Huawei might be preparing to launch a direct sequel to the MediaPad M5 Pro tablet introduced last year, according to bits of information found by XDA-Developers within the Kirin 970 kernel source code released by the OEM at the beginning of 2019.
Specifically, the source found a number of hardware specs attached to the codename “CMR2” and given that the ongoing MediaPad M5 Pro model is codenamed “CMR,” the “CMR2” fits the description of a sequel very well.
The CMR2 - or what might become the Huawei MediaPad M5 Pro (2019) - seems to be equipped with the newer Kirin 970 chipset manufactured by the OEM’s semiconductor arm HiSilicon. In contrast, the ongoing tablet model is powered by the Kirin 960 chipset.
Additionally, the CMR2 features a 10.7-inch TFT LCD display with a resolution of 2,560 by 1,600 – same as the ongoing model – and is equipped with a 13MP rear-facing camera which might be based on a Sony IMX258 or OmniVision OV13855 sensor.
The ongoing Huawei MediaPad M5 Pro was introduced in February 2018 but no official word on the sequel emerged just yet. Normally, OEMs tend to follow yearly launch schedules for their mobile products, but the situation can be different for the tablet segment where devices are being phased out and replaced at a slower pace than smartphones. Nevertheless, the 2018 model became available for purchase in April so there is still time for Huawei to officially announce a yearly sequel if it would so desire.
Android tablet sales have declined over the years as smartphones continued to adopt larger screens, and there aren’t that many OEMs left in this market segment particularly since Google abandoned it in favor of pushing its Chrome OS-powered hybrids and notebooks. Huawei was one of the few OEMs to release new tablet models last year, the most recent of which is the MediaPad T5 featuring the Kirin 659 chipset and a 10.1-inch IPS LCD panel with a resolution of 1920 x 1200 pixels.
However given the rise of the foldable smartphone form factor, the future of the tablet segment is now more uncertain than it has ever been. Huawei itself introduced its first foldable smartphone-tablet hybrid at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last month.
The Huawei Mate X foldable device has an 8-inch display, so it can definitely compete with the tablet segment as far as screen real estate is concerned. But can these foldable devices threaten the existence of the Android tablet segment, and can the lack of more information surrounding the MediaPad M5 Pro (2019) indicate that Huawei doesn’t want to cannibalize its Mate X sales? Perhaps, but that’s a stretch.
It’s important to note that these early foldable smartphones fit in an entirely new price-range that exceeds any other flagship phones released to date. While most premium smartphones have a price tag hovering around the $1,000 mark, foldable smartphone-tablet hybrids tend to cost more like $2,000. Meanwhile, the MediaPad M5 Pro launched last year for around $500, and there are plenty of other lower-end tablets offering large-screen solutions for even lower price points.
OEMs seem to expect foldable smartphones to replace the fading tablet segment and this will probably happen, eventually, but given the current price gap and the likeliness of low adoption rates for early foldable smartphones, there might still be a place in the market in which a new Huawei MediaPad M5 Pro could reside.