Huawei has been selling tablets under the MatePad brand for years, but for the most part they’ve been Android-powered devices with full color displays. The new Huawei MatePad Paper is something different: it’s a device with a 10.3 inch, 1872 x 1404 pixel grayscale E Ink display and pen support running Huawei’s own HarmonyOS software.

It’s expected to sell for €499 (~$560) when it hits the streets this year.

The MatePad Paper features slim bezels for a 86.3% screen-to-body ratio, an E Ink display that supports 256 shades of grey, and support for 32 levels of illumination, making the screen easy to view outdoors in direct sunlight or indoors in dim to no light.

Huawei says the screen refresh rate is adjusted automatically to help conserve battery life when you’re viewing static content, while enabling higher rates when using apps or features that benefit from smoother scrolling. Theoretically you could even watch videos or play games.

With support for Huawei’s M Pencil stylus, you can write notes or draw pictures on the display or annotate eBooks or other content. There’s support for 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity and Huawei says the pen has just 26ms of latency, for an experience that feels like pen on paper.

There are also four microphones with support for recording voice notes as well, and stereo speakers for playing music, audiobooks, or video, among other things.

The tablet’s €499 price tag includes both the M Pencil and a folio cover.

The E Ink tablet has 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage and it’s powered by a Kirin 820E processor, a six-core chip featuring 3 ARM Cortex-A76 cores @ 2.22 GHz and three Cortex-a55 cores @ 1.84 GHz and ARM Mali-G57 MP6 graphics. It’s probably one of the most powerful processors to date for an E Ink tablet.

Other features include a fingerprint reader, and support for up to four weeks of standby battery life from the tablet’s 3625 mAh battery (expect substantially less if you’re heavily using the tablet).

It comes with a 22.5 watt fast charger and the tablet has a USB 2.0 Type-C port for charging and data, support for WiFi 6, and Bluetooth 5.2 and has a body that measures 225.2 x 182.7 x 6.65mm (8.7″ x 7.2″ x 0.26″) and which weighs 360 grams (less than 13 ounces).

There are still some details that Huawei hasn’t revealed: we don’t know what processor powers the MatePad Paper. And we don’t know what countries it will be sold in. It’s also unclear how HarmonyOS will stack up against alternate operating systems: some recent eReaders and E Ink tablets run Android with a custom user interface, while many others, including Amazon’s Kindle devices have a proprietary operating system (although some may be running atop a Linux kernel).

All of which is to say that Huawei is hardly the first company to release a tablet with an E Ink display that’s good for more than just reading eBooks. But it’s certainly one of the biggest companies to do so in a while.

Update: Notebook Italia was on-site at MWC and had a chance to check out the Matepad Paper in person. You can see it in action in a hands-on video:

The MatePad Paper will be available soon in black, khaki, and blue color options.

via Huawei, Engadget, and TechAdvisor

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  1. “It’s also unclear how HarmonyOS will stack up against alternate operating systems: some E Ink devices like Kobo or Amazon Kindle devices use proprietary operating systems while others, like the reMarkable 2, Onyx BOOX devices use Linux or Android-based software.”

    For the sake of correctness: Kobo’s OS is linux-based. The Kindle OS might also be.

    So far, every incarnation of Harmony OS has also been built on Android (AOSP + extra stuff)

    In any case I am really hoping that their performance claims hold up in testing, even if only to drive the competition to improve. That’s an area where E-Ink still has a lot of room to improve.

    1. Thanks, I’ve updated the article to reflect this. I was originally going to break down more of which devices use which operating system, but decided that was delving too far into the weeds, so now I’ve simplified that line instead.

  2. Odd that they didn’t specify the processor – it only invites speculation…!

    Knowing that they’ve had a RISC-V dev board for a while, could they possibly have slapped it in an e-ink? If so, that would represent a significant milestone.