Huawei MatePad Pro Quick Review: Surprisingly Good Without Google
August 14, 2020 Andrew Cheng

The Huawei MatePad Pro is the Chinese company’s latest flagship Android tablet, and it’s a premium device through and through. Not only does it pack flagship-tier performance, it also offers a large, vibrant screen in a sleek form factor. But there is one thing that holds it back: it doesn’t ship with Google Mobile Services.

While that limits the amount of apps the MatePad Pro can access, it is actually a pretty good tablet without Google. For certain folks, the MatePad Pro can certainly serve them well, especially if you’re planning to use it for browser-based tasks.

What It Is

Display10.8-inch WQXGA IPS (2560 x 1600)
ChipsetHuawei Kirin 990 2.86GHz octa-core
Storage256GB, non-expandable
Camera (rear)13MP f/1.8
Camera (front)8MP f/2.0
Dimensions246 x 159 x 7.2 mm
OSEMUI 10 based on Android 10
Bluetooth 5.1
WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4/5GHz)
USB Type-C
PriceRM2,399 (LTE), RM3,299 (5G)

As a premium tablet, the MatePad Pro got some high-end hardware under the hood. It’s powered by a Kirin 990 chipset – the very same one found in Huawei’s current crop of flagship smartphones – and the 10.8-inch display is sharp and vibrant as well. On top of that, it also comes with a very generous 7,250mAh battery, which can return very good battery life.

The Good Stuff

Since we’re already on the topic, let’s talk about the impressive battery life of the MatePad Pro first. Throughout my time with the tablet as my work device, I managed to squeeze well over a day’s worth of use out of it. In fact, I actually find it quite difficult to completely drain the battery in a single work day; that’s how long-lasting this tablet is.

To really put the MatePad Pro’s battery life to the test, I continuously played YouTube videos on the tablet with the volume and screen brightness set to a comfortable level. Surprisingly enough, the tablet reached almost 15 hours of playback before it shut itself down. Needless to say, this is ridiculously good battery life.

Complementing the excellent battery life of the MatePad Pro is the Huawei Kirin 990 chipset, which is fabricated on a 7nm process. This makes it a power-efficient chip, and it offers high-end performance too. Whether I’m multitasking or playing demanding games on the tablet, the Kirin 990 can keep up with ease.

And then there’s the 10.8-inch 2560 x 1600 IPS screen. It’s a very pleasant display to look at with punchy colours, good maximum brightness, and wide viewing angles. But what I like the most about this panel is its 16:10 aspect ratio: thanks to the extra vertical space, this is an ideal screen for productivity work.

Speaking of work, the keyboard case is surprisingly good to type on. While the cramp, compact layout is not for everyone, I can type quite comfortably on it. Sure, the limited key travel isn’t great, but they are tactile enough to provide a reasonably good typing experience.

If you need a stylus, there’s the Huawei M-Pencil for the MatePad Pro. I don’t use it too much throughout the review period, but it does feel quite natural when I use it to scribble some notes. The M-Pencil can also detect 4,096 levels of pressure, which is something digital artists will appreciate.

Last but certainly not least is the quad speaker system of the MatePad Pro, which offers one of the best audio qualities I’ve heard from a tablet. It can get really loud without noticeable distortion, and the amount of bass it can produce is quite commendable as well.

The Bad Stuff

There’s no denying the robust hardware of the MatePad Pro, but there is one major shortcoming of the MatePad Pro: app support. Due to the US sanction, Huawei isn’t allowed to use Google Mobile Services on its Android devices. This means that a number of essential Android apps are not pre-installed on this tablet, including Google Chrome, YouTube, Google Drive, and of course, the indispensable Play Store.

Even if you don’t use any of Google’s apps, not having access to the plethora of apps available on the Google Play Store really limits the MatePad Pro’s usability. Sure, Huawei has its own AppGallery in lieu of Google’s offering, and while there are a quite a number of apps there, it still pales in comparison to the sheer scale of the Play Store.

Of course, there are a few ways to circumvent this limitation, one of which is to install a third-party app store. While this somewhat solves the lack of popular apps on the MatePad Pro, it’s not exactly something an average user is comfortable doing. There’s also the fact that third-party app stores are not as secure as the Google Play Store.

However, depending on how you plan to use the MatePad Pro, not having access to these apps may not be that big of a deal. If you, say, want to use this tablet as more of an alternative to a laptop – like how I did – the built-in browser is more than good enough for this purpose. I can even force the browser to display websites in desktop view; I didn’t encounter any compatibility issues by doing so either.

Is It Worth It?

Looking at its hardware alone, the Huawei MatePad Pro is an excellent, high-end Android tablet. It offers fast performance, a vibrant display, great audio quality, and most of all, fantastic battery life. It doesn’t cost all that much either at RM2,399, though you’d have to pay quite a bit more – RM3,299, to be specific – for the 5G model.

Really, the only thing holding the MatePad Pro back is the lack of Google support. As mentioned, depending on how you use the tablet, this may not be an issue at all. Of course, not having access to the Play Store does limit the usability of the MatePad Pro to an extend, but there are ways around this. It’s not an ideal solution, but it’s definitely viable for more tech-savvy folks.

It’s unfortunate the MatePad Pro doesn’t have access to Google’s apps services; it would’ve been the complete package. On its own, it’s a very accomplished flagship Android tablet with a competitive price point, marred only by the lack of Google.