Huawei Me­di­aPad M3

€ 349 • con­

Android Advisor - - Contents -

For years a strictly B2B com­pany, Huawei is mak­ing strides in the con­sumer mar­ket in an at­tempt to put the pres­sure on ri­vals like Sam­sung and LG. The Me­di­aPad M3 is the com­pany’s lat­est at­tempt to make the best tablet on the mar­ket. An­nounced at IFA 2016 along­side the Nova smart­phone and its big­ger ver­sion the Nova Plus, we got our hands on the slate be­fore­hand to put it through its paces. We take a look at the Huawei Me­di­aPad M3 and, ba­si­cally, see if it’s as good as an iPad or Sam­sung Galaxy Tab.


At the time of writ­ing, the Me­di­aPad M3 is not yet on sale. It’ll be avail­able in se­lected re­gions, in­clud­ing the UK, from 26 Septem­ber 2016. The UK pric­ing is not yet con­firmed, but the base model (32GB Wi-Fi only) €349, which is roughly £290. The iPad mini 4, for com­par­i­son, cur­rently starts at 16GB Wi-Fi only for £319.

The 32GB model with LTE is €399, which is the same price you’ll pay for the 64GB Wi-Fi only model. The high­est priced Me­di­aPad is €449, which gets you 64GB and LTE.


This tablet is the fol­low up to Huawei’s Me­di­aPad M2 10.0, and the most ob­vi­ous de­sign change the ori­en­ta­tion from land­scape to por­trait. As the name sug­gests, it was a 10in tablet. The new Me­di­aPad M3 scales things down to 8.4in along with be­com­ing por­trait in de­sign. This makes the M3 feel dis­tinctly thin, al­most like a huge smart­phone to look at and hold. When com­pared with an iPad mini 4, its screen is taller and its bezels pleas­ingly thin. The Me­di­aPad M3 is a tad thicker than that 6.1mm iPad, com­ing in at 7.3mm – barely no­tice­able.

There’s no deny­ing the Me­di­aPad M3 is a beau­ti­ful piece of kit. It has di­a­mond-cut cham­fered edges, and the same cur­va­ture and fin­ish as some of the com­pany’s flag­ship smart­phones like the Huawei P9. Now that the M3 is por­trait to nat­u­rally hold, there’s a front fac­ing cam­era at the top and a fin­ger­print scan­ner/home but­ton at the bot­tom.

The tablet loses the four speaker grills of the Me­di­aPad M2, in­stead hav­ing two; one each on

the top and bot­tom edges of the de­vice. They are, like on the M2, man­u­fac­tured by Huawei’s audio part­ner Har­man Kar­don. They still man­age to pump out audio at a de­cent level, but it’s what you’d ex­pect from a tablet. For long video view­ing ses­sions, reach for some head­phones.

On that bot­tom edge of our re­view sam­ple was also a mi­cro­phone, Mi­cro-USB port for charg­ing and data trans­fer as well as a SIM card slot if you fancy a cel­lu­lar plan.

The head­phone jack is lo­cated on the top while the rear of the de­vice is a clean sil­ver sheen, with an iPhone-es­que aerial line at the bot­tom, sub­tle Huawei logo and a white aerial strip at the top that also houses the cam­era sen­sor. The left edge is com­pletely clean, while the right has a sub­tle vol­ume rocker just above the power/lock but­ton.

Over­all we reckon Huawei has done a great job with the de­sign of the Me­di­aPad M3. Por­trait ori­en­ta­tion makes sense on an 8.4in de­vice, and most tablets de­signed land­scape make sense if used with a key­board. You can hold the Me­di­aPad M3 with one hand - just – but there won’t be much you can do other than read an e-book. At 310g you’ll prob­a­bly be us­ing it two-handed for all tasks.

It’s not a com­plete iPad clone – which is good – but the screen is per­haps a sliver too tall rather than wide. We can imag­ine the Me­di­aPad M3 as a to-die-for 5.5in smart­phone, but as an 8.4in tablet, the di­men­sions are just a tiny bit off. Only just.


