Chuwi V88S - iPad mini clone Android 4.4.2 review with photos and how to root + newest official KitKat firmware 140418 (update 6/2014)
Chuwi V88s is one of many Chinese "noname" iPad mini clones, which is quite annyoing considering the reason I buy Android tablet it's because I don't like Apple/iOS locked ecosystem, but Chinese companies have sadly the best offer in this segment. Since 7" widescreen display was too small for me (main purpose - surfing, playing simple games, watching streamed videos) and previously ordered Teclast A11 (RK3066) with widescreen 10.1" 1280x800 display was too heavy weighting 680g I end up with only 7.85-8" form factor option. Because the biggest progress between CPUs, thickness/narrow bezel/weight is at iPad Mini clones I had to end up ordering its clone in white color, which I don't like and would prefer black or basically any other color than white, but once again Chinese producers don't understand this and 95% of them offer only white color of Apple for people who don't want Apple. 8" with 0.15" larger display weights much more in relative numbers (~310 vs 350-420g) plus bezel is usually much thicker, so I end up deciding between 7.85" alternatives, because that 0.15" is not worthy of downsides it brings. Previously ordered Teclast A11 with RK3066 CPU got broken after 3-4 days of light use (total maybe 16-20 hours), where speaker stopped working and randomly worked or not depending on squeezing tablet. I used this chance to return and get rid off it because it had also quite weak wifi reception (70dB at best) + 10.1" 1280x800 IPS display where is not problem to see individual pixels is quite disapointing.
|Chuwi V88s - Android iPad mini clone photo gallery|
The final favorites with CPU Rockchip RK3188 (everything else is supposed to be weak and price difference between older RK3066 is very small) to choose from were Vido/Yuandao Mini S (719RMB incl. charger, until I started to read reviews of customers on Taobao/TMall where half of them were complaining about quality problems), Vido/Yuandao N80RK (729RMB incl. charger, 8" but without narrow bezel, weak 4000mAh battery, 395g, no bluetooth and supposedly weak wifi, but good firmware support/community), Icoo Icou Fatty 2 (839RMB incl. charger, the best wifi, the largest 5500mAh battery, Bluetooth, 316g, 7.8mm thick, magnetic sensor for case, weak firmware support) and Chuwi V88s (729RMB incl. charger, exactly same as Fatty 2, just 10% weaker battery with 5000mAh, maybe 2nd best wifi, little bit worse cameras, but huge firmware support/community). So when I was already decided for Fatty 2 I just did the math if it's 10% bigger battery worth extra 110RMB, since I don't care at all about cameras, plus maybe it has better wifi than V88s, which has huge benefit of good firmware support, so I end up playing it safe and not paying extra for battery and ordered Chuwi V88s which should have anyway battery good enough.
After studying lot of information about these tablets I end up listing my biggest worries about ordered tablet:
1. wifi reception quality (Teclast A11 quite shitty 70dB at best),
2. battery life (Teclast A11 quite shitty 4.5 hours),
3. sensitivity of touch screen everywhere even on edges (some users reporting display not sensitive in edges, A11 had no problems),
4. assembling body/manufacture quality (A11 OK until speaker got broken after 4 days, must be wire contacts problem),
5. battery pushing from inside on display resulting in color change on touch screen (this should be longterm problem with battery getting thicker over time) and dead pixels,
6. buggy/freezing new non-optimalized Android 4.2.2 (possible to fix with firmware update, A11 had old Android 4.1.1 without any problems),
7. problematic slot design with too deep slots where connectors can't reach and touch the end causing problems with functionality of HDMI, headphones or chargers and opposite problem with too shallow slot of memory card sticking out after plugging in (didn't noticed any problems with A11 with headphones and USB, didn't even test memory slot and I don't have HDMI cable to test it).
After reading reviews and experiences were my biggest worries points 3, 4, 5 and 7.
I ordered tablet from official Chuwi TMall website linked from official website on Tuesday and got delivered package from Shenzhen to Beijing on Friday morning. Company is officially offering for extra 10RMB also rooting device for you, but I saw on internet so many howtos that I gave up this option and was willing to play with tablet to get know it better and save 10RMB (and also read in reviews that some people who ordered rooted device received it non-rooted so it could be just waste of money). :-) I got from courier cardboard box which was making sound when shaking, much worse packaging than at Teclast A11 where tablet box was attached in foam, here it was just lying in box with charger box pushing on it (charger is not included in official package, that's why I ordered 2nd option since all these tablets are using proprietary 2.5mm charging connector with 2A/5V charging and you must have especially powerful USB charger to deliver enough current/voltage to charge your tablet, otherwise if you have weak/unstable charger it won't even start charging or the current will be so low that it would take infinite amount of time to charge the tablet, so I played it safe and paid extra 20RMB for official charger) + pouch for tablet to put it inside (I prefer it over those stylish cases not protecting edges at all) + some touch pen + "Sony" or "Samsung" anyway some crappy headphones straight to trash.
