The Huawei MediaPad M5 8 is an 8.4-inch Android tablet. It offers recent hardware, a high-resolution display, and a good build quality. At the same time, it is one of the first tablets to ship with Android 8.0 Oreo. It could be the best 8-inch Android tablet of the year. But is it really? That’s what you’ll find out in my Huawei MediaPad M5 8 review.
While the MediaPad M5 8 will be available almost worldwide, right now, you can get it in Europe only. Prices start at 349 Euros. Once it is available in your country, it should cost about the same converted to your currency.
Design & Build Quality
The design of the Huawei MediaPad M5 8 is almost identical to the 10-inch tablets of this series. It features a full metal body, has rounded edges and feels high-end. However, with 7.3 millimeters it is not the thinnest tablet out there. The iPad Mini 4 is a bit thinner with 6.1 millimeters and the older Galaxy Tab S2 is still the thinnest with just 5.6 millimeters. It weighs 310 grams which is alright.
As I said, it has a full aluminum body and the tablet looks quite nice, even a bit elegant. On the right side, we get the volume controls and a power button. The other site features a microSD card slot and if you have the LTE version, a SIM card slot is located at the same place. All the way on the bottom we get a USB C port.
One of the included accessories for the tablet is a USB type C to 3.5-millimeter audio adapter. Yes, like its bigger brother, the MediaPad M5 8 does not have a standard headphone jack. That is disappointing, especially since this is branded as a media tablet. Well, I’ve used the adapter a lot of times already and at least it works fine.
Fingerprint Scanner, Cameras, Speakers
On the bright side, we get a fingerprint scanner which is located right underneath the screen. The fingerprint reader works great to unlock the tablet fast and precise. By the way, it is noticeably faster than Touch ID on the 2018 iPad. In the settings, you can activate gestures. With those you can replace the home, back and recent apps buttons using the fingerprint reader.
Unlike the 10-inch version, it has two instead of four speakers. They are placed on the top and bottom – or right and left side, depending on how you hold it. Considering this is a small tablet, the sound quality is pretty good. It is better than what you get with most smartphones and it gets loud enough too. Again, for an 8-inch tablet, the sound quality is great. However, bigger higher-end tablets usually have better speakers.
Let’s take a look at the cameras. We get a 13-megapixel camera on the back and the front-facing camera offers 8 megapixels. Again, the cameras are great for a tablet and identical to the 10-inch version. You can record 4k videos with the main camera too. But as usual, most higher-end smartphones offer a better picture quality.
Display: Very High Resolution
The Huawei MediaPad M5 8 has an 8.4-inch display with a very high resolution of 2560 x 1600. With that, the resolution is much higher than on most competitors. One exception is the MediaPad M3 (review) which featured the same or at least a very similar display. Because of its size, the MediaPad M5 8 has a much higher pixel-density than most tablets. Especially texts and icons look very sharp.
It is an IPS panel with wide viewing angles, a good contrast, and nice colors. In addition to that, it is bright enough for most cases. However, it converts into a mirror in direct sunlight. An AMOLED screen would have been even nicer. By the way, the screen is fully laminated. Unlike the 2018 iPad or other cheaper tablets, there is no air gap between the IPS panel and touchscreen. That is great.
As you can see, I really like the display. It is great for watching high-resolution YouTube videos, reading E-Books or editing pictures. At the beginning the MediaPad M5 series didn’t support the necessary DRM standards to watch Netflix in HD. However, that has been fixed with an update and Netflix runs and looks great in HD now.
Hardware & Performance
Inside the Huawei MediaPad M5 8 runs a HiSilicon Kirin 960 octa-core processor. This chip consists of four powerful 2.4GHz cores and four efficient 1.8GHz cores. It ships with 4GB of RAM and an internal storage of 32GB. In the future, Huawei said they’ll offer versions with 64GB and 128GB too. You can also get it with built-in LTE.
As you can see in my benchmark comparison, the Huawei MediaPad M5 8 is the fastest Android tablet I reviewed. And it is one of the fastest you can currently buy. The Huawei MediaPad M5 Pro has the same chipset and should get almost identical results. However, the MediaPad M5 10 (review) is just a bit slower because it has a bit slower processor.
In my gaming test, the performance is very good too. Demanding games like Into The Dead 2, Asphalt Xtreme and Players Unknown Battlegrounds Mobile run great and the graphics look nice. If you really don’t want to see any lags at all, you might have to turn down the setting from high to just a bit lower though. But overall, this is a great gaming tablet. That’s what the benchmarks showed earlier say as well.
The tablet also worked great during my everyday use. Surfing the web in Chrome is fast and stutter-free and other apps like Adobe Lightroom or YouTube run smoothly too. I used the split-screen-view quite often and didn’t have any issues either. YouTube and Chrome or Word and Chrome run great at the same time.
Software: Android 8.0 Oreo
Together with the other tablets of this series, the Huawei MediaPad M5 8 is one of the first ones to ship directly with Android 8.0 Oreo. On top of Android, we get the EMUI in version 8.0. That is the own user interface from Huawei.
With the Emotion UI, the interface is customized quite heavily. It is almost identical to previous versions, so if you ever owned a Huawei device in the last couple of years, you will feel right at home. If you haven’t, I suggest you go through all the settings one by one.
There is a lot to customize here. For example, there is no app drawer out of the box. But you can activate it in the settings. You can also turn on gestures for the fingerprint reader, customize the display colors, optimize the battery life and turn on a navigation dock.
You can adjust the UI even more. For example, you can download new designs or change the transitions when swiping through home screens. It really is a lot and sometimes the UI seems overloaded. There are tons of app pre-installed too. You can uninstall a lot of them but not all. In fact, out of the box, over 10GB are used by the system already.
By the way, there is no desktop mode which you get with the 10-inch versions.
Inside the Huawei MediaPad M5 8 sits a battery with a capacity of 5100mAh. In my battery test, that lasted for a runtime of 11 hours. For all of my reviews, I’m looping an HD video at 50 percent brightness and turned on WiFi.
While the 11 hours are not outstanding, they are quite good. The bigger MediaPad M5 10 got over 12 hours in the same battery test. But it has a bigger battery.
During everyday use, the battery life is very solid too. It loses very little energy while in standby. If you want to extend the battery life, you can turn on several saving modes in the settings. With one of them, you can lower the resolution of the screen.
Huawei MediaPad M5 8 Review: Final Verdict
Alright. Is the Huawei MediaPad M5 8 really the best 8-inch Android tablet of 2018? Yes, it is. The build quality, display, and performance are great. In addition to that, we get a good fingerprint scanner, decent speakers, and solid cameras. And it ships with Android 8.0 Oreo which, as of now, almost no other tablet has.
However, the MediaPad M5 8 is not perfect. I’m still disappointed by the missing headphone jack. And the custom interface from Huawei is a bit too heavy for my taste. I can live with it, but vanilla Android would be nicer.
The price starts at 349 Euros. While you can’t really call that cheap, it is not expensive either. It is a great value and much cheaper than the iPad Mini 4 which has older hardware.
Actually, the MediaPad M5 8 does not have any real competition. The next best Android tablet of this size is the MediaPad M3 which is its predecessor. However, depending on the market, it costs around 50 Euros less so you won’t save a lot here. You could look at the Lenovo Tab4 8 Plus but that one has a weaker display, a weaker performance, and a plastic frame. Yes, it is a cheaper alternative, but not a real competitor on the same level.
- Great performance
- Good display
- Up to date software
- Fingerprint scanner
- Decent battery life
- No headphone jack
- Heavily customized UI
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