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Huawei S7 Android tablet review

The S7 is the first 'true' Android tablet finally touches down in the UK, but does it live up to the promise of a bright future for the platform? Russell Barnes investigates…

S7 Tablet

This article is due to appear in issue 93 of Linux User & Developer magazine.

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Specifications:


Display size 7”
Weight 500g
Display resolution 800 x 480
Operating system Android 2.1
Dimensions 209 x 108 x 15.5mm
Expansion slot microSD, 3G SIM card
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 768MHz
Memory 512MB RAM, 4GB internal storage
Price: £287 / approx $457
Where to buy:

The Huawei S7 is the first ‘genuine’ Android tablet we’ve reviewed. For being first to the UK market, Huawei deserves kudos, but of course with this achievement comes the weight of expectation. We expect great things, but we don’t always get what we want…

As last month’s ‘iPad Killers’ feature explored, the tablet form factor in itself isn’t new: it’s just taken technology a good few years to catch up with the concept. Android in tablet form isn’t actually that original either – the Dell Streak has done it most recently, but is much closer in form factor to a smartphone than an iPad equivalent.

The Archos 5 Internet Tablet is another example but, since it didn’t meet Google’s stringent technical guidelines for the Android Market, could never be classed as a true Android tablet. The Huawei S7 has both size and technical specification on its side, however; hence our excitement at its recent delivery from the kind folks at Clove Technology.

The first thing that struck us about the S7 was its weight – it’s surprisingly heavy in the hand, but it’s almost forgivable since it’s quite solid in construction (despite using more affordable materials). The front of the device is dominated by its 7-inch screen, leaving just enough space on the left and right of the device to get a good grasp on it without obstructing the view.

The six backlit buttons (Home, Menu and Back on the left and Call, Cancel and an optical thumbpad-cum-left mouse click on the right) are excellently positioned for thumb presses. While they sit flush to the brushed metal finish of the front panel, they’re not touch sensitive, instead requiring a firm press that produces an audible click.

At least it’s better than the alternative of buttons that are too easily triggered by mistake – as on the Dell Streak. The optical thumbpad performs surprisingly well, proving itself to be a great way to navigate the lightly tweaked Android 2.1 OS in place of the touch screen.

It’s a good job too, because the resistive touch screen itself is frankly abysmal. Light touches barely register, so it’s sometimes hit and miss if you’re going to activate anything on the screen at all. Dragging between home screens on Android is a real chore and there’s no pinch-to-zoom for the browser (or anything else). For us it was a real deal-breaker; that the image quality also suffered as a result paled in comparison.

Verdict: 2/5
There’s actually a lot to like about the S7. The design is well thought out and it boasts an excellent button layout. Android has been thoughtfully reconstructed, with an additional bottom bar allowing shortcuts to various app, plus a nice selection of widgets. That said, we simply can’t abide the resistive TFT screen, regardless of its retail price, and it has cost the S7 dearly.

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