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Huawei MediaPad M2 10.0 review

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Let’s face it, most people buying a tablet today are probably thinking about buying an iPad rather than the latest Android model. That’s not to say we haven’t seen our fair share of great Android rivals. Last year’s Google Pixel C  did a pretty good job at making a commendable dent on Apple’s dominance with the iPad Air 2, and Sony’s Xperia Z4 Tablet with its bundled keyboard made a pre-emptive strike on the 9.7in iPad Pro.

Now Huawei’s having a go with the MediaPad M2 10.0. This 10.1in tablet comes in two different versions, but there’s actually little difference between them. There’s the £250 base model, which has 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage, and a £330 premium spec that’s on test here. This comes with 3GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, as well as a stylus and a protective case. Otherwise, both models share the same design, the same screen resolution and the same CPU.

Choosing the right version is important, though, as there’s no microSD card slot to expand the tablet’s storage at a later date. If you’d rather not have the hassle of managing your apps or like the idea of keeping your tablet topped up with all the latest games or iPlayer offerings, then you should probably go for the 64GB premium model.

Huawei MediaPad M2 10.0

Performance and battery life

Whichever options you choose, the MediaPad M2 10.0 isn’t particularly adept at playing games. Just like Huawei’s latest phones, such as the P9 and Mate 8, the MediaPad M2 uses one of the company’s proprietary HiSilicon Kirin chipsets, which traditionally have a capable CPU, but poor graphics performance. This has been something of a long-running theme with the Kirin chips, and it showed yet again in our benchmark tests.

The MediaPad M2 comes equipped with a Kirin 930, the same chipset inside Huawei’s Huawei Mate S, but even with 3GB of RAM at its disposal, it achieved significantly lower scores in Geekbench 3 compared to its smartphone counterpart. The M2’s multicore result of 3,716 still speeds past Google’s now-aging Nexus 9, but it doesn’t compare well with a lot of other large tablets. The Pixel C managed 3,976 and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S2 9.7 finished in 4,182. The M2’s single core test was also rather underwhelming, scoring just 882. As expected, gaming performance was well below its rivals. In GFX Bench GL’s offscreen Manhattan 3.0 test, it managed just 541 frames, which equates to just 8.7fps. The Pixel C, by comparison, was significantly faster, managing a smooth 3,318 frames or 57.7fps. 

In practice, the M2 is still capable of playing a game of Hearthstone, but attack and environmental animations were very jerky, which isn’t exactly what you want from a £330 tablet. Simpler games like Threes worked perfectly fine, but at this price I’d expect something much beefier. Of course, some won’t be overly bothered by a lack of 3D grunt but when other devices cope so much better, why go without?

Thankfully, the M2’s battery life was more respectable. In our continuous video playback test with the screen set to our standard brightness measurement of 170cd/m2, the M2’s 6,660mAh battery managed 10h 06m. This isn’t bad, but I’d expect more from such a humongous battery. It does beat the iPad Air 2 by around 30 minutes but its key Android rivals score over 12 hours in this test.

Design and extras

It’s a shame the M2’s performance isn’t up to much, as its minimalistic design is classy. At 496g, it’s a little hefty to hold, but its sleek 7.3mm profile and metal trim detailing brings a welcome premium feel to it. It even has a fingerprint scanner underneath the screen which doubles up as a home button, but the tablet’s 16:10 aspect ratio can make it quite awkward to reach from the side when holding the tablet in landscape. Hold it in portrait, however, and it’s much closer to your thumb, making it much easy to unlock.

The premium model’s smart cover can also double as a stand, folding into the usual triangle to support the tablet securely. It’s ideal for watching TV shows on or reading a recipe off while cooking. When folded around the tablet it protects all four corners, which is more than can be said for many such covers. Prices for covers vary considerably but for a new device you’ll pay around £30-40, so this is a valuable extra to bundle.

The M-pen stylus is also a good inclusion. It’s comfy to use and Huawei’s decent handwriting recognition software means you can use it for text input instead of the keyboard. It doesn’t have any palm rejection, though, so resting your palm on the screen will result in accidental marks and spoiled doodles. As a result, it’s better suited to note-taking, but budding digital artists will find it a poor fit.

