7 review

S7-main

Android Tablets are hitting in various different shapes and sizes and Huawei, a company well known for it’s 3G dongles and cheap Android smartphones have entered the ring with an attractive debit to the Android race. Is it the be all and end all of Tablets or something destined for obscurity?

 

What’s in the box?

  • Huawet S7 Android tablet
  • USB to microUSB cable
  • Quick Start Guide
  • UK plug fitting
  • power charger

The ten second review:

  • Device: Huawei S7 7″ Android Tablet
  • Price: £239.99
  • Summary: Budget Android tablet with a solid level of construction
  • Best of: Kick stand, build quality, additional overlay, removable battery
  • Worst of: Underclocked processor, small battery, resistive screen
  • Buy it now from: Clove.com

Specifications:

  • ARM Cortex A8 768MHZ
  • 7" 800×480 TFT Resistive
  • 512mb RAM
  • 512mb ROM
  • MicroSD up to 16gb
  • 3G bands
  • Android 2.1
  • 2mp Camera
  • Wireless B, G, N
  • 500g

Highlights

  • Robust build quality
  • Removable battery
  • Kickstand
  • Android enhancements

Lowlights

  • Weight
  • Resistive Screen
  • Snapdragon processor running at 700mhz

Review

Looking around the device, the top has both the power button and a 3.5mm headphone socket.

S7-top

Left has a volume rocker and a small speaker grill.

S7-left

The right sees another speaker grill, a micro USB connector and the power socket.S7-right

The bottom has a MircoSD card slot and a proprietary connector socket.S7-bottom

The back has a rather sexy silver plate that merges with the flip out kickstand. This kickstand is much higher quality than what we saw on the Archos 101 however it only holds the device at two different levels. In the bottom right is a little hole for the plastic stylus. Remember unlike all other Android tablets we have looked at, this is a resistive screen.
Under the kickstand is a large silver steel panel. This can be removed to reveal the Sim card slot and a removable 2200mAh battery. Whilst this is a low capacity battery for such a device, the Tab rocks a 4000mAh cell, it is removable and could prove useful if charge is an issue. There is also a reset button under here. Something we don’t see too often on tablets.S7-back

The front is very satisfying to look at. On the left hand side there are three tactile buttons. Home, menu and back. The tactile aspect is quite hard to get used to have used so many devices recently that have touch sensitive buttons. In the buttons defence it is good to know where you stand with them and if they do not respond to a push then you know it wasn’t anything to do with you. Above the buttons is a little light sensor.
To the right is a webcam and make and end call buttons. In between is a nice optical track pad. Helping to ease the burden of using the resistive screen.  At the bottom of the panel is a small hole for the microphone.
In between is an 800×480 resistive LCD touchscreen. Some might instantly turn away from the resistive screen as them think then old tech however they have there redeeming features and when equipped with a stylus and optical trackpad then you have a happy medium. The screen is a bit of an unusual size. Terrific landscape browsing and its narrow profile makes portrait
It has to be said, the build quality is brilliant. Still not ipad quality but a level above the Samsung Galaxy Tab. That said, the sacrifice here is the weight. Its really heavy. Not wrist-breakingly but enough to make it mildly uncomfortable over long periods of use. Hence a kickstand becomes one of the most welcome feature.

S7-front
Aside from the resistive screen the other most notable hardware feature is the 700mhz processor. 700mhz is nothing to sniff at, the entirely competent Linx Commtiva/Viewpad 7 run rather well on a 600mhz Qualcomm. However, only running Android 2.1 the S7 seriously could have benefited from the speed increase 2.2 implements.

There is a fairly heavy overlay and whilst it doesn’t revolutionise things as much as HTC Sense it does enough to give the impression that the processor is struggling a little under the animated transitions. This overlay is not immediately striking, however after good use there are a few little modifications that are exceptional.
Take for instance the status bar. All your useful features are included along the top. Wi-Fi, brightness, bluetooth and the typical signal and battery icons. There is enough space to display all incoming notifications however they are not displayed here. On the far right of the bar is an Information button. This opens a whole new screen, divided in two with Notifications on the left and Tasks on the right. Its a terrific method to display what can sometimes become a cluttered display area.

The Today screen has another bar across the bottom, this time semi-permanent. The point of this is to divide the swipable screens into more organised categories. Each category has two screens that can take a number of widgets and shortcuts. This in fact extends the normal screen count from 6 to 10. On the extreme right of this bar is the Menu button to bring up the Application Drawer. This brings us back to the standard Android experience. Whilst this Huewai’s monkeying around with Today screen is all great it takes it’s toll on the system speed. Sliding between screens isn’t exactly fluid. It’s not unusably chuggy but many become so when running a lot in the background.

There isn’t a massive amount of software bundled with the device like the Samsung Galaxy Tab. It does however come with Android Market and the Google experience. Twidroid Pro is included as is Facebook and the lite version for Docs To Go. Since this device has 3G built in it comes with telephony software and text messaging. There are also Camcorder and the camera app linked to the front facing camera.

There is a lot to recommend here and whilst this feels like a phone with a massive 7″ screen, I guess because it is, it’s not as intrusive as many of the other tablets. Yes, it’s very heavy and you’ll get tired of holding it. Therein lies the relief of the kickstand and one cannot complain the build quality has been cut right back as with the Tab in favour of portability. However, it’s when you get down the the day to day usage you notice it’s not ideal. The resistive screen is not great for surfing on the go, flicking down webpages and it’s not entirely convenient to pull out the stylus as the weight calls for two handed usage after a while. The optical trackpad can sometimes help but it will take a while to get used to it. The Kickstand seems best placed for movies and video clips on the go more so than a comfortable surfing experience. At this time of writing it is worth noting that Huawei have announced they will be adding a capacitive screen to a future variant of the S7. Nice to see.

The lag of the processor is mainly evident on the home screen which is a shame as this is where you will probably spend a lot of your time. Obviously Huawei have underclocked the Snapdragon processor in favour of battery life. I would imagine in there future there will either be an unofficial method of restoring this to it’s appropriate speed.

Conclusion:

Huawei have impressed me with this one. Coming in at a nice price, with a great build and host of desirable specs. The UI refinements are the highlight for me, whilst not ground-breaking they are thoughtful and useful. When a capacitive display and an upgrade to Android 2.2 arrive this will be one to recommend however at the moment, much like many other tablets on the market, it’s a work in progress.

Review by: Gareth

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Posted in: Reviews

About the Author:

Seasoned tech blogger. Host of both the Mobile Tech Addicts podcast and Retro Tech Addicts podcast.
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