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The MatePad Pro has a bright display and elegant hardware design – but can it overcome Huawei's software woes? Find out in our review.
The Huawei MatePad Pro’s hardware pros are let down by its software cons. Unless you’re already an Huawei customer, that is.
China’s Huawei has had a turbulent few years following a ban in May 2019 in the US. Not only were Huawei’s phones not allowed to be sold in the country, but the company was also initially told it couldn’t sign licence agreements with US-based companies, and this included Google. Since this point, a few of the restrictions have been lifted to varying degrees, but the ban still largely remains, and this means Huawei’s phones and tablets don’t look like traditional Android devices.
The biggest being that they don’t have the Google Play Store by default. This means that Huawei devices don’t support any Google apps – including Chrome, YouTube, Google Drive and more – and that you can’t get the full catalogue of Android apps available on rival devices.
In our Huawei MatePad Pro review, we look at whether the hardware and design can make up for these software shortfalls and how well Huawei’s proprietary alternatives for US services and chips stand up on their own. To compare this tablet with more options, don't miss our best budget tablet, best tablet and best tablet for kids articles.
Price: £499.99 (RRP)
The Huawei MatePad Pro is available at Huawei for £499.99 (Wi-Fi) or £549.99 (Wi-Fi and LTE). It is also available at select UK retailers.
Huawei MatePad Pro covers streaming, gaming, working, and more but the selection of apps from which to do all of these activities are limited.
The Huawei MatePad Pro comes in only one storage size – 128GB – and is available with Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi+cellular.
The price, when bought directly from Huawei, is as follows:
You can also buy the Huawei MatePad Pro from the following places:
Everything that’s missing can, in one form or another, be accessed via a browser and bookmarks or by what’s known as sideloading apps. You can also jailbreak the device to take control of its software – we don’t advise doing either of the latter, but you have options.
The hardware afforded by the Huawei MatePad Pro is a major selling point. It’s an attractive, super-fast tablet with superb battery life. The wireless charging feature is great. However, none of these features are so revolutionary that they’re worth the software hassle. If the price was lower, it would be worth the sacrifice, but sadly it’s not.
The way you’ll get the most value for money with the Huawei MatePad Pro is if you already have a Huawei phone. If you’re not, it could be a struggle.
The Huawei MatePad Pro has a 10.8-inch display with a resolution that puts it at the 2K mark. Unlike the vast majority of tablets on the market, it doesn’t run Android or iOS. It runs on Huawei’s own operating system called EMUI, which is built using open-source Android files but isn’t a pure, pre-loaded version of it.
This means that Huawei’s tablet isn’t compatible with Google Play, so you can’t get access to the full catalogue of traditional Android apps out of the box. Instead, Huawei has built its own App Gallery store. It is possible to get popular apps, like Facebook, Snapchat, TikTok and more, by downloading the APK (Android Package) files via the App Gallery, but it’s not as straightforward as using the original Play Store.
Other software features include support for Multi-screen Collaboration, as long as you have a Huawei phone running EMUI 10.0 or later. Once connected, the two devices are effectively merged into one, and this allows you to make calls, send messages and check photos from your phone on the tablet screen. You can also drag and drop files between the two devices and edit them. The latter is a small yet highly effective tool that helps when using the MatePad Pro as a laptop alternative. It can also help you better control your storage on either device.
Speaking of storage, the Huawei MatePad Pro comes in only one storage size – 128GB. This can be expanded to 256GB via microSD, but neither offers huge space for files and apps.
Hardware-wise, the MatePad Pro is powered by the Kirin 990 processor, backed up by 6GB RAM. This flagship setup has been designed to make the tablet super fast and power-efficient, and Huawei promises a 12-hour battery life when streaming Full HD video. You can charge this battery via USB-C or on a wireless charger. This charging plate on the rear of the tablet can also be used to share charge with Huawei phones when placed on top of each other.
On the front of the MatePad Pro is a 13MP camera, while on the rear is an 8MP sensor. There are then four speakers, tuned by Harman Kardon, on either side of the device (two on each side when held in landscape mode). These speakers feature so-called Hirsten 6 3D stereo sound effects designed to offer a rich, immersive sound.
We tested a Huawei MatePad Pro with a keyboard. This, along with the M-Pen, don’t come as standard and cost £129.99 and £99, respectively, but they elevate the tablet considerably. Out of the many, many tablets we’ve tested, the keyboard on the MatePad Pro was the most comfortable and easy to use, making us more productive. It’s also a great stand when watching content. If we had to pick out one flaw, though, it would be that the tablet wobbles and shakes as you use the touchscreen when it’s attached to the keyboard.
