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Huawei MatePad Pro review

The Huawei MatePad Pro is almost perfect

Huawei MatePad Pro
(Image: © TechRadar)

Our Verdict

There are several reasons to love the MatePad Pro - powerful innards, zippy performance and a gorgeous screen, all packed in a svelte form factor. It’s got all the makings of the best Android slates out right now, but an obstructed software experience means it won’t be for everyone.

For

  • Powerful hardware
  • Robust lightweight design
  • Clever charging features

Against

  • Limited software functionality
  • No headphone jack
  • Accessories are just okay

Two minute review

The MatePad Pro is Huawei’s Android-based answer to the iPad Pro and aims to give Samsung’s high-end Galaxy Tab S6 a run for its money. Geared towards mobile productivity and an immersive-media experience, Huawei’s slate crams in a lot of premium tablet features in an effort to bring serious clout to the dwindling Android tablet market.  

For the most part, the MatePad Pro succeeds in its efforts to put out a top-end slate that deserves serious consideration, however, a few software roadblocks means it won’t get Apple to loosen its iron grip on tablet market just yet.  

The MatePad Pro features a sleek and lightweight form factor, a beautiful 10.8-inch display with a punch-hole selfie snapper, a flash supported camera on the back and all the other trappings you’d expect to find on a premium slate. That means Huawei’s top of the line Kirin 990 chipset with a 5G modem for high-speed mobile data and ample RAM to keep things chugging along smoothly.  

The tablet looks and feels premium with a sturdy build, narrow bezels and micro-curved edges that let the slate sit in comfy in your hands. Excellent palm rejection means you can grip the edges of the tablet without having to worry about unintended input. And the tablet is super portable, fitting easily into backpacks plus it also includes reverse wireless charging to top up two phones conveniently when you’re out and about. 

There’s no headphone jack and only one USB-C port, which is a shame since the tablet is being pushed as a Pro device and just because Apple and Samsung have done away with headphone jacks doesn’t mean it’s the right direction. The Harmon Kardon quad-speaker setup does deliver satisfying audio too when watching videos or listening to music.  

The MatePad Pro supports a couple of optional accessories. There’s the Huawei M-Pencil that magnetically snaps to the tablet to draw charge, but it’s not as refined as Apple’s Pencil or Samsung’s S-Pen. While the M-Pencil is perfectly fine for quick notes and doodles, it can get tedious to use over longer sessions. 

Huawei MatePad Pro

(Image credit: Future)

There’s also a magnetic snap on keyboard that doubles as a folio case. Again, it’s not the best tablet keyboard we’ve ever used with awkward key travel and limited screen tilt options and lack of track pad makes it feel a little outdated.  

Another problem is the software. Android in general has a lot of catching up to do to match the refined iPad OS experience, though the flexibility and perks Android offers can make up for this. The MatePad Pro suffers from all the issues that plague Android tablets but the experience is further impeded by a lack of Google Mobile services.  

Unlike Huawei’s phone range, the lack of Google Mobile services doesn’t mean the device is unusable. Amazon’s Fire tablets have been doing just fine without Google after all and realistically, apps on Android tablets aren’t the most pleasant experience. With a few workarounds and diligent app hunting, you can get your favorite apps up and running or use the built-in browser to gain access to their web versions, but be ready to do some research and make compromises. 

None of this will get in your way of using the MatePad Pro purely for entertainment. The display is gorgeous and wide aspect ratio makes movies fit snugly on the screen and reading on the device is great as well.

So, while the MatePad Pro doesn’t quite stack up to the iPad Pro or the pure productivity found on Microsoft’s Surface Pro range, it does well enough to go up against Samsung’s slates and sets itself apart by offering high-speed mobile connectivity, a capable punch-hole selfie camera and clever wireless charging features. If you’re in the market for an Android tablet and don’t mind getting over a few software hurdles, the MatePad Pro needs to be on your list.  

Huawei MatePad Pro price and release date

The Huawei MatePad Pro is available to buy now in the UK, but there's no clear plan to bring it to the US or Australia at this stage.

The price starts at £499.99 (around $630, AU$900) in the UK, which is the variant with 6GB of RAM and 128GB variant. There's also an 8GB version, but that's not available in the UK.