There is no USB OTG cable included in this 2nd cheapest option, no magnetic case for tablet, no HDMI cable. When you will see original box (also closed in protective foil) for Chuwi V88s you will understand why there is no charger included since whole package is extremely small and thin like small book and there would not be space to include charger inside, inside the box it's included except tablet iself only USB cable. Although there would be space to include USB OTG cable and USB to DC 2.5mm adapter cable so you could at least try to use your unofficial charger. Some people reporting USB charging should actually work if your charger can deliver at least stable 2A and more than 5V, preferably at least 5.2V, since my phone charger has only 1A this is not option for me to test anyway.
After unpacking tablet I immediately checked if wifi and bluetooth works, if is display sensitive in all areas without any color deformations, no white points, no dead pixels, if there are no problems with assembling (and found there are at 2 places small parts with holes between front and back plastic plate touching on the edges with holes 0.1-0.2mm thick, but you can press it and they are present, it should be consistently sealed everywhere, but this should be possible to solve with fast drying glue externally without disassembling and anyway it's very minor problem), if both cameras work (yes and result is not surprisingly bad), checked at least headphones connector and since I was not at home I had to wait for further checking until later after work. First impressions - very very light tablet (305g) with convenient size of screen, display quite dense actually, was expecting basically same ratio as 10.1" 1280x800 where I could see individual pixels, but here with 7.85" 1024x768 is display superior compared to Teclast A11, no individual pixels to be seen, comparable with my mobile Amoi N820 which has 4.5" 540x960, so very positive surprise about quality of display which is also quite bright and 70-80% brightness is more than enough for me (and as usual I never set up maximum brightness when starting to use device, so over time when it will get dimmer you will still have some spare space to move up with settings to compensate loss of brightness). Display has identical size and resolution as iPad Mini and after comparing with real iPad I must admit the quality is really almost same, although subjectively iPad is still maybe little bit better, but that might be just wrong impression, anyway no problems and complaints at all about display. One thing I was quite afraid was bad location of physical buttons on metalic back plate (designed by idiot (TM)), but happily they are not so sensitive too press and you can put even tablet on desk with solid surface and work with it without pressing the buttons on the back, anyway the volume buttons are completely useless since you have them on screen and only used button is Power. First impression from tablet excelent - very light body, nice rounded edges on sides, everything works fine together with nice display, only minor problem are 2 small gaps between front/back plates not completely sealed but it's really 0.1-0.2mm (one to two tenth of milimeter, I am pretty sure even some thicker paper could not go through).
Let's go quickly through specifications everyone already knows - 7.85" IPS 1024x768 display, CPU Rockchip RK3188 1.6GHz + GPU Mali400, RAM 1GB, ROM 16GB, cameras 0.3MP+2MP, OTG/HDMI, 5000mAh battery, 305g, 7.8mm, released 6/2013, Android 4.2.2, Bluetooth integrated/present (be very careful if this is important for you, many tablets mention "Support" for Bluetooth, which means they support external BT dongles but don't have actually BT module integrated on PCB), no GPS, no SIM/3G.
And finally my chronologically sorted experiences after unpacking at home with 99% charged battery from factory without removing protective foil on display although it says to tear it away (under it it's actuall second protective foil for display, this upper one with advertisement sticker covering one edge of display is only for shipping), but since I was not sure if tablet won't get broken after 2-3 days I kept it there for while in case I would need to return the tablet. So the experiences:
1. Wifi signal from bed where I usually half-sit 2.5-3m far from good wooden door and behind them another 3-4m to wifi router TP-Link TL-WR720N (or WR840N?, anyway configuration mixed BGN mode, 20MHz, set to less busy channel) in corridor about 120cm above surface. If wifi signal would travel directly straight way through walls and not going the way of less resistance it would need to go through 2 concrete walls. Wifi signal is actually even better than my phone Amoi N820 (was not expecting this from tablet, usually tablets should have worse reception than mobiles and laptops are superior to mobiles), GF has some Huawei phone which has worse wifi than my phone and in general my phone has quite good Wifi antenna/module. Anyway wifi works fine and stable with 65-70dB at worst in these conditions (sometimes going as low as 62dB, depending on position of tablet), at exactly same position on bed Teclast A11 had at best 70dB ranging up to 80dB, my mobile Amoi N820 65-70dB, practically on par with tablet, sometimes tablet better, sometimes mobile better. Everything measured using Wifi analyzer. I was positively pissed off that tablet has even better wifi than my mobile. :-) Although mobile still wins in amount of found nearby networks 17 to 13, so has still better reception of low quality wifi networks (yes, I have "Avoid low quality wifi networks" option in Android 4.2.2 switched off, that's not the reason and yes I always keep connection alive without saving when display off switch on). In portrait mode wifi signal is better than in landscape mode.
