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Home > Android Tablet Reviews > T-Mobile Springboard by Huawei


T-Mobile Springboard

Editor's rating (1-5): rating starrating starrating starrating star
Carrier: T-Mobile
Manufacturer: Huawei
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What's hot: Good materials and build quality, great specs, high res display and HSPA+.

What's not: Display could be more responsive to touch, occasional hangs, inconsistent data speeds.


Reviewed November 7, 2011 by , Editor in Chief (twitter: @lisagade)

Some pundits claim that Android tablets need to be significantly less expensive than the iPad 2 to succeed. In that case, the T-Mobile Springboard by Huawei should be a success. Of course, there's more to the formula than price or the small army of seriously budget no-name Android tablets with grainy resistive touch screens and outdated versions of Android would have taken the world by storm. Even T-Mobile's second 7" Android tablet, the Dell Streak 7, was designed for budget-conscious consumers, which is a polite way of saying it was low end. Dell is a tier 1 brand, but the Streak 7 wasn't compelling thanks to its dim and low resolution display and chunky plastic body. In contrast, the Springboard seems positively Neiman Marcus to the Streak 7's K-Mart vibe.

T-Mobile Springboard

The Springboard is a 7" Android Honeycomb 3.2 tablet that's got a quality look and feel with specs to match. It has a very high resolution display among 7" tablets: 1280 x 800, and it runs on a dual core 1.2GHz Snapdragon CPU with Adreno 220 graphics. It has HSPA+ 4G on T-Mobile, and it has 16 gigs of storage and a microSD card slot. Round that up with front and rear cameras, WiFi, Bluetooth and a GPS and you've got a competitive package with a friendly price (at least on contract). The tablet has GSM EDGE/3G/4G for data only; it does not handle cellular calls, though you can use VoIP apps like GTalk and Skype.

T-Mobile Springboard

Huawei, a relative newcomer in the US, makes the Springboard for T-Mobile. They've produced USB data sticks for carriers, as well as a few budget phones. They've said they want to be the next HTC and start making seriously good quality products, and in fact, the back of the Springboard is embarrassingly similar to the 7" HTC Flyer tablet. It's got the same aluminum back with white end caps, though Huawei does at least change the shape of these caps. The similarity ends there since the Springboard has modern and utilitarian metal straight sides while the HTC is full of interesting complex curves and surface textures. But then, the Flyer did cost considerably more when it came out, though it's now down to $299 for the WiFi only version and $299 for the T-Mobile version via HTC's website.

T-Mobile Springboard

The HTC Flyer and the Springboard.

T-Mobile went Home Shopping Network on us with pricing. You'll pay $229 out the door, and then wait for a $50 rebate, which brings it down to $179. That's a fairly normal arrangement for T-Mobile and other US carriers who use rebates. But it gets downright interesting after that: T-Mobile refers to the $179 (after rebate) as a down payment. You'll pay $10/month for 20 months on your bill (with approved credit and a 2 year contract). These are your "interest free" monthly payments on the tablet. The data plans starts at $30/month, but you'll get a $10/month discount if you have another line with T-Mobile. Got that? So the total cost of the tablet is $379. If you end your contract early, you'll pay whatever's left of your $10/month payments balance, but T-Mobile tells there won't be any additional ETF. Honestly, it's never required a full paragraph just to state the price of a phone or tablet!

T-Mobile Springboard

Design and Build Quality

Build quality and design elements are very good, though Huawei isn't veering far from the rectangular slab that represents most tablets. The sides and back (apart from the plastic caps) are indeed metal and the tablet is relatively thin at 0.41 inches and light at 13 ounces. Similar to the HTC, the Springboard has a unibody design and the back flows literally seamlessly into the sides. This means the battery isn't removable, but the SIM card slot and microSD card slot are accessible once you pull off the bottom white cap/panel. The tablet looks, feels and is quite well made.





The top edge houses a volume rocker and power button, and the somewhat anemic stereo speakers fire from grilles on the left side. The 3.5mm headphone jack is on the left side and the micro HDMI, micro USB and power jack are on the right side. The rear 5 megapixel autofocus camera is centered near the top (when held in portrait mode), and the front 1.3 megapixel video chat camera is inexplicably placed at the upper left corner when held in landscape mode. Your left ear will be featured in video chats. Or you'll sit off to the side when chatting. Argh. The Springboard isn't the only tablet with awkward video chat camera placement, but that doesn't mean we won't complain.

T-Mobile Springboard Video Review

Display and Multimedia

This is the first 7", 1280 x 800 pixel Android tablet to hit the market, and it's nice to have a high quality display at this price. The added resolution doesn't mean you'll see lots more on screen when viewing a web page compared to the 1024 x 600 HTC Flyer though. We put them side by side and loaded the same web pages to compare, and we saw the same view on both. That means the operating system is doing some scaling to keep things legible, and that's not a bad thing. Few of us have the eyes to read micro fonts, and competing operating systems like iOS do scaling to keep things readable. What you do get is sharper fonts in eBook apps like Kindle and Nook, as well as sharper video and photos.

Viewing angles are quite good. You can hold the tablet tilted away on a table and see it clearly without much color shift, unlike the Acer Iconia A100 7" tablet. We had no trouble with horizontal or vertical viewing angles up to 130 degrees. Two people can watch a video without much loss of blacks or contrast. Well done. Brightness is good enough to keep Google Maps viewable outdoors, albeit with some loss of clarity and contrast. Colors seem natural and Huawei has a color enhancement feature that's turned on by default, though we couldn't see much difference with it on or off.

