[Updated] Hands-on review of the Huawei (华为) MediaPad – The Sequel

Update on 19 Oct 2011: Benchmarking done on the Huawei  (华为) MediaPad, results are available at the end of this post.

This is a follow-on to the initial review I did over the weekend. After spending a few days exploring the Huawei (华为) MediaPad, I’ve gotten a clearer understanding of its strengths and weaknesses.

Let’s start with the bad points first:

1. Battery life
The stated battery life of the Huawei MediaPad is an average 6 hours. The figure is spot-on accurate. It doesn’t seem to vary much whether I’m watching videos or surfing the web. After an intense web surfing session, the battery could drop to an uncomfortable 60% level or even lower. I find myself constantly plugging the MediaPad to the charger, just to get some peace of mind. The Huawei Mediapad also gets very warm, hot even, during charging.

I have tried various battery apps from the Android Market to boost the battery span. The one I finally settled on is called Juice Defender. I left it in the default settings, and I find a slight increase of about 10-15%.

There are other common tips to increase the battery life: lowering the screen brightness, turning Wifi, GPS, Bluetooth off whenever they are unnecessary, and closing unwanted background apps. For monitoring background apps, I find Watchdog Lite to be very helpful. This app constantly checks the amount of CPU an app is utilising, and warns you whenever one is eating up excessive resources. You can then choose to ignore, or kill the app.

2. Speakers
In my initial quick review, I wrote that the MediaPad speakers are loud and clear. I find that only the notification sound alerts are loud; it’s soft when playing video and music. Even blasting it at maximum volume on a pair of earphones doesn’t quite cut it.

3. Camera
The back-facing 5MP camera not only exhibits a higher than expected level of noise, it also lacks a LED flash. In fact, it doesn’t have any flash at all. So nighttime shoots are out of the question. This is a surprising omission from Huawei.

4. Lack of customisation
Huawei didn’t bother to put a custom skin over the base Android system, unlike HTC and Samsung which enhanced the stock Android. The only additions I could see were 3 games (Angry Birds, Asphalt 6, Let’s Go Golf 2 – I promptly deleted the latter 2 anyway) , and their custom Huawei keyboard. Coming from a China manufacturer, I was surprised to see that Chinese wasn’t enabled by default in their keyboard settings.

Now, on to the plus points.

1. Screen
The MediaPad has a wonderfully sharp and bright screen. Perhaps not as bright as the Samsung Super AMOLED screens, but I find that a 40% brightness level is usually more than adequate for comfortable viewing. The 1280×800 resolution is fantastic for reading text. The 7-inch screen size does mean I have to constantly zoom in and out for the magazine apps such as Zinio, but the reduced size and weight is a welcome compromise. After all, how likely are you to bring a 10-inch tablet around with you?

2. Build quality
The Huawei Mediapad boasts excellent build quality. With aluminium back and borders, and front black bezel, it reminds me of a shrunken iPad 1. If the original iPad ever had a little brother, it would look something like this. And being compared to Apple is rarely a bad thing.

3. Performance
I had expected more from the 1.2GHz dual-core processor in the Huawei MediaPad. Even though it’s not as as blazing fast as promised, it runs all the applications I use perfectly well. It even handles Flash-heavy web pages with aplomb, I can even view movies on BBC and Amazon without any trouble or lag.

Conclusion
Objectively, I can’t think of many plus points about the Huawei MediaPad. If you buy products according to the number of pros vs cons, then you might want to give this a miss. But somehow the overall package (8Gb internal storage with expandable memory up to 32Gb, comes with 3G and Wifi) at a price of S$598 (~US460) without contract just works for me. It accepts a normal SIM card, I simply transferred the SIM card from my StarHub mobile broadband USB dongle. No micro-SIM card nonsense here.

There aren’t many options when it comes to 7-inch tablets at the moment. There’s the original Galaxy Tab which has aged rather ungracefully over the past year, the Viewsonic Viewpad 7, and the Acer A100. So until the new Galaxy Tab 7.7 arrives, this is probably the best 7-incher in the market.

Updated: Benchmarking
On paper, the Huawei Mediapad boasts a 1.2 GHz dual-core processor. But how does the Huawei MediaPad stack up against the competition?

