Meet the Exynos 4412 quad-core 9.7 inch tablet called “Vice”

March 7, 2013
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vice tabletThe¬†Exynos 4 Quad (or Exynos 4412 as it was previously known) is Samsung’s¬†32nm HKMG (High K Metal Gate Process)¬†quad-core CPU that powers some versions of the Galaxy S3 along with Samsung’s phablets, the¬†Galaxy Note II and Galaxy Note 8.0. It is also the processor used by the “Vice” tablet, a¬†9.7 inch iPad 2 look-alike.

Not only does the Vice, which is sold by Chinavasion, come with a cool Samsung quad-core processor, it also has 2GB of RAM, Bluetooth and an IPS screen. Although it may look like an iPad 2, this beast is running Android.

The designers of the Vice tablet have clearly used the iPad 2 as a template. It is almost¬†exactly¬†the same size, has the same size screen and with it switched off (so you can’t see that Android is running rather than iOS) you could easily mistake it for a white iPad 2. But on the inside the Vice is a very different device. The iPad 2 has a dual-core CPU, the Vice has a quad-core. The iPad 2 has 512MB of memory, the Vice 2GB. The iPad 2 has a 0.7 megapixel camera, the Vice a 5 megapixel camera. The iPad 2 costs $399 for the 16GB model whereas the 16GB Vice costs just $300.

vice-next-to-ipad

iPad 2 on the left; Vice tablet on the right.

Hardware

The Vice is built around the Exynos 4 Quad and at a guess I would reckon that the design is based on a reference board from Samsung. The tablet runs Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich but unfortunately there is little chance of an upgrade to Jelly Bean. The specs look like this:

  • CPU: Samsung Exynos4412, Quad Core Cortex A9 @ 1.6GHz
  • RAM: 2GB
  • WiFi: 802.11 b/g/n
  • Bluetooth
  • Support for¬†Google play
  • 5 Megapixel Rear Camera + 0.3 Megapixel Front-Facing Camera
  • Display Size: 9.7 Inch
  • Display Resolution: 1024×720
  • Internal: 16GB
  • Micro SD card up to 32GB
  • HDMI
  • Dimensions: 245x190x10mm (L x W x D)
  • Weight: 622g

vice-antutu4

Although the front of the Vice looks very much like an iPad 2, the back is quite different. The back is 80% covered by a plastic cover painted with a metallic finish, the other 20% is covered by a plain white plastic that also holds the camera lens. There are also two speakers on the back which are noticeable by their speaker grills.

The display has good viewing angles (since it is IPS based) and although the display is only 1024 x 720 (compared to 1280 x 1024 or higher on more recent tablets), it never feels small or crammed. Web pages and eBooks render very much the same as they would on an iPad 2.

The build quality isn’t bad on the Vice, but neither is it great. It¬†certainly¬†doesn’t have¬†chamfered edges and¬†diamond cut bevels, so don’t expect iPhone 5 kind of build quality. But neither is it bad, it is just the attention to details that seem to be missing. For example, the bottom edge, where the ports are, doesn’t quite fit, it isn’t much just a little. It is hard to¬†quantify¬†but worth mentioning. Don’t get me wrong the device is put¬†together¬†OK and functions as expected but…

Often a weak point on Chinese OEM tablets is the Wi-Fi. However the Vice has no such troubles. In all my tests in and around the house, the Vice performed just as well as other tablets including the iPad 2 and an Asus Transformer TF300.

Software

The device comes with Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich as standard and includes Google Play. During my tests I didn’t meet any situations where Google Play said that an app was ‚Äúincompatible‚ÄĚ with this¬†device, this is¬†unusual¬†(and yet welcome) for a white label device from China, as these often¬†suffer from not having an¬†officially¬†recognized¬†model number or manufacturer. But with the Vice (and probably due to its Exynos 4¬†heritage) this wasn’t an issue.

vice-google-play

The tablet comes with the standard apps¬†like the Play Store, Clock, Calculator etc., but some of the key Google apps aren’t pre-installed, however this is easily fixed by downloading them via the Play Store. The device isn’t full of¬†Chinese¬†apps, which¬†although¬†they could have been easily removed, it is one less thing to worry about!

