|Style & Handling|
|4G LTE support||Underwhelming interface|
|Decent design||Outdated Android version|
Verdict:The EE Eagle is an affordable tablet and the cheapest 4G slate on the market. Despite its low price it’s a decent little device too, but it’s in need of a better screen.
EE is on a mission to bring 4G to as many people as possible and that doesn’t end with supplying the most widespread 4G network in the UK, now the company is also releasing affordable devices for people to use it on. First up there was the EE Kestrel smartphone and now there’s the EE Eagle tablet.
But the tablet market is a crowded place and with well known, affordable options like the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HDX already available can the EE Eagle really hope to compete? Read on to find out.
The EE Eagle has a fairly stylish design, especially at first glance. It also looks a lot like you might imagine a tablet from HTC would, what with the dual speakers above and below the screen and the metal effect rear. Of course while HTC would use actual metal this is just plastic made to look like metal.
It’s a reasonably convincing illusion visually but it doesn’t feel like metal. Still, the device is fairly slim at 7.9mm. It also feels well-built and at 329g it’s just about light enough to hold in one hand for an extended period.
It’s not the best looking slate around (that honour surely goes to the iPad Air), but for a budget device it doesn’t look bad at all.
Unfortunately things go downhill a little when you turn the screen on. At 8 inches it’s on the small side, but that’s ok as it makes it more portable than the 10 inch slates we so often see. But it also puts it in powerful company, where it will inevitably be compared to the likes of the 7.9 inch iPad Mini 2.
Of course that’s a far more expensive slate, so it’s not fair to compare them really, but even considering the roughly £200 price tag of the EE Eagle, its 1280 x 800 display hardly impresses, coming in with a pixel density of just 189 pixels per inch.
You could struggle to even call that a mid-range resolution. It’s definitely on the low end, particularly when you consider that the Nexus 7 for example has 1920 x 1200 display and that’s a budget device too.
It’s perfectly useable but not as sharp or high quality as we’d like which is all the more disappointing since one of the big selling points of this tablet is that it supports 4G and yet vast swathes of 4G data are used for streaming videos, videos which won’t look at their best on this screen.
While this is hardly a top end device the specs and performance are reasonably good for the most part. With a 1.6 GHz quad-core processor and 1GB of RAM the EE Eagle is fast and responsive. It takes slightly longer to launch apps and load games than a high end slate like the Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet does, but unless you’re using them side by side you’re rarely likely to notice the comparative lack of power.
The EE Eagle also supports 4G and that’s perhaps the biggest single selling point of it as it’s the cheapest 4G enabled tablet available in the UK. With the Eagle you’ll be able to stream and download content in a snap anywhere with a 4G connection and with its dual front-facing speakers it’s great for enjoying streamed music on, though the lacklustre screen means streamed videos and online gaming suffer a little.
The EE Eagle comes with a 5 megapixel camera on the back, which, while not overly impressive, is par for the course as far as tablet cameras go and can take some reasonable quality photos. Being a tablet this was never going to be an optimal device for photography so a 5 megapixel snapper is more than adequate and it’s backed up by a 0.9 megapixel front facing camera.
The EE Eagle’s interface is far from the best we’ve seen. First off it runs Android 4.2.2 which is a bit of a disappointment seeing as most new devices now ship with Android 4.4.2.
The bigger problem though is that it uses Huawei’s Emotion UI. There are probably fans of this out there, but it’s certainly not a traditional Android experience as it removes the app drawer, instead leaving all your installed applications on the home screen, much like Apple devices do. That hasn’t stopped millions of people from buying iPad’s but it does mean the home screens can get quite messy and cluttered if you install a lot of apps and you’ll have to be very diligent about filing them away in folders.
The icons also have a slightly childish design, which may be off-putting to any users who aren’t themselves children. On the flip side the whole thing is very child friendly, with a simpler interface than most Android devices.
The EE Eagle has a 4800 mAh battery which is fairly standard for a tablet of this size. EE quotes it as capable of up to 500 hours standby time or 24 hours talk time, which given that it isn’t a phone doesn’t really mean a lot. Presumably EE means 24 hours of media which itself seems more than a little optimistic.
Certainly there’s no way that you could watch say 24 hours of films on it, however it does have enough juice to last 8-10 hours of heavy use, so in most usage cases it will last a day or more.
There’s only 8GB of built in memory which means you won’t be able to pack much music or video content onto it out of the box, but it also supports microSD cards of up to 32GB and as it supports 4G you can always make use of that to stream media rather than storing it locally. As well as 4G LTE the EE Eagle supports Bluetooth 4.0, 3G and Wi-Fi.
The EE Eagle is a bit of a mixed bag. Presumably if you’re thinking of buying it it’s as an affordable entry to 4G and from that perspective it’s easy to recommend. It’s a good all-round slate and the cheapest 4G enabled tablet on the market. Obviously you can get a better device if you spend more money but this isn’t designed to compete with the iPad Air or Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet.
Equally if you don’t care about 4G then you’d probably be better off with the Nexus 7 or Kindle Fire HDX as they’re similarly cheap but have better screens and more powerful innards. But if you want a 4G enabled slate and don’t want to spend a fortune then at around £200 the EE Eagle is the ideal option.
EE Eagle SpecificationDimensions : 214.4 x 120.7 x 7.9mm Weight: 329 grams Screen size: 8.0” IPS LCD (1280 x 800) Screen Resolution: 1280 x 800 display resolution Pixels Per Inch (PPI) : 189 Processor: 1.6GHz Quad core application processor RAM: 1 GB On-board Memory: 8GB (microSD support) Camera: 5MP (rear) 0.9MP (front facing) Operating system: Android 4.2.2 Ultrafast / 3G / 4G LTE: Yes/ Yes/ Yes Bluetooth / NFC : Yes/ No Battery capacity: 4800mAh Colours: White Launch Date: Out Now Price: £200