The Chuwi Hi8 Se is a very interesting 8-inch Android tablet because even though it costs just 99 US Dollars, it features decent hardware. At least on paper. Among those are a metal body, a full HD screen, a quad-core processor and vanilla Android 8.1 Oreo. So, is it a good tablet? That’s what you’ll find out in my Chuwi Hi8 Se review.
By the way, Chuwi is a manufacturer from China and for a long time, you had to get their devices through Chinese import shops. However, by now, you can also order a lot of their tablets through Amazon in the US and Europe. In the US, you can get the Chuwi Hi8 Se starting at just 99 US Dollars. You can get it through Chinese import shops too, so it might be worth it to compare prices.
Design & Build Quality
When a tablet costs under 100 US Dollars, we usually get a plastic body only. That’s not the case here though. In fact, the back is mostly metal. However, there two plastic bars at the top and bottom. Still, the build quality is pretty good. It certainly is thin enough with 7.8mm and it weighs 340g.
There are a power button and a volume rocker on the right side. On the top, we get a MicroUSB port, a standard headphone jack, and a microSD card slot. That one can fit up to 128GB cards.
On the bottom, there are two speakers. Well, at least two openings for speakers. Sadly, only one is used as a real speaker. The other one either doesn’t work or it is just a fake opening for design purposes. I think that is the case because it is quite common.
I watched a lot of YouTube with this tablet and the sound quality is acceptable at most. Obviously, there is no stereo feeling at all and no real bass. Sometimes voices can sound a bit scratchy when you turn up the volume. I’ve reviewed tablets with worse speakers. But still, the sound is not good but acceptable at most.
We get two cameras with a resolution of 2 and 5 megapixels. And, again, like is usual in this price class, both cameras are not great at all. The resolution is low and especially when in low light, the picture quality is bad. With that being said, it is usable for Skype or so.
The display is a major highlight of the Chuwi Hi8 Se. It is an 8-inch screen with an aspect ratio of 16:10 and a full HD resolution of 1920 x 1200 pixels. Pretty much all other tablets with a price tag of under 100 Dollars have an HD screen only – especially the ones from more famous brands. Compared to those, texts and icons look much sharper on the Hi8 Se.
All other aspects of the display are pretty good too. It is an IPS screen, so the viewing angles are wide. The brightness is good enough for inside but too dark to use in the direct sun. I also like that the screen is fully laminated. Color reproduction is alright, and the contrast is good.
Overall, I think the screen is very good when considering the price. As I said, usually we get an HD screen only at 100 Dollars. And compared to that, the screen is much sharper here.
Hardware & Performance
Let’s get to the performance of the Chuwi Hi8 Se. It is shipped with a MediaTek MT8735VT quad-core processor. That is a pretty weak chip. With that, we get 2GB of RAM and a 32GB internal storage. Around 5.6GB of those are used by the system. There is no 4G option.
As you can see in my Geekbench 4 and AnTuTu benchmark comparison, the Chuwi Hi8 Se certainly is an entry-level tablet. It’s interesting to note that it scores a bit better in AnTuTu than the cheaper Amazon Fire HD 8. It also scores better than the cheap tablet series from Lenovo.
In real life, there are two sides to the story. The performance is good enough for a lot of apps. I’ve surfed the web in Chrome and read a lot in Feedly and the Kindle app without any issues. Because of its nice screen, it is a great tablet for reading. Microsoft Word, YouTube, and Adobe Lightroom run fine too. However, with Lightroom, it can sometimes take a while until everything is loaded.
Now, for all that the performance is fine. However, sometimes there are some small hiccups noticeable. For example, sometimes it can take about a second until a new tab is opened in Chrome. Most things are smooth, but then sometimes you have to wait a bit.
That is the case when navigating the operating system too. Android runs fine most of the time. But when switching from an app to the home screen, you sometimes have to wait a second until its loaded. That’s the case when switching between two apps too.
In a direct comparison, the Amazon Fire HD 8 is a bit snappier with things like that. I think the Chuwi has to fight with the full HD resolution. The Amazon tablet has very similar hardware but has to deal with a much lower resolution which is easier.
Chuwi Hi8 Se Gaming Test
I’ve gotten mixed results in my gaming test too. I played a lot of different games and among those are very demanding ones like Asphalt 9 and PUBG Mobile. Both actually do run with lowest graphics settings. However, you will notice some minor stuttering in between. And longer loading times too. But both do run. The pricier Lenovo Tab E10 is not capable of running PUBG Mobile.
Two other games I played are Into The Dead 2 and Dead Trigger. And they do run with lowest settings as well. But again, you will see some stuttering while playing.
Subway Surfers is stutter-free. However, I noticed another issue with that one. It does not react as fast as I am used to from other devices. That might be a touchscreen or performance issue, I’m not sure.
Well, if you really want to play games with the Chuwi Hi8 Se, you can. But I wouldn’t recommend it as a gaming tablet. For that, you’ll have to spend a bit more.
Software: Android 8.1 Oreo
The Chuwi Hi8 Se is running Android 8.1 Oreo and there will be no update to Android 9.0 Pie. Well, that’s the case for pretty much all tablets in this price class.
Since we’re getting kind of vanilla Android here, I don’t have much to say about the software. Chuwi did not customize the interface which is great. As I said, most of the time Android runs fine, but sometimes there are minor hiccups. Obviously, it does support all standard features of Oreo. Among those is the split screen view. However, because of its weak hardware, multitasking is not great on here.
By the way, like all Android tablets from Chuwi, the Hi8 Se does not support Netflix in HD. The necessary DRM standards are not supported. You can watch YouTube in full HD though.
Even though the Chuwi Hi8 Se has a battery with a capacity of 4000mAh, it got a runtime of 6 hours in my battery test only. For this test, I’m always looping an HD video at medium brightness.
As you can see in my comparison, those 6 hours are very weak. Together with the Lenovo Tab E7, it is one of the worst tablets when it comes to battery life.
Chuwi Hi8 Se Review: Final Verdict
So, is the Chuwi Hi8 Se a good tablet? Especially when you consider the price of just 99 US Dollars, its build quality and display are very good. I also like that we get almost pure Android. Sadly, the battery life is very short. And while the performance is alright, it could be a bit better to get a smoother system.
I can recommend the Chuwi Hi8 Se if you don’t want to spend more than 100 US Dollars, need a high-resolution screen and prefer almost pure Android. As I said, the screen is very nice in this price class.
Like usual, let’s check out some possible alternatives.
A cheaper alternative is the Amazon Fire HD 8. While the performance is similar on paper, it does feel a bit snappier in real life. I think that’s due to the low HD resolution which does not need that many resources. The Fire HD 8 has a full plastic body and the interface is customized a lot by Amazon. However, you do get Alexa and great customer support. Oh, and the battery lasts much longer.
The next best tablet is the Chuwi Hi9 Pro. In fact, I really like the Hi9 Pro. It is well built, has a much better performance and an even nicer screen. Depending on where you can get it, it costs around 40 to 50 Dollars more though.
- Great display
- Almost pure Android
- Very inexpensive
- Metal body
- Performance acceptable only
- Short battery life
- Bad cameras
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