The Huawei MediaPad M5 Pro is a new 10.8-inch Android tablet that Huawei introduced at a press conference in Barcelona. It features high-end hardware and a lot of premium features. Those include an active M-Pen stylus, built-in LTE 4G, and an optional keyboard cover. That makes it a direct competitor to the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3.
Even though the MediaPad M5 Pro won’t be released until late April 2018, I already played with it for over an hour. Here are my first impressions. In addition to that, I compared it with the Galaxy Tab S3 below each section. By now, the Samsung tablet is priced very similarly and both offer very similar features.
Huawei MediaPad M5 Pro Design, Ports, Fingerprint Scanner
The Huawei MediaPad M5 Pro shares the same design with the normal MediaPad M5 10.8. In fact, the body is identical. We get a full aluminum housing with rounded edges and so-called 2.5D glass. Because of that, the tablet is very comfortable to hold and feels high-end. It is quite thin at 7.3 millimeters but the thinnest Android tablets available measure just 5.6 millimeters.
On the top and bottom, we get a soundbar each which houses two speakers each. So, like with the Huawei MediaPad M3 Lite 10, we get four speakers in total. Those are developed together with Harman Kardon. As far as I can tell from the demo area of the press conference, those speakers do indeed sound very nice.
We get two cameras which take pictures with a resolution of 8 and 13 megapixels. You can extend the storage with a microSD card and there is a nanoSIM slot as well. The MediaPad M5 Pro ships with build in LTE, there is no Wi-Fi only option.
On the bottom, there is a connector for an optional keyboard cover. The only other connector is a USB Type C port. Yes, we don’t get a 3.5-millimeter audio jack. Instead, Huawei is including an adapter for the USB port.
Like all of Huawei’s upper-end devices, the Pro has a built-in fingerprint scanner that supports gestures.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S3: Metall & Glass Design
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 offers a high-end build quality as well. However, while we get a metal frame, the back is made of glass. Just like recent Galaxy S smartphones. The glass back attracts fingerprints easily and, in my opinion, is not as premium feeling as a full metal body.
Besides that, the Tab S3 has a lot of similar features. That includes four speakers, a fingerprint reader, a USB Type C port and even a standard 3.5-millimeter audio jack.
Huawei MediaPad M5 Pro Display & M-Pen
The Huawei MediaPad M5 Pro offers a 10.8-inch IPS screen with a resolution of 2560 x 1600 pixels. That makes it one of the highest resolution Android tablets out there. Obviously, it is a touchscreen. But in addition to your fingers, you can navigate it using an active pen as well. The stylus is called M-Pen and comes with the device.
I used the M-Pen stylus already and it features the latest technical standards. Like Microsoft’s Surface Pen or Samsung’s S-Pen, it has 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity. That means the pen behaves more like a real pencil. For example, if you press down lightly in a drawing app you get a thin line. If you press harder, you get a thicker line. By tilting the pen, you can draw light shading.
While Huawei is not including as many software features for the pen as Samsung, there are some. Using shortcuts you can take screenshots and annotate them. There are some pre-installed apps as well. Nebo for Huawei is a note-taking app that supports handwriting recognition. Handwriting recognition is built into the keyboard as well. In addition to that, we get an AutoDesk Sketchbook drawing app and a handwriting calculator called MyScript Calculator.
Samsung’s S-Pen and Huawei’s M-Pen are very similar. However, Samsung built in more software features to support the stylus. I’ve included two videos below and in those, I show you all important features of the S-Pen.
Hardware: Kirin 960 vs. Snapdragon 820
Inside the Huawei MediaPad M5 Pro runs a HiSilicon Kirin 960 octa-core processor. That chipset is made up of four 2.4GHz and another four 1.8GHz cores. We’ve seen that processor in the Huawei P10 smartphone in 2017 already. Other specs include 4GB of RAM and a 32GB, 64GB or 128GB internal storage.
Even though the Kirin 960 is not the latest chipset available, it should make it the fastest Android tablet available. Sadly, most manufacturers including Samsung and even Apple don’t ship their tablets with their latest chip. Usually, tablets are about one year behind smartphones. That’s a bit disappointing, but everybody is doing that.
I wasn’t able to run any benchmarks on the MediaPad M5 Pro due to a bad internet connection. However, I own a Huawei P10 with the same chipset. If the performance is similar, as it should be, the new Huawei tablet should be about 25% faster than the Snapdragon 820 of the Galaxy Tab S3. You might not notice a difference during everyday use though.
By the way, the S-Pen is included like with the Huawei. The cheapest version offers WiFi only but you can get it with LTE.
Android 8.0 Oreo or Android 7.0 Nougat
The Huawei MediaPad M5 Pro is one of the first tablets to ship with Android 8.0 Oreo. In fact, no other tablet besides the Pixel C has received an update to Oreo yet. With that being said, according to a leak, the Galaxy Tab S3 will be updated from Android 7.0 Nougat to Android 8.0 Oreo in the near future. That is almost guaranteed. In the past, Samsung updated their premium tablets for up to three years. Huawei hasn’t been as good with updates in the past.
On top of Oreo runs Huawei’s EMUI which is their own interface. With that, Android is heavily customized. For example, there is no app drawer out of the box. However, you can activate the app drawer in the settings. That’s the case with most things. Even though the interface is heavily customized, you can customize it yourself quite a lot.
Samsung is shipping their tablets with their so-called Samsung Experience UI. That’s the successor to TouchWiz. Similar to Huawei, the interface is heavily customized. However, in the past, Samsung managed to make their UI more snappy. It feels less crowded than the EMUI.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 or Huawei MediaPad M5 Pro
So, which one is better? The Huawei MediaPad M5 Pro or the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3? As of now, I can’t say it for sure. I have to do a full review of the Huawei once it is available. But in a lot of cases, the M5 Pro seems to be the better tablet.
Its Kirin 960 processor should be around 25% faster – and in some benchmarks maybe more. In addition to that, it ships with Android 8.0 Oreo directly and comes with included LTE. Personally, I also prefer a full metal body. I’m not that fond of a glass back because it can look dirty fast.
However, the Galaxy Tab S3 has a lot of interesting features as well. The UI might feel a bit more snappy and Samsung has been great with updates in the past. While both come with an active stylus, Samsung offers more features for its S-Pen.
Well, let’s see how both tablets compare in more detail once the MediaPad M5 Pro is available.
Huawei MediaPad M5 ProThe Huawei MediaPad M5 Pro is a 10.8-inch premium tablet that included LTE and an active M-Pen stylus. It features powerful hardware, a high-resolution screen, Android 8.0 Oreo and a high-end design.
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