Test: Chuwi Hi9 Plus, the Android tablet less than 180 euros worth its price

A high-end Android tablet, the Hi9 Plus from Chinese Chuwi is not an iPad-Killer, but an imperfect tablet not without appeal. Starting with its price.

By spreading its range of tablets over a wider spectrum, by stretching its premium approach to the very high-end, from the 12.9-inch iPad Pro to the entry-level iPad updated in March 2018 and sold from 358.40 euros, Apple imposes a strong constraint on its competitors.

They have only two choices. Come and rub your products and suffer the comparison. Or exercise their talents in areas not covered by the iPad in the deserted segment of all entry-level. Where prices and margins are low and where it is not always easy to offer a product of sufficient quality to retain and deserve attention. It was in this thorny Bermuda triangle that the Chinese brand Chuwi decided to operate.

By its price
The Chuwi Hi9 Plus, which should not be confused with the Hi9 Air, has an argument of weight, its price. At around 176 euros, it weighs heavily in the interest that is shown to it. It even turns out to be central in the look we wear and will wear on this Android tablet – in version 8 stock. Note in passing that it is impossible to know if it will go under Android 9, despite its compatibility with Treble, which facilitates updates.
Anyway, at this price, it’s obvious that Chuwi will not be able to offer an overall experience as good as Apple’s. It’s heard. The question is not to have an equivalent product in your hands but to ensure comfort and a variety of uses which, given its price, gives value for money.

The Hi9 Plus must hold the road enough not to regret its purchase and make people forget that a few long cables, a few months of savings in addition, awaits the best possible experience on tablet.

Two rather well avoided faults
Often the first two victims of this low-cost race are the screen, on the one hand, and the quality of the materials and finish, on the other.

In this case, the 10.8 inch laminate slab is rather pleasing to the eye. The definition of 2560×1600 pixels is very comfortable, and the colors displayed are deep, a little saturated (Delta E 2000 of 4.77) and underlined by a nice contrast. This visual impression is confirmed by our measurements, which give it a contrast ratio of 1511: 1, which is much better than that of the iPad 2018 and its 1061: 1.

However, the Hi9 Plus panel is less bright. It displays 287 cd / m2 only, which is a bit light compared to the iPad 2018 which reaches 520 cd / m2.

The slab of the Chuwi tablet therefore does less well. However, it succeeds, pretty paradox, in being too bright when used in the dark. It dazzles when the brightness is at its lowest. A little concern for adjustment … However, screen side, the Hi9 Plus makes a good impression.

Now let’s move on to the second possible stumbling block: finish and materials. Without providing a particularly attractive or innovative design, Chuwi achieves a good performance. The tablet is pleasant to take in hand, it seems relatively solid and neat. Only the side buttons for the volume and the on / off of the tablet make a noise of plastic not very engaging which reveals a certain play. A micro faux-pas which cannot be unacceptable.
Especially if you look at it from all angles, you discover a USB-C port! Good news at the end of 2018.

A good surprise on the network side and acceptable results
There is also a little further a trap for a dual SIM. The Hi9 Plus is 4G compatible. It even offers a dual SIM location. You can thus use two SIMs, one of which can be used to make calls, via a dialer. A use that will be deemed rather anecdotal in the age of messaging apps, but it can always help.
It’s hard not to be excited about having access to such a feature on a tablet of this price. However, the debits are honest without being good, sufficient in any case to help you out, even if they obviously depend on the operator and your geographical location.
However, unless you are well covered by a 4G antenna, you will however tend to want to use Wi-Fi most of the time. The Hi9 Plus is compatible with the most current and recent standards, with the exception of Wi- Fi 6 (formerly 802.11ax), just out of fo

However, this does not allow it to obtain very efficient speeds. According to our tests carried out in an environment very well covered in 802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5), the 9.7-inch iPad, released in early 2018, has speeds of several hundred Mbit / s in up and down directions, where the Chuwi tablet maxes out at 80 Mbit / s, at best, under the same conditions. It is much lower than what the Apple tablet offers but remains honest and acceptable.

