12
Nov
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So, the MediaPad 7 Lite from Huawei. Maybe you've heard of it. Maybe you haven't. What it is, though, is a "budget" - and I use that term loosely - tablet with a 7-inch form factor. Of course, automatic comparisons to the Nexus 7 are going to be drawn here, and without getting further into the review, I can tell you this: it's not better. It's not as good. In fact, it's not even half the tablet that the Nexus 7 is, and I mean that both in terms of hardware specifications and in actual performance. If you're looking for something more than the N7, keep looking - 'cause this ain't it.

If, however, you have some unreasonable dedication to Huawei (hey, every brand has its fanboys, right?), then read on.

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Details

Specs

  • Display: 7" 1024x600 IPS display
  • CPU: 1.4GHz single-core Cortex-A8 processor
  • RAM: 1GB
  • Storage: 8GB on-board storage, microSD card slot with support for up to 32GB
  • Cameras: 3.2MP rear shooter, VGA front-facing camera
  • Battery Capacity: 4,100mAh
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, 3G (GSM), Bluetooth
  • Dimensions & Weight: 193mm x 120mm x 11mm, 370 grams
  • OS: Android 4.0.3
  • Availability: Not yet released
  • Price: Unknown

Pros

  • It's solid. From front to back and all around, this tablet feels great. It's well made and everything about it just feels good.
  • Beautifully crafted. Not only does it feel good, but it looks good, too. I really love the look of the matte aluminum next to the white plastic. It's classy. 
  • Very minor OS modifications. There's a nifty little button that hides the notification bar for a full-screen experience, and that's the extent of Huawei's softmods. I dig.

Cons

  • It feels bulky for a 7" slate. While it's only a tiny bit thicker than the Nexus 7, it feels substantially thicker in the hand.
  • The device orientation just doesn't feel right. 7" tablets shouldn't be designed for landscape-specific use.
  • Confusing orientation. The branding on the back suggests portrait, yet the software and volume rockers are laid out otherwise.
  • Piss-poor performance. Popular games like Dead Trigger are basically unplayable, the launcher is choppy, and overall performance is just bad.
  • Awful battery life. Good luck getting a day out of it - regardless of whether you use it or not.
  • The screen is crap. There is no excuse for putting a 1024x600 display in a tablet at all. None. On top of that, it smears easily and is impossible to keep clean. Distractingly so.
  • ICS. Not that ICS is bad, just that Jelly Bean is better. A lot better. Especially on a 7" slate. 
  • Scrolling is always choppy, even in something as simple as an RSS reader.
  • The keyboard makes no sense. The toggle for the number pad is on the right side, but to toggle back to the letter pad, the button's on the left. 
  • No NFC. Every Android device should ship with NFC at this point.

Build Quality, Design, and Feel

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If there's one thing to say about the MediaPad 7 Lite, it's that Huawei knows how to build a solid tablet. From front to back and everything in between, this device is well built and reeks of quality. It's a shame the user experience ruins it, but we'll get to that in a bit.

The first thing you see once the box is cracked open is the back of the device. It's made of a really nice, matte silver aluminum, with smooth plastic caps along the top and bottom (in portrait). The Huawei logo is at the bottom, a "with Google" logo is found in the center, and the 3.2MP rear shooter at the top. Beside the camera is the device's single speaker - a tiny little thing that doesn't put out much sound. The odd thing here is that there's a small piece of raised plastic in the center of the speaker - considering the random hump in the middle of speaker, I thought the plastic was defective. Turns out I was wrong and that's actually a design choice. It can only be assumed it's so the speaker doesn't rest flush against a surface when the device is laid down. Otherwise, this decision makes no sense at all.

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Speaking of questionable design choices, all the markings on the backside of the tablet (as well as most of the press shots) lead you to believe the device will be used in portrait mode - wrong. The rest of the hardware configuration is designed for landscape use. The volume rocker actually gives this away - the leftmost side always turns the volume down, regardless of whether the device is in landscape or portrait. It's very contradictory. And absurd.

Moving past that - and flipping into the landscape orientation - on the top side of the device you'll find the power button and volume rocker, as well as the microSD card slot and SIM card slot, both of which are covered by plastic doors that blend in perfectly with the tablet's aluminum body. So well, in fact, it made me question whether or not the entire back of the device is made of plastic (it's not).