At the time of writing, both the M-Pencil and MatePad Keyboard accessories come free if you order the tablet directly from Huawei in the UK. It's unclear if that will be the same in other markets and from other retailers.

In the UAE, the price is AED 1,999 with 256GB on board storage and 6GB of RAM. You can pre-order the tablet there from June 24, and it'll be released at some stage during July but an exact date has yet to be confirmed.

Design and display

The MatePad Pro shares a likeness with other Mate devices making use of metal and glass to give the device a premium look and feel. It has a modern slim design made up of a sturdy yet lightweight magnesium alloy frame with an integrated antenna that removes visible antenna lines for a cleaner look.  

The screen on the MatePad Pro is crisp, gorgeous and just large enough for work and play. It’s an LCD panel with a 2560 x 1600 resolution and a wide 16:10 aspect ratio. The panel is also DCI-P3 color graded for higher color accuracy when editing photos on an advanced photo editor like Lightroom or editing videos.   

Huawei MatePad Pro

(Image credit: Future)

With brightness shooting up to 540 nits you’ll be able to use the tablet under bright lights and while there’s no HDR certification, at 1500:1 contrast ratio the screen looks sharp and vibrant. As a result, content looks great across videos, articles and digital comics. 

Narrow bezels around the screen don’t get in the way of how you grip the tablet and rarely cause accidental input thanks to excellent palm rejection. The screen is also satisfyingly responsive if you want to doodle with your fingers. For more accuracy, you’ll want to use the optional Huawei M-Pencil, which is not the best stylus we’ve ever used but does well enough to take quick notes and annotations. 

Huawei MatePad Pro

(Image credit: Future)

Another accessory you can get to round out the MatePad Pro, is the Smart Magnetic Keyboard that doubles as a folio case. You simply plop the MatePad Pro on top of the cover and it snaps in place without effort.  

It has a decent typing experience, though the key travel can get a bit awkward and it also doesn't have a trackpad, which makes it feel a tad dated. Another gripe we had with the keyboard case is the MatePad Pro can’t be tilted too far back making it sit too straight and awkward to use if you place it on your lap, for instance.  

Huawei’s packed in a quad speaker setup tuned by Harmon Kardon with two speaker grilles on the top and bottom. There’s a lone USB-C port at the bottom and no headphone jack, which is unfortunate for a “Pro” tablet.

Huawei MatePad Pro

(Image credit: Future)

Specs, performance and camera

Powered by Huawei’s top of the line chipset, the Kirin 990, the MatePad Pro is one of the fastest tablet we’ve ever used. This is backed up by 8GB RAM, which keeps things chugging along smoothly with no noticeable gaps in performance.   

Switching apps is seamless, animations are smooth and the tablet can handle demanding apps and graphics-intensive games without a hitch. Split-screen multi-tasking is zippy and fluid, plus we found games have no issues running on the highest settings.  

Geekbench 5 benchmarks reflect these results. With a single-core of 757 and a multi-core score of 3,044, the MatePad Pro falls short of the iPad Pro but is slightly ahead of the latest Snapdragon 855 powered Samsung Galaxy Tab S6.  

The cameras on the MatePad Pro are capable and can snap a reasonable photo in a pinch if you don’t have access to your smartphone. The rear camera is a 13MP lens with support for flash and phase focusing. Over on the front, the punch hole camera is an 8MP fixed focal length lens that performs well for face unlocking and HD video conferencing as well as snapping decent selfies if the lighting is right.  

Huawei MatePad Pro

(Image credit: Future)

Software

Android tablets in general fall short of the high mark set by iPadOS and lack polish and other refinements that you’re bound to miss if you’re switching over from an iPad. But Android does have its perks and comes with unmatched flexibility that can make up for this shortcoming. 

The MatePad Pro runs EMUI 10, Huawei’s home-grown Android 10 skin but without Google services. This could be a deal breaker for some, but if you’re willing and patient enough, you can workaround some of the obstructions and still make the most out of the tablet.  

EMUI 10 on the MatePad Pro looks and feels much like the EMUI 10 found on the latest Huawei phones except its an even more feature-laden experience. The UI works well in both portrait and landscape orientation and it’s got a few tricks to make your life a little easier. 

