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Huawei MediaPad X1 Hands-On: Giant Phone or Tiny Tablet?

Whether you want one of the world's largest smartphones or one of its smallest tablets, Huawei has you covered with the MediaPad X1. Announced today at Mobile World Congress 2014, Huawei's 7-inch slate is thinner and lighter than the iPad mini and the Google Nexus 7, but it also provides 4G LTE and dual microphones for making phone calls. We had a chance to spend a few moments with the 399-Euro MediaPad X1 and were intrigued by its light weight chassis and sharp camera.

The MediaPad X1's 1920 x 1200 IPS display looked bright and colorful on the demo unit we tested. Huawei claims that the screen can reach up to 515 nits because it uses LTPS (low-temperature polysilicon).

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The MediaPad X1 is made from a dark uni-body aluminum material that gives it a subtle but attractive aesthetic. At 7.18 mm thick (.28 inches), the MediaPad X1 is just a tad more svelter than the 8.4mm (.33 inches) Nexus 7 and 7.5mm (.295 inches) iPad mini. Its 239-gram (8.4 ounce) weight also beats Apple (331 grams, 11.8 ounces) and Google's 7-inch (289 grams, 10.2 ounces) offerings. The MediaPad X1's bezel is only 2.99mm (.12 inches), allowing the screen to take up 80 percent of the device's front surface. Huawei is able to achieve such a light design by using a unibody aluminum design with special injection molding.

Light as it is, we found holding  the X1 up to our head extremely awkward. Huawei CEO for Consumer and Business Richard Yu showed how the device fits in his jacket pocket while the iPad mini does not, but that could vary depending on your sports jacket.

On the inside, the MediaPad X1 sports a 1.6-GHz, quad-core HiSilicon Kirin 910 CPU, 2GB of RAM and 16 or 32GB of storage. We've never tested a system with a HiSilicon CPU, but expect it would provide decent performance as we had to issues navigating through the UI in our brief hands-on.

The tablet sports a 5-MP front-facing camera with an extra wide-angle lens for taking group selfies. The Huawei camera software also enhances  your selfies with filters made to smooth out your face and a small selfie window that appears on the screen to help you frame your shot. The 13-MP rear shooter uses a Sony Exmor lens for better picture quality.

Running a version of Android 4.2 that's been lightly skinned with Huawei's Emotion UI, the MediaPad X1 we tested didn't have much in the way of custom software features. The camera software did have the selfie mode and some face smoothing features, but most of the apps were Huawei verions of common utilities like the calculator. Surprisingly, Huawei has removed the traditional Android app drawer, thereby moving all app shortcuts either onto the home screens or in one of several folders on the home screens.

Huawei did not announce exact timing for the MediaPad X1 nor did it say whether this device will come to the U.S. Hopefully, we can take a deeper look when the device is nearer to launch.