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Continuing around the device, the 3.5mm headphone jack and microUSB port are on the right side (or bottom in portrait mode), with the other two sides void of anything. Really, it's very similar to the Nexus 7 in both button and port layout (save for the microSD card and SIM slots).

As I've already said, the build quality here is outstanding. Everything about the MediaPad feels solid and well put together, and the buttons have absolutely zero play in them - it's coated in layers of clean lines and smooth finish. It's a shame that such a beautifully crafted device can has such piss-poor performance. Speaking of...

Software, Performance, and Battery Life

God, where do I even start? The build and overall look of this tablet are both great. Unfortunately, that's where the good news ends. As soon as you fire this device up, it's all downhill from there.

Take the launcher, for example. Something as simple as swiping through the homescreens should be a fluid, lag-free task, right? Not on the MediaPad Lite. I wouldn't say it's laggy per se, but it's choppy as hell. Even if you don't have pages full of widgets. In fact, it's choppy even if you only have one or two widgets in use. And that just annoys me. If Google can put out a buttery-smooth tablet with 32GB of storage for $250, this kind of performance is unacceptable. There's simply no excuse.

Despite this, I decided to install a couple of games just to see if they were playable, starting with Dead Trigger. As you can probably imagine, that experience didn't go so well. In short, If I left the choice up to the MediaPad Lite, I would be eaten alive long before even having a chance to defend myself. Sadly, The processor in this little guy just can't handle the zombie apocalypse. Or much of anything else for that matter.

Since a super popular game like Dead Trigger was a bust, I decided to fire up YouTube to see how HD video playback was. For this test, I went for one of my favorite videos on YT - this 1080p clip of a Buckethead show from October 2, 2011. Why this video? Because it's high-def, has good audio, and I love Buckethead. The MPL got about two percent into the clip before it started having buffering issues. I'm not sure if the GPU just couldn't keep up with the HD video or the Wi-Fi on the tablet is just terrible - either way, the clip was basically unwatchable. For the record, I watched the entire thing on my Nexus 7 without issue right after I tried to play it on the MP Lite. Again, another bust.

I also stream quite a bit of music from my tablet to a Bluetooth speaker, so I gave the MediaPad Lite a shot in that area, too. The Bluetooth connection was so weak that the music continuously cut out at an annoying rate. I finally gave up and switched back to the Nexus 7. Do I really need to keep going with this? Performance is just bad. In basically all areas.

Just for fun, I ran an AnTuTu benchmark. The results are just plain sad.

Screenshot_2012-11-12-11-05-18 Screenshot_2012-11-12-11-05-36

But what about battery life? Here's a shocker: it's bad, too. Possibly even the worst I've ever seen from a tablet (thought it's comparable to the Acer A100, which is equally as awful in the area of battery life). Here's a scenario: the above mentioned Dead Trigger and video test took about 30 minutes. Between that and then sitting idly on my desk while I type these words you're reading right now, it lost 18 percent. Nearly twenty percent gone in a little over an hour with half an hour of use - that's not very good. At all. Don't plan on leaving it overnight, either - this thing consistently lost about 60% while I was sleeping. By comparison, the Nexus 7 loses about 15%, and the Nexus 10 about 7%. Ouch.

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Lastly, let's talk about the software. For the most part, the MediaPad Lite offers a stock Android 4.0 experience, save for one minor tweak that I actually like. On the status bar, there's a small down arrow. Tapping that arrow  hides the bar. To bring it back , simply swipe up from the bottom in the center of the screen. And that's basically it. A neat little feature for watching videos or playing games. Er... well, you know. It's good for... something.

Screenshot_2012-11-12-10-59-01 Screenshot_2012-11-12-10-59-21

Huawei also threw their own keyboard onto the device, and I have to say, it's one of the worst software keyboards I've ever used. The worst part is the number pad toggle: to bring up the numpad, the toggle is on the right. To go back to the text keypad, the toggle is on the left. This makes so little sense I can't even begin to understand why they designed it this way. I'm just glad there are other options for soft keyboards out there.

