The "1-Minute" Review
VerdictIf you’re looking for a tablet for more than the occasional video or web browsing session, the Huawei offers iPad-like performance in a familiar Android format.
- Bright, colorful display
- Snappy performance
- All-day battery life
- Quick Charge support
- Stereo speakers
- microSD support
- Weak cameras
- No 3.5mm headphone jack
- Lots of bloatware
Android tablets have yet to truly compete with Apple’s iPad series. However, Huawei’s latest release hopes to change that. But with the budget-minded market and a lack of premium competition, does the MediaPad M5 offer an experience that justifies its price against the ultra-affordable Kindle heavyweights of the Android tablet market?
Looking at the tablet, it’s obvious this isn’t your average plastic, blocky Android tablet. The metal unibody design features curved sides and rounded corners that somewhat resemble the older Galaxy S phone lineup.
The buttons and speaker grills are set back on the edges to hide them from view when looking directly at the tablet. While this creates a clean look, reviewers noted the placement took time to adjust to.
While the case is smooth, reviewers had no issues keeping a firm grip on the tablet. Many also felt the size made it perfect for one-handed use.
Around front, you’ll find an 8.4-inch 2560-by-1600 pixel IPS display with a front-mounted fingerprint scanner. Reviewers loved the punchy colors of the screen, the overall brightness, and the excellent viewing angles. Huawei also provides settings to adjust color temperatures and even change the resolution to fit your preferences.
Huawei used last year’s flagship processor -- the 2.4Ghz octa-core Kirin 960 -- to power the tablet. While it won’t keep up with flagship phones, this processor makes it one of the most powerful Android tablets to date. Paired with 4GB of RAM, reviewers had no problems multitasking, gaming, and reading content-heavy websites.
Depending on the variant and your region, the tablet comes with 32 to 128GB of internal storage. Adding more space for media or apps is simple with the included microSD card slot.
The tablet runs Android 8.0 Oreo with EMUI 8.0. While most reviewers loved the minimalist approach to the visuals on Huawei’s skin, they weren’t happy with the amount of bloatware on the device. Fortunately, most apps can be uninstalled to take back your storage space and improve performance.
The 13MP rear camera with phase detection autofocus and front-facing 8MP lens were also sore spots in many reviews. But, tablets have never been known for their photography prowess. With no flash on the rear camera, it suffers from noisy low-light shots. The HDR mode is weak, and the camera struggles in high-contrast shots. Overall, while suitable for scans or quick snapshots, the cameras just don’t have what it takes to stand out on the competitive mobile photography landscape.
However, on the audio front, reviews take a sharp upswing. The tablet includes stereo speakers tuned by Harman Kardon. While they’re pointing backward from the display, reviewers found the audio plenty loud for streaming music, watching movies, or using video chat. There is no 3.5mm headphone jack. But, as long as you can keep track of it, the included USB Type-C adapter will let you use your favorite cans.
The tablet’s 5100mAH battery with USB Type-C Quick Charge support netted most reviewers a full day on a single charge -- even with heavy usage. Some reached two days, but three was a stretch.
Overall, reviews for this tablet are positive. TechRadar says, “Despite not quite being a five-star device, the Huawei MediaPad M5 8.4 is still the best sub-10-inch Android tablet around right now.“ Android Authority agrees, saying, “These are some of the best Android tablets we’ve seen in a while. They’re well designed with gorgeous displays and fantastically loud speakers that make them great for multimedia purposes.”
What the Critics Are Saying...
- John Levite, TechnoBuffalo
Really good Android tablets are a rare and beautiful thing. The MediaPad M5 is one of the best. This price is basically $6 off the best price we've ever seen, and we haven't seen it drop that low since Black Friday.
The Huawei MediaPad M5 makes an excellent companion while on the move be it for watching movies, listening to music, or even doing work due to the lightweight nature of the device. Not only that, but it is also fitted with specifications that could handle almost anything you throw at it.
- Ryan Whitwam, The Wirecutter
A crisp, 8.4-inch display, a quick fingerprint sensor, and a lightweight but durable aluminum body.
- Dima Aryeh, Android and Me
The MediaPad M5 sells for $319, and it’s hard not to recommend the tablet at this price point. With nearly flagship hardware, good battery life, an awesome display, and solid speakers, it’s a fantastic device for content consumption and travel.
- Rich Woods, Neowin
The Huawei MediaPad M5 is an excellent mini tablet for consumption. I think that if you're even reading this review, then you know you want a mini tablet, and I can confidently say that you'll be happy with this one.
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