- Bundled stylus
- Sharp, attractive display
- Decent battery life
- Older Kirin chipset
- Keyboard dock sold separately
- Awkward power/volume buttons
We can count the number of decent Android tablets available right now on just a couple of our well-manicured digits, so it’s very refreshing to get our hands on Huawei’s MediaPad M5 Pro. This 10.8-inch tablet offers gorgeous visuals, combined with the M-Pen stylus and an optional keyboard cover – so creative users and mobile professionals have an alternative option to Apple’s iPad Pro.
Huawei MediaPad M5 Pro review: Design
Although the MediaPad M5 Pro sports quite a simple design, it’s clearly a premium device. For one, pick it up and you’ll immediately notice the heft. At 500g it’s not much trouble for the average biceps, but that curvy metal frame clearly packs in a lot. Especially given how pleasingly slender this tab is.
That metal surfacing stretches right around the edges and across the rear. The smooth, simple effect is broken only by the aerial bands and two lengthy speaker grilles. Unfortunately the rear camera lens sticks a fair ways out from that surface up in the top corner. Thankfully this doesn’t cause any unwanted rocking when the tablet is laid flat.
You can pick up the MediaPad in either Champagne Gold or the rather familiar-sounding Space Grey. Personally, we prefer the subtle and seductive gold model. Nice.
Our only complaint with the M5 Pro’s design is that it feels wrong to use this tablet in portrait mode. Clutched this way, the Huawei logo is tilted sideways over on the left edge. However, more annoying is the positioning of the power button and volume rocker on the bottom edge. This setup works fine in landscape mode, but just proves awkward otherwise.
Still, that extremely narrow fingerprint sensor is impressively accurate given its size. No matter which angle you attack it from, just a quick tap has you straight into your desktops from hibernation.
Huawei MediaPad M5 Pro review: Screen and media
For us, the highlight of the M5 Pro is undoubtedly that 10.8-inch display. Serving up Quad HD visuals and realistic colour reproduction, this is a classy panel. And an ideal way to edit your photos, kick back with a movie or simply mess about on the internet. Viewing angles are impressively wide, for sharing with a buddy. Meanwhile the strong brightness levels and Eye Comfort mode make this tablet well suited to any environmental conditions.
Like the iPad Pro, this MediaPad boasts a quad speaker setup for audio. Designed in partnership with Harman/Kardon, these speakers are housed towards each of the corners, although they’re also placed around the back of the tablet. That dampens the sound if the tablet isn’t held or propped up. And while they’re perfectly powerful for enjoying video in a noisy environment, we’d still recommend headphones for music.
Unfortunately there’s no 3.5mm jack for wired ‘phones, although happily Huawei has included a Type-C USB to 3.5mm jack inside of the box. Plus, there’s Bluetooth 4.2 support for pairing up with wireless sets.
As for storage, you get a reasonably generous 64GB of space for all of your apps and media. Although this doesn’t come close to matching the 256GB offered by the most premium iPad Pro, you can at least expand that storage using a microSD memory card. Something not offered by Apple’s tabs.
Huawei MediaPad M5 Pro review: Features and OS
Huawei’s own EMUI 8 overlay sits proud as punch on top of Android Oreo, serving up a bunch of bonus features not found in Google’s mobile OS. This includes gesture control, smart display features and a bunch of other bits which we’ve covered in our full EMUI 8 review. Go check that out for more info.
While Apple demands that you pay extra for its Pencil stylus, Huawei kindly bundles its own M-Pen stylus in the box. This is a great size and weight, providing a comfortable grip even when wielded for a lengthy sketch session. The likes of the Nebo app offer impressive handwriting recognition, while arty types can smash out a masterpiece on the move.
To really compete with the iPad Pro, Huawei is also offering a keyboard cover for the MediaPad. You’ll need to buy this separately unfortunately, at which point the tablet will convert into a makeshift laptop. We haven’t fully tested this cover, so we won’t comment any further right now.
You also get cellular support with this MediaPad model. If you have a spare SIM card, slip it into the PIN-operated tray and you can get online wherever you roam (within reason, of course).
On the back of the M5 Pro you’ll find a perfectly serviceable 13-megapixel camera for snapping things when you absolutely have to. Just don’t be a nobber and crack it out at a gig or anything. Far more useful is the 8-megapixel front-facing snapper, which can be used for Skype chats and the like.
Huawei MediaPad M5 Pro review: Performance and battery life
For some reason, the M5 Pro packs Huawei’s older Kirin 960 chipset rather than the fresh new 970, found in the Mate 10 Pro smartphone. All the same, this tablet boasts a smooth everyday experience, helped along by the 4GB of RAM. We found that apps loaded instantly and the latest games ran with a fluid framerate, no matter what titles we tried.
For any benchmarking enthusiasts out there, the MediaPad scored around 185k on average in our AnTuTu v7 tests. This ranks behind a lot of modern smartphones, including the Galaxy Note 8 and Huawei’s own Mate 10 Pro. However, it’s still a very commendable effort, especially for a tablet.
That 7500mAh battery holds charge nicely, especially with no SIM card stuffed inside. The MediaPad M5 Pro happily lasts the entire day from breakfast to bedtime, as long as you aren’t constantly streaming Netflix or gaming. Even if you do watch video non-stop, you can still expect roughly nine to ten hours of playback before the tablet dies.
Huawei MediaPad M5 Pro review: Verdict
If you’re after an iPad Pro-style device which runs Android instead, the MediaPad M5 Pro ticks most of those boxes and adds a few advantages of its own. You get the same neat keyboard cover and stylus pen setup, with the added bonus that the pen is actually bundled in the box. That sharp display is perfect for media, while performance and battery life are also top notch.