There’s a split-screen feature that lets you open a second app alongside the first and a nifty multi-window feature that lets you open a third app in a  floating window that you can drag around the screen as you please, though not all apps support multi-window.  

Huawei MatePad Pro

(Image credit: Future)

If you have a Huawei phone, you can use Huawei Share to mirror your handset’s screen to the tablet so you don’t have to switch between devices and can also drag and drop files for a quick and painless transfers. It’s a handy feature and works flawlessly.  

Coming over to the app issue, not having Google services is frustrating but ultimately not as much of a hindrance on a tablet as it would be on a smartphone. The MatePad Pro’s hardware and features cram enough features to ensure the tablet is useful. 

The tablet comes pre-installed with the Huawei App Gallery, which is still missing some essential apps, but Huawei’s working behind the scenes to keep the list growing. If you’re up to it, you can install third party app stores to find your favorite apps or Huawei’s Phone Clone app to transfer over some apps and they’ll work fine for the most part. 

The only times you’ll run into issues is if the apps you want require Google services to run correctly. This includes all of Google’s apps including Wear OS, games that require Google Play Center and apps like WhatsApp that require Google Drive to back up and restore your chats.  

Having said that, the browser on the MatePad lets you run web versions of apps easily- very much how you’d use them on your laptop or desktop. We had no issues running Netflix, YouTube and Gmail on the browser and, many times, preferred using the browser over the badly optimized tablet version of Android apps.  

Huawei MatePad Pro

(Image credit: Future)

Battery life

With its generous 7,250mAh battery capacity in the MatePad Pro can last up to two days with heavy use. Meaning with occasional use, you can get away with charging the slate once or twice a week.   

Heavy use involved streaming video for a couple of hours, a few bouts of gaming, using web apps through the browser and social media surfing here and there. The tablet kept up with our usage throughout without us having to worry about draining the battery too much.  

When you run out of juice, recharging back to full is a simple task. The MatePad Pro supports a slew of battery features such as 40W fast charging with the bundled wall charger, wireless charging at quick 27W speeds and reverse wireless charging to top up other Qi-enabled devices - such as your smartphone or wireless earbuds - which is super handy feature we found ourselves using a lot. 

Should I buy the Huawei MatePad Pro?

Huawei MatePad Pro

(Image credit: Future)

Buy it if...

You like snappy performance and want 5G 

Powered by Huawei’s top of the line chipset and 6GB RAM, the MatePad Pro is zippy and is able to handle most demanding apps with relative ease. It’s also one of the first tablets to pack in 5G. Regardless of whether 5G is useful to you right now, it’s a great tech to have in the long run.  

You want a media-playing powerhouse 

With its gorgeous 10.8-inch display and great sound output, the MatePad Pro is a joy to watch films or play games with. It’s lightweight build and curved edges give it a comfy in-hand feel for longer sessions making it ideal for reading, watching videos or a bout of gaming.  

You want a tablet with long battery life and reverse wireless charging 

The MatePad Pro’s sizable battery and efficient power management systems can eke out an impressive two days of moderate to heavy usage. It’s got built in fast charging that get the slate back up and running in 90 minutes and the ability to charge other compatible devices on it back - handy for charging your smartphone when you’re out and about. 

Don't buy it if...

You need Google apps 

Lack of Google Play Store isn’t too much a big deal for the MatePad Pro as workarounds in the form of third party app stores are available. However, certain apps and games rely on Google Services to function properly especially Google’s own apps. So, even if you manage to load these apps on the MatePad Pro, there’s always a chance they won’t work perfectly or an update might break them.  

You’re looking for a mobile workstation 

While you can leverage the MatePad Pro’s premium hardware to run web apps from the browser and do meagre content editing, it’s still limited in what it can do. Even if you get access to the apps you’re looking for, Android optimization leaves a lot to be desired. The folio keyboard case also isn’t ideal for lengthy work sessions.  

You’re not invested in the Huawei ecosystem  

Huawei’s devices work together in a unique way to support additional functionality. Pairing Huawei devices is as simple as pointing and tapping a device at the NFC point and you get access to a slew of features such as sharing screens, transferring files with a simple drag and drop and more. 

First reviewed: June 2020