Huawei MediaPad M2 10.0 review

The new Huawei tablet set to challenge the iPad Air 2

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Our Verdict

It sounds and feels great, and can be picked up for a very attractive price, but the Huawei MediaPad M2 10.0 isn't quite able to mix it with the tablet big boys.

For

  • Excellent speakers
  • Nice stylus
  • Good price

Against

  • Emotion UI remains ugly
  • Chunky design
  • Disappointing performance

Huawei is now the third largest smartphone maker in the world behind Samsung and Apple, and the Huawei MediaPad M2 10.0 shows that it's bringing that know-how to the tablet format.

What we have here is a full-sized Android tablet with a premium build and several pro-level features - all for significantly less money than the iPad Air 2.

Which is all the more remarkable when you consider that Huawei appears to be targeting the iPad Pro 9.7 with the MediaPad M2's feature set.

It depends which model you opt for, though. The 'Standard' model comes with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage for around £250 (US$350, roughly AU$485), and feels every inch the iPad Air 2 competitor - though it's actually £100 (US$50, AU$115) cheaper than Apple's aging tablet.

Huawei MediaPad M2 10 0 review

The 'Premium' model, meanwhile, comes with 3GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, an M-Pen stylus, and even a free case for £330, US$420 (roughly AU$640). There's a definite iPad Pro 9.7 vibe to this unit, yet it'll cost you a whopping £170 (US$180, AU$260) less than Apple's 32GB Pro tablet.

I should note that the MediaPad M2 model I've been testing also comes with LTE connectivity, which will set you back a little extra. But it still doesn't crack the £400 (US$500, AU$700) mark - if you can find it for sale in your country, that is. At the time of writing, it seems much easier to obtain the Standard model in the UK than the Premium.

Of course, Android tablets have always been a lot cheaper than their iPad equivalents. They've also generally been a lot worse.

So while it's great that the Huawei MediaPad M2 10.0 has won the price round so comfortably, I was really more interested to learn if it could produce a true top-end tablet experience worthy of comparison with the iPad family.

On that front, it falls predictably short, but it's a commendable effort in several respects.

Design

Fittingly enough, the design of the Huawei MediaPad M2 10.0 evokes the work of the two companies it's seeking to overthrow. From the front, it's very reminiscent of Samsung tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2. It even has a slightly cheap-looking faux-metal plastic screen surround, like some of Samsung's lesser models.

The rear three-quarters of the MediaPad M2, however, is predominantly made of the kind of shimmering aluminum (in Luxurious Gold or Moonlight Silver) that you'd expect to see on an iPad. Except, that is, for an apologetically plastic top section that clearly houses the antenna array.

Huawei MediaPad M2 10 0 review

This is a slightly cheap trick that Huawei has pulled in the past with the otherwise-awesome Nexus 6P, and I wish it would come up with an alternative solution. It's all about the little details at this level.

At 7.4mm thin and 500g, the Huawei MediaPad M2 10.0 is significantly thicker and heavier than the iPad Pro 9.7 and iPad Air 2 (both 6.1mm and 444g in their LTE guises). Sure enough, it feels chunky and slightly unwieldy in the hands - particularly in landscape, thanks to its elongated 16:9 aspect ratio. This is a tablet you'll want to prop up rather than hold for any period of time.

Huawei MediaPad M2 10 0 review

And make no mistake, this tablet has been designed with widescreen content in mind. The key difference between the front layout of the MediaPad M2 and that of Samsung's tablets is that the lozenge-shaped home key is aligned for landscape rather than portrait usage.

It's the same story with the power and volume keys, which are found on the right-hand short edge, near the top.

Just going back to that home button for a second - it's a capacitive button rather than the clicky physical type favored by Samsung and Apple. It still works as a home shortcut, but you'll need to hold rather than tap it. This didn't stop me from accidentally quitting out of apps when a part of my hand rested against it, though.

Huawei MediaPad M2 10 0 review

It also feels a little superfluous when the skinned Android OS retains its circular virtual home key just above it. Still, using it to wake the tablet makes up for some of its awkward nature.

Huawei's 10.1-inch IPS LCD display is decent without scaling the crisp or vibrant delights of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 or iPad Pro 9.7. In particular, its 1920 x 1200 resolution results in a less sharp picture - 224ppi vs the 264ppi of Samsung's and Apple's finest.

The colors don't exactly pop, but nor are they unnaturally garish, and the whites aren't unnaturally tinted towards either extreme of the spectrum.

This is far from the best tablet display out there, then, but the Huawei MediaPad M2 10.0's screen does an adequate job.