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I feel like it's worth mentioning that I do like the stock wallpapers, though. They're pretty nice - especially the snowy one shown above.

Display

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I'll preface this section by saying this isn't the worst display I've ever seen. It's not even the worst display I've ever seen with a 1024x600 resolution. But... it's not good, either. Really, by today's standards, it's bad. It's just not awful.

The color reproduction is decent for what it is - basically what you'd expect from IPS. Blacks aren't super dark, but they're acceptable, colors aren't vibrant enough without being oversaturated, thought they do get pretty washed out at higher brightness.

Similarly, viewing angles are decent. I wouldn't say there's anything groundbreaking here, but it's not the bottom of the barrel. Maybe three-fourths of the way down, but not absolute bottom.

The worst part of the display is definitely its crap-tastic 1024x600 resolution. If you don't want to see pixels - and I know many of you don't - then you will despise the screen on the MP Lite. Images aren't sharp, text is blocky, and, well, everything just kind of looks bleh. It didn't help that I had to focus on this screen after seeing the beautiful 2560x1600 panel on the Nexus 10, buy hey - that's today's standard. This one's the standard from three years ago.

In a nutshell, this display is very meh. And that's being optimistic.

Camera

The MediaPad's 3.2MP rear shooter is, well, a 3.2MP camera. The photos really aren't that bad, though they're a little washed out indoors. Outdoors, most bright colors are oversaturated, but that's basically expected on a tablet camera. I guess it could work if in a pinch if the MP7L is the only device on you at the time, but I'm not sure that's even a feasible scenario to begin with.

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Conclusion

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It's painfully obvious that the MediaPad 7 Lite isn't a good tablet. The experience is beyond lackluster, the display is dated, and performance is just all around bad. The only redeeming quality the MP7L has is its build quality, which I commend. It's a beautiful tablet - it's such a shame that it sucks in all other areas.

Despite the fact that pricing nor availability have been announced yet, there really is no reason to even think about buying this tablet. For $299, you can get the best 7" Android slate on the market - the Nexus 7 -complete with 32GB of storage and HSPA+ connectivity if that's something you require from a tablet. Drop the mobile 'net, and the same tablet is only $250. Even if the MediaPad Lite were just $150 - which is highly unlikely - it can't begin to compete with the Nexus 7 dollar for dollar.

So, save yourself the trouble, and just bypass this device altogether. It's not worth your money, no matter which way you slice it.

Cameron Summerson
Cameron is a self-made geek, Android enthusiast, horror movie fanatic, and musician. When he's not pounding keys here at AP, you can find him spending time with his wife and kids, plucking away on the 6- or 7-string, or watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on repeat.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jordan.richesin Jordan Richesin

    Wow. My favorite three letters that do indeed indicate you are more than correct about the lack luster. A pile of talc has a more vibrant shine if you did a side by side comparison. Good ol Huawei.

    • jean-pierre B

      Well well well! Your review is funny and brash.I have read similar stuff when the Huawei Ideos S7 came out
      I have this older model and plenty of others dual,quad core,IPS and retina screen and I find the Ideos S7 so sturdy and so reliable and stable that when it was recently stolen I got another one through ebay.You seem to ignore it is also a 3G tablet and a phone.Do tell me where you can find such specs at such a price the good points far outsmart se of its shortcomings
      Remember that Huawei has specialuzed in laking no frill highky reliable telecom equipment working in adverse conditions the S7 is part of that philosophy
      You bet your arse that when our fancy tablet have croaked the S7 will continue to hapoily soldier along
      best regards from France

  • http://twitter.com/SeanMRowe Sean Rowe

    In fairness, I don't think it would make a very good hammer either...

  • ProductFRED

    Staples was selling the 8GB Nexus 7 for $160 the other day. There is absolutely NO REASON WHATSOEVER to buy this thing over a Nexus 7.

  • HellG

    i LOVE your reviews! you are always aggressive and always say the truth out loud! i hate seeing reviewers who are "Too Nice!", you rock cameron! stay like that :)

    • Joshua Reynolds

      Seriously. Reviewers who feel compelled to give good reviews are doing a disservice to the products they are reviewing. Giving criticism shows the company where it needs to improve and what it got right. This allows them to fix problems for the next time around. Giving nothing but praise doesn't help the company to learn. Good on ya, Cameron.

