Huawei is one of the lesser known brands in the U.S., but things are starting to change. A few months ago they released the Springboard on T-Mobile which is essentially the MediaPad. I still don’t see a big market for tablets with 3G/4G connectivity, but if you’re looking for such a device and a T-Mobile customer, you have two choices – The Springboard or the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus. As of the time of this writing, The Springboard is priced at $249 on contract while the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus is $299. This is my full review, but you can also checkout my initial hands on video and Joe Sirianni’s review of the Galaxy Tab 7.0.
The Springboard is a really nice compact tablet at only 7-inches, and I find the smaller tablets are nicer to hold. The front bezel is in black while the back side is silver and white. One white section holds the rear camera lens while the other section opens for the SIM card and microUSB card. When comparing it to the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus, the Springboard is a little thicker and heavier. The Springboard comes in at 10.41mm thick and weighs 399 grams while the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus comes in at 9.96mm and only weighs 345 grams. That’s an obvious win by Samsung. As to the build quality, the Springboard feels solid in the hand.
The Springboard features a 7-inch (1280 x 800) TFT display with IPS, a 1.2GHz Qualcomm MSM8260 dual-core processor, 1GB RAM, 16GB internal storage, microSD slot for up to 32GB of extra storage, 5MP rear camera with 720p video recording, 1.3MP front camera, micro HDMI, WiFi, Bluetooth 2.1, and T-Mobile 4G at 14.4/Mbps.
The Springboard has a 4100mAh battery that’s rated to last 7 hours with continuous use. I was able to get all of that with continuous video and games. In normal use, you should get 2 to 3 days on one charge.
Performance is okay. The AnTuTu Benchmark came in at 5519 which puts it below both the Samsung Galaxy S II and the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus. For whatever reason the browser did seem slower than most devices, and I did experience a couple of random reboots as well. I would rate the overall performance as average.
The Springboard comes with Android 3.2 Honeycomb and other than bloarware, it is pretty much stock. The good news is that Ice Cream Sandwich could land sometime soon. It comes with Swype as the default keyboard out of the box, but you can utilize the basic keyboard which was adequate. The Springboard does include some T-Mobile bloatware which includes the MobileLife Calendar, Shopping List, and To Do List. The other bloatware consists of Lookout Security, T-Mobile Get Web Now, Blio eReader, Blockbuster, Netflix, Slacker, Quickoffice, T-Mobile TV, Talk To Me Classic, and TeleNav GPS Navigator.
It also forced me to install Hi Suite in order to transfer files to and from my computer which was a little annoying. I was never able to get it to work right, but it does offer the option to connect via WiFi as well which is nice. I’m sure the software works, I just didn’t have the patience to mess with it.
The software, although clean of UI enhancements, seemed slow and buggy at times. For example, there were a few instances in which I hit the task manager button, but nothing came up. Also, as previous mentioned I had more than a few random reboots.
Rear camera’s on tablets seem to be a waste, but then again, if you’re in a pinch I guess it’s not bad that the manufacturer’s include them. The Springboard’s camera isn’t going to wow you so don’t leave your point and shoot or DSLR at home. However, if you do find that it’s the only camera you have in a particular situation, it will get the job done. One issue, other than picture quality, is the lens is right smack in the back middle top like most phones, but with a larger form factor, its natural to hold the Springboard in the middle left side when holding it in portrait mode. The problem is that your fingers might get in the way of the lens. Not a huge issue, because you shouldn’t be taking many photos with it anyway. Here’s some example photos:
The Springboard isn’t cheap when you consider the price is based on a two year contract. If you really feel you need a tablet with 4G data, than you might be better off with the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus. It wins in most categories except two: The display resolution, which is 1024 x 600, and the rear camera, which is at 3MP. As to the resolution it’s a small drop when you consider that the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus is thinner, lighter, and made from a more proven manufacturer. As to the camera, I already mentioned what I feel about rear cameras in tablets. One could argue that the front camera is actually worthwhile and the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus wins with the 2MP shooter as opposed to 1.3MP for the Springboard. Last but not least, the Springboard seemed a little buggy with random reboots, certain functions not working or delayed responses. My opinion is to go with the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus.