Recent years has seen most mainstream manufacturers decide leave the tablet space and focus their resources on the much larger smartphone market. This has left the tablet market dominated by Apple’s iPad, Microsoft’s Surface, and on the budget end Amazon’s Fire tablets. Samsung and Huawei continue to make high-end Android tablets with limited sales, but when the kind folks at Chinese retailer Banggood offered to send me a 10.1″ tablet that runs the latest Android 9.0 (Pie) with a FHD display that retails for under £100 my interest was piqued.
Look & feel
The tablet in question is the Alldocube/Cube iPlay10 Pro, and on paper it gives tablets that cost £250+ a run for their money, but how does it look and feel?
The design of the iPlay10 Pro is not hugely interesting, with relatively wide black bezels particularly on the top and bottom (in landscape mode) and a silver alloy back. It is not going to compete on looks with the likes of the latest Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 or the latest iPads but that is not its market, it is designed to be a cheap media consumption device that competes with the Amazon Fire HD and in this comparison it shines.
The IPS display is fantastic for the price, with the same 1920×1200 resolution (224 ppi) as the Amazon competitors and powered by 3GB of RAM (beating the Fire HD’s 2GB), although it is not fully laminated which can make reflections a little worse. The 32GB of storage space is fine as the tablet supports MicroSD cards for cheap expansion, and the Mediatek MT8163 processor provides plenty of power for a media consumption device with its four 1.5GHz 64-bit cores. You won’t be gaming on this tablet, but the CPU is perfectly good for browsing the web, checking social media, and most importantly it offers hardware decoding of 1080P h.264 and HEVC, so will play pretty much anything you throw at it. Do note that the tablet has a Widevine level of L3 which means you can’t watch Netflix in HD or higher thanks to Netflix’s copy protection requirements.
In reality there are two main differences between the iPlay10 Pro and Amazon’s Fire HD 10 – the operating system and the cost. Amazon’s Fire OS is a very heavily customised version of Android 7.1 (Nougat) that swaps out Google’s apps and the Play Store for Amazon alternatives, whilst the iPlay10 Pro uses pretty much vanilla Android 9.0 (Pie) – the same as Samsung’s latest S6 £600+ tablet. Android has come on a long way since Nougat, and for those that prefer a clean Android experience (who doesn’t?) then the iPlay10 Pro is a steal when compared to the similarly specced Amazon alternative that costs £60 more.
As the iPlay10 Pro uses essentially vanilla Android, the setup is a breeze, where you sign into your Google account and head through the various steps of setting up Wifi, creating a passcode, and installing your favourite apps from the Play Store.
I tend to use tablets as media consumption devices – they are there for watching videos on the train or in bed as well as for browsing the web and updating social media, and on these tasks the iPlay10 Pro works well. There is a small lag every now and again when using Chrome with multiple tabs open, but the display is clear and bright and it played every video and YouTube stream I tried with little issue.
Battery life is about average for a tablet like this, with the iPlay10 Pro playing back videos for 7/8 hours on a medium brightness on its 6600mAh battery, which is enough for most journeys. And importantly, the benefits of Android Pie is that standby time is multiple days.
The alloy shell is nice to hold and is light, with the tablet weighing in at 510g, which is just 50g more than the latest iPads, but it is significantly thicker at 8.9mm compared to the 2019 iPad Air’s 6.1mm (but still less than the Fire HD 10’s 9.8mm).
As one might expect for a budget tablet the speakers are quite tinny, with little bass on offer, so this is a tablet that is better used with headphones, which can be connected either video the headphone jack (remember those?) or Bluetooth 4. The front (2MP) and rear (5MP) cameras are also not the best, but I have yet to find good reason for anyone using a tablet to take photos instead of their phone anyway, so I wouldn’t mark it down too much for this.
There are two features I do miss, however, and they are fingerprint unlock and USB-C charging. The lack of fingerprint unlock is an understanding cost-cutting measure, but I have just become used to using my digits to unlock my laptop, phone, and tablet over the years so I do miss it. The choice of Micro-USB rather than USB-C for charging and data transfer however is more of an annoyance, as the world is moving towards everything being USB-C at this point and I would happily pay an extra £5-10 to have that connectivity. I do like the addition of a Micro-HDMI port though, even if it is hidden under a plastic cover.
- CPU: MediaTek MT8163 Quad Core 64-bit 1.5GHz
- GPU: ARM Mali-T20
- OS: Android 9.0
- RAM: 3GB
- Storage: 32GB
- Expandable storage: MicroSD card
- Display: 10.1″ 10 point IPS capacitive touchscreen
- Resolution: 1920×1200 pixels (224 ppi)
- Battery: 6600mAh
- Weight: 510g
- Size: 241.3 X 171.7 x 8.9mm
- Front camera: 2MP
- Back camera: 5MP
- WiFi: 802.11 a/b/g/n 2.4GHz/5GHz
- Bluetooth: 4.0
- Audio: 3.5mm headphone jack
- Micro-USB port
- Micro-HDMI port
- GPS: Supported
- Video codecs: MPEG4/H.264/HEVC 1080P (hardware decoding supported)
The Alldocube iPlay10 Pro is not designed to compete with the premium tablets from Apple, Microsoft, and Samsung, but with its vivid FHD display, metal alloy frame, and vanilla Android 9.0 operating system it is an attractive option for those that want a media consumption device for a very attractive price.
Price at time of review: £98.67 from Banggood
Note: Importing products from China may mean you have to pay import duty, which could push the price up.