Huawei MatePad Pro Review: Powerful, Beautiful & Google-Free

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The Huawei MatePad Pro offers stellar build and powerful internals, but the lack of apps may be an issue for some.

Huawei MatePad Pro
£499.99
Rating
Pros
  • Great design, slim profile
  • LIghter than you'd think
  • Excellent performance
  • Bright & sharp display
  • Powerful quad speakers
  • Solid battery life
Cons
  • Lack of apps
  • Occasional EMUI annoyance

Huawei supplied us with a review unit of the MatePad Pro, but didn’t have a say in our opinion, nor did they see this review before you. We’ve been using the device for a couple of weeks before forming an opinion.

The Huawei MatePad Pro is Huawei's new flagship tablet. This is the very first high-end tablet that the company announced without support for Google applications. The Huawei MatePad Pro comes with HMS (Huawei Mobile Services) pre-installed, instead of GMS (Google Mobile Services). Many of you already know the full story around that. This was not Huawei's choice, of Google's. The US ban is to blame here, as Huawei is forbidden from doing business with US-based companies, to a degree.

That being said, we'll touch upon that later in the review, when we get to the software part of it. For the most part, the Huawei MatePad Pro is a great tablet, which is something you'll realize down below. This tablet has a lot to offer across the board. It has a great build, powerful specifications, ships with the latest version of Android, and Huawei's Android UI is getting better and better. There are many other positives to the MatePad Pro. So, without further ado, let's get straight to it.

The Huawei MatePad Pro looks great, it's very thin and not too heavy for its size

Huawei really nailed the design of the MatePad Pro. The device is made out of metal and glass fiber (back). Its back side is not curved, as is the case on the vast majority of tablets, and that's a good thing. The device is extremely thin at only 7.2mm. It's thinner than pretty much all major flagships that launched this year, and that's saying a lot. I even found myself using it with one hand on several occasions.

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This tablet is clearly meant to be held in two hands, but while you're just going through your news, browsing YouTube or your news feed, it feels comfortable to hold with one hand. That actually surprised me considering how thin this tablet's bezels are. The fact that it is so light, though, definitely helps. if this tablet were heavier, it would be a real task holding it with one hand for extended periods of time. This tablet weighs only 480 grams, and I say "only" because it has a 10.8-inch display size. So, it's not exactly a small tablet.

You'd think that the display is smaller based on the overall size

When you look at it, you'd think that the display is smaller, though, mainly due to its thin bezels. The corners on this tablet are rounded, as are the corners of its display. Speaking of the display, you'll notice that a display camera hole is present here. That hole is placed in the top-right corner of the display, looking at it when a tablet is held vertically (in portrait) That display hole was not an annoyance, to be quite honest. The display is big enough for it not to bother me, and the vast majority of media content I watched cut it off anyway due to the aspect ratio. Display holes bother me, personally, but on smartphones, especially larger ones. Luckily for the MediaPad Pro, its display is large, and that camera hole is not too big in comparison.

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On the back of this device, you'll find a camera module which hosts one camera. Above that camera sits an LED flash, and below it a microphone. All of that is part of the same camera module, which does protrude on the back, a bit. Huawei's branding is visible on the back of the tablet as well, and that's about it. The glass fiber back actually feels nice in the hand, a bit less slippery than regular glass, that's for sure.

The device includes four speakers

At the bottom, you'll find two separate speaker grilles, the same goes for the top of the device. That's because this tablet comes with four speakers, which is certainly welcomed. We'll talk about them later on, though. A Type-C USB port is placed at the bottom as well, right in-between the two speakers. At the top, a power button lies, along with the aforementioned speakers. On the right-hand side, the volume up and down buttons are located, along with four microphones, yes, four microphones on the same side, you read that right. On the left, you'll find a SIM card tray, in which you can insert a nano SIM card, if you want. All in all, this tablet offers great design, there's no doubt about that. Build quality is also up to par.

The MatePad Pro's M-Pencil stylus is a nice addition

Huawei created a stylus for this tablet, but it's sold separately, so keep that in mind. Huawei calls this stylus the 'M-Pencil', also known as 'M-Pen'. That stylus is actually quite useful. I'd say it's nowhere close to the functionality of the S-Pen that comes with Samsung's Galaxy Note devices, but still, it's a nice touch by Huawei. This stylus can become really useful if you're signing some documents, or simply like to use a stylus. It can also be useful for playing some drawing games, and so on. It's not your regular stylus, it's somewhere in-between a regular stylus, and the S-Pen. It has 4,096 levels of pressure, so it's far away from your regular stylus. It's also highly-responsive, with less than 20ms of latency.

