2011 looks set to be the year of the tablets, with Android the operating system of choice for many manufacturers. Chinese maker Huawei has got into the game a little early with this mid-priced 7-inch mode, the S7. So is it worth jumping in? Or should you wait a while till there’s more choice around?
The Huawei S7 is certainly less expensive than its most obvious Android rival, Samsung’s Galaxy Tab. But in order to achieve its reasonably low price, there have been compromises made.
That said, you won’t necessarily notice them to begin with. Build quality is good, and we really like the small stand at the back of the S7′s chassis, which you can use to prop the S7 up in widescreen mode – great for watching video, in particular.
We quite like the 7in screen’s widescreen aspect ratio and landscape orientation. The ratio of height to width works really well when looking at web pages, in particular.
But the S7′s resolution of 800×480 pixels is the same as that found on many higher-end smartphones, and well below that of the 1024×600 screen used on the Samsung Galaxy Tab.
What’s more, the screen is resistive rather than capacitive, which means it doesn’t support ‘pinch to zoom’. It also requires a fairly firm press. You even get a stylus with which to prod it, which can come in handy if you need to tap at smallish icons on screen.
Both short edges of the casing are populated with buttons. On the left are three Android-specific ones for Home, Back and Menu functions. On the right are Call and End buttons and an optical trackpad. The Call and End buttons are indicative of the presence of a SIM slot.
You can make voice calls with the S7 using the speaker or with a headset, but there’s no microphone for holding the S7 to your ear to make calls. Then again, why would you want to hold something that measures 209x108x15.5mm (wdh) to your ear – particularly if it weighs 500g? In general, we found the S7′s weight a bit much. The Samsung Galaxy Tab weighs just 385g, and the difference is significant.
Inside the S7 is a realtively low-powered 768MHz processor, with 8GB of built-in storage and a microSD card slot for beefing that up. The HSDPA gives you speedy over-the-air access to data – and the included support 802.11 b, g and n Wi-Fi is a great alternative.
The real down side, though, is that the Huawei S7 runs Android version 2.1 (code-named ‘Eclair’), putting it behind the current competition. When Android 3.0 appears on tablets, which it will pretty soon, the S7 will feel very behind the times indeed. Another issue is the lack of support for Flash in Android 2.1, which makes watching streamed video often impossible.
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The Huawei S7 may be a case of too little, too early. With Android 3.0-toting tablets - and plenty of them - just around the corner, Huawei could have jumped the gun with its S7.