Review unit on loan from Huawei
The Huawei MateBook E (2022) is a Windows tablet with a 12.6-inch 1440P OLED display and pen support. My review is from the perspective of a digital artist and graphic designer so in this review, we'll also see how good the tablet is at drawing with the Huawei M-Pencil 2. There will also be a brief comparison with its direct competitor, the Microsoft Surface Pro 8.
Here's my video review.
Here's the bottom line: The Huawei MateBook E is a well designed compact tablet with a beautiful OLED display. Performance is decent given the specifications. Limitations would be the single USB-C Thunderbolt 4 port and the 4 to 5 hours battery life. Drawing performance is a mixed bag but handwriting performance is fantastic.
Here are the specifications for the review unit I received:
- Display: 12.6-inch OLED touchscreen
- Resolution: 2560 x 1600, 240 PPI
- Aspect ratio: 16:10
- Typical brightness: 400 nits
- Max brightness: 600 nits
- Colour gamut: P3
- Contrast ratio: 1 million:1
- Viewing angle: 80 degree
- Processor: 11th gen Intel i5-1130G7 (quad 1.8Ghz)
- RAM: 16GB LPDDR4x
- Graphics: Intel Iris Xe Graphics
- Storage: 512GB NMVe PCIe SSD
- Battery: 42 Wh
- Connectivity: Wifi 6, Bluetooth 5.1
- Ports: Thunderbolt 4 USB-C, 3.5mm audio jack
- Security: Fingerprint unlock
- Camera: 8MP front, 13 MP rear
- Accessories: Huawei M-Pencil 2, Huawei Smart Magnetic Keyboard
For the full specifications, visit the Huawei MateBook E product page.
Other configurations are the 11th gen Intel i3-1110G4 and i7-1160G7, 8 or 16GB RAM, 128 to 512GB storage.
Here in Singapore, the model with the Intel i5, 16GB RAM and 512GB storage is priced at SGD 1998 and comes with the official keyboard case and M-Pencil 2. Just for comparison purposes, the Microsoft Surface Pro 8 with Intel i5, 8GB RAM and 512GB storage is SGD 2099 and that does not include the keyboard case (S$239) and Slim Pen 2 (S$179).
By the way, Huawei products are not available it the USA.
A 65W USB charger and 2m USB-C (non-video) charging cable are included in the box.
There are many parallel importers selling the tablet on Shopee Singapore and Lazada Singapore at significantly lower prices. But those parallel imports do not come with the keyboard case, pen and the standard 1 year warranty, and for some reason there are listings mentioning Google Play Store but this is a Windows tablet. Scam? Not sure. For a computer that I rely on for work, I will buy direct from the company or from official resellers.
The Huawei MateBook E is a sleek looking tablet with a vibrant 12.6-inch 1440P OLED display. Corners are rounded off and the uniform bezels are thin. The design aesthetics is similar to the MatePad tablets.
The colours look great out of the box. Colour gamut support is listed as P3. My Spyder5Pro calibrator software could not work on this tablet so I can't measure the exact colour support. This problem also happened with another OLED tablet tested weeks ago.
When compared to the MatePad Pro 10.8 (2021) with its LCD display, the OLED display looks brighter and the contrast is much better -- whites are more white and black is just black without the IPS glow.
Viewing angles are pretty good with minimal colour shift and slight drop in brightness.
Pixel density is 240 PPI so all the visuals are sharp and detailed.
The tablet has solid build quality. The back is matte textured and is quite susceptible to fingerprints which are also difficult to clean off.
The tablet is 7.99mm thick and weighs 709g or 1.15kg with the keyboard case. FYI, SP8 is 9.3mm thick and much heavier at 891g, or 1.185kg with the keyboard and pen.
The power button has a fingerprint sensor that works effectively and quick. Windows face unlock is not available.
There's only one Thunderbolt 4 USB-C port. The file transfer speed is real fast but it is quite limiting for a Windows tablet to have only one port. If you want to charge the tablet and connect to another device, you will need to buy a USB hub with power delivery.
Those are fan grilles and the fans are almost always spinning. Fan noise is audible at low speed if you listen for it but not audible with ambient noise, and it's nothing distracting.
Audio from the 4-way side-facing speakers is loud and clear.
The Huawei M-Pencil 2 can be attached magnetically at the top right side of the tablet for charging. Interestingly, M-Pencil 2 does not need to be paired to the tablet to work.
The keyboard case is kinda essential if want to use the tablet as a laptop as the tablet does not have a kickstand.
If you want to use a Bluetooth keyboard, perhaps you can use the keyboard case as a tent, but you still need the keyboard case because, again, the tablet has no kickstand. It's stable enough but I recommend getting the Logitech K780 with a tablet and phone stand.
