Huawei is expanding the reach of its HarmonyOS software with the launch of three new tablets powered by the operating system. The Huawei MatePad 11, MatePad Pro (10.8 inch), and MatePad Pro (12.6 inch) will be available in China and Europe in the coming weeks.
While there’s plenty of evidence that HarmonyOS is really just a fork of Android, it includes Huawei’s custom user interface and app store rather than Google’s apps and services, and represents the company’s efforts to break its reliance on US-based technology following trade restrictions imposed by the US government.
That said, two of the company’s new tablets feature processors from Qualcomm, a chip maker located in the United States because, possibly because some of those restrictions have affected Huawei’s own chip-making capacity.
The Huawei MatePad Pro 12.6 inch tablet has a 2560 x 1600 pixel OLED display with HDR10 support and 100-percent DCI-P3 and NTSC color gamut and a 60 Hs refresh rate.
It sports a Huawei Kirin 9000E processor, making it the only model among Huawei’s new tablets to feature a Huawei-made system-on-a-chip. Other features include 8GB of RAM, up to 256GB of storage, a 10,000 mAh battery, a 40W fast charger (wired) and support for 27W wireless charging.
The tablet has USB Type-C and 3.5mm audio ports. And its camera system consists of three rear cameras (13MP primary + 8MP ultra-wide + depth) plus an 8MP front-facing camera.
One unusual feature that helps set this tablet apart? Not only does it have four microphones with support for far-field voice detection, but it also has eight speakers with Harman Kardon tuning.
Optional accessories include a keyboard cover and digital pen.
The 12.6 inch MatePad Pro will be available in China starting June 10th, 2021 with prices starting at 4,999 CNY (about $780 US).
The MatePad Pro 10.8 inch tablet is a smaller, more affordable model which also launches June 10th in China, but it will have a starting price of 3,799 CNY (about $595) and it differs in a few key ways.
First, it has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 870 processor rather than a Kirn chip. Second, it has a 120 Hz display, but it’s an IPS LCD screen rather than OLED. The battery has a capacity is also lower, and 7,250 mAh.
Most other specs are largely the same as for the larger model.
Huawei’s new MatePad 11 is the cheapest of the bunch – while Huawei didn’t reveal Chinese pricing, it’s expected to sell for 399 Euros (about $485) when it hits Europe. This model has an 11 inch, 2560 x 1600 pixel IPS LCD display with a 120 Hz refresh rate and 100-percent DCI-P3 color gamut.
It’s powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+ processor and features support for up to 6GB of RAM, up to 128GB of storage plus a microSD card reader for removable storage. The tablet has a single 13MP rear camera and an 8MP front-facing camera, a USB-C port, 22.5W charging support, and a 7,250 mAh battery.
Thee MatePad 11 has four speakers, which is two more than you’ll find on most mobile devices. But it’s still have as many as you get from the Pro models.
Huawei will also sell optional keyboard and pen accessories for this model.
One advantage to moving from Android to HarmonyOS is that it gives Huawei more control over the behavior of its tablet software. Even if the new operating system is just a fork of Android, Huawei is no longer bound by Google’s compatibility requirements. It’s unclear to what degree Huawei is taking advantage of that freedom, but the company does highlight some interesting features of its software on the product pages for its new tablet including:
- You can use a tablet as a second screen for a Windows PC, with “mirror mode,” “extend mode” and “collaborate mode.”
- There’s a custom control panel instead of Google’s Quick Settings, and a tablet-sized home screen/launcher with support for widgets, a dock, and icons.
- You can view up to four apps at once with multi-window mode, and the “app multiplier” lets you run the same app in multiple instances so you can do two things at once.
Huawei also plans to roll out a software update that will replace Android with HarmonyOS on 100 existing Huawei devices including many recent smartphones and tablets. The updates will begin rolling out to some devices this week, and the transition should be completed by the first half of 2022.