The tablet handles video playback well, and it managed 1080p high profile MPEG4 video playback without a hitch, something we can't say of all Android tablets. There's no point to play videos that are higher resolution than the display of course, unless you're going to use the micro HDMI out port to play videos to a monitor or HD TV. Like most Android devices, it works in mirror mode when a display is connected, and this worked fine in our tests.

Music playback comes courtesy of the standard Android Music app, unless you load a third party player or music streaming service like Slacker or Pandora. Though the speakers are weak on this small tablet, audio out through headphones and HDMI is good.


The Springboard runs on a capable dual core Qualcomm MSM8260 CPU with Adreno 220 graphics. It runs at 1.2GHz, and did quite well not just in our HD video playback tests, but on benchmarks. The tablet's scored as follows:

Quadrant: 2005
Linpack multi-thread 69.4
Sunpider 2488

Inside we've got the usual (for Honeycomb tablets) 1 gig of RAM and 16 gigs of internal storage. You can use SDHC microSD cards up to 32 gigs in capacity to extend storage further.


The Springboard has HSPA+ 14.4 4G on T-Mobile's bands, and it uses a standard size SIM card that's accessible under the back cover. As with other US tablets, this is used only for data and the tablet doesn't make calls over the cell network nor does it do text messaging. You can use VoIP for calling over data networks with apps like Gtalk and Skype.

Reception is good and is on par with the HTC Amaze 4G and Samsung Galaxy S II phones. We thought the tablet might pull in an even stronger signal since it has room for a larger antenna, but it doesn't outperform phones. Data speeds were uneven in our tests, though we have very good T-Mobile coverage here and generally stable data speeds. The tablet sometimes managed 3.5 Mbps down and 1Mbps up one moment, and 1Mbps down and 0.5Mpbs up a moment later in the same test location. On average we got a mediocre 1.5Mbps down and 0.75Mbps up according to the Android app.

The tablet has the mobile hotspot app, and this turns the Springboard into a roving WiFi hotspot that can provide a high speed data connection to your laptop or other tablet.


T-Mobile and Huawei showed praise-worthy restraint, and didn't bombard this 7" tablet with lots of bloatware. In fact, most of the apps included are reasonably useful or entertaining: Netflix, T-Mobile TV, Quickoffice (MS Office viewer, not editor), a file manager, Blockbuster, Lets Golf 2 (is there any Android device that escapes this game demo?), Lookout Security, Slacker, TeleNav GPS Navigator, Qik Video Chat and Zinio are included.

The basic Android staples are here including Gmail, email, the Webkit web browser with Adobe Flash, Gtalk with video chat, YouTube, Maps, Navigation, Places and the Android Market.

You can copy files, music and videos to the tablet using the included micro USB cable. The tablet works in both mass storage mode and via MTP protocol.

Battery Life

Like most tablets, the Springboard's Lithium Ion battery is sealed inside. We're still awaiting info on its capacity, but I can tell you in the week we've had it, it manages to get through two days on a charge with light use. More challenging endeavors like long video chat sessions, streaming video playback and playback of locally stored HD video will reduce battery life, as with any tablet. In our battery life test (a mix of web browsing, Google push services running, email, playing music for an hour with the display off and watching streaming video for 45 minutes ), the tablet lasted us 5.2 hours. That's with a 4G HSPA+ connection, WiFi off and display brightness set to 65%.

The tablet comes with a 0.6 volt wall charger with a barrel plug that connects to the Springboard's charging port. In our tests, it did not support charging over USB.


We like Huawei's first higher end tablet offering in the US, and they're off to a good start. The tablet is well put together with quality materials and it has a very high resolution display that's sharp and bright. It's quite fast and is a champ at video playback. But the sometime truculent touch screen is a minor annoyance (we found ourselves pressing twice until we got in the habit of pressing harder). We would have liked to see faster HSPA+ speeds, and more stable speeds, but that's something a firmware update could probably fix. And lastly, T-Mobile's pricing methodology seems either cagey or designed to confuse customers. Just buy it outright if you can afford it for approximately $430; tablets evolve too quickly to be locked to a model for 2 years anyhow.


Price: $379 total with contract (including the 20 monthly payments and $50 rebate), $229 out the door and $179 after rebate.



T-Mobile Springboard


T-Mobile Springboard


T-Mobile Springboard


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Display: 7" capacitive multi-touch. Resolution: 1280 x 800, supports both portrait and landscape modes via accelerometer.

Battery: Lithium Ion rechargeable.

Performance: 1.2GHz dual core Qualcomm MSM8260 CPU with Adreno 220 graphics. 1 gig RAM, 16 gigs internal storage.

Size: 7.48 x 4.88 x 0.41 inches. Weight: 13 ounces.

Cellular: GSM with EDGE, 3G and 4G HSPA+ on T-Mobile's bands.

Camera: 1.3MP front and 5MP rear camera. Supports video chat.

AV: Built in stereo speakers, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone jack. Micro HDMI port.

Networking: Integrated WiFi 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR.

Software: Android OS 3.2 Honeycomb. Adobe Flash Player included. Standard suite of Google Android applications including web browser, email, gmail, YouTube, Maps, Navigation, Gtalk, Search and the Android Market. Netflix, T-Mobile TV, Quickoffice (MS Office viewer, not editor), a file manager, Blockbuster, Lets Golf 2, Lookout Security, Slacker, TeleNav GPS Navigator, Qik Video Chat and Zinio.


Expansion: 1 SDHC microSD card slot, compatible with up to 32 gig cards.


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