MediaPad M5 Lite vs. iPad: Why Huawei Almost Beats Apple

From the second I saw Huawei's MediaPad M5 lite, I knew that it was made to fight Apple's 9.7-inch iPad. The 10.1-inch tablet looks just like Apple's slate, costs $30 less and offers a way for kids to log directly into their own interface, which the iPad doesn't.

However, the iPad's excellent screen, fast performance and AR tricks mean that even this 2018 tablet can keep up with the latest competition. Here's how the 9.7-inch iPad compares with the Huawei MediaPad M5 lite.

MediaPad M5 lite vs iPad

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Row 0 - Cell 0 MediaPad M5 liteiPad
Starting Price$299$329
CPUHuawei Kirin 659Apple A10 Fusion
Memory (RAM)3GB2GB
Display10.1-inch, 1920 x 1200 pixels9.7 inches, 2048 x 1536 pixels
Storage32GB32GB | 128GB
microSD CardUp to 256 GBNo reader 
Size9.58 x 6.39 x 0.30 inches9.45 x 6.67 x 0.30 inches
Weight1.1 pounds1.1 pounds



The iPad retains its simple, familiar design — an aluminum back and glass front — and the MediaPad M5 lite is a decent imitator, with minor differences. The rear of Huawei's tablet is made of an aluminum alloy, not just aluminum, and its display is a slightly chunky, curved 2.5D glass pane that looks awkward.

The MediaPad M5 lite (9.58 x 6.39 x 0.30 inches) and the iPad (9.45 x 6.67 x 0.30 inches) are similar in size. Their difference in width — the iPad is wider — though, is visibly greater than their difference in height. Both have the same weight: 1.1 pounds.

Both feature lock and volume buttons, as well as home buttons, though the iPad's actually moves and the M5 lite's doesn't. The MediaPad M5's got a slight camera bubble, but it doesn't look bad, even next to the iPad's, which is flush with its back.

Both feature fingerprint sensors in their home buttons for biometric security, but each has a different trick. While Apple's Touch ID sensor can be used for purchases, the MediaPad M5 lite's can be used to let kids and parents into their different interfaces.

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But for all their similarities, the iPad just looks outdated next to the M5 lite, thanks to chunky bezels that I hope Apple trims down in its 2019 tablets. The M5 lite doesn't have an edge-to-edge screen, mind you, but its display-to-chassis ratio is much better.

Winner: MediaPad M5 lite


As I watched a series of YouTube videos on the iPad and MediaPad M5 lite, a predictable situation played out. While the green grass of a scene from Adventure Time looked correct on the iPad, it bore a stronger, more saturated neon hue on the M5 lite.

When looking at the album art for Travis Scott's "Astroworld," the gold building made in the rapper's image rendered more accurately on the iPad and more outlandishly on the MediaPad. The Huawei tablet comes with two optional color settings (Warm and Cold), but neither look visibly different than the standard Default option.

While the iPad rates a smidge higher on color output, with 119 percent of the sRGB spectrum to the M5 lite's 114 percent, that's only half the story. Apple's slate packs superior max brightness, pumping out 489 nits compared with the M5 lite's 427 nits.

The starkest difference is found in pixel density, as the 10.1-inch, 1920 x 1200 pixel MediaPad M5 lite's got a 224 pixel per inch ratio, while the 9.7-inch, 2048 x 1536 pixel iPad measures 264 ppi.

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Both offer strong color that doesn't distort when viewed at off-angles, even retained good color when you're viewing the screen from an angle of 75 degrees. The MediaPad's screen is far glossier, though, so images can get clouded by reflection.

Winner: iPad


At first, I thought the MediaPad won this round, as the M5 lite's sound was notably louder than the iPad's. However, as both tablets filled a conference room with Travis Scott's "Sicko Mode," it took no time, to realize that the M5 lite's bass wasn't there.

