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Huawei MediaPad M3 Review - Superb Focus On Entertainment

Huawei has recently introduced the MediaPad M3 to the Philippine market, the upgraded M2 equipped with better aesthetics and internals. Like its predecessor, the MediaPad M3 has a focused goal of giving users the premium entertainment experience on a good affordable price tag.
Huawei MediaPad M3 Review
Meet the premium MediaPad M3!

To be precise, the Huawei MediaPad M3 is loaded w/ a Huawei P9 Plus like design, Huawei Mate 8 like processor, sharp 8.4 Inch WQXGA IPS 2560 x 1600 screen, big 5,100 mAh battery, decent 8 MP back and front cameras, and dual loud speakers by Harman Kardon.

On paper, those beefy internals are poised to provide its users an immersive audio and video experience w/ speedy performance and long battery life on the go.

The question is, will it live up to the hype? Let's start with the review!

Huawei MediaPad M3 Specs

Display: 8.4 Inch WQXGA IPS 2560 x 1600 resolution at 359 ppi
CPU: 2.3 GHz 64 Bit Kirin 950 octa core processor
GPU: Mali T880
RAM: 4 GB
ROM: 32 GB expandable via micro SD card up to 128 GB
Back Camera: 8 MP f/2.0 w/ AF and LED flash
Selfie Camera: 8 MP f/2.0
Battery: 5,100 mAh Li Pol
OS: Android 6.0 Marshmallow w/ EMUI 4.1 
Connectivity: WiFi, 3G, LTE, Bluetooth, GPS, A GPS, GLONASS, Beidou, Amap, dual SIM (hybrid)
Sensors: Ambient light sensor, gyroscope, accelerometer, compass, hall effect
Others: Fingerprint sensor, dual speakers, Colors: silver, gold
Dimensions: 215.5 x 124.2 x 7.3 g
Weight: 318 g
Price: PHP 18,990

Disclaimer: This is a borrowed unit from Huawei Philippines for our honest and constructive review. Again this is not a paid post.


Unboxing / Accessories

We failed to see its official retail package as we got our unit barebones. However, it is indicated at Huawei's website that the tablet is paired with a 2A USB wall charger, USB to micro USB data / charging cable, screen protector, quick start guide, and warranty card.

In some regions, the tablet will have a FREE AKG in-ear monitors. Sadly, it won't be available here in PH. Our local price is more affordable compared to other parts of the world though.

Build Quality / Design

View at the back showing the antenna lines and main camera

Accomplished craftsmanship and consummate engineering. That's how Huawei describe the MediaPad M3. For us, they are correct. Why? This tablet is an undeniable improvement to the "already great" build and design of the MediaPad M2.

Upgraded craftsmanship!

How? This device is now crafted in a more sophisticated way by using an aerospace-grade aluminum sculpted by a 5-axis CNC machine. As a result, this tablet with unibody design is well machined, has gorgeous curves, and nice chamfered edges. Let us also note that it is definite solid and feels very sturdy.
3.5 mm headphone jack and speaker on top
3.5 mm headphone jack and speaker on top
You'll find another speaker below together w/ the micro USB port
You'll find another speaker below together w/ the micro USB port
Textured power button and volume rocker at right
Textured power button and volume rocker at right

In terms of design, the MediaPad M3 is a HUGE and more solid variant of the Huawei P9 Lite. It's undeniably elegant / sleek with good slimness of frame and screen bezels. The arching back and corner curves are properly engineered as well. What we missed here is this tablet isn't using a 2.5D curved screen for a sleeker look. That's a very minor issue though.

Ergonomically, using this on one handed operation is impossible due to its huge 8.4 inch screen. For two handed use, you'll feel that it sits well in your hands and has a comfortable hold. All buttons and ports are also on proper location. In particular, we liked that the fingerprint scanner is located in front for easier reach. The left and right firing speakers are also properly placed to avoid covering it with your hands.

Display Quality

It's an excellent screen perfect for watching movies
It's an excellent screen perfect for watching movies

One of the main highlights of the MediaPad M3 is its big and sharp 8.4 inch WQXGA IPS. It means that it has a large resolution of 2560 x 1600 w/ a sharpness of 359 pixels per inch. It's a type of sharp screen resolution that isn't that common on Android powered tablets.

We enjoyed its immersive viewing experience for games and videos!

