Where are the Android tablets? All we’ve seen this year are mid-range Amazon Fire devices and other low-key offerings. In fact, outside of the aging Google Pixel C and Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 9.7, there hasn’t been a decent Android-powered iPad alternative in a long time. And there are certainly no decent Android-powered iPad mini alternatives, in the 8-inch range.
Until now, maybe. The Huawei MediaPad M3, which we first saw at IFA earlier this year, is an Android 6.0 tablet featuring an 8.4-inch IPS display with a 2560 x 1600 resolution, resulting in an impressive 359 pixels per inch. It’s powered by an octa-core Hisilicon Kirin 950 processor (four Cortex A72 running at 2.3GHz, and four Cortex A53 running at 1.8GHz, plus a Mali-T880 MP4 GPU running at 900MHz), and 4GB LPDDR4 RAM.
We’ve long believed the 8-inch display is “just right” for mobile tablets – small enough as to still be mobile, large enough just in case work needs to be done — going all the way back to the Galaxy Tab 8.9. So we’re excited to see Huawei turn to it for its latest Android tablet. But we are also primed for the Huawei MediaPad M3 because of its spec sheet.
It’s powered by the same internals found in the recent Honor 8 smartphone, which performed very well in tests. In fact, it surpassed the Snapdragon 820 found on the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge (and Note 7) on CPU benchmarks, while measuring lower with GPU processing.
As we stated in the Honor 8 review:
In the real world, the Honor 8 runs like a flagship. It handles its Android 6.0 and Huawei EMUI 4.1 steadily. It’s both stable and swift, and can blast through intensive games as well as any other handset on the market.
Other specs include 32GB or 64GB storage, large 5100mAh battery, 8-megapixel rear and front cameras, microUSB input, microSD card support, 802.11b/g/n/ac dual-band Wi-Fi, GPS/Glonass/A-GPS/Beidou navigation, and LTE support.
Those are all high-end, and much higher than any other Android tablet released this year.
It’s about time.
Huawei MediaPad M3 Hands On
The Huawei MediaPad M3 measures 8.5 x 4.9 x .28 inches, with a tight aluminum build. It feels great in hand, certainly up to the high level Huawei established with its smartphones and MateBook 2-in-1. Huawei also touted its sound output during the MediaPad preview, pointing out its Harman Kardon stereo speakers (1W, 13mm x 18 mm) and its Hi-Fi AKM chipset that enables 192 kHz/24-bit standard audio.
We weren’t able to gauge the sound quality during our hands-on time, but we always grade tablet speakers on a curve. Even the best are pretty bad compared to larger devices (size constraints always limit mobile speaker output), so we’re eager to see (or listen) if Huawei can surprise us.
Otherwise, the MediaPad looks like a solid Android device. The display looks great; it’s bright and is more pixel dense than the iPad mini (359 to 326 ppi). And the MediaPad M3 has Huawei’s excellent fingerprint sensor (the fastest and most reliable on any non-Apple device).
The best part, it’s only $299, about $50 cheaper than the iPad mini 4. It’s available now in gold and silver. Expect a full review from the team at TabletPCReview soon. The MediaPad M3 has the potential the fill an 8-inch market hole on paper. We look forward to seeing how well it holds up to testing.
Looking for something bigger? The Huawei MediaPad M2, which we first saw way back at CES 2016, should also finally launch Stateside in time for Black Friday. No word on pricing, but expect a decent discount from the original $349 for the 16GB/2GB RAM unit.