Huawei MediaPad M3 full review

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.

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Huawei MediaPad M3 review: Price and where to buy

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. 

We'll update this page as soon as UK pricing is confirmed, along with where you can buy.

Huawei MediaPad M3 review: Design and build

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.

Huawei MediaPad M3 review: Display

The display of the MediaPad M3 is excellent, boasting a full-HD 2560 x 1600 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

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