Huawei MediaPad 3 review: A genuine iPad mini challenger, with a price to match

Update: Huawei has sent through pricing information, and it ain’t cheap. 

I don’t remember much about the Huawei MediaPad M2, which is weird, because there are 1,696 words about it with my name at the top of the page right here. Looking back, this sorry state of affairs is not too surprising, because although it was a good all-rounder, there wasn’t anything that made it stand out in a marketplace where Android tablets struggle to get a look in.

The Huawei MediaPad 3 is a different proposition altogether, and not just because it’s over an inch smaller. It’s smart, stylish and a good performer, and its screen is up there with the best of them. The downside? It’s a touch on a pricey side. [gallery:1]

Huawei MediaPad 3: Design

The MediaPad 3 certainly looks like a premium product, bearing more than a passing resemblance to the iPad mini 4. In fact, put both face up on a table, and if it weren’t for the small Huawei logo in the top-left corner and the oval home button, you’d be hard pushed to tell them apart. While this loses the MediaPad 3 points on the grounds of originality, “looking nearly indistinguishable from the market leader” is hardly a drawback in the greater scheme of things.

Turning it over reveals a smooth, curved metal back that feels absolutely perfect in the hand. Not slippery at all, and tipping the scales at around 320g, it’s a good weight for one-handed reading. Huawei reckons you can actually do much more than that, providing a slot not only for a microSD card, but also a SIM to make phone calls. You could do that if you wanted, but you’d end up looking like you’re working on a remake of Honey, I shrunk the kids, so it’s up to you if you think that particular social faux pas is worth the price of convenience.[gallery:3]

There are two speaker grilles at the top and bottom of the “handset”, neither of which is easily blocked by the hand however the tablet is held. The whole thing feels both solidly built, too, and charmingly minimalist. Overall, it’s an attractive device that’s sure to either get approving glances, or assumptions it’s an iPad. Either way, its design gives it a very strong start indeed.

Huawei MediaPad 3: Screen

Things get better with the screen, too. While even mid-range smartphones are routinely offering vibrant, bright screens with near-perfect colour accuracy, tablets have been known to lag behind in this regard. That’s not the case with the Huawei MediaPad 3’s 2,560 x 1,600 IPS display, which achieves a brightness of 420cd/m2, while covering 94% of the sRGB gamut. The contrast, too, is a respectable 1,338:1.[gallery:6]

To put those figures into perspective, here’s how the Huawei MediaPad 3 stacks up alongside some of the best tablets we’ve reviewed.

Max brightness

sRGB gamut

Contrast ratio

iPad Mini 4

438.7cd/m2

94.8%

914:1

Google Pixel C

450.56cd/m2

97.3%

1,550:1

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2

346.35cd/m2

100%

Perfect

Huawei MediaPad 3

420.32cd/m2

94%

1338:1

A really good screen, then, and one that can go head to head with some of the best tablets around. Well played, Huawei.

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