A 10-inch tablet is likely used for streaming media, and for that, the $249.99 Huawei MediaPad M3 Lite 10 gets a big thumbs up. It has a sharp 10-inch screen and loud stereo speakers, perfect for watching Netflix while you're on the go. It also offers a fingerprint sensor and access to the Google Play store, two things you won't find on any of Amazon's tablets. That said, the $149.99 Amazon Fire HD 10 offers similar specs and performance, better parental controls, and Alexa voice integration at almost half the price. The Lite 10 is a good alternative if you refuse to live in Amazon's ecosystem, but if you're simply looking for a good, affordable slate, the Fire HD 10 is the best value for your dollar.
The MediaPad M3 Lite 10 ($349.99 at Amazon Canada) is a white plastic tablet framed by a strip of metal around the sides. Combined with silver accents around the buttons and camera sensor, it lends the slate a more premium appearance than your standard polycarbonate slab.
At 9.5 by 6.8 by 0.3 inches (HWD) and 15.2 ounces, it's a bit smaller than the Amazon Fire HD 10 all around (10.3 by 6.3 by 0.4 inches, 17.4 ounces). The slim and lightweight design helps reduce strain on your forearm when holding it upright for prolonged streaming sessions.
You'll find the standard array of ports and buttons. A clicky power button and volume rocker are on the right, a 3.5mm audio jack is up top, and the left side houses a microSD card slot that worked fine with a 256GB card to provide additional storage. There's also a micro USB charging port. The front has a fingerprint sensor on the bezel below the display, which is a nice feature you don't typically find in this price range.
A powerful set of speakers (two on top, two on bottom) can be tuned to your liking via Harman Kardon software. It gets pretty loud at maximum volume, and the software tweaks can add a bit more depth, but some tinniness is unavoidable.
The front is home to a 10.1-inch, 1,920-by-1,200 display. It has 224 pixels per inch, the same as the Fire HD 10. Text and video appear sharp, with no blurriness or pixelation unless you look very closely. It's good for watching video and provides solid viewing angles. It also gets quite bright, though it can be a bit reflective in direct sunlight.
Dual-band Wi-Fi provides connectivity on the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. Wireless performance in PC Labs was solid, with strong connectivity and good range. You also have Bluetooth 4.0 for wireless audio.
The MediaPad is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon Snapdragon 435 processor. On the AnTuTu benchmark (which measures overall system performance), it turned in a respectable score of 40,810, which is higher than the Lenovo Tab 4 10 (36,730), though in terms of average use you're looking at a similar level of performance.
That said, the Lite 10 has 3GB of RAM, giving it an advantage over the Fire HD 10 (which has 2GB) in terms of multitasking. You'll be able to run more apps in the background without hitting the RAM usage limit or experiencing crashes. Unfortunately, Huawei's heavy UI layer bogs thing down a bit. Switching between apps results in visible stuttering, and there's several seconds of delay when launching new apps. More demanding games like GTA: San Andreas aren't playable due to control latency, but less graphics-hungry titles don't present a problem.
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Battery life is solid, with the tablet clocking 6 hours, 27 minutes of full-screen video streaming over Wi-Fi at maximum brightness. That's just a bit better than the Fire HD 10 (6 hours, 14 minutes), though neither last as long as the Tab 4 10 (8 hours, 11 minutes). Still, this is plenty of juice to keep you entertained during a long car ride, and there are a slew of battery saving modes to help keep you going for longer. There's no fast charging, so a battery pack may come in handy for very long journeys.
There are 8-megapixel cameras on the front and back of the tablet. The rear sensor has autofocus and takes passable, reasonably detailed shots in good lighting. In more challenging conditions quality quickly drops, with low-light shots becoming quite muddy. It's capable of recording 1080p video at 30fps, but it's fairly jittery when panning and tends to drop frames. The front sensor takes clear selfies, and while video can be grainy, it's fine for video chat.
The tablet runs the aging Android 7.0 Lollipop with Huawei's hefty EMUI 5.1 software on top. EMUI alters app icons, the lock screen, notification shade, and settings menu. By default, apps are splashed across the home screens and there's no app drawer, but that's easy to change in the settings. The bigger problem is the aforementioned slowdown when switching between apps and scrolling through menus.
The plus side to EMUI is that you get a number of customization options. For the display, you can enable a blue light filter to reduce eye strain at night, adjust screen color temperature, add a floating navigation dock for easier reachability, remap navigation keys, and lock individual apps and files. There's also a built-in storage cleaner to remove stray files.
Bloatware comes preinstalled in the form of Excel, Facebook, Instagram, Kids Corner, Lyft, Messenger, Outlook, PowerPoint, SwiftKey Keyboard, and Word. You might find some of it useful. Kids Corner, for instance, is the only way to enable parental controls, though it's quite limited compared with what Amazon offers. On the other hand, you get unfettered access to the Google Play store, which you don't get on Amazon's tablets.
The hefty software and bloatware load means you only have 6.23GB of internal storage free out of 16GB. A microSD card slot can help, but there's no Adoptable Storage so you can't move apps over.
For $250, the Huawei MediaPad Lite 10 is a sleek tablet with a big, crisp screen and booming speakers at a reasonable price. Unfortunately, it's just not reasonable enough to compete with the Amazon Fire HD 10, which is available for $100 less and offers the same performance. It's also uncomfortably close in price to the $329 Apple iPad, which offers a faster processor, a sharper screen, and access to Apple's App Store, which still has an advantage over Android when it comes to quality tablet apps. So unless you absolutely need access to Google Play, you're better off paying a lot less for the Fire HD 10 or a bit more for the iPad.
The Huawei MediaPad M3 Lite 10 is a sleek 10-inch tablet with a nice display and solid speakers, but it offers little to justify the premium over less expensive tablets from Amazon.
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