Review: CES 2016: Huawei MediaPad M2

The Huawei MediaPad M2 is a big tablet that happens to be a big part of the Chinese company’s strategy to be surpass Apple and Samsung in two years, a lofty goal it mentioned at CES 2015.

This is a landscape-focused, 10-inch Android tablet that’s thin and light with an aluminum build, making it a direct challenger to Apple’s iPad Air 2, and it feel more polished than the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2.

It’s slick tablet design managed to pack four speaker grills into its metal frame. No, all of this means it’s not quite as sub-pencil thin or as light as the iPad, and it runs and older version of Android.

Huawei MediaPad M2 reveiw

There’s just more here for the money compared to the best tablet competition, including easy to manage splitscreen capabilities. This may be the iPad and Samsung tablet alternative you’ve been looking for.

Huawei MediaPad M2 release date

The Huawei MediaPad M2 tablet is launching in the US, unlike the Huawei phones that too often skip over the United States, the Google-commissioned Nexus 6P not included.

Huawei MediaPad M2 reveiw

The official release date is pinned down to a rather vague first quarter of 2016. That means it could ship to stores anywhere from today to March 31, if Huawei keeps to this schedule.

The Huawei MediaPad M2 I tested out seemed liked a finished product, so there’s a good chance that this tablet is coming soon than later to a store (or, more likely, online retailer) near you.

Huawei MediaPad M2 price

The Huawei MediaPad M2 tablet price is all over the place. Let’s clear up how much it costs for you, as it starts at $349, but goes up to $469 with four different configurations.

Huawei MediaPad M2 reveiw

That $349 model is the entry-level WiFi model with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage. That’s not enough memory speed or internal storage for a tech-enthusiast like yourself. An LTE edition of this tablet is $399.

I’d much rather pay for a Huawei MediaPad M2 tablet at $419 with 3GB of RAM and 64GB and WiFi. The LTE version, if you need it, is $469 with the same memory and internal storage setup.

Huawei MediaPad M2 design

The Huawei MediaPad M2 looks and feels like an aluminum iPad with a few twists. That’s because it has an aluminum alloy, full-metal body and precision-crafted curved edges with a sandblasted finish.

Huawei MediaPad M2 reveiw

It feels like an expensive Apple tablet in my two hands without actually costing nearly as much as much. The twist comes with the fact that it has four speakers and landscape orientation for its buttons.

The four speakers sound clear, cutting through the CES 2016 crowd noise as I demoed one of the prototype Huawei MediaPad M2 tablets. While many of today’s tablets come with one speaker grill, this one multiplies that by four and adds harman/kardon audio technology.

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Oddly, the power button and volume rocker are on the “top side” of the frame when you hold it in portrait mode, which seems to be a way to encourage users to hold the tablet in landscape mode so that it’s on the more ntural right side. I’ll have to see if I get used to this after more testing.

Huawei MediaPad M2 specs

The Huawei MediaPad M2 is slim with a 7.35mm body that’s thin, though nothing record-breaking from a tablet maker. The iPad Air 2 is down to 6.1 mm, for example.

Huawei MediaPad M2 reveiw

It’s slightly bigger than Apple’s flagship tablet in screen size, too. It has a 10.1-inch display featuring a full HD IPS screen and 1920×1200 resolution.

The official Huawei MediaPad M2 dimensions comes out to be 239.8 x 172.75 x 7.35mm, and it weighs 490g. The iPad Air 2 that it draws so much inspiration from is 437g.

Huawei MediaPad M2 reveiw

It’s not just trying to take on the main 9.7-inch iPad, but also challenging the iPad Pro with a focus on a stylus. Its handwriting feature has 2048-level pressure sensitivity.

Underneath this high identification accuracy display is a Hisilicon Kirin 930 processor with a faster quad 2.0GHz chip and energy-saving quad 1.5GHz chip. The 3GB is obviously going to be more of a sound choice than the lower-ceiling 2GB version.

Huawei MediaPad M2 reveiw

It’s not the usual Qualcomm or even Intel System-on-A Chip we’re used to, so it’ll require further review testing. I’m also interested in seeing how the Mali-T628 MP4 (680MHz) graphics chip performs under pressure.

The Huawei MediaPad M2 battery life tests are also going to be highly important. We take that seriously for all thin tablets, but we already know it has a 6660mAh lithium polymer battery.

Huawei MediaPad M2 reveiw

Although you really don’t need to use a camera on a tablet – ever – this one has two. A front-facing 5MP and rear-facing 13MP camera with autofocus, flash and a f/2.0 aperture.

Of course this tablet runs Android, but it’s not launching with Android Marshmallow. Instead, it’s like a lot of last year’s Google-powered tablets, running Android 5.1 Lollipop.

Early verdict

The Huawei MediaPad M2 tablet is a 10-inch Android slate that doesn’t cost nearly as much as an iPad, but does a reasonably good impression of Apple’s popular tablet. The design looks like it holds up.

The specs are certainly different than other Android tablets we normally test out, with a non-Qualcomm CPU, so that needs further testing to make sure everything on the inside holds up, too.

Given the price and the build quality, this could be a serious competitor to the best Android tablets on the market, and we’ll know soon enough given the first quarter release date.

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