Artist Review: Huawei MatePad 11 vs MatePad Pro 10.8 (2021)

This is the artist review of the Huawei MatePad 11 with a comparison to the MatePad Pro 10.8 (2018)

The Huawei MatePad 11 is one of three MatePad tablets released by Huawei in 2021. The other two tablets are the MatePad Pro 10.8 and the MatePad Pro 12.6.

Here are links to the official product pages:

This review will reproduce some content and photos from my MatePad Pro 10.8 review as there are many similarities.

Here's the comparison table between the three models.

MatePad 11 (2021) MatePad Pro 10.8 (2021) MatePad Pro 12.6 (2021)
Display 10.95" LCD 120Hz 10.8" LCD 12.6" OLED
Resolution 2560 x 1600, 276PPI 2560 x 1600, 280PPI 2560 x 1600, 240PPI
Colour support 16.7m colours, DCI-P3 16.7m colours, DCI-P3 16.7m colours, DCI-P3
Chip Snapdragon 865 5G, Octa-core (1x2.84 GHz Kryo 585 & 3x2.42 GHz Kryo 585 & 4x1.8 GHz Kryo 585) Snapdragon 870, Octa-core (1x3.2 GHz Kryo 585 & 3x2.42 GHz Kryo 585 & 4x1.80 GHz Kryo 585) Kirin 9000E, Octa-core (1x3.13 GHz Cortex-A77 & 3x2.54 GHz Cortex-A77 & 4x2.05 GHz Cortex-A55)
RAM 6GB 8GB 8GB
Storage 64-256GB 128-256GB 256GB
External storage microSD NM memory NM memory
OS HarmonyOS 2 HarmonyOS 2 HarmonyOS 2
Connection USB-C 3.1 USB-C 3.1 USB-C 3.1
Battery 7250 mAh 7250 mAh 10050 mAh
Weight 485 460g 609
Price from AliExpress (US$) $465 $639 $810

The main difference between the three models is the display. Huawei MatePad Pro 12.6 uses an OLED display (60Hz). Huawei MatePad 11 uses a 120Hz LCD display. And Huawei MatePad Pro 10.8 uses a 60Hz LCD display. Camera on the MatePad 11 is located on the bezel while MatePad Pro uses a punch-hole camera within the display.

The minor differences to me are, MatePad Pro has

  • Huawei SuperCharge fast charging and 10W reverse wireless charging
  • Noise cancelling for video calls
  • 8GB RAM instead of 6GB on the MatePad 11
  • NM vs MicroSD card slot on MatePad 11
  • Processor differences

Bottomline

Huawei MatePad 11 easily provides the best value for the money. It has a 120Hz adaptive LCD display, has better drawing performance than the MatePad Pros, has microSD card slot, and it's significantly cheaper.

Here in Singapore, Huawei is selling the MatePad Pro 10.8 with M-Pencil 2 and Flip Cover for S$998, and the MatePad 11 with M-Pencil 2 and Keyboard Cover for S$698. Sure the MatePad 11 has a less powerful processor and just 6GB RAM instead of 8GB, but you save S$300.


To me, it's a no-brainer to get the MatePad 11 (right) over the MatePad Pro 10.8 (2021) if you don't want the larger 12.6-inch display.

Design


The Huawei MatePad 11 has a vibrant and bright 10.95-inch LCD display with thin bezels and supports a resolution of 2560 x 1600. The corners are rounded off and edges are beveled.

Build quality is excellent.


The back has a matte textured surface which is really nice to hold. Excuse the "Not for Sale" sticker that I did not peel off. That camera is a 13MP f/1.8 shooter.

Colours available at Matte Grey, Isle Blue, Olive Green.


The tablet is 7.25mm thick and weighs 485g. Even with the keyboard cover on, it's still very compact and portable.


The Huawei M-Pencil 2nd gen looks similar to the first gen with the only difference being the tip is now transparent and coated with platinum.


The M-Pencil is hexagon but with beveled edges that almost make it look cylindrical. The one side that's concave is the side used to attach to the tablet.


This stylus supports tilt and 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity. There's a sensor within to detect finger taps for changing shortcuts which will depend on the apps you use.