Checking its quality, it has a slightly warm color tone has a close to accurate reproduction paired with decent dynamic range. It isn't AMOLED-like in deep blacks and saturation levels, but the display performance is definitely nice.

Note: You can also adjust the color reproduction to default, warm or cold. The color mode can be changed to normal or vivid as well.

What we like here is the good brightness level at 400 nits which performs decently for outdoor use. Lastly, it has 10 points of touch for the best typing, swiping, and touch experience possible.

Audio Quality

Huawei x Harman Kardon audio
Huawei x Harman Kardon audio

We all know that mobile phones and tablets doesn't always aren't always the best sounding devices due to their diminutive sizes. It's the reason why partnering w/ a well respected high-end audio brand like Harman Kardon is the best thing that Huawei did to improve the audio quality of this tablet.
Left and right Harman Kardon powered stereo speakers
Left and right Harman Kardon powered stereo speakers

In particular, the MediaPad M3 has a pair of dual side firing speakers located on the left and side part of the tablet. As a result, the overall audio reproduction of this tablet is great. Bass level can go deep and has decent speed and punch. Sub-bass reproduction is a tad weaker than expected, but again this is a tablet w/ small speakers. Plus, hey at least it has some unlike most mobile devices.

The MediaPad M3 has impressive ability to produce loud concert like sound!

For the mids, we find it close to full and loaded with very good details. Vocal production is enjoyable and separation of instruments and details are quite nice. Highs are also sparkly which extends quite well. Then due to its good side firing design, soundstage is wide and has that hall-like concert effect.

Note: This is one of the rare moments where we preferred using the audio software enhancement (SWS 3.0 stereo sound effect) instead of the default audio. Why? The speakers simply sounds fuller and better on SWS mode.

However, the grass isn't always green. There are times that highs gets so piercing and peaky on max volume level. Slight distortion is also audible on max loudness mode.
The music player interface
The music player interface

For headphones or earphones, Huawei failed to indicate the exact type of DAC or AMP they used with this tablet. But, that doesn't really matter much as this tablet has the ability to produce excellent tunes.

While it can't play lossless files higher than 2,000 kbps, most of our 16 bit FLAC files sounded lovely. It has a warm and smooth audio signature w/ close to balanced sound and excellent bass / sub-bass reproduction.

To be precise, it can go very deep, but won't make the other regions of the audio spectrum sound muddy. Sub-bass levels are also there when needed and has great extension and decay. It can also produce full mids and detailed and non-fatiguing highs on proper headphones or earphones.

Note: It has the ability to drive most low powered headphones and earphones. Some full-sized headphones are usable here too, but don't expect it to shine.


For the microphone quality, don't expect the single mic below to perform as good compared with the ones found on most Huawei smartphones. It is still decent in performance, but it just won't sound as detailed. It can still be usable for calls and casual sound recordings on quiet places.

Battery Life

PC Mark work battery test result
PC Mark work battery test result

A device with large screen and sharp resolution like this needs a lot of juice to have decent battery performance. Huawei is aware of that so they ensured that this tab is equipped with 5,100 mAh of Li Pol battery inside. In our PC Mark work battery life test, it clocked a good score of 8 hours and 41 mins. It's impressive as this machine has a power hungry type of screen.

Good battery life considering it has a power hungry display!

For straight gaming w/ audio, we recorded 6 hours before shutting down. For casual use and browsing w/ 4G data and browsing and YouTube videos on headphones, a little under 8 hours of straight use is possible.

Charging time using the 2A charger is at 2 hours and 50 mins.


Camera

The decent 8 MP cameras behind!
The decent 8 MP cameras behind!

The MediaPad M3 is packed with an 8 MP f/2.0 w/ AF and LED flash behind. Interestingly, it has all the modes found with most EMUI 4.1 powered Huawei devices.
The useful camera modes found inside
The useful camera modes found inside

You'll find HDR, good food, panorama, watermark, all focus, and beauty modes. It even has the special modes like the night shot, light painting, and pro camera mode.
The pro camera mode
The pro camera mode

The pro camera mode even has up to 8 seconds shutter speed, up to ISO 1600, grids, and horizontal level guides. Shooting long exposures is a bit hard though as it can't fit the holders of most mobile tripods. Steady hands is a must.

Surprising picture quality for a tablet!