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While the iPad doesn't get as loud, it still wins for its clearer audio. Both were streaming the track off YouTube, but only the MediaPad sounded significantly compressed and lossy.

Winner: iPad


Neither the iPad nor the MediaPad M5 lite run on modern chips, but there's a notable gap between the two. After I split the iPad's screen between a 1080p YouTube video and a half- dozen Chrome tabs, everything stayed responsive and speedy, even while PUBG Mobile downloaded in the background. Under the same duress (without the background downloading), I saw slower response times from the MediaPad M5 lite.

On the Geekbench 4 general-performance test, the iPad's Apple A10 Fusion chip earned a 5,983, which exceeds the 3,845 from the MediaPad (Kirin 659) and the 4,290 tablet average.

Another iPad win came from the 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited graphics test, where its 37,117 beat the M5 lite's 11,746. For additional context, the iPad's score is higher than the 20,537 tablet average, and the MediaPad's is not.

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I saw that difference for myself running PUBG Mobile on both the MediaPad and iPad. Although the game automatically selected the High graphics settings on the iPad, and looked clear and played relatively smoothly (with minor frame-rate issues), the shooter could run only on the Low graphics setting on the MediaPad, where it looked pixely and blurry as if it were a PS2 game.

Winner: iPad

Special Features

The iPad and MediaPad both seek to offer something for younger users, but only one hits it out of the park. I was really intrigued by the MediaPad's Kids Corner app, which kids can log in to with their fingerprint, but it allows for only one user at a time, and is missing a web browser for kids, so you can't filter what content they see.

Kids Corner allows a (single) child to log in to their own interface, while parents' fingertips log in to the full featured version of the slate. But Kids Corner's lack of any substantial apps (shallow imitators of a drawing app, a camera and a gallery app don't impress us much) and a paltry amount of parental controls make it too barren for it to really matter. As much as we want Apple to introduce multiple user logins for iOS, it's better off waiting than releasing a half-baked version like this.

Over on the iPad, Apple's succeeded with its augmented-reality apps, giving kids experiences you won't find on any Android slates. One major highlight includes the interactive anatomy lessons in Froggipedia, where you can dissect a frog with a stylus.

Winner: iPad

Battery Life

The iPad lasted 10 hours and 7 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery Test (web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness), which is a pretty great time. But Huawei MediaPad M5 lite readjusted my standards by posting a time of 13:13 on the same test, providing a shocking and impressive margin of victory.

Winner: iPad


While iOS is finally getting good on the iPad, Android is still languishing on tablets and Huawei's making things worse, skinning Android Oreo with its EMUI tech. Both give you split-screen mode, but the iPad's dock and App Spaces is still visibly easier to use and comprehend than the Android alternative.

Also, Huawei packs in odd touches, like performance-optimization tools that don't work consistently, and on-screen messages that refer to the device as a phone. While many have mocked the iPad for being a big iPhone, at least the iPad doesn't call itself that.

Winner: iPad


Not only does the $299 MediaPad M5 lite include its aforementioned stylus, it's $30 less than the $329 iPad, which doesn't include Apple's $99 Pencil accessory. And Huawei's pen is pretty decent, allowing relatively speedy responsiveness, especially for a pack-in gadget.  

Winner: MediaPad M5 lite

Overall Winner

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Row 0 - Cell 0 MediaPad M5 liteiPad
Design (15)1311
Display (20)1319
Audio (10)68
Performance (20)1418
Special Features (10)38
Battery Life (20)2015
Software (5)25
Value (10)85
Total (110)79/11089/110

So, the iPad wins this battle of the tablets. Sure, Huawei's kicking butt in battery life, but Apple's time isn't that shabby, and it makes up for that in performance, display and the convenience of iOS. If Huawei  spends a little more time refining the MediaPad M5 Lite — and gives it a serious processor — it'll have a tablet that poses a serious threat to the iPad.

Credit: Laptop Mag