I first used the Quadrant Standard Edition, a popular benchmarking app for Android devices.

Quadrant Standard Edition - Download it for free at the Android Market.

This app puts the device on a series of demanding CPU, I/O (input/output), and 3D graphics tests.

Quadrant Standard Edition - A screen grab of the 3D graphics test.

At the end, it churns out a score which you can compare against other Android devices. For the first run, I got the following result:

Quadrant Standard Edition - My Huawei Mediapad's test score of 1582 wins handily against older Android devices.

Well, 1582 isn’t bad but I expected it to do even better. So I rebooted the device, disabled my JuiceDefender battery-saving app, and gave it another shot:

Quadrant Standard Edition - My Huawei Mediapad's test score jumps to 1870 after a system reboot.

Now this is more like it. From what I have read on Android forums, this is on par with other 7-inch Honey tablets. The Quadrant Standard Edition app also allows me to see various device specifications.

Quadrant Standard Edition - System information screen. Note stated maximum CPU speed of 1188 MHz and screen resolution of 800x1232.

Looks like Huawei has exaggerated the specifications of the MediaPad slightly, rounding up the CPU speed and screen resolution figures. I wonder why the stated number of CPU cores is only 1 when the MediaPad is marketed as a dual-core machine (does the 2nd core refer to the graphics processing unit?).

I wanted a comparison with more recent Android devices, so I repeated the benchmarking with another app. The AnTuTu Benchmark app is another favourite on the Android Market:

AnTuTu Benchmark - Another popular benchmarking app, this one from a Chinese software maker.

AnTuTu Benchmark uses a different scoring algorith, so the scores here cannot be compared directly with those obtained from Quadrant Standard Edition. And my result is:

AnTuTu Benchmark - Huawei Mediapad edges out the Motorola Xoom (closest Android Honeycomb rival), but Samsung Galaxy S2 is the king.

4743! And it even provides a breakdown of the scoring components that make up the final result. Putting aside discussions on how each criterion should be weighted, we can see that the MediaPad outperforms the Motorola Xoom in 3D graphics but loses out on CPU float-point calculation speed.

Another interesting sidenote: The leader is a smart phone, the Samsung Galaxy S2. Looks like manufacturers are using smart phones to push the envelope and are content to put the older chips in tablets.

If you have rooted your Android device, take a look at the possibilities now open to you:

AnTuTu Benchmark - Global leaderboard chart toppers are in league of their own with overclocked devices.

Such scores are only attainable by overclocking. Tempting..

But for now, I’m satisfied with the Huawei MediaPad. I hope the above helps you to make up your mind. Do let me know if you have any queries, or share your experiences if you’re a fellow MediaPad owner. Cheers!

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About Hun Boon

A little bit of this, a little bit of that.
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6 Responses to [Updated] Hands-on review of the Huawei (华为) MediaPad – The Sequel

  1. In my Huawei Mediapad in Antutu i got 5307 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KSNkCI1O3mg at 11:40. I can confirm that the battery perfomance is very very bad. For the rest I completly aggree.

  2. Hun Boon says:

    It seems that much of the battery is sucked by the background apps constantly connecting to the net and downloading data. If I disable background sync, then the battery improves quite a bit.

    Installing Juice Defender also helps, though it sometimes fails to reconnect to the net after I wake up the device. Quite troublesome.

    Nice test btw, but it’s all Greek to me!

    • The video is in Greek maybe thats the reason 😛 . For the battery i did a little test and i completely turn off the tablet if i dont use it and the battery perfomance got better, now i will try to turn off background data as well.

      • Hun Boon says:

        Just kidding about the Greek. 🙂

        The poor battery life is a bad problem. I like to be able to turn on my tablet instantly, and turning it off is not a good solution for me.

        Have you considered rooting the Huawei Mediapad? There are now instructions in various online forums for instructions to root the device (also known as the T-Mobile Springboard).

  3. gruvie says:

    Qualcomm Dual core will perform dual core processing on demand. If you have cpu info, you can see sometime it will register single core and sometime dual core. Try to run few more apps and see the system info in quadrant. you’ll see there will be ‘2’ core. Dunno why, maybe to save more power..

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