Great high-end hardware
The first thing you’ll notice about the MatePad Pro 5G is the lightweight, sleek design; it sports a matte-finish Magnesium Alloy frame that’s both durable and lightweight with micro-curved edges that fit nicely into the palms of your hand when holding the tablet.
You’ll also find a 10.8in display with next-to-no bezels, offering a 90 percent screen-to-body ratio - and that’s impressive. There are bezels there, admittedly, but at 4.9mm thick compared to 8.3mm of the iPad Pro range, they certainly aren’t noticeable. There’s also a hole-punch camera in the top-right of the display; a first for both Android and iOS tablets.
The inclusion of 5G connectivity would traditionally mean having to include a raft of bars and breaks on the metal rear to allow for cellular connectivity, but that’s not the case with the MatePad. It has 22 antennae built-in, but they’re all housed within the frame for an all-round cleaner look, even when compared to the iPad Pro. Apple’s latest Pro tablet range, although a big improvement on early cellular models, still features bars at the top and bottom of the rear, and on the sides too.
There’s no doubt that the MatePad Pro 5G is a looker, and it’s a powerhouse of tech too.
The 10.8in OLED display sports a WQHD resolution (2560 x 1600) and support for DCI-P3 cinematic colour, offering what Huawei calls “cinema-grade colour on your tablet” - essentially the same as what’s on offer from the iPad Pro range, which is generally looked upon as having the best tablet displays on the market. That’s backed up by a quad-speaker setup, tuned by H&K, and a long-range amplitude speaker, the MatePad Pro 5G could provide a great tablet viewing experience.
Under the hood, you’ll find Huawei’s latest Kirin 990 5G CPU alongside a Da-Vinci NPU to power the AI experiences on offer and a Mali G76 GPU to power high-end games and productivity apps.
That’s the same as what’s available on Huawei flagships including the Mate 30 Pro and Mate Xs, so expect a similar level of performance here, and the 3D graphene cooling should help keep the tablet cool and running smoothly no matter what you’re doing. There was certainly no hint of lag during our hands-on, but we’d be interested to see how it handles high-end 3D games like Call of Duty Mobile, or video/photo editing software.
Of course, being an iPad Pro competitor, it should come as no surprise that there are accessories available for the MatePad Pro 5G. You’ll find a keyboard that doubles up as a case when not in use, and it’s charged wirelessly when attached to the tablet. It’s a similar thing with the M-Pencil too; the Surface Pro-like tablet offers a natural way to draw on the MatePad, and snaps into place on the side of the tablet when not in use.
While all that just about matches what the iPad Pro offers, the MatePad has two features not offered by Apple; 27W wireless charging support and 7.5W reverse wireless charging, with the latter allowing you to top-up the battery of any wireless charging-enabled devices by placing them on the rear of the tablet. They’re not groundbreaking features by any means, but they’re certainly nice additions to an already capable tablet.
Great software features can’t fix the lack of Google Play
The MatePad Pro 5G runs open-source Android 10 with EMUI 10 loaded on-top, and features a handful of new tablet-focused features that fix long-term Android tablet pain points.
The most welcomed software feature is what Huawei calls App Multiplier, and it looks to fix the vertical app orientation issue plagued by Android tablets of all shapes and sizes. For those that are unaware, some Android apps don’t take advantage of the horizontal orientation on offer from tablets because most people use apps on smartphones in vertical orientation.
Huawei’s App Multiplier allows vertical-only apps to run side-by-side, displaying two windows from the same app and allowing users to interact with apps horizontally or vertically. The catch is that there are only around 1000 apps that take advantage of the new tech so far, although Huawei claims more are being added all the time.
There’s also the option to mirror your Huawei smartphone display on your tablet, allowing you to reply to text messages, access smartphone-specific apps and more without actually having to pick up your smartphone. It may not sound like much, but if you’re looking to use the MatePad Pro to work on and own a Huawei smartphone, it’ll really come in handy.
There’s also Huawei Multi-Window, an iPad-esque feature that enables users to run two apps side by side, resizing the split dynamically, and also offers the ability to display a third app via floating window, although this is currently limited to built-in apps.
But no matter how beautifully crafted the MatePad Pro 5G is, it suffers from the same issue as other Huawei devices at the moment; there’s no access to Google Play. You can download apps via Huawei’s AppGallery, but it’s nowhere near as populated as Google’s option. The silver lining is that you can install the Amazon Appstore via apk without any need to follow guides or use shady software, providing access to a handful of popular apps like Facebook and Instagram.
Still, though, you won’t find the magnitude of high-end productivity-focused apps like those available for the iPad Pro. You can get the likes of Photoshop, Word, iMovie and other branded high-end productivity apps on Apple’s tablet range, making it a truly versatile bit of kit.
Unfortunately, you won’t find any apps like that on the MatePad Pro 5G, severely limiting how useful it can be in a day-to-day work environment - even with such high-end hardware on offer. Why Huawei didn’t opt to use Windows 10 over open-source Android with a lack of apps, we’ll never know...