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It has its own battery

The Huawei M-Pencil comes with its own battery… and no, you don't need to plug it into an outlet to charge it. You don't even have to put it on a separate wireless charger. This stylus can charge off of the Huawei MatePad Pro itself. All you have to do is put it on the side of the tablet (or the top if it's in landscape mode), and the pen will magnetize. As soon as it does, it will start charging, and you'll be notified of its battery status on the display of the tablet. The battery can last for a very long time, as the stylus is in sleep mode when not in use. In order to use it, all you have to do is tap the display with it.

Huawei MatePad Pro stylus 7

Pairing is actually really simple as well, you don't need to do anything manually. You do the same thing as you'd do for charging, simply dock it, and you'll be offered to pair it on the display. It's incredibly simple. The Huawei MatePad Pro packs in two apps that are specifically designed for a stylus, Nebo for Huawei and MyScript Calculator. Nebo is basically an app that allows you to write using that stylus, and utilize many gestures it has to offer. So, for example, you can create a vertical line between two letters in order to separate them. There are tons of such gestures. You can even scratch out something if you'd like to delete it, and so on. MyScript calculator allows you to do calculations by writing. So you can write equations, for example. All of this works really well, actually. I enjoyed using the M-Pencil, that's for sure.

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Smart Magnetic Keyboard is the best accessory for this tablet, hands-down

The Huawei M-Pencil is useful, no doubt about that, but the Smart Magnetic Keyboard takes the cake. This accessory is not only a Bluetooth keyboard for this tablet, but also a case for it. It's also magnetic, much like the M-Pencil. This accessory has yet another function, it can serve you as a tablet stand while you're typing. You have two angles to choose from, depending on what works best at the time. All of that sounds really nice, but what about the keyboard itself, is it any good? Well, yes, in fact, it is.

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Clicklet keyboard lovers will be right at home with this

Those of you who love chicklet keyboards will be right at home here. I actually wrote a large chunk of this review using the Smart Magnetic Keyboard, just for the fun of it. I liked the keyboard so much, that I decided to give it a go, and basically test it out at the same time. My opinion didn't change afterward, at all, I liked it even more after it was done. I love good chicklet keyboards, though. If you're a fan of mechanical keyboards, this will definitely not be your cup of tea. Keys on this keyboard are somewhat clicky, but they don't have a lot of travel. They offer even less travel than your regular chicklet keyboards.

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That is to be expected, though. This is a small accessory, not an actual keyboard for your PC. These keys sit on top of the MatePad Pro's display when the cover is closed. So, they need to keep a slim profile, don't they. Still, even though there's not a lot of travel on them, the keyboard does a great job. Every time I hit a key it registered just fine, and I adjusted to the keyboard straight away, pretty much. Do note that the Smart Magnetic Keyboard is not included in the package. It is sold separately by the company, but it's worth every penny if you're planning on doing much typing on the tablet.

This is not an OLED display, but it's great nonetheless

The Huawei MatePad Pro features a 10.8-inch QHD+ (2560 x 1600) IPS LCD display. This is not an OLED display, but it's really good. The screen-to-body ratio is 90-percent, and the tablet's 4.9mm bezels only help with the immersion. This display offers DCI-P3 color gamut, and 540 nits of brightness (max). The display has been certified by TÜV Rheinland, and blue light emission has been reduced. You're looking at a 16:10 display aspect ratio here, in case you were wondering.

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The display itself is quite big for a tablet, but thanks to those bezels and slim profile, the tablet is not as large as some other 10+" tablets. Colors on this display are vivid and precise, chances are you won't have any issues in that regard. I also never found myself wanting it to be brighter, to be quite honest, not even outside. Your mileage may vary, though. You will not notice any pixelization here, of course, as this is a high-res display, which offers really good quality.

Considering this is a tablet, we're looking at a flat display, and that's a good thing. Its bezels are quite thin, but chances are you won't have any issues holding the tablet because of it. I was even able to hold it in one hand, as mentioned earlier. All in all, this is a great display, and the fact it's not an OLED panel it should not be a problem, this is a tablet after all.

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The Huawei MatePad Pro offers buttery smooth performance

What about the performance, is it any good? Well, no, it's not, it's great! The Huawei MatePad Pro is basically the company's flagship tablet. This thing comes with Huawei's latest and greatest SoC, the Kirin 990. On top of that, you get 6GB or 8GB of RAM (we've used the 6GB variant). This is UFS 3.0 flash storage, by the way, which also helps with performance. We do not have a single bad thing to say about its performance. The MatePad Pro was able to fly through basically everything we threw at it.