2. Preinstalled almost stock Android 4.2.2 (June 20th 2013 stock firmware) with stock launcher and maybe 3 preinstalled CN bloatware (2 of them some Chuwi APK markets, 3rd some game). Bluetooth works fine both directions (tested with sending pictures to other phone), but canít send APK in stupid new Android becoming foolproof iOS for noobs. So I learned how to use Wifi direct instead, getting 3-6MB/s on mobile-mobile transfer, although PC->mobile connection is useless and 30x slower. For Wifi direct it's not enough just switch it on, you must have also some app installed which will be pushing data through this connection (it's actually some hotspot where one device is inviting other to use it and normal internet wifi connection is disabled at this time), I am using free Software data cable.
3. Apex launcher I am using on my mobile (and installed also on GF's mobile and also on previous Teclast A11) in its newest version (2.0.6) behaving quite buggy on this tablet with Android 4.2.2 and 1024x768 resolution combination. Canít move star to change default home screen (workaround, delete the next one, so star will automatically move to the previous one and then create another homescreen), canít set up vertical continious scrolling in drawer, because text labels for the apps will disappear and icons are also not displayed properly like zoomed to 110% (although text labels are switched on and icons size is 100%, changing size of icons or reswitching text labels won't help), workaround is use vertical paginated scrolling which has no problem to display proper icons and text labels as well as horizontal paginated scrolling. I guess must have something to do with 4:3 1024x768 resolution or/and Android 4.2.2 or/and GPU Mali400 (although didn't have this problem on Teclast A11 with same GPU).
4. Vibration not present in device at all or not functional! Not dealbreaker if i knew about it in advance, but it was no surprise to find this by accident when setting up Apex which should be giving some vibration feedback, but anyway not so big deal at tablet since it won't be ringing to receive calls etc.
5. Play store preinstalled in version 3.10.10, although didn't set it up since I didn't want to enter any personal data at least first few days if it got broken quickly as Teclast A11, so I just pushed through Wifi direct + Software data cable all my apps from mobile plus downloaded/updated some through Cool Market.
6. Body is not getting hot/warm easily and has very pleasant temperature compared to very hot Teclast A11 after hours of use.
7. Rooted succesfuly with this 6MB file from OMA for V88 originally (and not V88s, but works fine) following instructions in file, needed only install one driver from package, no some Moborobo or chinese crapware some noobs are mentioning in other howtos. After rooting/pushing CWRM you can access recovery menu from cold boot by holding Volume + (plus) button together with Power button for 5 secs (btw. volume buttons are reverse in portrait mode, in landscape it's according display), then will appear logo and you can leave it to boot into Clockwork Recovery mode and do whatever you want there. Booting in general faster than Teclast A11. If you use some chinese crapware with chinese drivers and chinese Superuser app don't be afraid to uninstall it and replace it by English Superuser app as I did with Teclast A11 which I ordered rooted with CN app, you don't need to update firmware to change your Superuser app from Chinese to English.
8. Antutu v3.3 with stock firmware after installing maybe 50-80 apps on stock frequency 1608MHz giving score 16648, after cleaned RAM completely through Android assistant + disabling some unnecessary apps final score 17093 with stock firmware (June 20th)/frequency, for comparison Samsung S3 16300 according Antutu and original Nexus 7 12700.
9. USB works fine, microphone works fine (even when holding tablet in landscape and covering it with right hand it actually improves quality!), charging with stock Chuwi charger 5V-2A works fine (didn't measured how long it takes since charging overnight and din't install any special apps for battery), headphones no problem, memory card sticking out about 0.5mm like some small button, canít imagine any problems because of this, you would have to directly push it from side to eject, if you push it from top or bottom I think it's impossible to eject or break it under normal circumstances (plus I will be using proper pouch case so it can't get lost like with those fashionable shitty book cases not covering the edges which are quite pointless except covering the display), donít have HDMI to test the last connector and this should have biggest problems to reach deep end of slot. Solution would be HDMI cable with extra long end. Front camera has little bit strange angle, when looking directly at display in landscape mode your face will be on on left side of display and not in middle, you must look at display from side to move your head into middle of screen, same go for portrait mode.