For the camera quality, you'll be surprised on how great the MediaPad M3 performed considering that it is a tablet. (Most tablets can't shoot good photos) The focus speed is pretty quick, doing close-up shots (3 inches near) are possible, and its shutter speed is fast. It even has the ability to shoot up to 100 photos under 8 seconds when you hold the shutter button.

The color reproduction is well balanced (w/ proper saturation) and has decent sharpness level all over. It isn't super detailed and slightly dark in tone, but its acceptably clear considering that this device is just a tablet. Dynamic range and detail reproduction in lowlight drastically improved coming from the M2 as well. (You can even use the manual mode) Unfortunately, there's no flash in super dark places.

Rear Camera Samples

Outdoor daylight (gloomy weather) in HDR mode
Outdoor daylight (gloomy weather) in HDR mode
Indoor close-up
Indoor close-up
Indoor dark
Indoor dark
Impressive lowlight shot in manual mode
Impressive lowlight shot in manual mode

In front, this tab is equipped with an 8 MP f/2.0 selfie shooter. That's a HUGE step-up coming from the 2 MP sensor of the M2 last year. It has the beautify, panorama, and water mark modes. However, there's no autofocus or tap to focus feature in front.

The quality of selfies is great too! On well-lit places, expect to highly detailed images with proper hues. It even has a selfie screen flash for shooting in very dim places.


Selfie Camera Samples

Natural colors and good details in daylight
Natural colors and good details in daylight
Indoor dim light
Indoor dim light
Lowlight screen flash (yellowish)
Lowlight screen flash (yellowish)

Pro videos, both cameras are capable of shooting at 1080p Full HD quality in 30 frames per seconds. The quality of both are identical to shooting in stills, but we find the main camera a little bit more consistent in colors. Expect both to be shaky though due to lack of EIS and OIS stabilization.


Performance

Antutu and Geekbench scores!
Antutu and Geekbench scores!

Any device loaded with 2.3 GHz 64 Bit Kirin 950 octa core processor, Mali T880 graphics, and 4 GB of RAM would perform in a very good way. Huawei even paired it with 32 GB of expandable storage that's mostly ample for your apps, movies, music, and games.

Beastly performance for the price!

In real life testing, this device is an absolute beast for the price. Imagine the performance of the great Mate 8 on a tab with sharper screen for less. Multitasking is breeze and opening any type of apps won't be a problem. Even loading FHD and 2K content won't make this tablet lag.


On gaming, there's minimal heating (acceptable). It can load heavy games like NBA 2K17, Asphalt 8, and Modern Combat 5 at all high-settings w/ minimal frame drops. For NBA 2K17, once you are in a well air-conditioned place throttling due to heat won't be an issue.
EMUI 4.1
EMUI 4.1

For the software, this tablet runs on Android 6.0 Marshmallow w/ EMUI 4.1 skin. It's the same intuitive and easy to use skin by Huawei that doesn't have an app drawer anymore. Like other Huawei EMUI skinned Android devices, this tablet is feature rich. The shortcut gestures are present, you can optimize your device via tablet manager, there's an almost bloat free experience. Yes, there are few pre-installed apps, but they can be uninstalled easily.

Note: Not sure yet if it'll be updated to Nougat w/ EMUI 5.1 soon.

Moving forward, the fingerprint scanner in front is accurate and fast response. OTG also works and its complete with most of the modern sensors including gyroscope for VR and AR.

This device even has good LTE Cat 4 connectivity and phone functions. Yes, you can do basic call and text using this tablet. As usual, tablet signal is strong.


Pros - Flagship-grade build, sharp and beautiful screen, powerful specs, fingerprint scanner, LTE connectivity, phone functions, and impressive dual speakers
Cons - No mention of glass protection, microphone needs improvement, no flash, no selfie focus

Verdict

If you are looking for a tablet for pure entertainment and gaming without the need of shelling out too much cash, the Huawei MediaPad M3 is a must consider. It's a modern flagship grade tablet equipped with beautiful build, very sharp type of screen, powerful performance, LTE connectivity, fingerprint security, and a loud pair of Harman Kardon speaker w/ an under PHP 20K price tag.

Build / Design - 4.25
Display - 4.75
Audio - 4.5
Battery - 4.25
Camera - 4
Performance - 4.5
Average - 4.375 / 5
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