Plus, if you’re using this tablet for work or as a laptop alternative, Huawei’s operating system comes with a PC Mode which can be easily enabled with just one touch. This is similar to the Productivity Mode on the P11 Pro and allows you to zoom, drag and arrange your application windows how you would on a desktop. Some files can be saved directly on the desktop too. It’s not perfect – without the full touchpad and mouse controls seen on PCs and laptops, we don’t think a tablet can ever truly mimic the desktop experience – but it’s not as poor as Lenovo’s Productivity Mode.
With a resolution of 2560 x 1600, the MatePad Pro’s screen quality is highly impressive and comes in at 2K. It falls short of the quality, vibrancy and brightness of the Samsung Tab S7 range, but we prefer it to Apple’s Liquid Retina Display. Colours are bright, blacks are inky, lines are sharp, and the overall experience makes Full HD content absolutely shine.
The bezels on the display are the thinnest we’ve seen on a tablet for a very long time, and this gives the MatePad Pro a 90% screen-to-body ratio. This screen real-estate does the impressive display technology even more justice and is perfect for everything from working, gaming or streaming.
The sound that comes from this device is equally impressive. The four speakers manage to highlight subtleties in voices when listening to podcasts while also providing booming bass when you’re playing music or watching shows. The quad-speaker setup performs very well at full volume, but because the sound quality is so sharp, you never feel like you have to whack the speakers up to get the best out of them.
Thanks to the addition of Huawei’s Histen sound effects, this sound experience is even better through headphones. This software tweak adds 3D surround sound support and delivers vibrant, crisp sounds. This is ideal when watching shows and particularly when gaming. There isn’t a headphone jack on this tablet, but there is an adapter included in the box that allows you to use any existing 3.5mm headphones.
In addition to extending the viewing angle, MatePad Pro’s super-thin bezels give this tablet a huge screen-to-body ratio. This makes the device look and feel more premium than its mid-to-high-range price tag, as does the use of the sturdy yet lightweight magnesium alloy frame around this glass display.
Instead of hiding the camera in this frame, Huawei has put the front-facing camera within the display itself, in a small punch-hole cutout in the corner. This is barely noticeable other than when it very occasionally gets in the way of on-screen buttons that happen to be in the top corner.
The MatePad Pro has rounded corners, and the rear is made of plastic to make it possible to use with a wireless charger. This use of plastic does lessen the premium feeling somewhat, but we’ll take this hit for the addition of wireless charging.
The Huawei MatePad Pro has two speakers on each shorter side and a USB-C charging port.
The fact the MatePad Pro runs on an Android-derived operating system means it’s not quite as straightforward to sign in to your Google account and have your Settings copied over. It’s not difficult, but it’s not quite as seamless as on standard Android tablets.
There is a step-by-step tutorial that guides you through the process, and Huawei doesn’t overwhelm things with many, many menus and choices as seen on the likes of the Lenovo devices. It still takes a fair amount of time.
If you already have a Huawei phone or account, the process is much more simple. You can sign in to the device, or you can use Huawei’s Phone Clone tool, which pulls over files, settings and data from one device to another with ease.
For all of our software criticisms about the MatePad Pro, its hardware is fantastic, and this means its performance is built to match. The processor and high RAM makes the MatePad Pro lightning fast. Opening apps, streaming videos and playing games were instant, and we didn’t experience any lag. It’s the fastest tablet we’ve ever used.
Another boon in Huawei’s favour is its battery life. Huawei promises up to 12 hours of video playback, and in our looping video test, in which we stream HD video over Wi-Fi at 70% brightness, we exceeded this. It lasted almost 14 hours. For everyday tasks – watching the odd YouTube video, playing a couple of games of SimCity, two video calls with our parents and everyday browsing – this battery lasted three days. For a device with such a high-quality screen and so much power, this was a very pleasant surprise.
Having support for wireless charging also makes it a doddle to charge up between uses. Simply lay it on the charger, give it a boost, and you’re good to go again. This would easily prevent you from ever having to charge the device from flat to full.
It’s such a shame, almost frustratingly so, that the Huawei MatePad Pro has its software woes because it’s a great tablet; fast, powerful, practical, AND attractive.
We’re big fans of the keyboard, but you have to pay extra for it. You’ll also need to pay extra for a wireless charging plate if you don’t already have one. These both add not insignificant costs to a device that was already relatively pricey.
If you don’t mind the software shortfall, or if you’re a Huawei user already, this is (and should be) the tablet you go for. However, unless you fall into these two camps, the lack of familiar apps and software will likely be a dealbreaker.
Overall rating: 4/5