Huawei unveils MediaPad M1 tablet with 4G LTE and SMS messaging (hands-on)

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/ Updated: February 23, 2014 6:15 AM PST

BARCELONA, Spain -- Can't decide whether to buy a new phone or get a tablet? With the Huawei MediaTab M1, that might not be an issue. It's an 8-inch Android tablet, but its SIM card slot allows it to not only take advantage of 4G LTE data speeds, but also lets it make calls and send SMS text messages, as though it were a regular phone.

It has a 1,280x920-pixel resolution, a 1.6GHz quad-core processor and comes running the now rather old Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean. Huawei hasn't said exactly how much it will cost, but based on the middling specs, I wouldn't expect it to cost much more than £200 when it goes on sale in the UK in March.

Huawei has yet to announce wider availability.

Design and display

While you're not going to turn any heads in a posh cocktail bar with the M1, it probably won't get you thrown out either. The metallic design is plain but inoffensive, and the white strips at the top and bottom of the back make reminiscent of the iPhone 5. On the front, you'll see speakers above and below the screen changing its aesthetic to more of an HTC One style.

Like the HTC One's speakers, the M1's are design to direct the audio directly toward you, theoretically giving a clearer sound than you'd get on devices with rear-mounted speakers. It's a technique that certainly worked well on the HTC One, but whether the M1 can deliver similar sound remains to be heard once I've pushed some Knife Party through the speakers.

Its 8-inch size means it feels more comfortable to hold in one hand than 10-inch slates, which may come in handy if you're using it as an e-book reader. While it won't slide easily into your trouser pocket, a more capacious jacket pocket may well hold it. You'll find the standard port selection of Micro-USB and headphone jack around the sides along with the power and volume buttons.

The 8-inch display has a 1,280x920-pixel resolution which is about the minimum I'd like to see on a device of this size. Icon edges had a slight fuzziness to them, but for the most part it seemed clear enough for the essentials. We'll be giving the display a proper test in the full review.

Features

Aside from the M1's ability to pose perfectly as a phone, you'll find additional features like the 5-megapixel camera on the back, the 1-megapixel camera on the front for video calling and a capacious 4,800mAh battery which Huawei reckons will provide up to 24 hours of web browsing.

It's running on a 1.6GHz quad-core processor which should give more than enough juice for all your social networking needs. It'll arrive sporting Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean. That's quite an old version of Google's software which is very disappointing to see. Huawei has slapped its Emotion UI over the top though so it will at least stand out from other Android devices.

Emotion UI is a bit of a mixed bag. It ditches the app menu, instead placing all your app icons across numerous homescreens which I personally find cluttered and awkward to use. On the upside, it's highly customisable and you can easily change the entire look of the interface by applying any of the various themes.

Outlook

The Huawei MediaPad M1 isn't likely to be the tablet that plagues your dreams every night until you buy one, but it has a fair lineup of specs for what will hopefully be a very reasonable price. Its ability to make calls and send texts might make it an economical compromise for those of you struggling to afford both a new phone and a new tablet.

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Where to Buy

Huawei MediaPad M1

Part Number: CNEThuaweMediaPadM1
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