Huawei MediaPad X1 7.0 vs Nexus 7: What's the difference?

The smaller Android tablet has come of age, with many recognising the benefits of having something smaller, rather than the bulky 10-inchers that dominated the market previously. 

Affordability, power and ease of portability, mean that devices around the 7-inch display size are hugely popular.

Huawei wants its slice of the pie, with the MediaPad X1 7.0 looking like a healthy competitor for the much-lauded Nexus 7 (2013).

But which way should you be looking: the pure Android Nexus, or Huawei's X1?

Design and build

The Asus-built Nexus 7 is a good solid device. It's a convenient size at 114 x 200 x 8.65mm and it weighs a comfortable 290g. Some might say it's taller than it needs to be, but there's little to complain about.

READ: Nexus 7 (2013) review 

The Huawei MediaPad X1, however, shows some of the strongest design from Huawei we've seen yet. It measures 103.9 x 183.5 x 7.18mm, so it's smaller in all dimensions than the Nexus 7. The Huawei is also 50g lighter at 239g. The metal design has a premium feel to it, making this an impressively designed tablet.

Display

The Huawei MediaPad X1 has a 7-inch 1920 x 1200 pixel resolution display. It's an IPS LTPS panel, offering great viewing angles and plenty of punch. It also kicks out 515 nits, so copes well with bright conditions, but offers great brightness controls too, as well as glove mode for cold conditions.

The Nexus 7 display squares up nicely, with the same resolution and size from its IPS panel and both are protected with Corning Gorilla Glass. There's not lot to call here, both devices offer a great display, but we like that you can easily alter the colour temperature on the Huawei to set it to your preference.

The hardware

The Huawei MediaPad X1 has a 1.6GHz quad-core chipset from HiSilicon, Huawei's own chip manufacturer. There's 2GB of RAM in support of it and a Mali-450 GPU to take care of your graphics.

The Nexus 7 has a more familiar quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro 1.5GHz chipset with 2GB of RAM and Adreno 320 GPU.

This loadout is closely matched in performance terms: both are powerful tablets, but not quite as well equipped as some of the latest tablets or phablets. Either way, daily use will be smooth and pretty fast.

The software

Software is the major divide between the Huawei and Nexus device. The Nexus has pure unfettered Android 4.4 KitKat, being first in the line to receive updates to the latest Android versions and free of bloatware. 

The Huawei, on the other hand, launches on Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, so the software is a couple of generations out of date and it is then skinned with Huawei's Emotion UI 2.0. 

Emotion UI makes some big changes, like ditching the apps tray and changing the appearance of all the settings. But there are a wide run of additions that Huawei includes, which you'd have to source through apps on the Nexus 7, like DLNA support.

Still, we favour the Nexus 7's clean Android approach, and despite the additions that Huawei bring, we'd opt for a different launcher, at least.

READ: What is the Google Now launcher?

Battery life

The Huawei MediaPad X1 has a 5000mAh cell packed into its skinny frame, which it claims will give you 25 hours of playtime. It's also reverse charge enabled, so you can use it to power up your smartphone if you're running low on juice. 

The Nexus 7, however, comes with a smaller 3950mAh battery with Google saying it's good for 9 hours. Of course, take these numbers with a pinch of salt: it depends what you're doing with it. The Nexus 7 also has the convenience of Qi wireless charging built-in.

On numbers alone, we'd expect the Huawei device to last longer. 

Cameras

The Huawei MediaPad X1 has a 13-megapixel Sony Exmor R sensor on the rear and a 5-megapixel camera on the front, with Huawei wanting a strong camera experience from this tablet.

The Nexus offers a 5-megapixel rear camera and 1.2-megapixel front camera. Although the Nexus cameras perform well enough, the Huawei is likely to dominate. 

However, the big question is whether you need that sort of camera performance on a tablet - as the Hauwei contains full phone functionality, it could be your sole device as a phablet, whereas the Nexus 7 is likely to be a companion to a smartphone that's more capable in the imaging department. 

Final points

The Huawei is initially launched as a 4G LTE device, designed to be always connected. There's an LTE version of the Nexus 7 too, but Huawei's push here isn't for a Wi-Fi only model.

READ: Hands-on: Huawei MediaPad X1 review

However, it does bring with it expandable storage, so you can slot a microSD card into the side to expand over the 16GB of internal storage. The Nexus 7, on the other hand, comes in 16 or 32GB versions.

And then there's the price

The 16GB Nexus 7 is £199 (Wi-Fi only), but jumps up to £299 for the 32GB LTE version. It offers good value for money as all Nexus devices do, paired with strong performance and a distinct software advantage.

The Huawei MediaPad X1 will be €399 (£329). It's still a good price for for what you're getting, but if you're not looking for the 4G connectivity, then the Nexus 7 looks like a much better deal. Once you're comparing 4G devices, the £30 price difference makes things more challenging.

The big imbalance is software. The Huawei MediaPad X1 needs to be brought up-to-date for starters, but the degree of customisation that the Emotion UI 2.0 adds might put some prospective buyers off.