Huawei MediaPad M5 8″ Review

Huawei MediaPad M5 8" review

As someone who loves to stuff a tablet into their coat pocket for reading on the train, bus, or living room sofa, the Huawei MediaPad M5 8″ has been a joy to use these past few months. Available for around £240-300, the MediaPad M5 8″ is one of the Chinese tech giant’s more premium products. Just be prepared for a bit of confusion if you go trying to buy one through Amazon, as the product page buttons can direct you to almost a dozen similarly named variants. It currently runs the older Android 8.0 operating system through Huawei’s custom EMUI skin, but does appear to get the most recent Android security patches for good measure.

Pick up the correct machine, however, and you’ll be met with a brilliantly sturdy little device with a cold metal chassis and the company’s popular slim-bezel display; and what a screen it is, too. Arguably the most important aspect of the whole product, the display on the MediaPad M5 8″ doesn’t dissapoint – until it does.

On first inspection, the gorgeous high resolution IPS display catches your eye thanks to some smartly selected wallpapers and rotating lock screen images. At 2650 x 1600 across 8.4 inches of screen space, you’re looking at a tablet that easily beats out the current iPad Mini 4’s 2048 x 1536 retina display, besting Apple’s flagship tiny tablet at 359 pixel density over 324. Rich colors back it up, as do the tiny bezels, but it isn’t all praise once average lighting conditions fade away as the day goes on.

This promotional image is pretty much spot-on...
This promotional image is pretty much spot-on…

It’s not something I really thought about when buying the MediaPad M5 8″, but the thing just can’t go dark enough for my liking. It can get pretty bright to compensate for glaring sunlight, but if you like to read a book before bedtime or fall asleep to ASMR videos, you’re going frown at how the otherwise brilliant IPS panel can’t dim enough for comfortable “lights out” viewing. The “eye saver” blue light filter will help you wind down in those situations, but it’s an oversight I just can’t overlook. Thankfully, the auto-brightness sensor does a good job of minimizing screen glare in bright sunlight. Obviously it’s not going to trump an e-ink display found in dedicated eReaders, but it’s an admirable effort given the glossy glass finish on the display.

Speaking of screen glass, the MediaPad M5 display does a fantastic job of masking smudges and fingerprints, too. It feels smooth enough to entice me to drag my finger around the display all day, yet I can only see proof of my poking when I really go looking for it. At most angles, the screen looks to be in immaculate condition even months after pulling it out of its box; and I certainly can’t say the same for my Pixel 2 XL sitting beside me looking like a toddler’s favorite toy.

Screen flaws aside, the exterior of the MediaPad M5 8″ is really something to admire. Completely abstaining from plastic, the aluminium body is rounded out on both the corners and rear to create a chassis that sits really well in your hand. It’s an inch or two bigger than most dedicated e-readers, so you’re not going to get that super lightweight feel from this premium machine, but you do get a sturdy product that feels great to the touch. There’s a single touch-sensitive “button” just beneath the screen that acts as your home clicker (minus the click) and doubles up as a fingerprint scanner for added device security.

It's "2.5D Glass" that allows for that slightly curved bezel
It’s “2.5D Glass” that allows for that slightly curved bezel

On the right of the tablet, you’ll find your volume rocker and power button – though their placement is swapped compared to most devices I’ve used in the past, so get used to accidentally locking the device when you go to tweak the volume. Having a phone use the opposite layout won’t help you get used to this little annoyance, but it does make me laugh at my own misfortune from time to time. There’s even 4 Harman Kardon speakers on either short side of the device, so you should get ample stereo sound even if your palms cover half of the lengthy grills.

Now to finally address the internal specs of this pocket-friendly device. They’re admirable, if not a tiny bit dated in 2019. It’s not going to beat out a flagship phone from the last few years, but expect all your favorite apps and games to run pretty dang well on its slightly older 8-core Kirin 960 chip – that’s just one version behind the chip powering the Huawei P20 Pro smartphone which launched for a whopping £800 this time last year.

You get 4GB of RAM for ample multi-tasking, rear and front-facing cameras, 5GHz WIFI support, 32GB of storage that can be extended through MicroSD, and a 5100mAH battery that’s good for about 10-11 hours of general usage, or well over a week on standby. To make things better, this particular tablet utilizes a “Fast Charge” USB-C port on the bottom to quickly top up the battery when needed. And yes, that sadly means there’s no 3.5mm headphone jack to speak off, but you do get a fairly lenghty adapter to somewhat solve that little crisis. As for the cameras, you’re looking at a 13MP rear sensor, and an adequant 8MP one on the front. I don’t know many who would use a tablet camera all too often, but they’re there if you need them.

It's a good gamer!
It’s a good gamer!

So, closing thoughts, then. The Huawei MediaPad M5 8″ is a fantastic coat-friendly tablet that’s only really let down by a peculiar choice of screen backlighting. You can leave this on your bedside tablet for well over a week and still come back to a battery ready to keep you entertained on the tube, and it’ll power through some popular mobile gaming titles like Arena of Valor or Dragalia Lost with ease. There’s even a screen recorder built in that utterly trounces Google’s official implementation, so content creators and social media-heavy users can easily showcase their skills.

With its cold aluminum exterior, it’s a sleek looking device that will draw attention for all the right reasons, and the 4 Harman Kardon speakers can pump out respectable sound for content consumption. Just be prepared for some potentially achey eyes if you scoff at having a bedside lamp to turn off at night. There’s very little competition at this price range, and not much reason to get anything “better” at twice the price.

Buying this reviewed product through the Amazon ad above will earn me a small commission on the sale that helps justify the time and effort that goes into testing and reviewing various items on the JoshJudges site. The help is greatly appreciated!

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