Artist Review: Huawei Mediapad M5 Pro with M-Pen Stylus

After I published my Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 review (video | text), there were a few requests asking me to check out the Huawei MediaPad M5 Pro (HMM5P) because these two tablets are almost similar in size and support pressure sensitive styluses.

So I went out and bought a secondhand HMM5P to write this review for guys. I'll be selling the tablet away after the review of course, at a loss, as usual.


These are the various models of the MediaPad M5, accessories and respective current prices:

  • 8.4-inch MediaPad M5, 4GB RAM 32GB storage - US $319 (Amazon | Gearbest)
  • 10.8-inch MediaPad M5, 4GB RAM 32GB storage - US $359 (Amazon | Gearbest)
  • 10.8-inch MediaPad M5 Pro with M-Pen included, 4GB RAM 64GB storage - US $449 (Amazon | Gearbest)

Only the Pro version comes with the M-Pen, which cost US $150 (crazy price) on Gearbest, or £61 on Amazon UK. I wasn't able to find it on Amazon USA.

Note that the M-Pen is only supported on the MediaPad M5 Pro and not the non-Pro.

The official Huawei Mediapad M5 10.8-inch Keyboard Case cost US $120. You can get third-party cases at significantly cheaper prices.

Just for comparison purposes, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 is priced at US $649 and includes the S Pen. So the HMM5P is US $200 cheaper.

Specifications

  • Colours: Space gray, Champagne Gold
  • Weight: 316g / 498g
  • Screen: 2560 x 1440 IPS panel
  • CPU: Kirin 960 Series Chipset
  • Memory: 4GB RAM with 32 or 64GB storage
  • Battery: 5100mAh / 7500mAh
  • OS: EMUI 8.0 on Android 8

The 8.4-inch and 10.8-inch have almost identical specifications except for the weight and battery capacity.

The HMM5P comes with 64GB storage. There's a microSD card slot so you can expand memory if you need more. The Sandisk Ultra 200GB microSD card cost less than US $50 currently.

Design and build quality


HMM5P has fantastic design and build quality. It can definitely match the Samsung Tab S4 in terms of the premium look and feel.


The colours on the 10.8-inch IPS screen looks good, as good compared to the iPad 2018 (review), but colours are definitely not as vibrant compared to the OLED screen of the Tab S4. If you're just looking for a large screen tablet to for media consumption, the MediaPad M5 non-Pro is more than sufficient for those needs as it's significantly cheaper. I personally won't pay a few hundreds more just for the OLED screen.

Both the 8.4 and 10.8-inch MediaPad M5 screen resolution is 2560 x 1600. It's a 16:10 wide aspect ratio high resolution screen that unfortunately cannot play Youtube videos at 1440P unlike the Tab S4. For some reason, the option to play 1440P videos is not available in the Youtube app. I've checked online at there are people with similar problem. Their workaround is to use other apps that play Youtube videos.

I played a 4K 25FPS video that I've transferred to the tablet and it was able to play it (scaled down to 1440P) without any issues.

Note that the 9.7-inch iPad 2018 and the 10.5-inch iPad Pro 2017 both can't play 1440P videos at its native resolution. So all these tablets are playing scaled up 1080P videos. Obviously, 1440P videos on the Tab S4 is going to look sharper. In short, Youtube videos still look good, but Tab S4 is sharper.

Other than Youtube videos, everything on the HMM5P looks incredibly sharp. The bezels are small so the screen to body ratio is high, and makes the screen look immersive, especially when you're watching videos. The wide aspect ratio allows you to play the wide format videos with minimal black bars at the top and bottom. What you get is essentially a video that's playing at around 10-inches+ diagonal, compared to 8-inches diagonal on a 9.7-inch 4:3 aspect ratio tablet. That's a significant size difference.


The HMM5P is thin and lightweight. The only strange thing about the design is, it's designed primarily for landscape use. You can tell from the placement of the Huawei logo on the long side. In landscape mode, the power and volume buttons are on the right side. In portrait mode, those buttons are at the bottom! And there's no 3.5mm headphone jack so you'll have to make do with the built-in speakers or get wireless earphones. Not sure why they want to remove the headphone jack when space is not a problem on a tablet.

Good thing is the audio quality from the speakers is phenomenal. In landscape mode, the speakers run alongside the top and bottom. The sound is clear and loud. When watching videos in landscape, your hands won't be blocking the speakers, hence you'll get better sound. If you're holding the tablet on a table surface, the sound will bounce off the table and back to you, again producing a better audio experience.

If you have the keyboard case on, the volume and power buttons are difficult to press because they face slightly downwards, not exactly to the side. Not a smart design.


Location of the USB-C charging port is at the bottom right side in landscape mode. Weird location.

Keyboard case


The expensive keyboard case is sold separately. You can adjust the back to any angle. Unfortunately, the hinge extrudes out from the back. When you place the case down, it's best to place it down with the hinge facing up or else it's the hinge on the table, and metal on table may produce scratches.


The keyboard is quite comfortable to type on. The keys have good travel and spaced apart nicely. It doesn't feel cramp when typing. Trackpad also performs quite well.

Since this is Android OS, not all apps support keyboard shortcuts.

M-Pen stylus


The M-Pen supports up to 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity. There's no mention of the technology behind the pressure sensitivity though. The hovering cursor only appears with certain graphic apps. S Pen hover mode has the cursor out all the time.


