On the eve of MWC this year, Huawei took the wraps off of the MediaPad X1, an intriguing 7-inch tablet that’s both the thinnest and the lightest such device ever built. Plus, it comes with some pretty high-end specs. And a great looking build.
If you’re in China, though, there’s one more reason to get this tablet that doubles as a phone (yes, really) – it will be dirt cheap. Well, at least compared to what it will go for in other markets.
See, in China it will be sold as the Honor X1, and will cost just 1,799 yuan (for the 3G model). That’s around $293 or €213 at today’s exchange rates. The 4G version will be sold for 1,999 yuan – which amounts to approximately $326 or €237. That’s cheap for a tablet with such premium specs and 4G connectivity.
However, in Europe the MediaPad X1 will be offered for €399 ($548) in its 4G LTE capable incarnation. That’s quite a difference. So what’s going on here? Engadget asked Shao Yang, Huawei’s Chief Marketing Officer, that exact question. And the answer has to do with different distribution models, as well as how people perceive the X1 in different markets.
Let’s explain, then. In China, Huawei says they look at this device as a phablet. As such, it has to be competitive in terms of pricing with high-end smartphones over there, most of which go for around $300-$350 (believe it or not).
So Huawei’s main rivals could be the likes of Xiaomi. Which is why the company is using the Honor brand for the X1 in China. That’s the brand that emulates Xiaomi’s online-only batch sale distribution model, thus cutting costs by effectively doing away with the middlemen from the distribution chain. Huawei already has two Honor smartphones out for which it employs this very model, the 3X and 3C, and now will use it for the X1 as well.
So, in short, the X1 is that cheap in China because of lower distribution costs, and people’s perception of what it should be going head to head against.
Then what about Europe? Over there, apparently, people think of the X1 as a tablet first. Comparable small tablets with 4G LTE support such as the iPad Mini with Retina Display cost around €499, so this will still be significantly cheaper. Which, interestingly, means that Huawei’s distribution partners are actually very happy about the pricing, despite the big difference compared to what’s happening in China.