      • HellG

        Indeed, they dont want to make ANYONE mad so they get profit from EVERYONE and end up ruining the review for that o_O

  • Royal2000H

    Didn't the US Gov also recently say not to buy Huawei products as they're a security threat?

  • GazaIan

    You can always count on Android Police to tell the blunt truth right in the title

  • PINJ

    That Was An Arrogant And Spoiled Review. And It WILL Be Cheaper Then The Nexus 7. Ill bet You My Non Existent House (Thanks Government) On That.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      Even if it's half the price of the Nexus 7, it still isn't worth it.

      • anamika

        Its way cheaper in India compared to official Nexus 7!

    • HellG

      You seem a bit..mad

      • btod

        Or he's telling the truth as he sees it. If its a horrible tablet, its a horrible tablet. Why sugar coat a turd? It'll still taste like shit.

        • HellG

          Did i say other wise? you know i was talking to PINJ and not Cameron right?

          • btod

            whoops I just noticed that, my apologies.

          • HellG

            Its ok mate, have a great day :)

  • Freak4Dell

    That's disappointing. The original MediaPad was a pretty decent tablet.

    • atlouiedog

      I was given one for two months as part of a software test. I didn't care for it but it's entirely possible that some of the problems were because of the software which took over the system.

  • Mohamed

    The price is $250 in India. And its 1.2Ghz (not 1.4Ghz). Whereas Nexus 7 is $365 (16GB).

  • Rollingstone

    You can't say it's not a diamond when you just pay a glass ball. It's a just entry-level tablet.

  • http://www.facebook.com/george.cordos George Cordos

    Has anyone else noticed the resemblance with the HTC Flyer? It looks almost like it and it has similar specs!

  • Krešimir

    Thank you for this eye-opening rewiew. Now I know what I will be dealing with when this "hammer" arrives in a couple of days. If only I read this rewiew sooner I would have ordered two hammers, one for the broken shelf in my kitchen and the other for my head. But in all fairness I paid 69 $ for it so I will just treat it as an expensive hammer. By the way I am from Croatia and we dont have various selection of tablets(no Nexus 7) in our stores .Thank you for the rewiew/hack job.

    • AW

      Hey Kresimir, Incidentally, I'm planning to buy this hammer. Could you please inform the store where you bought it from? Thanks.

  • Jenny

    thank goodness I found your review before purchasing an Huawei tablet. Thank you for your honesty and again thank you for wasting my money ($149.00 Australian)

  • Roy.

    Well, have had this for OZ$149, with a 3G WiFi modem thrown in for free. Add a GPS offline mapping system and I have got a 7" car GPS for under OZ$200. Cannot complain about that price!

  • RustyRec

    Great rev, but I couldn't read it all. Read bits and pieces "No, should I say didn't need to after a few lines. I was close to lashing out the bucks. Thank @&$! I found looked & found your read up. Sounds like what you say "Piss Poor" all over except for build "Crap" Like the ZTE PAD" that Optus realeast for $99AUST. Absolute Rubbish. Thanks

    • lurkeypoop

      I have the Optus ZTE V9 you speaketh of. It runs JB now (custom rom) and is smooth as silk. Obviously doesn't have the horsepower for decent video playback, but back then it was awesome for the price. And with GPS, BT and 3G, which many budget tablets now lack.

      The Huawei above which costs $150 now has GPS, BT and 3G too. Comparing that to a Nexus 7 at nearly double the price is just silly. And the Nexus doesn't have GPS, microSD card slot, or 3G unless you fork out extra. Find a Google tablet for $150 with these capabilities, and then tell me this is a crap deal.

      • lurkeypoop

        Oh.. and my ZTE on JB lasts close to a month in sleep. Nexus tablets lose 10-15% overnight, really?

  • lurkeypoop

    Piss poor performance - by the reviewer.

    Whine about tablet being used in landscape? You need to check the logo on the back to figure out which way to hold it?...

    Here's a hint... turn it 90 degrees in your hands.

    BTW, I *like* using 7" tablets in landscape.

    "The color reproduction is decent for what it is - basically what you'd expect from IPS".
    Well FYI, IPS is the better LCD technology for colour reproduction (the cheaper one being TN).

