Does the world need bigger smartphones? Huawei answers this question at MWC with the launch of its MediaPad X1, a 7-inch Android tablet that lets you make phone calls. As ridiculous as it sounds, this device is designed in a way that makes it more usable than other colossal phones. At just 239g heavy and 103.9mm wide, the X1 is the lightest and narrowest tablet in its class, beating the likes of the ASUS Fonepad 7, Kindle Fire HDX 7 and the latest Nexus 7. Don't be deceived by the lightness, though; Huawei has managed to stuff a generous 5,000mAh battery -- again beating the other 7-inch tablets -- and a high-res 1,920 x 1,200 LTPS display inside this 7.18mm-thick aluminum body.
Let's get the remaining specs out of the way. First and foremost, you get a pair of cameras: 13-megapixel f/2.4 on the back, and 5-megapixel f/2.2 on the front. There's 16GB of internal storage, and you can add up to 32GB of external space via microSD. The SoC here is Huawei's HiSilicon Kirin 910 (as seen on the Ascend P6S), which features a 1.6GHz quad-core Cortex-A9 CPU, along with 2GB of RAM and a Mali-450 MP4 GPU. There's support for both TD-LTE and FD-LTE, meaning you can enjoy 4G speeds in both China and a large part of the world. Likewise, the same phone also works on both WCDMA and China Mobile's TD-SCDMA 3G networks. Sadly, the WiFi radio only goes up to 802.11n instead of the more powerful 802.11ac, but the 150Mbps LTE Cat 4 radio should somewhat make up for this -- if your carrier supports it, that is. Read on for our hands-on video and thoughts.
Update: Huawei is pricing the X1 at a pretty competitive 399 euros.
Huawei MediaPad X1 hands-on
To our surprise, the MediaPad X1 feels good in our hands. Compared to the aforementioned 7-inch tablets from other manufacturers, this one is significantly easier to hold with one hand thanks to its narrow bezel, light weight and solid aluminium construction. Of course, you may get some funny looks when you hold the X1 up to your ear. As for pocket-friendliness, your mileage may vary depending on what jacket or trousers you wear; but it slips into my relax-fit Levi's jeans without much difficulty. If you wear tighter trousers then the X1 will definitely get in the way when walking up stairs. If you want to keep the phone in your bag or pocket more often, you may want to consider picking up Huawei's new TalkBand B1 smart band and Bluetooth earpiece.
Huawei's added a few neat software features, with our favorite one being the ability to scroll with one thumb while still gripping onto the touchscreen with the other thumb. We're also meant to be able to jump straight to the home screen by double-tapping anywhere on the screen at any time (thus skipping the home button entirely), but we haven't been able to get this feature to work. Other software goodies include motion control (like flip to mute, pick up to reduce ring volume, and automatically make or answer calls when placing the phone next to your ear), hover gesture (to preview photo albums, videos and calendar events) and voice-controlled camera.
We're still waiting on the pricing info, but what we do know now is that the MediaPad X1 will be available in China, Russia, Western Europe, Middle East, Japan and Latin America starting in March this year. If you reside in any of these regions, do keep an eye out for this 7-inch phablet -- not that you'd miss it, of course.
Update: The MediaPad X1 will be available for €399 with LTE and 16GB of built-in storage.