About a year after releasing the MediaPad M5, Huawei is back with the MediaPad M5 Lite. The $299
Design, Display, and Durability
If the name isn’t enough of a clue, the landscape-oriented design of the Huawei MediaPad M5 Lite makes it clear this tablet is designed for multimedia. It measures 9.58 by 6.39 by 0.35 inches (WHD) and weighs 1.05 pounds. That’s a little heavy, but the weight is well-distributed, and it’s meant to be held with two hands.
The 10.1-inch display is surrounded by bezels just chunky enough to get a good grip on from any angle. On the top bezel, you’ll find a Huawei logo, an 8MP camera, and a status indicator light. A fingerprint sensor is on the bottom bezel. Flip the tablet over and you’ll find a Space Gray aluminum back panel.
There are dual speaker grills on both the top and bottom of the tablet that
You also get a thick aluminum stylus (powered by an AAAA battery) with a replacement nib. It’s a nice addition, especially when you consider Apple charges $100 for its Pencil, but like the iPad, there’s nowhere to store it.
Display quality is solid. The front panel is home to a 10.1-inch, 1,920-by-1,200 IPS display with 224 pixels per inch. While it doesn’t compare with the gorgeous 9.7-inch, 2,732-by-2,048 IPS display on the iPad, it’s still easy to look at for long stretches at a time. Viewing angles are good, and we had no problem seeing it in direct sunlight.
The tablet is neither rugged nor waterproof. The aluminum back should be able to take a few dings and minor drops. Huawei doesn’t specify it the display is made of strengthened glass, so a face-down drop could spell disaster. You’ll want to invest in a good case and screen protector.
Processor and Battery
The MediaPad M5 Lite features Huawei’s midrange Kirin 659 octa-core processor and 3GB of RAM. Storage comes in at 32GB, though less than 20GB is available out of the box. Fortunately, a microSD slot allows you to add up to an additional 256GB of external storage.
Overall performance is decent. If you’re using the tablet for multimedia streaming, internet browsing, or playing basic games, you’ll be pleased. We were able to multitask with nearly a dozen apps open with only minimal slowdown. Advanced gaming is a different story. We experienced long load times and dropped frames when playing Asphalt 8.
Compared with the 2018 iPad, benchmarks are disappointing. The MediaPad M5 Lite eked out a Geekbench single-core score of just 848, while the iPad came in at 3,512. Multi-core scores were a little better with the M5 Lite at 3,398 compared with the iPad at 5,934.
The tablet’s 7,500mAh battery offers solid performance. When streaming full-screen video over Wi-Fi at maximum brightness, it clocked 8 hours, 46 minutes. That edges out the iPad (5 hours, 40 minutes) by a healthy margin. Should you find your battery running low, the Quick Charge adapter can completely recharge the tablet within three hours.
There are two cameras on the MediaPad M5 Lite. On the front, you’ll find a fixed-focus 8MP sensor. The rear camera also comes in at 8MP but features autofocus.
In testing we found the rear camera to be poor. It struggled in bright light, with noisy images lacking in background detail. The slow shutter makes low-light photos even worse, with all of our test shots looking noisy and blurry.
Surprisingly, the front-facing camera performs a little better. Bright-light images are usable, with just a little loss of background detail. Low-light photos, as expected, are blurry and noisy.
In addition to the usual array of camera settings and features, the MediaPad M5 Lite also has Portrait Mode and a Beauty Filter. In our tests, neither worked well. We didn’t see any noticeable difference between photos with or without Portrait Mode. It was also hard to notice a significant difference when using the Beauty Filter; we tested it on several different settings under studio lights and may have noticed a slight smoothing of the skin when the filter was on level 10.
If you’re looking for the latest version of Android on the Huawei MediaPad M5 Lite, you’re out of luck. The tablet ships with Android 8.0 and a Huawei representative told PCMag it will not receive an OS update. Huawei’s custom skin, EMUI 8.0, also makes an appearance. EMUI makes a few visual changes to the app icons and settings menu, duplicates just about every stock Android app, and adds a few that look nearly identical to iOS apps.
In addition to nearly a dozen Huawei apps, the MediaPad M5 Lite also has its share of bloatware. You’ll find a Hotels.com app, the Microsoft Office Suite of apps (with yet another email app), Facebook, Netflix, and the Amazon Shopping app. Fortunately, all of them can be uninstalled, but it seems a bit opportunistic to add them in the first place since this isn’t a carrier-subsidized tablet.
Bloatware aside, there are a few nice software features on the MediaPad M5 Lite. Kids Corner lets you set up a custom home screen for your children that automatically opens when they use the fingerprint sensor. The default home screen is basic, but parents can easily add apps from the Google Play store.
There are also a few apps created for use with the stylus. MyScript Calculator lets you write down math problems on the display and solves them for you within seconds. The basic Note application works with the stylus, though it’s not as intuitive or responsive as what you’ll find on its iOS equivalent. A customized version of Nebo, a notebook and note-taking
Although the Huawei MediaPad M5 Lite is priced comparably with the entry-level iPad, that’s where the similarities end. The 9.7-inch iPad has a more powerful processor, a bigger app selection, guaranteed software updates, and excellent in-store customer service. That doesn’t mean the MediaPad M5 is a bad tablet—far from it. For Android users, it’s a solid slate that can do the basics well, and with
Editors’ Note: We are aware of the allegations presented by the US Attorney General’s office on Jan. 28 regarding Huawei. Until we see evidence of how these allegations touch upon the company’s tablet business, we will continue to review its products and recommend them if their performance merits our endorsement.