10. Body is not really solid, if you would really squeeze it on both sides in landscape mode I think you would be able to break tablet,a lthough under normal circumstances it should be OK, but don't expect some metal solid device you can handle roughly. Maybe at two places there is 0.1-0.2mm gap between front and back plastic plate where you can press it with finger as it should be out of factory, solution would be put there some fast drying glue and stick it so it will be sealed everywhere, but itís minor. Body construction has average quality at best, expect made in china quality. My piece according serial number produced 1307.
11. 100% of all 50+ apps work despite 1024◊768 4:3 resolution, also 100% of 35+ games I tested work (although almost no 3D action, only some stupid small logical/action games I like). No problems with gyroscope, some games fine, some games little problems, so must be software problem if it's OK at some places.
12. After 4.5 hours of use was battery at 62% level and finally died after 9:55 hours until when I stayed late in night awake. Wifi was at this first testing almost always switched on (90-95%) although at this time I forgot to switched off "wifi saving" option, tablet was used maybe 70-80% of this time with display on, so real battery life should be around 7-8 hours for sure, expect no less than 6-7 hours without heavy gaming/movie, with surfing/downloading, using apps. Previous Teclast A11 with more than two times bigger weight lasted crappy 4.5 hours and also other iPad mini clones have very small batteries, less than 4000mAh, so you can expect at least 20-30% shorter battery life than this at most of them, so I would strongly recommend to take not less than 5000mAh battery.
13. Quality of display is very good, nice colors, nice brightness, resolution 1024◊768 seem much smoother/more dense than 1280◊800 on 10.1″ Teclast A11 where was not problem to see individual pixels, here not so easy, comparable with mobile phones. Display is sensitive in all areas, in edges too, there is no color defomation because of battery pushing from back, no dead pixels, no white spots, didnít even noticed any light leakage.
14. Body very light, size good into one hand vertically, edges are rounded, so everything superslim and after hours of tablet use holding later my phone feels like brick although phone has 10.5mm compared to 7.8mm of tablet (but also those more narrow cutted edges on sides will leave even better impression).
15. Android 4.2.2 is smooth in general, although sometimes there is lag with storage access in general when going through ES File Explorer.
Later I should try playing some HD video, since I tried only RMVB 720x384 I've had on memory card which was without any problems but let me to discovery that Rockplayer and VLC are craps, since sound was not synchronized with video in these videoplayers, while in other like ES Media Player, Mixzing, Video (icon of Gallery) or Video Player there were no problems with video/sound sync. Complete fail for VLC/Rockplayer which led to their immediate deletion from tablet, mobiles and PC backup of their APKs. Also some time later I should find some HDMI cable to try if connector works and if Full HD or HD playback is smooth although I heard Full HD should have problems, of course only if connector will work, so let's hope they fixed too deep connection in July batch of tablets. I should also measure how long exactly takes to fully charge battery from zero to 100% but judging by battery chart it should not be taking longer than 3-4 hours, maybe will install some measuring app to check this.
Conclusion - I would recommend this tablet to buy to other people, display is nice bright not pixelated, tablet is fast, light, convenient to hold in one hand in portrait mode, has good wifi reception and good battery life. There are things to improve - quality of body or at least gaps should not be present from the factory, memory card should not be sticking not even those 0.5mm outside, buttons on back are just annoying, there should be USB->DC 2.5 charging cable in default package, as well as USB OTG cable, there is room for it for sure, cameras could be better or at least angle of front camera should be fixed so when you look at screen from centre your face should be in centre, there should be vibration present in device and there should be improvement related to storage HW or its firmware optimization.
UPDATE 9/2013 - new firmware available from beginning of September for V88S, flash at your own risk and read this thread on Slatedroid first since there is confusion which firmware is correct -
if your serial number is higher than 16G1130800001 ( original 130906, not possible to download without Thunder downloader, it keeps disconnecting without Thunder, this file supposedly bricks tablets with mentioned serial number, solution, for unbricking leave tablet running with screen backlight always on until it drains battery and then flash with firmware from 130908). If your serial number is LOWER than 16G1130800001 so your tablet was produced in July/June ( 1307, 1306..., original CN link 130908) etc. then use the second one (actually based on experiences of users this should be correct firmware for serial number from August (1308...) and higher and works fine. I will flash it after October vacation, don't wanna mess with anything before vacation.