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The tablet opens apps extremely fast, while multitasking is also a breeze. It's great for media consumption from the performance side as well. Games were also a non-issue. I did some light gaming with it, the Asphalt 9 works flawlessly, and that's quite a graphically-intensive title. I also played some pool, and several other random games that I found on AppGallery. All of those worked great. So, the hardware is a non-issue here, as this tablet will probably keep ripping through content for at least several more years, at least. We'll go as far as to say this is one of the fastest tablets in the market at the moment.

Battery life won't be an issue, while fast charging is also supported

The Huawei MatePad Pro features a 7,250mAh battery. That is a good battery size, and one that you'd expect for a tablet this size. The Galaxy Tab S6, in comparison, has a 7,040mAh pack, and a slightly smaller display… though an OLED one. What's the battery life like on the MatePad Pro, though? Well, it's really good, actually. Huawei's EMUI Android skin is well-known for being battery-friendly. Huawei put some restrictions in place for apps that run in the background, by default. You can tweak all that in settings, in several places, but for the purpose of this review, we left it on default.

Several days of use is easy to pull off

That being said, I was getting an average of around 3 days of use on the tablet, over three-four charging cycles. Do note that I'm not really a gamer, at least not on smartphones / tablets. I did run several games just for this review, but that's about it. As part of the review, I download some torrents, though, just to test the durability of the battery, while I also used it a lot for web browsing, typing in WPS office, and so on. I did not use the tablet intensively, though, as I had about 7 and a half – 8 and a half hours of screen on time over the course of 3-3.5 days.

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Why is that? Well, I did not want to install GMS services on the tablet, or do anything of the sort, and those are important for my daily routines. I installed apps only from the AppGallery, and sideloaded some non-Google ones, but that's about it. I usually have 7 hours of screen-on-time on my daily driver smartphones, but I had to adjust for the purpose of this review. So, please do note that if you do use this tablet intensively, and o get 6-7 hours of screen on time a day, you'll get a 2-day battery life out of this tablet… approximately. That's still pretty good. You can check out my stats down below.

It supports 40W fast charging

We can't really talk about the battery without mentioning charging, right? Well, you'll be glad to know that the Huawei MatePad Pro offers 40W wired charging, which is extremely fast, needless to say. This tablet packs a large battery on the inside, but that's nothing for such charging speeds. Do note that the tablet doesn't ship with 40W charger, though, you'll get a 20W charger in the box. That charger is fast enough, but if you'd like to get the most of your tablet, get a 40W fast charger, it will change your outlook.

If you don't mind slower charging, this tablet also offers 15W wireless charging. Not many tablets out there can say that they support wireless charging… well, the MatePad Pro does. On top of that, it also supports reverse wireless charging. 7.5W reverse wireless charging is included, and it works great for topping up your truly wireless earphones, smartwatch, or anything else that supports (Qi) wireless charging.

Tablets are not made for taking pictures / videos

The Huawei MatePad Pro includes one camera on the back, and one on the front. A 13-megapixel camera with an f/1.8 aperture lens and PDAF is included on the back. An 8-megapixel unit with an f/2.0 aperture lens sits on the front. So, are the cameras any good? Well, no, but they're good enough considering this is a tablet. I always cringe when I see people taking pictures with their tablets. Not a single tablet in the market has great cameras, and that goes for this one as well.

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Pictures taken with the rear-facing camera are, well… they don't pop. They seem to have a slight green / gray tint on them, and the detail is also missing. They're not the sharpest images around either, but as I said, we can't really compare these cameras with the ones on flagship tablets, not at all. The front-facing camera is also mediocre, at best, but it's good enough for video calls, that's for sure. Truth be said, the vast majority of you will only use it for that, nothing else. That front-facing camera can't really compete with front-facing cameras on flagship smartphones either.

As far as video recording is concerned, the device supports fullHD video recording at 30fps, but it's not the best quality. As soon as you realize that you should take pictures / videos with cameras on tablets, the better. So, the bottom line is, these cameras are mediocre, and that's perfectly fine.

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EMUI is better than ever, but the lack of apps is significant

Ah… software… that is this device's main problem, no doubt about that. That is not Huawei's fault, though. As most of you are probably aware of at this point, the US has banned Huawei from doing business with US companies. There are quite a few exceptions to that rule, but the point is, Huawei is not allowed to pre-install Google services (GMS) on its devices. It can still maintain those that did come pre-installed with them, but it is not allowed to do it on its new devices. That, unfortunately, includes the MatePad Pro as well. You may say, well, I don't use that many Google apps, why should that bother me? Well, read on.

