After flirting with Windows Mobile for their maiden foray into smartphones and then pinning hopes on webOS before it got killed two years ago. HP is taking another stab at the smartphone market with Android this time.
HP VoiceTab series – Slate 6 and Slate 7 – hit the crowded phablet market in India intended for consumers who prefer to have one device for calls as well as web browsing, media consumption, and games. Also, Slate 6 is a dual SIM device, and that appeals to a lot of users in India.
The HP VoiceTab Slate 6 is a surprisingly nicely designed phablet. It’s just 9mm thick, making it one of the slimmest device in the category. Also, at 160gm, it is surprisingly light for its size.
The slim chassis of the 6-inch device makes it easy to hold and grip despite the large size. Of course, phablets of this size aren’t made for one-handed operation despite what the marketing folks claim, but the Slate 6 is not unwieldy and is quite easy to carry.
The removable back cover has a grey checkered design pattern with matte finish that gives the device a premium feel despite being all plastic. The gold finish on the sides and the metal buttons also adds to the appeal.
While the build quality of the phone is pretty good overall, the plastic materials used are very average. When you hold it firmly and attempt to twist, you’d feel as you’d break it. The back panel too is pretty flimsy.
Powered by a not-so-popular 1.2 GHz Marvell PXA1088 quad-core processor with 1GB of RAM and Android 4.2.2, the Slate 6 looks good on paper for a mid-range device. The 16 GB internal storage with microSD expansion is at par as well.
However, the overall responsiveness of the device is a let-down. HP stays away from heavy customizations and skinning, and runs stock Android, but the optimizations seem to be missing. The UI has a noticeable lag and apps take a few extra, I won’t say seconds, but maybe milliseconds. It wouldn’t have been annoying for most users, but the performance is inconsistent and apps like the default browser would sometimes hang and require a force quit. Casual games work all well on the Slate 6, but graphic-intensive games like Asphalt 8 obviously struggle at high graphic settings.
The HP Slate 6 features a 6-inch IPS 720p display. While the display is good enough and colors are accurately bright, the viewing angles are below average.
The 5MP rear camera of the Slate 6 is a decent camera in good light. The contrast isn’t right there and you wouldn’t have a lot of details in the photo, but they are pretty okay and sharp. In low light and outdoors in evening though, the camera app takes quite a while to focus, and there’s too much noise in the photos. The camera optics and the software disappoint overall. The 2MP front camera though works well for video calls and those selfies.
The HP VoiceTab Slate 6 works, but does not impress much. The design is surprisingly sophisticated, but the user experience is listless and the camera offers sub-par experience. The 3000mAh battery last through the day, which is pretty good for a phablet.
At INR 22,990, the Slate 6 is not a bad device, but the performance issues make it hard to be recommended, especially in a crowded market. A software update could take care of most issues, but that’s shooting in the dark. The HP VoiceTab Slate 6 is well-intentioned, but an average comeback from HP.