Huawei M-Pencil connects to the side of the tablet magnetically for charging. Battery life is said to last for 10 hours. A quick 30s charge can provide 10 minutes of use. As long as you store the M-Pencil by the side of the tablet, battery life is not going to be a problem.

The stylus connects via Bluetooth and will show you the connection settings the first time you attach it to the side of the tablet.


I'm not sure why Huawei coated the tip with Platinum though. The nib is quite smooth on the glass which is great for writing but not as good for drawing where you may prefer a tactile experience.


Two replacement nibs are included in the box. There's no difference in the writing or drawing experience between the gray and transparent nibs.


Here's how the inside of the pen tip looks.


The stylus has minimal initial activation force. It's easy to draw thin lines even with a thick brush selected. Lines taper smoothly, transition from thin to thick is smooth. It's also easy to maintain consistent pressure to draw lines with consistent width.


The display is laminated so there's no gap between the pen tip and the line beneath. There's no parallax.

The only downside to the pen is when drawing, there's some input lag. When drawing fast, you can see the line trying to catch up to the pen tip. When drawing at normal speed, the gap is smaller. The input lag is not a big deal and not something I think about when I'm drawing.

The amount of input lag is quite similar to the MatePad Pro 10.8. The main difference is since the display is 120Hz, the animation of the lines appearing is smoother, but the gap between the line and the pen tip is still the same.

Writing performance of the pen is good.


The keyboard should be useful for those who want a slightly better typing experience compared to using the virtual keyboard.


This is not a full-size keyboard though so the layout feels cramped. There's also more space between the keys than necessary which makes it more difficult for fast typing.


At least there's good key travel and feedback. But the overall typing experience is just not good on such a small keyboard.

This is not a wireless keyboard and needs to be connected to the connector at the bottom of the tablet.


The tablet can only be deployed at these two angles on the keyboard. Strong magnets are used to keep the tablet in place.

I would have prefer a kickstand on the back where you can get more angles for deployment. Being able to have the screen adjusted lower will make it so much easier and comfortable to see.

Another issue is there's no auto-wake when you open the keyboard cover.

The function buttons to control brightness are for the tablet's brightness. There's no backlight for the keys. The light with the Caps Lock works though.

HarmonyOS and the Huawei ApGallery

HarmonyOS is still a relatively new OS and hence don't have as many features compared to iPadOS or Samsung UI.

There's no desktop mode so you can't connect to an external display to get the familiar desktop interface. The tablet can output video signal but it's just a mirror mode. Hopefully there will be updates in the future to include desktop mode which is actually quite useful.

Huawei's version of iPad's SideCar or Samsung's Second Screen is called Extend Mode. I wasn't able to get it to work though, unfortunately.


The big thing here is there's no Google Play Store so you'll have to rely on the Huawei AppGallery for your apps. There may be a way for you to install Google Play Store or Google Play Services but I can't confirm. Anyway, almost all sellers on AliExpress mention specifically and prominently the lack of Google Play Store on their sales pages so it's a pretty big thing/issue/problem. With 2019 model, those sellers actually would pre-install Google Play Store but they don't do so with the 2021 model.

HarmonyOS is actually still based on Android which means you can install Android apps found on APK libraries. For example, Facebook and Google Chrome are not available from Huawei AppGallery, but you can still install them via downloading their APK files from APK libraries.

I've tried installed Google Play Services APK but it doesn't work properly. This means even if you install Gmail, Google Drive, Google Maps, all those apps that require Google Play Services in the background will not work properly. The alternative is to use the browser versions of the Google apps.


Switching over from Google Play Store to Huawei AppGallery is difficult because it means you have to find alternatives for apps you've been using on Android. It's great if the Android app you use is also available on Huawei AppGallery but most of the time it's not so.

Ultimately, the Huawei AppGallery is designed for the Chinese market and the large number of Chinese apps show that.

The variety of drawing and graphic design app is limited from Google Play Store, and is even limited on the Huawei AppGallery.

Drawing performance


Here are some line quality tests done in Medibang Paint Pro.

1. Initial activation force of the pen is low and thin lines can be drawn easily.

2. There's no significant jitter or wobble when drawing diagonal lines slowly. Diagonal line jitter is a problem on the MatePad Pro 10.8 (2021).

