The Nexus 7 has had a fairly easy time of it so far, with only the Kindle Fire HDX providing much real competition in the low-price tablet market, but alongside its new low cost Kestrel handset, EE has also seen fit to unleash an affordable slate, dubbed the EE Eagle.
With a quad-core processor and 4G connectivity the EE Eagle certainly sounds good on paper, but how does it stand up to the Nexus 7?
The Nexus 7 has a plain black plastic back, which leaves it looking a little on the cheap side, but it’s soft and comfortable to hold. The back of the EE Eagle is also plastic, but it has a metal effect, which looks a little more premium but doesn’t feel quite as nice.
Flip the slates over and the Nexus 7 is basically all screen, albeit with bezels above and below. The EE Eagle however has speakers above and below the screen. It looks more cluttered than the front of the Nexus 7 as a result, but it means the sound is actually pumping out towards you when you’re watching things, which is an advantage.
Ultimately neither stands out as head and shoulders above the other from a design perspective. Front on the Nexus 7 looks better while the back of the Eagle impresses more, but the Nexus 7 is more comfortable to hold while the EE Eagle has better positioned speakers.
The Nexus 7 has an IPS LCD 7 inch 1200 x 1920 display with a pixel density of 323 pixels per inch. It’s a good screen, not the best out there but images are sharp and viewing angles are good.
The EE Eagle on the other hand has an IPS LCD 8 inch 1280 x 800 display with a pixel density of just 189 pixels per inch, so it’s both a little bigger and far lower resolution, leading to much less sharp images. It’s one of the biggest differences between the two slates and it works out very much in the Nexus 7’s favour.
The Nexus 7 has a 1.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro processor and 2GB of RAM, while the EE Eagle has a 1.6GHz quad-core HiSilicon processor and 1GB of RAM. So straight off the bat it has just half as much RAM as the Nexus 7.
As for the processor, it’s made by Huawei, the company who made the EE Eagle and while it’s newer than the processor in the Nexus 7 it’s not quite as high performance, so on both counts the EE Eagle is found lacking, with the Nexus 7 performing noticeably better.
It’s also worth noting that while the Nexus 7 is upgradeable to Android 4.4.2 KitKat, the EE Eagle is stuck on Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean.
Both devices have a 5 megapixel main camera which takes predictably mediocre pictures. Cameras have never been a focus on tablets, with good reason and on budget devices like these they take even more of a backseat. Still, both units are functional and both also have a front-facing snapper.
In the case of the Nexus 7 it’s a 1.2 megapixel one, while EE hasn’t confirmed the spec of the front-facing camera on the Eagle, but it’s likely to be 1 megapixel, as that’s the spec of the camera on the Huawei MediaPad M1, which is essentially the same device just without the EE branding.
The Nexus 7 has a 3950 mAh battery which can survive up to 9 hours of media use. It’s not yet known what size the battery in the EE Eagle is, but we’d hazard a guess that it’s 4800 mAh, as that’s the size of the battery in the MediaPad M1. If so then we’d expect it to have similar battery life to the Nexus 7, maybe even slightly better.
The Nexus 7 comes with a choice of 16 or 32GB of built in storage but there’s no microSD card slot, while the EE Eagle comes with just 16GB but it does have a microSD card slot, so that’s one area where it bests the Nexus 7.
For connectivity options the Nexus 7 has Wi-Fi, NFC, and Bluetooth 4.0 and if you splash out a bit more you can get a version with 3G and 4G too. The EE Eagle on the other hand doesn’t appear to have NFC, but it has Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, 3G and 4G.
When it comes down to it the Nexus 7 is far and away the better device out of these two. Its screen while slightly smaller is in a whole other league, it’s more powerful, runs a newer version of Android and has more built in storage.
It doesn’t have a microSD card slot, the build quality is pretty similar even if the designs differ and a few questions still hang over the Eagle, such as exactly how good its battery life is, but on the whole there are few reasons to pick it over the Nexus 7.
Of course with both of these devices price is a big factor and that’s one area where the EE Eagle perhaps has the edge. It’s available on pay as you go for just £199 or on contract from EE for £15 per month with £49.99 upfront. Choosing that option will give you 2GB of monthly data.
The Nexus 7 also starts at £199, but that’s for a 16GB Wi-Fi only version. If you want 32GB of storage you’ll have to pay £239 and if you want 3G and 4G connectivity then the price goes up to £299. So the EE Eagle is a cheap and cheerful way to get a 4G connected tablet, which is exactly what it set out to be. But if you can live without mobile data or afford to shell out a bit more then the Nexus 7 is definitely a better buy.
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