One interesting thing is that the device has a clone of the Samsung dandelion live wallpaper installed by default, this I assume is to highlight the fact that the Vice uses the same CPU as the Samsung Galaxy S3. It is pleasant enough and actually I ended up leaving it installed rather than installing one of my usual live wallpapers.

vice-back+dandelion

Performance

I was expecting a lot from the Vice tablet considering its quad core Samsung CPU and the 2GB of memory and overall I wasn’t disappointed. Starting with AnTuTu the Vice scored 16032 which puts it on par with the Samsung Galaxy S3 and makes it faster than the Google Nexus 10. When compared to the Asus Transformer TF300 (which also has a quad-core CPU in the Tegra 3) the Vice “felt” quicker.¬†Obviously¬†that is a very¬†subjective¬†statement and is almost certainly because of the TF300’s slow I/O speeds when writing to flash. This means that when placed side by side the Vice can download and install apps from Google Play quicker than the TF300.

Quadrant showed a slightly different picture with the tablet scoring 4444 making it faster than the Asus Transformer Prime (another quad-core tablet) but slightly slower than the HTC One X.

vice-quadrant+antutu

Running in benchmark mode in the Unreal Engine 3 demo app Epic Citadel revealed that the Vice can handle 38.3  frames per second average at 1024 x 720. This is a little disappointing when considering that the dual-core 8 inch Vader tablet, which I reviewed recently, scored a healthy 41.3 frames per second average at 1024 x 752. Also the Asus Transformer TF300 manages 46.5 FPS while running at the higher resolution of 1280 x 752. Having said that, the device did manage to top 60 fps during some parts of the benchmark and there were no noticeable problems playing games like N.O.V.A. 3 РNear Orbit Vanguard Alliance.

vice-nova3

Battery

Battery life is always hard to measure. Are you a dedicated 3D gamer or do you prefer to watch movies? Different activities require different amounts of CPU power and hence drain the battery at different rates. But here at Android Authority we like to go that extra mile for our readers, so I used the Vice for several days and timed all manner of different activities and measured the battery usage.

For watching video, I started an MP4 encoded film (which was viewed using hardware decoding) and after 2 hours and 50 minutes 31% of the battery was used. Doing a bit of math that means that the Vice can play videos for about 8 hours. The test was done with Wi-Fi on and the screen at half brightness. Next I started streaming a long video from YouTube (meaning that the Wi-Fi is very active as well as the display) and my tests show that the device can display streaming video for about  6 hours on one charge.

Next I set about doing some general web surfing. This meant going to a site like CNN.com and then reading some articles, moving on to another site, maybe the odd YouTube video and so on. Surprisingly this activity only yielded about 4.5 hours of usage (when extrapolated from my tests). This is surprising as it is less than the YouTube streaming test, but I guess it might have something to do with the YouTube streaming using the dedicated hardware video decoding in the CPU, while web page rendering is probably a more CPU bound task.

Finally I let Epic Citadel run for a while and this showed the low figure of just 3 hours. So  the battery life is anywhere from 3 hours to 8 hours depending on your usage. If you are a hardcore gamer then 3 hours might be a little low for you. For general usage you are looking at 4 to 5 hours between recharges.  When the device is sleeping it hardly uses any battery and I guess it can stay in standby for several days with out any problems.

Camera

There is a little confusion over the camera. On the Chinavasion web page it says that the Vice has a 2 megapixel camera but in fact it has a 5 megapixel camera! Here are a couple of shots taken with the camera, it is early Spring in the Northern Hemisphere so trying to find a bit of color can be difficult!

vice-camera-test1
vice-camera-test2

Why is it better than an iPad 2?

In many ways it is unfair to compare this device to the iPad 2 because Apple’s device is based on technology from two years ago. Other than better battery life (the Vice is about half that of the iPad 2) and better¬†build¬†quality ¬†(the iPad 2 uses lots of metal), the Vice wins hands down. Here is a summary:

Feature Vice iPad 2
CPU Exynos 4412 quad-core 1.6GHz Apple A5 dual-core 1.0GHz
Memory 2GB 512MB
Rear camera 5 megapixels 0.7 megapixels
HDMI Yes No
Micro SD card slot Yes No
OTG USB port Yes No

Conclusion

This tablet is aimed squarely at the iPad 2 market, it is cheaper than the iPad 2, more powerful and packed full of Android goodness! The iPad 2 has the upper hand in terms of build quality and battery but the Vice is cheaper (always a good point), faster and has more expansion options (like the SD card slot and the HDMI port). There is stiff competition at this level from the likes of Samsung, Google and Amazon, but with the exception of the Kindle Fire HD 8.9 they are all more expensive.

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