Whilst Huawei’s 2018 flagship smartphone, the P20, isn’t making its debut until later next month in Paris, the company didn’t turn up to Mobile World Congress 2018 empty-handed.
On the contrary, we were able to go hands-on with a family of new tablets and a fresh MacBook Pro rival.
Huawei MediaPad M5 hands-on
Just as OnePlus skipped the number four within its device naming convention last year, so too has fellow Chinese manufacturer Huawei, with its MediaPad line. 2018’s MediaPad M5 family consists of three tablets; an 8.4-inch model and two 10.8-inch versions.
A glance at the spec sheet below and you’ll notice that the M5 (10.8-inch) and M5 Pro sport identical dimensions, performance, battery and so on, with the only real difference being the latter’s integrated digitiser and included M-Pen stylus.
It lets users draw, sketch and scribble across the M5 Pro’s display with up to 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity, allowing for shading and tilt recognition, whilst also packing in a shortcut button for screenshots and a USB-C port for charging that translates 100 minutes at the plug to approximately 50 days use at a time.
Beyond that, all three tablets promise a pretty consistent user experience. All three leverage crisp 2560 x 1600 resolution IPS LCDs sandwiched under 2.5D glass, making the more compact 8.4-inch model the sharpest of the bunch. Its smaller size does, however, mean that Huawei’s latest little tablet only offers up dual speakers, while its larger siblings benefit from quad speaker arrays. At least all three boast Harman Kardon tuning, though.
You can expect consistently smooth performance across the board with the company’s own Kirin 960 processor at the helm, accompanied by 4GB of RAM. Huawei stated that its decision to drop the same chipset found in last years P10 smartphone, rather than the AI-capable Kirin 970 that graced the Mate 10 Pro was simply down to use case. The additional AI smarts and raw power doled out by the company’s top chipset are essentially overkill for the media and productivity-related situations the M5 tablets will likely find themselves in.
Speaking of productivity, one other differentiator is the integrated pogo pin connectors found on the back of both 10.8-inch models. Huawei’s created a keyboard case that works with both tablets, designed to accommodate a full-sized keyboard for a richer typing experience; just note that this accessory is going to be sold separately and we don’t yet have confirmed pricing.
For slates with ‘media’ in their names, it’s also reassuring to know that all three support Hi-Res Audio. However, despite the fact that all of them are confirmed to be launching with USB-C to 3.5mm adapters in-box you’ll need your own headphones to make use of them. Unlike last year’s MediaPads, Huawei has skimped on packaging its latest tablets with compatible cans or buds.
MediaPad M5 specs
|MediaPad M5 (8.4-inch)||MediaPad M5 (10.8-inch)||MediaPad M5 Pro|
|Screen resolution||2560 x 1600|
|Audio||Dual speakers||Quad speakers|
|Dimensions||212.6mm x 124.8mm x 7.3mm||258.7mm x 171.8mm x 7.3mm|
|Weight||316 grams||498 grams|
|OS||Android 8.0 Oreo w/ EMUI 8.0|
|Processor||HiSilicon Kirin 960|
|Storage||32GB/64GB/128GB. MicroSD up to 256GB||64GB/128GB. MicroSD up to 256GB|
|Colours||Champagne Gold, Space Gray|
Huawei MateBook X Pro hands-on
The highlight of Huawei’s MWC 2018 announcements has to be the new MateBook X Pro. Successor to the company’s first foray into making a true Windows laptop, the Pro brings the same familiar aluminium wedge design to the table whilst also upping the ante in effectively every way.
It sports a profile and weight that have both clearly been tuned to undercut Apple’s most prominent rival, whilst its uprated 8th-generation Intel Core i7 processor and twice the maximum amount of RAM versus 2017’s MateBook X stand it in good stead for professionals who value both productivity and creative pursuits.
Its dual USB-C ports support both data and power, with one also offering up Thunderbolt 3 connectivity, allowing for faster data transfer speeds and support for external graphics cards up to Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1080, making gaming on this thing wholly viable.
The aluminium body of the MateBook X Pro features both a quad microphone array (for use with voice calls and for summoning Windows 10‘s Cortana voice assistant) with a range of up to four metres, as well as a quad speaker setup tuned to offer Dolby Atmos surround sound.
Three of Huawei’s smartest inclusions within the MateBook X Pro are its recessed retractable camera (apparently a world-first), its Huawei Share technology, which similarly to Apple’s AirDrop, allows for fast wireless file transfers between your Huawei smartphone and the MateBook X Pro (although this hijacks the laptop’s WiFi connection temporarily), and the intelligent 65W USB-C fast-charger that comes in-box. Huawei states that it’s essentially the only charger you need take with you (provided all your gadgets rely on a USB-C connection) as it’s able to automatically switch voltage and amperage to fast-charge a myriad of different devices.
Huawei also touted the MateBook X Pro’s new start-up times. As with the MateBook X, there’s a fingerprint sensor built right into the power button, meaning you can power up and unlock the Pro from off in just 7.8-seconds with a single button press.
MateBook X Pro specs
|Display||13.9-inches, 3:2 aspect ratio, 3000px x 2000px resolution, LTPS panel, 178-degree viewing angle, 91% screen-to-footprint ratio, 100% sRGB colour gamut, 1500:1 contrast ratio, maximum brightness = 450nits, 10-point touchscreen|
|Audio||Quad microphone setup with up to 4m range, Dolby Atmos-certified quad speakers (2 treble, 2 bass) w/ integrated suspension system|
|Dimensions||304mm x 217mm x 14.6mm|
|OS||Windows 10 Home|
|Camera||1-megapixel. World’s first recessed camera in a laptop design|
|Connectivity||WiFi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, 2.4/5 GHz 2×2 MIMO, Bluetooth 4.1, 3.5mm jack, USB-C x2, USB-A|
|Processors||8th-gen Intel Core i5-8250U/i7-8550U|
|Memory||8GB/16GB LPDDR3 RAM|
|Storage||256GB/512GB NVMe SSD|
|Graphics||Intel UHD Graphics 620/Nvidia GeForce MX150 (w/ 2GB GDDR5 RAM). Support for up to Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 via Thunderbolt 3|
|Power||57.4Wh battery, 65W adaptive USB-C PD fast-charger (supports 20V/3.25A, 15V/3A, 12V/2A, 9V/2A and 5V/2A)|
|Colours||Mystic Silver, Space Gray|
Pricing and availability
Huawei’s yet to confirm UK pricing and availability for its new tablet family or the MateBook X Pro, but European pricing has now been released.
|MediaPad M5 (8.4-inch)|
|32GB WiFi only||€349|
|64GB WiFi only||€399|
|128GB WiFi only||€449|
|MediaPad M5 (10.8-inch)|
|32GB WiFi only||€399|
|64GB WiFi only||€449|
|128GB WiFi only||€499|
|MediaPad M5 Pro|
|64GB WiFi only||€499|
|128GB WiFi only||€549|
|MateBook X Pro|
|8th-generation Intel Core i5 w/ 8GB RAM + 256GB SSD||€1499|
|8th-generation Intel Core i5 w/ 8GB RAM + 512GB SSD||€1699|
|8th-generation Intel Core i7 w/ 16GB RAM + 512GB SSD||€1899|
For more coverage from Mobile World Congress 2018, check out our MWC Hub.