The dis­play of the Me­di­aPad M3 is ex­cel­lent, boast­ing a Full-HD 2560x1600 res­o­lu­tion with

359 pix­els per inch. While the de­sign of a tablet is first port of call for im­pres­sions of premium qual­ity, it has to be mar­ried with the soft­ware and how the screen dis­plays it all. Thank­fully the Me­di­aPad M3 is well pre­pared to de­liver the me­dia its name prom­ises.

Colours and app icons pop nicely; it’s a plea­sure to zip around An­droid Marsh­mal­low. If any­thing, the back­light could be a tad brighter, par­tic­u­larly dur­ing the day, but we are nit pick­ing slightly. How­ever, next to an iPad Air (first gen­er­a­tion), the whites on full bright­ness are crisper and clearer on the Me­di­aPad M3, though ar­guably not quite as nat­u­ral.

There’s also an ‘eye pro­tec­tion’ mode, some­thing akin to Ap­ple’s Night Shift but less re­fined. You can tog­gle it on and off man­u­ally via the pull down short­cut tray, and you may want to use it if read­ing in the dark, but other­wise it’s a bit gim­micky.

Games like As­phalt 8 look amaz­ing, while video play­back is as smooth as you’d ex­pect from Huawei’s Kirin CPU on its lat­est flag­ship tablet. The dis­play more than holds it own here com­pared to ri­val de­vices like the iPad mini 4 or the Sam­sung Galaxy Tab S2.


As men­tioned, the Me­di­aPad M3 is rock­ing a Huawei-made Kirin 950 pro­ces­sor, paired with a re­spectable 4GB RAM. Our LTE model came with 32GB of on-board, non-ex­pand­able stor­age which may not be enough – there’s luck­ily a 64GB ver­sion, which is more rea­son­able, but costs €449, €50 more than the 32GB model with LTE.

There’s also a slot that takes a Nano-SIM, but re­mem­ber you can get a Wi-Fi only ver­sion if you pre­fer. It also takes a mi­croSD card for ex­pand­able stor­age up to 128GB. At 8.4in, the M3 is a good size if you’re af­ter a tablet to use with a data plan as it’s com­pact and light enough to carry around all day, stuffed full of your favourite mu­sic and films.

The Me­di­aPad M3 did very well in our stan­dard bench­mark tests. It scored an im­mense 5060 in Geek­bench 4’s multi-core bench­mark score. The iPad Air 2 (ad­mit­tedly a two-year old tablet) scored 4643, while the iPad mini 4 scored 3108. The M3 is not far be­hind the iPad Pro 9.7in that scored 5257. On pa­per, Huawei has pro­duced a light­ning quick tablet. In ac­tu­al­ity, it can per­form no­tice­ably slow, but only in highly in­tense games such as As­phalt 8, where game­play oc­ca­sion­ally lagged.

For most users how­ever, the Me­di­aPad will be com­pletely ad­e­quate for all tasks. Video play­back is but­tery smooth, and 8.4in is a great size for throw­ing in a bag for the bus or even a long plane ride; videos look amaz­ing on it.


We’re still firmly in the ‘never take a photo with a tablet’ camp, but if you are truly forced to, then

luck­ily the Me­di­aPad M3 is up to the task. It has a 8Mp main cam­era that pro­duces pleas­ingly crisp, de­fined im­ages.

The front-fac­ing cam­era is the one you’ll prob­a­bly use most for video call­ing and selfie ses­sions. Huawei has put some quirky but largely use­less func­tions on this cam­era’s soft­ware, such as a beau­ti­fy­ing mode where you can make your eyes big­ger and your skin whiter. It’s pretty odd.

Ob­vi­ously this isn’t an iPad, so there’s no FaceTime, but if you’ve got a SIM card then you can use Google Duo, which is ex­cel­lent. Fail­ing that, Google other video ser­vice Han­gouts works well, as does Skype. The Me­di­aPad has no prob­lems keep­ing up with these types of calls as long as you have a de­cent Wi-Fi con­nec­tion.