This difference in performance is, however, a sign. Often in a tablet the most expensive elements are, “more or less expensive”: the screen, the touch screen, the wireless modules (3G / 4G and Wi-Fi) then the battery and the processor. The classification of these last two elements can be reversed from one product to another. In this case, it seems that Chuwi has made savings on the side of 4G and Wi-Fi modules …

The impact of the broken price
He may also have done so on the touch screen side. Indeed, it is not uncommon to have to press several times before the interface reacts. To the point that one wonders if the problem is a lack of responsiveness of the touchscreen or the processor. Good news, we have found the answer. Bad news, the responsibility is shared.

We had the opportunity to try the stylus of the Hi9 Plus, the HiPen H3 and its 1024 pressure levels, sold separately for 25 dollars. We will not say much because it is enough to draw a line to notice the considerable latency time. We learn that it is difficult to take handwritten notes and that the tactile part leaves something to be desired. The HiPen H3 will therefore remain with the merchant.

But the SoC MediaTek Helio X27 (MT6797X), which nevertheless has 10 cores, two main (Cortex A72), four high performance and four low consumption (Cortex A53) can be pointed out without hesitation.
Be careful, it is not calamitous. He also obtains acceptable test results, although rather weak. Its AnTuTu score is 104,770. We have seen worse, it’s true and if we want to be really optimistic, we will say that it is “only” 1.7 times worse than the score obtained by the iPad 2018.

Chuwi Hi9 Plus: graphics performance
Games that demand responsiveness and fluidity are sometimes difficult – not systematically but often. Even running the graphical tests is a kind of patience test. The animations of the 3D renderings are more like a slideshow than a smooth video. These lags, when they occur, are all annoyances that could make the purchase regret.

Fortunately, they are not there all the time. This makes it possible to watch videos, even 4K on YouTube, for example. You can also play a little without suffering too much. Everything will not be beautiful, everything will not be fluid, nevertheless, between two small failures, the experience is correct. Aware of these limitations, Chuwi proposes to use the DuraSpeed ​​program which gives more resources to the application in the foreground. In any case, this is the promise. To be honest, we didn’t notice any real difference when activating it.
We can not help wondering what would have given this tablet with a Snapdragon of the 600 range. The price would certainly have been higher, but the overall pleasure would have been much more important.

Rather acceptable autonomy
If the power is not totally there, what is autonomy worth? Chuwi announces a 7000 mAh battery. It’s a lot for a smartphone but not necessarily huge for a tablet whose screen is much larger. Our versatile autonomy test gives it 7.20 hours. It’s almost two hours less than the iPad 2018 … Once again, we would have appreciated more but the price made accept many sacrifices.

We recorded a charge time of 4:43. It will take quite a while before seeing the battery display 100%. It is all the more a pity that we often found the Hi9 Plus on and therefore largely discharged or even running out of battery in our bag. It happened even when we added her keyboard cover, supposed to put it to sleep

Let’s just talk about this keyboard shell. As a protection, it is frankly bad. Its design involves too much play, too much movement. It is not magnetized around the edges of the slab so that it l does not protect its surface enough.
It even tends to come off when you grab it, for no apparent reason. In fact, if you don’t want to use a keyboard with your tablet, choose another way to preserve its screen.

Despite its connectors and two notches which accommodate small hooks, the keyboard cover disconnects or detaches too easily.

On the other hand, and it is a good surprise, the keyboard is almost pleasant to use. It is a bit narrow and the stroke is a little soft, but you can use it without having to look where your fingers are placed. A detail which proves that, although the keys are not spaced apart, the typing comfort is sufficient to type long texts without fatigue.
However, it has happened, without reason, that the keyboard stops working and that the tablet has to be restarted in order for it to resume service. This happened in particular when we also connected the stylus.
In addition, it is impossible to work on knees that are too high, because the back of the tablet is not attached to the support. The Hi9 Plus then switches forward as soon as the tilt is too steep.
However, flat, the rigidity of the keyboard is sufficient to work on his knees, legs extended. Finally, note that the keyboard is not backlit (any more than those of Apple) and that it is therefore difficult to use it in the dark.

The hull keyboard we tried is sold for $ 49, but you can find it supplied with the Hi9 Plus. For comparison and comparison, the Smart Keyboard for the 10.5-inch iPad Pro, which is perfectly finished and protects the screen rather well, costs alone 179

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