Huawei Breathes New Life Into Android Tablets With the MediaPad M5

MediaPad M5 Pro_front 1

Just as many of us were bemoaning the lack of new high-end Android tablets, and their potential replacement with Chrome OS convertibles, Huawei has announced an intriguing new Android-based media powerhouse, the MediaPad M5. Available in both 8-inch and 10.8-inch screen sizes, the tablet is the first to feature a curved “2.5D” display. Huawei says this helps make the tablet lighter, although the 10.8-inch model is still a couple ounces heavier than Samsung’s 9.7-inch S3 model.

Huawei MediaPad M5 By the Numbers

There are three models of the M5: an 8.4-inch, a 10-8-inch, and a Pro version of the 10.8-inch with a faster iteration of Huawei’s Kirin 960 Octacore processor. All three come with what sounds like an impressive QHD (2560 x 1600 pixels) display. Huawei says the MediaPad M5 is the first tablet display to use curved glass, which keeps everything a little smaller and lighter.

All models come with 64GB of internal storage, plus a microSD slot for up to an additional 256GB. The Huawei MediaPad M5 Pro comes in a stylish Champagne GoldAll feature a respectable 4GB of RAM, although given the goal of running multiple applications at once, a little more RAM might have been ideal. The tablets run a version of Android 8.0 that Huawei has enhanced to provide better support for running multiple applications, including by adding a task bar, in a set of features called Desktop View. The smaller tablet has a 5,100mAh Lithium Polymer battery, with the larger models sporting a 7,500mAh version. Both are claimed to have up to 12 hours of battery life when in use, and support 9 volt / 2 amp Quick Charge — which Huawei says makes them the fastest-to-recharge tablets on the market.

The 8.4-inch model has two Harman-Kardon tuned speakers, while the 10.8-inch models have four. All of them feature what Huawei calls Hi-Res audio for delivering high-definition sound, and are powered with an AK4376 audio chip. Newly available in the US, the 8.4-inch model ($319 MSRP) and base 10.8-inch tablet ($349 MSRP) come in Space Gray, while the Pro tablet ($449 MSRP) is Champagne Gold. Based on pre-release specs provided by Huawei, the only difference other than color and $100 between the regular 10.8-inch model and the Pro version is the use of a Kirin 960s processor instead of a Kirin 960.

Some Nice Design Touches

The tablet has a metal frame that’s designed to make it more resistant to bumps and knocks. That could be a nice touch if that plus the curved design allow for comfortable and safe use without a case. Of course, stylus-enabled tablets are at their best when you can prop them up for writing on a table, so except for units like the Surface Pro that feature an integrated kickstand, most serious tablet users wind up with a case anyway.

The M5's pen is rechargeable and includes a shortcut buttonThe M5 uses a true active pen that Huawei calls an M-Pen. It’s rechargeable; 100 minutes of charging is enough to power it for about 50 days. There are also Pogo pins for a detachable keyboard, but we don’t have information on the keyboard itself yet, or whether the M-Pen can be housed within the tablet.

Is There a Huawei MediaPad M5 In Your Future?

If you’re looking for a better media consumption device than your smartphone or existing table, it’s quite likely the M5 will fit the bill. The active stylus and solid overall specs also make it a likely replacement for many of the pen-enabled Android tablets already on the market. Once we have one in hand, we’ll be taking a look at how Huawei’s Desktop View performs at Android multi-tasking compared with either the more traditional Android-powered Samsung Galaxy S3 tablet or the emerging crop of Chrome OS devices that can also run Android.

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