Huawei MediaPad M3 brings harmony to Android tablets

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New Atlas has been playing with the Huawei MediaPad M3, one of the few Android tablets that can give the iPad line a run for its money in terms of premium build, focus and usability(Credit: Will Shanklin/New Atlas)

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The excitement around smallish tablets isn't what it used to be, but if you're currently in the market for a mini-slate, Huawei is ready to launch a real beauty. We've been using the just-announced Huawei MediaPad M3 since last week and have some thoughts on this silky-smooth slab.

The MediaPad M3 is a high-end tablet from top to bottom. If you've ever looked at Android tablets and concluded that nothing felt as premium, user-friendly and attractive as the iPad line, then you might reconsider that when the M3 launches.

It has an aluminum unibody design that looks a bit like a tablet-ified version of the Nexus 6P smartphone. The mid-sized tablet (its 8.4-inch screen is 6 percent larger than the iPad mini's) is light and comfortable in one hand. Its display (2,560 x 1,600) is among the best we've seen on tablets, including a blue-light filter option to protect your eyes. And performance is as smooth as you'd ask for, with Huawei's own octa-core Kirin processor with 4 GB of RAM.

Just making an all-metal, high-end tablet is enough to make the MediaPad M3 stand out: Samsung's Tab S series of slates, for example, still uses some plastic. To me, though, Huawei's tablet has a unified feel – and all-around experience – that Android devices often miss out on. Not just "unified" as in having a unibody/all-metal construction, but when I use it I perceive a coherent whole, rather than a collection of ad-friendly features tossed haphazardly into a cauldron and stirred up by marketing teams. Similar to HTC's latest flagship phone, the MediaPad M3 strikes us as an Android device with a clear and consistent focus.

That focus is one of premium design and experience, along with a lack of gimmicks.

I'm pretty much the last person to sell a selfie-focused device to, but Huawei is catering to the many, many people who do fancy modern self-portraits by including an 8 MP front camera with some auto touch-up features built-in.

With tablets not drawing the crowds the way they used to, repositioning the mini-tablet as the ultimate selfie device actually isn't a bad marketing move. It gives you a much bigger window into your vanity shots compared to phones, and this one has a front camera that's better than many phones' rear shooters.

We haven't had enough time to run battery tests or do extensive photo tests, but if we're able to hang onto the unit long enough, we'll revisit that in a full review.

If you live in the U.S., the bad news is that Huawei hasn't announced any stateside availability for the MediaPad M3. It will, however, be launching on September 26, in China, Japan, the UK and 11 other European and Asian countries. It will start at €349 (about US$390) for a 32 GB Wi-Fi only model. If you're in any of those countries (or feel like going to the trouble to import one into the U.S.) then this premium mini-tab is worth a long look.

You can check out Huawei's launch video, distorted guitar shredding and all, in the video below.

Product page: Huawei

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