Huawei has traditionally upgraded its MediaPad tablet lineup around this time of year, but this time we’ve a new kid on the block – an iPad Pro competitor in the form of the new MatePad Pro.

It will cost from €799 - which is competitive - but we don't yet have a UK price.

There are two key features here – firstly a punch-hole front camera in the display and secondly and more importantly, this is also a 5G tablet. Samsung – also trying to dominate the 5G space – has a 5G tablet in the form of the Galaxy S6 5G.

Apple doesn’t have any 5G devices as yet so there's no 5G iPad Pro. 

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Huawei now says it’s third globally for tablet sales behind Samsung and Apple, a position it obviously feels it can improve on.

Design

  • 10.8-inch AMOLED display
  • Thin 4.9mm bezels
  • Available in four finishes

The problem with tablets is that they do mostly look the same, after all, how many times can you reinvent a robust frame around a sheet of glass? That said, the MatePad Pro is clearly intended to look similar to the iPad Pro lineup.

The screen-to-body ratio of this 10.8-inch tablet is impressive, but such a high ratio isn’t too big a claim these days. However, it does have a very thin bezel - 4.9mm compared to the 8.3mm iPad Pro and 8.5 Galaxy Tab S6. However, one irritation is that the rear camera bump pokes out quite a long way. 

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One clever piece of tech is that Huawei has been working to counteract unintended touches on the display from your hand as it holds the tablet – unintended contact with the display is pretty usual with tablets that have such tiny bezels.

Huawei has been very deliberate in making the edges of this tablet curved – it says this makes it look thinner visually. There are a whopping 22 antennae around the edge of the device for the 5G data, all of which are moulded into the frame.

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The MatePad Pro 5G is available in pearl white, midnight grey and also the afterglow orange and forest green vegan leather finishes that we also saw on the Mate 30 Pro.

Specs

  • WQXGA 2,560 x 1,600 display 
  • Kirin 990 5G platform 
  • Harman Kardon-enhanced audio
  • 27W wireless charging

The MatePad’s display is a WQXGA 2,560 x 1,600 unit and as we mentioned before, is 10.8-inches in size so just under the 11-inch display of the smaller iPad Pro (it’s very slightly more pixel-dense).

It’s got a 540 nit brightness, which is shy of the iPad Pro’s cited 600 nits. However, we couldn’t discern any visual difference on that front. There’s also support for the DCI-P3 wide colour gamut; again you’d expect this from a Pro-level tablet now.

Everything is based on Huawei’s own Kirin 990 5G platform like the 5G version of the Mate 30 Pro and also the Mate Xs foldable. The model we saw had 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage on board. 

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Wireless charging is included – it’s not groundbreaking at 27W but excellently it also features reverse wireless charging should you want to top up a pair of wireless headphones, for example, and don’t have a cable.

The audio has been tuned by Harman Kardon, although we were in a noisy environment when we looked at the tablet so will have to wait for a full review to test this fully.

Software and pencil

  • M-Pencil accessory will wirelessly charge
  • Software is EMUI 10 on top of Android 10
  • Not compatible with Google apps

The device can be paired with a couple of accessories – the Smart Magnetic Keyboard case (which looks and feels absolutely super) as well as a new M-Pencil that charges wirelessly – you can top it up for 30 seconds for 10 minutes’ use.

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Like the Mate Xs and last September’s Mate 30 Pro, this tablet is based around Huawei’s own EMUI 10 based on top of Android 10.

As with the Mate Xs, the MatePad Pro can take advantage of some EMUI enhancements. There’s an app dock if you want it plus two side-by-side apps with a third app available in a floating window.

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Many are used to using two apps side-by-side now, but the floating window is very similar to Slide Over in Apple’s iPadOS.

As with other post mid-2019 Huawei devices, there are no Google apps like Google Maps or Gmail, though a lot of apps are available from Huawei’s App Gallery. This is due to Huawei's US trade ban

There’s little doubt that the OS absolutely sings on the super bright display and many native apps are optimised for it well.  

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First Impressions

The case for 5G tablets is as yet, unproven, but by getting in early Huawei will certainly gain some fans as that market becomes more important. 

How well it does will depend on how well it is priced versus the Samsung equivalent. And, as with other new Huawei devices, there is an issue through not having Google apps on board. 

Clearly Huawei wants to target the Pro market, but can it convince enough people that they don't need Google in their lives when so many users in Europe use these apps on a daily basis?