3. Strokes are able to taper quite smoothly.

4. Line transition from thin to thick looks smooth.

5. Dots can be drawn easily by tapping the pen tip.

6. It's easy to maintain consistent pressure to draw lines with consistent width.

Overall drawing performance is quite good. The line quality is noticeably better than what you can get on the MatePad Pro 10.8 (2021).


Here's a sketch drawn with Concepts.

Drawing experience with Concepts is good but there are some glitches. This version of Concepts from the Huawei AppGallery hasn't been updated since June 2020 whereas the version from Google Play Store latest updated was August 2021. The concern here is updates are few and infrequent. There may be incompatibility issues with the files too. I wasn't able to open the Concepts file created on the MatePad 11 with Concepts running on my Samsung Tab S7+.


While drawing with Concepts, there are also some unintentional graphic glitches that appear in the form of splatter marks. And unfortunately, when exporting the file to PNG, the splatter marks are there. This obviously is a deal breaker since those are not splatter marks created intentionally.


Concepts has several ways to save the file. When I save the file using the screenshot method, the artwork looks alright.


This was drawn with Medibang Paint Pro and there wasn't any issues.

Medibang Paint Pro allows file saves to the cloud. This allows you to work with the file on any platform as long as you Medibang can be installed.

Artworks by other artists


Here's an artwork drawn on the Huawei MatePad 11 by my friend Stephanie Ho (@muffinsaurs) using Ibis Paint X app.


And this was by Eugene Lim, also drawn on the MatePad 11 using Clip Studio Paint (installed after some tweaks because it's not officially available through Huawei AppGallery).

So yeah, both the MatePad Pro and MatePad 11 can be used for drawing. By the way, MatePad 11 has better drawing performance because there's less diagonal line jitter, and smoother looking performance thanks to the 120Hz display.

Find out what these two artists have to say about the MatePad 11 on Huawei's website.

Conclusion

The Huawei MatePad 11 looks good, has a vibrant and bright display, build quality is excellent and drawing performance is pretty good.

The main area of concern is with HarmonyOS and the drawing apps. We don't know how often the drawing apps will be updated. These are the latest updates for the apps from the Huawei AppGallery:

  • Concepts 1.8.3 - June 2020
  • Huion Sketch 3.2.7 - Aug 2021
  • Medibang Paint Pro 22.4 - July 2021
  • Tayasui Sketches 1.2.1 - May 2021

If you get the APK versions of the apps, then you don't have to worry about the versions since you can always find the latest version.

The other thing with HarmonyOS is you can't install Google Play Store or Google Play Services which means you can't use any Google apps, e.g. Gmail, Youtube, Hangouts, Maps. You have to use those apps from their websites. Note that desktop version of Gmail on the web browser isn't even the real desktop version, and it doesn't automatically load messages as they arrive. And Hangouts website doesn't work with the web browsers on this tablet.

Also, there is no file system integration with services like Google Drive, OneDrive or Dropbox. It can be inconvenient when it comes to transferring files to other devices.

As a general purpose tablet, the Huawei MatePad 11 works great. I can recommend this easily over the MatePad Pro 10.8. MatePad 11 has 120Hz display, better drawing performance, microSD card slot and is significantly cheaper. Yeah occasionally you have to deal with app or website reloads but those are just very minor inconveniences.

So the main question you have to ask yourself is can you do without Google Play Store?

Where to buy

You can find the Huawei MatePad 11 (2021) at all Huawei Experience Stores, Best Denki, Challenger & Hachi.tech, COURTS, Gain City, Harvey Norman, Sprint-Cass Online as well as Huawei official online stores on Lazada and Shopee.

PRICES:
Huawei MatePad Pro 10.8 (8GB RAM, 256GB storage) - S$998
Includes M-Pencil 2nd gen ($148) and Flip Cover ($58)

Huawei MatePad 11 (6GB RAM, 128GB storage) - S$698
Includes M-Pencil 2nd gen ($148) and Smart Wireless Keyboard ($198)

ALIEXPRESS:
MatePad Pro 10.8 (2021)
https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005002868427893.html

MatePad Pro 12.6 (2021)
https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005002966786138.html

MatePad 11 (2021)
https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005002963866001.html

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