If you’re looking for a high-end Android tablet, your options are unfortunately limited. Few companies still produce nice Android tablets and competition is weak. Thankfully Huawei has stepped up to the plate with the new M5 series of tablets. The MediaPad M5 Pro is the biggest and priciest of them all, but it offers a few features you won’t find elsewhere.
Huawei decked this tablet out with some of the best specs on the market. It includes last year’s top of the line hardware paired with excellent materials and build quality.
On the back are four speakers tuned by Harman Kardon. They do face backward, but they manage to create some serious sound. They get ridiculously loud for a tablet and stay fairly clear. The highs are pretty tinny but there is a bit of low end there, and overall they sound great for built-in speakers. I just wish they were faced forward.
Unfortunately, this focus on audio didn’t transfer to the headphone jack. Because there isn’t one. For a huge tablet with no space constraints (the usual excuse for removing the headphone jack) and a strong focus on media, removing the headphone jack is absolutely unforgivable. There’s no reason for it and it’s incredibly consumer hostile. You’ll be stuck using the included flimsy headphone adapter or Bluetooth headphones. Absolutely ridiculous.
There’s a fingerprint sensor on the right side when the tablet is held in landscape (the primary way it’s meant to be held). It’s well positioned and easy to push and just as quick as any flagship smartphone. Despite the narrow size I never had any problems registering a fingerprint or having my finger rejected. Huawei fingerprint sensors are as good as they get.
The MediaPad M5 Pro also has pogo pins on the bottom allowing you to hook on a keyboard cover. You can turn this tablet into a productivity machine, although at a pretty high price. The option is awesome though, and the setup should work better than a case stand and wireless keyboard.
Just like the other devices in this series of tablets, the MediaPad M5 Pro uses a 2560×1600 IPS display, but sized at 10.8 inches. This does result in fewer pixels-per-inch compared to its smaller brother, but the display remains super sharp and plenty high resolution.
The panel used also features beautiful and vibrant colors. If you’re not a fan of the vibrant colors, you can change the color mode from the stock vivid to normal.
Much like the other tablets in this series, the MediaPad M5 Pro’s screen is 16:10 rather than 4:3 that other tablets use. This means that it’s excellent for viewing content in landscape mode, perfect for movies and videos, but unwieldy to use in portrait. With smaller tablets it works, but with a 10.8-inch display it’s simply too big to use upright. Nonetheless, many people like me prefer the 16:10 ratio on tablets.
The screen is big, bright, vivid, and high resolution. There’s nothing more that I could want. It’s an excellent display panel befitting the tablet’s higher end nature.
This tablet is built to a high standard. The front is a single sheet of glass with rounded 2.5D corners. The rear is a single piece of aluminum in a very nice champagne gold color. All that’s interrupting the metal is a single antenna line at the top. Around the display the metal has a shiny chamfered edge, meeting smoothly with the glass.
The buttons on the right side are clicky and stiff, feeling great and not being too soft for a tablet. The SD card tray is solid aluminum and sits flush with the edge.
Despite being quite large, there is no flex in the chassis whatsoever. The back can be flexed in a little, but it’s an overall solid and beautifully built tablet.
Let’s start discussing the state of Android on tablets. Historically, Android hasn’t exactly been optimized for the big screen. Lack of app support has hurt Android tablets as well.
The situation these days just isn’t very different. There are plenty of apps that are made for tablets, but it’s not often that they feel like they’re truly taking advantage of the form factor. It’s not a huge downside to owning this tablet, but you shouldn’t be buying this tablet for the apps. It’s for media.
EMUI 8.0 running on top of Android 8.0 Oreo takes over the user interface and it really isn’t bad at all. It’s a bit bright and colorful but otherwise not too intrusive. Well, besides the notification asking you to defragment your tablet. Seems silly to do so on a flash storage-based tablet.
With last year’s top-of-the-line Kirin 960 under the hood, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage with a microSD slot, and high-end specs otherwise, the performance of MediaPad M5 Pro is excellent.
EMUI is a relatively smooth interface so you’ll be getting a fluid experience for the most part. There are frame drops and stutters here and there but they’re fairly minor.
The MediaPad M5 Pro is the only tablet in this series compatible with Huawei’s M-Pen stylus. It’s an active stylus with 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity as well as two buttons. And thankfully, it’s included in the box.
Much like the other active stylus products on the market, you can use this for navigating the UI, drawing, and special features like taking screenshots and launching apps.
Rather than having a AAAA battery like the Surface Pen or a built in Lightning connector like the Apple Pencil, this pen has a USB Type-C port on the side. The pen clip cleverly hides it until it’s rotated out of the way. I love the implementation of charging, though you’ll very rarely have to charge it. It lasts 50 days of use and takes less than two hours to recharge.
The rear camera is a 13MP unit that bulges out quite a bit. With plenty of light, it isn’t awful. In low light it is. Photos turn out blurry and grainy, not even worth sharing. But why would you use a tablet camera at all? Don’t.
Inside this tablet is a fairly large 7,500mAh battery. Despite the high-end hardware and the massive and bright display, battery life is pretty good on this tablet. It also supports 18 watt quick charging via the included wall charger.
Helping the battery life is the EMUI software, which is pretty strict on what background processes can run. It’ll often kill apps, which may result in missed notifications. You can turn this off, and you should for the most important apps, but it’s a bit of a pain to set this up (and to know to do so in the first place). Fortunately it does result in above average battery life.
Ar $449, the MediaPad M5 Pro isn’t particular cheap. However, it offers one of the most complete Android tablet experiences on the market. The inclusion of the M-Pen in the box is a nice touch for artists and those who like to draw.
If you’re looking for a basic media viewing tablet, you may want to look at the cheaper and smaller MediaPad M5 8.4″ tablet. It features almost all of the same specs but with a $319 price tag in the US.
If you want what’s basically one of the most high-end Android tablets on the market, this is it and it’s a great option. If you can get over not having a headphone jack in a tablet.