Huawei MediaPad M2 10.0

Display and sound

The MediaPad M2 uses a 10.1in, 1,920×1,200 IPS display, it’s a decent screen but unlikely to blow anyone away, with its rivals using higher-resolution displays. Its peak brightness reaches a decent 381.9cd/m2, just edging out the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 9.7, but its underwhelming sRGB colour gamut coverage of 86.2% means it can’t display as accurate colours as its rivals.

Images still look relatively punchy, though, and its excellent contrast ratio of 1,272:1 ensures there’s plenty of detail to be seen as well. A black reading of 0.30cd/m2 at maximum brightness is also fairly respectable, and it meant that the black notification bar and on-screen menu buttons looked deep and inky. That said, it’s no match for AMOLED display on the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 9.7. 

The four Harmon Kardon certified speakers found on the sides produced some pretty decent sound and was the loudest I’ve experienced on a tablet. While the sound did distort a little at excessively high volumes, it certainly provided a much better listening experience than the Nexus 9, which has front-facing speakers. Predictably, the four speakers found on the 12.9in iPad Pro were considerably clearer and packed a bit more of a punch though.

Huawei MediaPad M2 10.0

Camera

The M2 10.0’s 13-megapixel rear camera is pretty decent at taking outdoor shots yet struggles indoors, especially with low-light conditions. In our indoor test shots, the camera really strained to pick up the vibrancy of the paint colours and the fur of the teddy bear wasn’t particularly sharp. Snaps taken outside were pretty good, with rich and accurate colours and plenty of detail. The camera is more than up to taking the odd snap, though most will prefer to use their phones simply out of size and convenience.

Huawei MediaPad M2 10.0 test shot outdoors

^ The outside shots were surprisingly decent, with a clear amount of detail and sharpness with relatively rich and vibrant colours

Huawei MediaPad M2 10.0 test shot indoors

^ The camera struggled with low-light pictures indoors, with poor sharpness and plenty of noise especially found around the wooden mannequin

Android 5.1 and Emotion UI

Of course, as with any Huawei product, you get the opinion-splitting Emotion UI, which runs on top of Android 5.1.1. Other members of the team have complained about this in the past, and its insistence on separating the notification panel and settings shortcuts continues to frustrate here, especially when it’s got such a large screen to play with. The way it removes the app tray and pushes third-party app icons into iOS-shaped icons isn’t appreciated either.

This can largely be fixed by installing another Android launcher on it, such as Nova or Google Now, but it’s still an irritation that could be easily rectified if Huawei simply gave users a choice about what kind of layout they prefer during the initial setup process. LG, for example, took away the app tray on the new LG G5 but quickly backtracked when users complained, providing an option to restore it.

Putting all this aside it’s a surprise that Huawei is still releasing devices with Android 5.1.1, when Android 6 has been out for quite a while and its replacement is due to be announced shortly.

Conclusion

The Huawei MediaPad M2 10.0 isn’t a bad Android tablet, but its internal hardware doesn’t live up to the slender design on the exterior. If you want them all, then the well-made case, stylus and additional storage capacity, is £80 well spent on the deluxe model. Although it’s a pity you can’t get the storage without the extras, if you don’t want them.

At £350 the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 9.7 is the better choice for most people. You’re getting a more powerful tablet, which is slimmer and lighter, with a superior AMOLED display plus Samsung’s slicker take on Android 6.0. It only has 32GB of storage, but that’s enough for most needs, plus you can expand it by up to 128GB via its Micro SD card slot. You might want to factor in another £30 for the official cover, but even at £50 more the Samsung is a better buy. Buy the Huawei M2 10.0 16GB now from Currys PC World.

Hardware
Processor Octa-core 1.5GHz HiSilicon Kirin 930
RAM 3GB
Screen size 10.1in
Screen resolution 1,920×1,200
Screen type IPS
Front camera 5 megapixels
Rear camera 13 megapixels
Flash Yes
GPS Yes
Compass Yes
Storage (free) 64GB
Memory card slot (supplied) None
Wi-Fi 802.11ac
Bluetooth Bluetooth 4.0
NFC None
Wireless data 4G optional
Dimensions 240x173x7.3mm
Weight 496g
Features
Operating system Android 5.1.1
Battery size 6,660mAh
Buying information
Warranty One year RTB
Part code M2-A01W

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