Huawei MediaPad M5 8.4 review

A very good Android alternative to the iPad Mini

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Interface and reliability: Tickety-boo

  • Newest version of Android
  • UI is customisable, but heavy

EMUI, Huawei’s custom skin on top of Android, is significantly heavier than stock Android, and it also preloads a number of third-party applications onboard. 

This isn't a bad thing per se: third-party apps can be disabled or uninstalled, and what some might view as heavy-handedness on the part of Huawei could also be viewed as customisability. Importantly, it doesn’t slow the interface down.

More good news is that the M5 series runs Android 8, making them among the few Android tablets around rocking the latest version of Google’s operating system out of the box.

Using EMUI 8.0 you can customise everything from transitions to your homescreen grid size on the MediaPad M5 8.4. 

The fingerprint scanner is responsive and accurate, and doubles up as a navigation button, replacing the space-consuming black navigation bar at the bottom of most Android devices. 

It’s a great feature, saving screen real estate while being intuitive and useful.

Performance: Fast, not the fastest

  • Kirin 960 is powerful and power-efficient
  • Well suited to gaming and demanding tasks

The combination of the Kirin 960 processor and 4GB of RAM helps the MediaPad M5 8.4 to excel at everyday tablet tasks. The likes of eBook reading and web browsing are a doddle, 4K video plays back smoothly, and even the latest games run well. 

Geekbench benchmarking returned a multi-core score of 6,540, suggesting you should encounter no issues in day-to-day use. 

Running a more graphically intensive benchmark, Antutu, produced a score of 189,878. These scores aren’t going to blow any 2018 flagships smartphones out of the water, but for a things are looking good. 

Connections and storage: Everything but a 3.5mm jack

  • USB-C and SD support are handy
  • USB-C-to-3.5mm dongle in the box

The MediaPad 8.4 features all the connectivity options we’d hope for in a premium Android tablet.

That means a USB-C port for charging, data transfer and audio, SIM card support on the LTE versions, and SD expansion options.

Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2 and GPS are also present, so you should have no problems staying connected, whether it’s to the web, your wearable or Google Maps.

The entry-level storage option of 32GB should be sufficient for basic tablet use with limited amounts of gaming. If you need more you can supplement this with an SD card, or opt for the 64GB or 128GB model. 

Battery: Long haul ready

  • 10-plus hours of screen-on time
  • Plenty of power-saving modes

Average use at above 50% brightness will give you in excess of 10 hours screen-on time with the MediaPad M5 8.4, which is a very competitive performance. 

And if you need the tablet to last longer, Huawei has you covered. Fire up the plethora of battery optimisations, which range from small tweaks like adjusting the output resolution through to a more holistic power-saving mode, which disables a few background functions, and you can enjoy a little more slate time.

The M5 series also support fast charging, shipping with a zippy power brick in the box. 

However, with the Mate 10 tablet and P20 phone ranges Huawei has shown us the wonders of Supercharge, a much faster charging solution than mere fast charging. 

This tech is notably absent from the M5 8.4, and that's a real shame given the fact that a full charge will take in excess of two hours.

Basil Kronfli

Basil Kronfli is the Head of content at Make Honey and freelance technology journalist. He is an experienced writer and producer and is skilled in video production, and runs the technology YouTube channel TechEdit.