    "No NFC. Every Android device should ship with NFC at this point".
    Sure, and every device should have the performance of a SGS 3 while you're at it. Expect that in the $50 budget phone category?

    Plenty of your issues with this table can be sorted out with a bit of tweaking and installing apps. This is a budget tablet almost half the price of the Nexus 7, with MORE features, but lacking in performance by comparison. For some people, it is a better deal. Not everyone wants to play dead trigger or fap to 1080p video. It would have been informative if you could have bothered to play the video clip from an SD card, and be able to TELL us rather than speculate that playback was impacted by either GPU or wifi lag.

    In a nutshell: the review was a lazy, nitpicking effort with ridiculous conclusion. Equivalent to comparing a Hyundai with a Porsche, and deciding that you would be mad to ever buy anything other than a Porsche.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      Remember in the intro when I mentioned people with "unreasonable dedication?" Yep - you're the guy I was talking about.

      Try to justify it any way you want, man, this tablet is garbage no matter how many "tweaks and apps" you install.

      • lurkeypoop

        " Remember in the intro when I mentioned people with "unreasonable dedication?" "
        Yep.. YOU were the guy you were talking about.
        You probably have NEXUS tatooed on your arm.

        I don't own this tablet, so I have no "dedication" of any kind. I do however like to read objective, well thought out reviews that make sensible comparisons with competing products.

        You claim this tablet is garbage. There are plenty of people who disagree.
        For anyone who wants a REAL selection of opinions, I suggest googling the Whirlpool forums.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

          If you don't own it, then how do you know anything about it? Give me a break, man.

          • lurkeypoop

            I can read...
            Which is why I suggest people look a little wider than just your review which somewhat lacks objectivity.
            OK, I'm leaving, here's your break now...

      • Chris in OZ

        Reviewer uses a lot of emotional words in this review. I have many toys & bought one of these to see how bad a cheap device could be - spurred on by this review. My bad. Device isn't nearly as horrible as it is made out to be. The huge amount of wifi in your battery use graph tells me you had a dodgy / defective device or a setup was screwed up. Where you restoring a pile of apps in the background from a google account backup maybe? Cut down on the emotion, check your facts and give a good review. Pause 2 seconds before hitting "post" in the future and get someone to proofread it so you don't sound like a "life sucks" reviewer.

  • lakshita

    meke watina kama keyada

  • davek

    just picked this up from coles, as a handy couch googler (land line rural adsl1). its brilliant value, and works well. compared to my lads iPad, I actually found this android system very easy to use. I reakon top marks to huawai (never heard of the company till last week), for filling in the gap I was looking for, actually the misses found it.

  • Shenanigans

    Wow. What a wildly biased and unfair review.
    The fact that the logo on the back isn't in landscape? Really? Who cares?
    Mine doesn't lose 60% battery power overnight - it loses about 10% - perhaps your review model was faulty?
    The screen smears and is hard to keep clean? Gee. It's GLASS!
    I have no trouble whatsoever playing back 1080p video on the device, although at 7 inches 1080p is pretty pointless. I have compared the display with the Nexus 7, and really, at these screen sizes there is bugger all difference.
    I do agree that the Nexus is generally smoother and better for games (I assume - I don't play games).
    BUT - the MediaPdd is one third of the price! I paid $79, whereas a Nexus 7 is over $200
    When one doesn't compare apples with apples (these tablets are CLEARLY in different market segments), then the review becomes meaningless and just makes it look like you have a hidden agenda (Google kickbacks?).
    Certainly this is the last time I bother with this site.

    • Seun Akomolafe

      dats a lie,this shit cant play 720p talkless of 1080p

  • Ronnie

    this device is rooted or not? i could not take a screen shots. please help i couldn't make screenshots.

  • dosanjh

    True, you cant compare Nexus with media pad.. Nexus dont have voice calling, and many other features and priced high just because it is from google stable and you will be the first to get updates :) dowble the price with nexus, i can buy 2 tabs... :)

  • John

    Wow, that's a strong biased review. Maybe this tablet is as reliable as a hammer. Or maybe you're just a huawei hater. Why would anyone read your review if they are so unfairly biased.