UPDATE 10/2013 - successfully updated to firmware 20130908 although Chuwi website says opposite (Chinglish translation?), since my serial number is higher than 1308... Notes worth mentioning - you can theoretically flash (unrooted original FW) tablet also without PC, just place update.img into root folder of internal storage (12-14GB big), tablet will automatically detects new update and inform you about reboot, after reboot firmware should be flashed but in my case of rooted firmware with CWMR pushed inside I just got into CWMR with "Invalid format" or something like that, later after booting into system I was notified that update failed and if I wish to delete update file. I end up flashing normal way through PC - quick notes - after launching RK batchtool 1.7 for updating included in firmware update, change language to English on very left button (or before launching edit config.ini and change language setting from "1" to "2"), then choose button Switch (somewhere in middle) to shutdown tablet properly and then you can already press button Upgrade which will update your firmware which will automativally reboot and wipe ALL your data, so prepare for installation of all apps/games after flashing new firmware, NO DATA are PRESERVED. First thing after flashing was rooting where I used usual OMA procedure which is quite simple, although I forgot what button to press when you connect tablet to USB cable, you are supposed to hold ONLY BUTTON Volume+ (middle one of 3) and then launch rooting tool which will detect tablet enabled for rooting, then just uncheck 2nd item (Parameter) and choose Start to push CWMR into tablet. Tablet will reboot into CWMR, where you will just Update from SD card where you placed OMA ZIP file, this will be successfully flashed and then you just have to choose Reboot system now and choose Root fix to finish rooting procedure, after booting is tablet rooted and you can start playing with your apps.
UPDATE 5/2014 - there is available official firmware/ROM from Chuwi for ALL versions of V88S to update to Android 4.4.2 KitKat, finally I flashed firmware successfuly on old computer with Windows XP since I didn't succeed on my own laptop with W8.1 where I flashed before firmware/ROM 4.2.2, I tried even RK driver assistant and Moborobo on my home W8.1 laptop but it didn't help, tablet was not recognized correctly, only as mass storage device and layer 2-1-1 or something like that in Android Batch tool. Under WXP it was not also hassle free I tried many combinations of drivers so in the end I don't even know correct steps to reproduce that WXP recognized tablet when it was connected and then in Batch tool I just switched it to Recovery mode with Switch button and flashed to newest 4.4.2 Android. Android seem to be working fine, almost Vanilla clean Android experience, there is only some Anzhi store/market app, iReader and maybe one more thing, all of these can be Force stopped and disabled from running and appearing in launcher, except transparent status bar there are not really many changes visible on outside compared to 4.2.2 Android so it's not really big improvement, only major thing is that you can change runtime library from Dalvik to ART which should improve speed of Android, so I changed it, all apps are updated after rebooting the machine to ART runtime and seem to work without problems, although updating happens at every boot of tablet, there is no option for Fastboot in this firmware so avoid this I had to switch back to Dalvik runtime later since it was annoying to wait 2-3mins for boot of tablet each time. There is noticable problem with size of left column in Settings when Wifi and Bluetooth buttons are not readable and are cutted but it's not big deal, can't see any other downsides of upgrade.
UPDATE 6/2014 - as stated below in comment, to root Kit Kat firmware/ROM of Chuwi V88S you can download portable single EXE file RootGenius from www.sjroot.com, no need to install, just launch, connect your tablet with enabled USB debugging, wait until it will be automatically rooted with some green Chinese message with advertisement pictures below and then just unplug and restart your tablet and it should be rooted with English SuperSU app (at least in my case, not sure, if I didn't put it there earlier, but I didn't find any Chinese superuser app), then you can just delete rooting app from your PC and uninstall Chinese market with green icon in the end of your app drawer. Mobile rooting APK apps without using PC from Baidu, Qihoo and other didn't work for me so I had to use PC, but I didn't really try the very newest versions of them, maybe they would work as well since I saw one user comment that he used Vroot from Aptoide market and it should work for him. Btw. yesterday after ~10 months of using tablet it seem charging stopped working, so in weekend will try with different charger to see if it's just charger problem or tablet problem. Actually one user reported he was able to root it successfully using Vroot APK without PC, so try it first using Vroot from this official address, rooting app is in English, just press the Root button and see if it works (let me know in comments), if not just use desktop rooting app for PC.
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