The Me­di­aPad M3 landed on our desk with An­droid Lol­lipop 5.1. We had to man­u­ally up­date to Marsh­mal­low 6.0, but hope­fully the fi­nal prod­uct will ship with 6.0 given it has been out for sev­eral months now (the press ma­te­ri­als state it ships with 6.0). Also, when we up­dated, we were pre­sented with the screen be­low, com­plete with Chi­nese script. Again, hope­fully this won’t fea­ture on the fi­nal English lan­guage re­lease as we couldn’t read what the up­date even was. Huawei’s EMUI (Emo­tion user in­ter­face) over­lay of An­droid isn’t unattrac­tive, but we feel it’s ac­tu­ally slightly less eye-catch­ing than stock An­droid. The Me­di­aPad ships with ver­sion 4.1, and it’s a solid user ex­pe­ri­ence. Icons are fairly plain and have muted tones. It’s still easy to flick around, but fea­tures such as the no­ti­fi­ca­tion tray aren’t as in­tu­itive or easy on the eye as stock An­droid, or even ri­val Sam­sung’s lately im­proved TouchWiz over­lay. If you’re used to ei­ther of those OS, EMUI will take a few hours to get your head around.

There are no sign up of­fers here for ad­di­tional cloud stor­age un­like on some other tablets where man­u­fac­tur­ers part­ner with Mi­crosoft or Google to of­fer OneDrive or Drive up­grades. Over­all for ca­sual use, which af­ter all is what this tablet is for, the EMUI OS won’t hin­der your en­joy­ment of it. That might not sound

like a glow­ing en­dorse­ment, but while this is a fine tablet to use, it’s im­por­tant to note that we aren’t to­tally blown away by the ex­pe­ri­ence.

One cool thing that works well with the soft­ware and im­proves use is the fin­ger­print scan­ner. Also a home but­ton, there are in­te­grated touch ges­tures that, once learned, im­prove day to day use. Where most tablets’ home but­tons sim­ply take you back to the home screen when pressed, the Me­di­aPad M3’s takes you back one page or step if tapped once. It’s not a phys­i­cal but­ton, and you end up us­ing it like the An­droid back but­ton (which is still dis­played just above the but­ton on-screen).

Hold down your fin­ger on the but­ton (which doesn’t phys­i­cally move) and the tablet vi­brates a tad, show­ing you’ve full­pressed and it whisks you back to the home screen. The other func­tion is handy too; swipe over the pill shaped but­ton from left to right or vice versa, and it brings up your open apps. This means you can use the one home but­ton for all An­droid’s usual func­tion but­tons. It’s very good in­deed and it makes you won­der why it isn’t stan­dard on tons of An­droid de­vices al­ready.


In a stag­nated mar­ket, the Me­di­aPad M3 ini­tially feels un­der­whelm­ing. Af­ter ex­tended use though, we reckon it’s a cut above the mid-range, but then again, from €349, you are pay­ing for it. It’s a good al­ter­na­tive to an iPad if you want an An­droid tablet that’s big­ger than an iPad mini but smaller than an iPad Air 2. But, who is specif­i­cally look­ing for that? The Me­di­aPad is ex­cel­lent and we rec­om­mend it, but it lacks a cer­tain ‘wow’ fac­tor that’s largely down to the high num­ber of ex­ist­ing An­droid tablets. Henry Bur­rell


8.4in (2560x1600, 359ppi) IPS touch­screen An­droid 6.0 Marsh­mal­low with EMUI 4.1 Kirin 950 octa-core pro­ces­sor 4GB RAM 32/64GB stor­age Mi­croSD up to 128GB 8Mp aut­o­fo­cus main cam­era 8Mp fixed fo­cus front cam­era Wi-Fi: IEEE802.11a/b/g/n/ac Blue­tooth 4.1 Op­tional 4G LTE Nano-SIM 5100mAh non-re­mov­able bat­tery 215.5x124.2x7.3mm 310g

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