Huawei has something completely new for fans of its mobile devices: the MatePad 5G premium tablet line. Taking aim at the iPad Pro, the Huawei MatePad Pro 5G tablet boasts many of the same basic features as Apple’s high-end iPad Pro, plus some more that take advantage of Huawei’s product ecosystem and the tablet’s size and processing power.
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Huawei MatePad Pro 5G price and release date
The price of the MatePad Pro starts at 549 euros ($593/£459) for a basic Wi-Fi version with 6GB RAM and 128GB storage, going up to 649 euros ($701/£543) for 8GB RAM and 256GB storage, and 749 ($810/£627) euros for the vegan leather case edition with 8GB RAM, 256GB storage and an included M-Pen stlyus.
For the 5G version, the price starts at 599 euros ($647/£501) for 6GB RAM and 128GB storage, and goes up to 699 euros ($756/£585) for 8GB RAM and 256GB storage. This will go on sale worldwide from April 2020. A US launch is once again very unlikely to happen, but those of you looking for an Android-powered alternative to the iPad Pro can keep hoping.
Huawei MatePad Pro 5G design and specs
The 10.8-inch MatePad Pro comes with a couple of world firsts, at least according to Huawei. First off, its punch-hole front camera, which help to keep the MatePad’s bezels nice and slim at just 4.9mm around all four edges. Secondly, its ability to wirelessly charge, accepting a wattage of up to 27W, and also providing a reverse wireless charge to any other gadget you have around up to 7.5W.
The display itself is a 2560 x 1600 resolution panel with a brightness of 540 nits, which along with the four speakers, tuned by Harmon-Kardon, should make for awesome video-watching and game-playing. Within, it uses the same Kirin 990 CPU as the Mate Xs and the Mate 30 Pro, which is what gives it its 5G capabilities along with 22 hidden aerials.
By default the Huawei MatePad Pro 5G comes with the shiny magnesium alloy frame, with a carbon fiber back panel colored either pearl white (which you see in these images) or midnight gray. Huawei is also doing two versions clad in green and orange vegan leather, matching the Mate 30 Pro, for people who want a tablet that can make a statement without needing to buy a particularly gaudy protective case.
Huawei MatePad Pro 5G software
Thanks to the EMUI operating system, you get the same app expansions and three-app multitasking ability as the Mate Xs, although once again you’re locked out of Google services. Like the MateBook X Pro, the MatePad can display your Huawei smartphone’s screen on its display, letting you reply to texts with a keyboard or easily drag and drop files between them.
Huawei MatePad Pro 5G accessories
Speaking of which, the Huawei MatePad Pro 5G gets a pair of accessories to go with it. The first is the wireless magnetic keyboard, which has a rather tiny 1.3mm key travel, and the option of two stand angles to better adapt to how you’re currently using the tablet. The other extra is the M-Pen, a wirelessly charging stylus that automatically pairs when stored magnetically on the side of the MatePad, just like the Apple Pencil Gen. 2.
This is a fast charging stylus too. Huawei promises 10 minutes of writing time from just 30 seconds of charging, while an hour charging lets you write for 10 hours, which is more than enough for a single session of note taking, drawing or doodling.
Huawei MatePad Pro 5G review: early verdict
Holding the MatePad Pro 5G in Huawei’s demo room, I felt kind of annoyed that I’d recently bought myself a 2019 iPad when for (what we assume will be) not much more money I could have had this tricked-out Huawei alternative. Its beautiful display, snazzy accessories and powerful 5G-enabled components put even the iPad Pro to shame, and I have every faith they’d remain enjoyable to use after months or years of ownership.
But hands-on sessions and real life use are two quite different things. Huawei is still blocked off from Google apps, meaning that as soon as you wanted an app beyond what came pre-installed you’d become rather annoyed you weren’t using an Apple tablet, or any other Android tablet like Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S6. I expect the Huawei MatePad Pro 5G to end up like Huawei’s Mate 30 Pro flagship phone: respected for its tech, but not a good buy for anyone but the Huawei faithful.