Cutting corners: Huawei's iPad Pro clone comes at the worst possible moment, and yet it's likely one of the best Android tablets out there with an active digitizer. The MatePad Pro even comes in a 5G flavor, but there's no going around the lack of Google Play apps, which is why Huawei is only hoping to sell it in Asia and Europe.
Huawei has taken a lot of inspiration from Apple products when it designs its own, and the MateBook is a prime example of that thanks to its close resemblance to the MacBook Pro.
It turns out that Huawei's love for Cupertino aesthetics don't stop there. This week the company announced the MatePad Pro 5G, which looks a lot like Apple's iPad Pro with a few added features and tweaks to the design. That in itself shouldn't be its greatest sin, so long as it doesn't also copy its ability to bend quite easily.
The MatePad Pro 5G comes with a 10.8 inch display that is just shy of the iPad Pro's 11-inch panel, but its relatively smaller bezels allow Huawei to claim a 90 percent screen-to-body ratio. The MatePad's OLED panel might have comparably good colors next to the iPad Pro's Liquid Retina (LCD) thanks to support for the full DCI-P3 color space, but it lacks the 120 Hz refresh rate of the latter.
Then there's an 8 megapixel, hole-punch selfie camera that takes away some of the 2560 by 1600 screen space, as well as 13 megapixel shooter on the back.
Huawei's M Pen can be magnetically attached to the side and charge through the USB-C port. The advertised support for 4096 levels of pressure and input lag of 20 ms sound nice -- at least on paper -- next to Apple Pencil's similar pressure sensitivity and input lag of 21 ms.
Interestingly, the company also added wireless charging with up to 27W for the tablet, and reverse charging at up to 7.5W. This is especially useful for the keyboard cover, since it doesn't have any dedicated connector like Apple's Smart Keyboard folio.
Powering all this is Huawei's Kirin 990 SoC paired with 6 or 8 GB of RAM and 128, 256, or 512 GB of storage. The company has included a 7250 mAh battery, which has kept the overall weight of the tablet down to 460 grams. And where the iPad Pro only offers Wi-Fi and 4G, Huawei's MatePad Pro adds a 5G flavor to the mix.
One area where Huawei will find it harder to compete is software. iPadOS isn't perfect, but Apple's tablet-focused operating system has a bevy of productivity features, not to mention great interoperability with other Apple devices you might own. Then you have Sidecar, which allows you to use an iPad Pro as a second screen for your MacBook Pro.
As for the MatePad Pro, it runs Android 10 with EMUI 10 and no support for Google Play apps. It does have the ability to mirror your phone screen if you need it, but the Android ecosystem doesn't have as many apps that are optimized for tablets, which means that using Huawei's tablet might feel like using a giant, 10.8-inch smartphone. Provided you use it for streaming and mobile gaming, the quad speaker array should be able to deliver decent quality sound for a tablet.
Huawei is targeting the Asian and European markets with the MatePad Pro. Prices start at 549€ ($595) for the Wi-Fi version, 599€ ($650) for the LTE version, and 799€ ($867) for the 5G model. The MatePad Pro starts shipping in April.