Compared to the Samsung S Pen, the M-Pen feels more premium because of the metal body, sleek design, and pen clip. There are two side buttons I don't know if there's anyway to configure them. Anyway, I don't use the side buttons, so not an issue for me.


The tip is slippery on the glass screen. It's more slippery compared to the S Pen tip which has more resistance because of the rubber-like surface on the tip. The M-Pen just glides along the screen effortlessly. This presents a problem when drawing because sometimes you want to have more control and draw slower. I would highly recommend getting a matte screen protector if you intend to draw on this screen. If you're just going to take notes, the M-Pen is great because it allows you to write fast.


I drew this sketch on the train the slipperiness of the pen tip caused my lines to be more wobbly than usual. With a tip that has more resistance, less slippery, you can have the tip at a particular point stationary and it won't glide off (even on a shaky train).

There are no replacement tips provided, and I wasn't able to find any replacement tips being sold online. So if your pen tip gets worn out, well, you're out of luck. Companies should always included spare pen tips because they don't cost much anyway. I did find a mention on some forum that the Wacom ACK22211 pen tip may be used, but I can't confirm that. The measurement of the M-Pen tip is 1.1cm.

Drawing performance

Here are the different apps that I've tested.


Autodesk Sketchbook works well. When drawing diagonal lines slowly, I wasn't able to maintain consistent pressure so the lines look a bit jittery. App is quite responsive.


Artflow is responsive and pressure sensitivity works well.


Adobe Draw has lag, as usual.


Adobe Sketchbook is responsive and pressure sensitivity works well.


Wacom Bamboo Paper is responsive and pressure sensitivity works well.


ArtRage is generally responsive except when using the watercolour brush. And the watercolour brush can't draw perfect circles for some reason. Another issue is when drawing quick strokes, sometimes the lines may start with the stray dot. Pressure sensitivity works well.


Medibang Paint Pro is responsive and pressure sensitivity works well.


Another drawing on Medibang Paint Pro. I noticed when zooming in and out, I see some big pixelation blocks as the screen redraws the image. This does not happen on the Tab S4. This screen redraw pixelation doesn't affect the smoothness of the pan and zoom though.

Generally speaking, drawing performance with the M-Pen is fine, except for the fact that the M-Pen is a bit too slippery.

Pressure sensitivity works quite well. However, I find that the Samsung S Pen is a tad more sensitive, especially when drawing thinner lines. I was able to get thinner lines more easily on the S Pen. With the M Pen, the lines are often a bit thicker, even when I draw very lightly.


Since the M-Pen is an active stylus, there's perfect palm rejection. With certain apps, you can even turn on strict palm rejection were you can't draw with your finger, but you can still use finger gestures. Works well.

Conclusion

When it comes to drawing performance, it's quite similar to the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4. The only thing that affect drawing experience is the slippery pen tip so you will most likely need to get a matte screen protector with that. One downside that I have to mention again is the lack of replacement tips and the difficulty of finding them. Pen tips do wear out so this is a reasonable concern.

If you're thinking of getting an Android tablet for drawing, I would recommend the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 instead. Main reason is the S Pen is less slippery. But if you're willing to use a matte screen protector, HMM5P will give you a larger screen to draw on.

If you're not buying the tablet with the intent to draw, the MediaPad M5 non-Pro selling at US $359 is kinda worth the money. Sure you have find 10-inch tablets at cheaper prices, but the resolution and colours on the MediaPad M5 is going to be better. The MediaPad M5 running on Android 8.0 is also very responsive and I experience no lag at all, except with certain apps (due to the apps). It is a good tablet for media consumption. The iPad 2018 is priced quite similarly but I recommend the MediaPad M5 strongly because the speakers sound much better, has better surround, and when watching movies, you're getting a much larger view because of the wider aspect ratio, and there's the microSD card slot for additional storage. That's if you want to buy a media consumption device.

Battery life is around 5hrs+ at maximum brightness. It will last longer at lower brightness obviously.

Pros
+ Beautiful design
+ Solid build quality
+ Lightweight at 498g
+ 2560 x 1600 resolution is very sharp
+ 16:10 wider aspect ratio better for watching videos
+ Snappy performance
+ Android 8
+ M-Pen is included with the MediaPad M5 Pro
+ Pen has pressure sensitivity
+ Palm rejection works almost flawlessly
+ No jitter when drawing diagonal lines slowly
+ M-Pen is very accurate
+ MicroSD card slot available
+ Good battery life
+ Lots of decent drawing apps on Android

Cons
- No colour shift with the screen
- No way to change button function on M-Pen
- M-Pen seems to produce thicker than usual lines when drawing lightly
- Slippery pen tip on the glass surface
- No replacement tips included, and difficult to find where to buy online
- Weird position of the logo, power and volume buttons
- Power and volume buttons are difficult to press if you have the keyboard case on
- Can't play 1440P videos on Youtube even though the resolution can support it

Availability

If you do intend to buy the Huawei MediaPad M5, you can help me out by making your purchase through the affiliate links below. I bought this tablet for review and is going to sell it at a loss so any support is appreciated to help me continue to create these reviews.

Remember, only the Pro comes with the M-Pen, and keyboard case is sold separately.

Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.de | Amazon.fr | Amazon.es | Amazon.it | Amazon.co.jp | Gearbest

For more drawing tablet reviews, check out https://www.parkablogs.com/tags/drawing-tablet-reviews

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