AppGallery is the name of the game

The main reason why it will probably bother those of you who don't use many Google apps is the Play Store. People are used to having the Google Play Store on their devices to download any app they want on their devices, and that's not the case here. The MatePad Pro does come with an app store, Huawei's, called AppGallery. Huawei did a great job with AppGallery thus far, there are tons of apps there, but many, many are still missing. You can always sideload those that are missing, and the vast majority of them will work fine, but that's an extra step many people are not willing to take.

AH Huawei MatePad Pro App Gallery

Do note that you can sideload Google apps, but chances are they won't work properly without Google services. It all depends from one app to the other, but several that I've tried out did not work at all, including Gmail and Google Drive. I've also experienced an issue or two with apps that are available in the AppGallery, as push notifications don't work on BlueMail, for example. The app says that Google Play Services are required, and yet it is available via the AppGallery. I've encountered some similar issues with some apps I've tried to sideload, like Feedly, for example. My account login goes through Google, and I couldn't get it to work. That is a bit odd. The app works just fine, though. Speaking of AppGallery, you'll find Opera there, Snapchat, TikTok, Viber, and a number of other apps. The vast majority are missing, though, and that will be Huawei's problem for the foreseeable future.

You'll want to use the Phone Clone app

The Huawei MatePad Pro does come with the Phone Clone app pre-installed. That app allows you to transfer apps from your current device with ease, though note you may have issues with some, I did. The same goes for contacts, and so on. Do note that you'll need to put in a SIM card inside the MatePad Pro in order for this to work, and turn on WiFi Hotspot. Enough about apps, let's talk about EMUI for a bit.

Huawei's EMUI 10 Android skin is actually really good. It's much better than it was before, and I didn't encounter any major issues with it. It runs really smoothly. I did notice that it takes two presses for it to recognize on-screen button taps (navigation buttons) sometimes. That just appears to be a small bug on the software side, and is easily fixable. Huawei also improved the handling of background apps in EMUI 10, and you can always lock some of them in the background if you want. Do note that EMUI 10 on the Huawei MatePad Pro allows you to run apps in windows.

EMUI 10 is feature-packed

This version of EMUI 10 has most of the features you'd find on phones, just note that gesture navigation is not included. That was to be expected, though, as this is a tablet. We've already talked about the M-Pencil apps that come pre-installed, which give this tablet a whole new usage aspect. This tablet even allows you to switch from tablet mode to PC mode with a push of a button. A PC mode will offer a more desktop-like experience, and it's great to combine with a Bluetooth keyboard… possibly even a mouse as well.

Four speakers + Harman Kardon = win (in this case)

The Huawei MatePad Pro comes with four speakers. Those speakers are tuned by Harman Kardon, and the audio experience on this tablet is excellent, to say the least. Two of those speakers are placed at the top of the tablet, while the other two are on the bottom. The sound can get pretty loud, and it's also quite crisp at the same time. It's actually quite good across the spectrum, and it even offers some bass. Those speakers are more impressive than the audio when headphones are connected. Not to say that it's bad, not at all, but it's not as impressive as the speakers are.

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The mids and highs are really good when you connect a pair of solid earphones, while the lows are a bit weaker, but not by much. It's a shame that a 3.5mm headphone jack is not included here, but it is what it is. You'll have to use the Type-C USB port, or a pair of Bluetooth headphones. In any case, the sound will be really good. Even if you're gaming, and you cover two out of four of those speakers, you'll still get a really good experience. Huawei did a great job with audio here.

There are three variants of the MatePad Pro, even a 5G model is available

We won't dwell too much on this part, as the situation is rather simple. There are several variants of this device. The most affordable model is one without a SIM card slot, a Wi-Fi only model. There are 4G and 5G variants as well, though, depending on your needs. We've reviewed the 4G model of this tablet, and in case you need to insert a SIM card in it, that option is available. It works just as well as you'd expect, the same as on a smartphone. There is no earpiece on this tablet, though, of course, so keep that in mind.

It's a great tablet in almost every way, but the app situation holds it back a bit

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So, what's the gist? The Huawei MatePad Pro is an excellent tablet. Huawei offers a great piece of hardware here, both on the inside and the outside. The tablet is really well-built, and it comes with powerful internals. The M-Pencil is definitely a useful tool if you get it, and that's an understatement when it comes to the company's Bluetooth keyboard for the MatePad Pro. The audio is also great, as is the display. EMUI is better than ever, but Google services are not included. The only thing that may prevent you from getting this thing are Google services, and the lack of apps in the AppGallery. There are ways around that, but if you're not willing to go through all that, this device is not for you. AppGallery does have plenty of apps at this point, but don't expect the choices to be the same as on the Play Store, as they are not. All in all, though, this is an excellent piece of tech.