This is the lowest angle of the stand. Any lower and the tablet will go down flat due to the design of the stand.
Layout of the keys is common to laptops. Keys are well spaced apart and nice to type on with good key travel and feedback. Keys have no backlight.
The keyboard is flat on the table and can't be propped up. It's not an issue for me as I'm accustomed to typing on laptops where keyboards are almost always flat.
There are function key shortcuts to adjust brightness, volume, diction, voice typing, lock screen, screen projection, Wifi, Huawei PC manager app and screenshot. You can use Fn and arrow keys as Page Up, Page Down, Home and End.
The touchpad is small but works fine.
I enjoy typing on this keyboard and this whole review was written on the keyboard.
The review unit I have comes with the 11th gen Intel i5 processor and 16GB RAM. General performance is smooth and this involves creating digital art.
This tablet is not a high end work station so there are limitations.
Let's talk about photo editing as an example. Transferring files from the Thunderbolt 4 port is fast. The bottleneck for photo editing is with generating the previews which takes a longer time than expected. After photos are imported, the photo editing process, e.g. making adjustments, is responsive.
Smooth video editing is only possible with simple cut-and-join 1080P clips. 4K playback will drop frames. Export times are alright. It took around 10 to 11 minutes to export a 5-minute 4K or 1080P 25FPS video with H265 code. While exporting videos, the system will feel more sluggish with internet speed affected as well, but not too bad as you can still surf the web. And after the video export is done, the system and internet speed are restored.
The Intel Iris Xe Graphics is good only for some light gaming. With Hades, a game that I don't think is that demanding, I could get 50+ FPS and occasionally will drop to 30FPS+ due to heat. This is not a tablet suited for playing 3D games.
I was only able to get 4-5 hours of battery life with general usage and auto-brightness. Whether the battery life is enough will depend on your use case. If you need to use the tablet outdoors often, and won't be near any power source, then 4-5 hours is not ideal.
The other less obvious downside of the short battery life is it will run up the charge cycles quick. If you use the tablet regularly, you will need to charge more often due to the shorter battery life. Capacity for a typical laptop lithium battery will drop to 80% after 300-500 cycles. If you use the tablet a lot, like I do, expect to charge the battery at least 2 times a day.
A 100% full charge takes one and half hours with the included 65W charger.
Also note the battery life will drain much faster with work that requires more processing power, e.g. exporting photos and especially exporting videos. If you're editing videos, or the resource hog Adobe Creative Cloud is running in the background, you can expect 3 hours battery life.
Huawei Super Device
Huawei Super Device is a feature for multi-tasking collaboration across different Huawei devices. Some features include drag and drop across different Huawei devices, direct wireless file transfer, using another Huawei device as an extended display. Huawei PC Manager is the app that handles multi-device collaboration.
I was able to use the MatePad Pro 10.8 (2021) as an external display to the MateBook E. Having dual display setup is great for productivity. Extended display works quite well with minimal latency with the mouse and finger gestures.
Wireless file transfer also works. I could drag and drop files from the MatePad Pro to the MateBook E, vice versa. File transfer is through local wifi.
Huawei M-Pencil 2
The Huawei M-Pencil 2 supports palm rejection, tilt and 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity. The stylus is well built and comfortable to hold.
There are two nib options available. The matte textured plastic nib has more resistance on glass and is better for drawing. The platinum coated metal tip nib is smoother on glass and better for writing.
The display is laminated so there's no gap between the pen tip and the line beneath. The pen tip is quite smooth on the glass but not that slippery. The tapping sound is softer compared to Apple Pencil because perhaps the Huawei pen tip is slightly less dense/soft.
These are line tests created with Medibang Paint Pro. Click for a larger view.
1. Initial activation force is quite low.
2. When drawing diagonal lines slowly, there's slight jitter or wobble.
3. Lines are not able to taper smoothly.
4. Lines can transition from thin to thick easily. This means the pen is able to detect changes in pressure quite well. If you look closely, you can see the jitter with diagonal lines.
5. Dots can be drawn by tapping the pen.
6. It's easy to maintain consistent pressure to draw lines with consistent width.
The main issue for drawing is with the diagonal line jitter, and the inability to have the strokes taper smoothly.
I repeated the tests with Clip Studio Paint and the lines are able to taper more smoothly and sharply. However the tapered strokes have a longer tail which should not happen. This means there are still some issues with tapering strokes, and how well the strokes can taper will depend a lot on the app you use.
Shown above are line tests with the same M-Pencil 2 and MatePad Pro 10.8 (2021). The lines have more noticeable jitter but they can taper more smoothly and naturally. So the same pen has different performance on different tablets. Strange.
Pressure sensitivity works with Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, Affinity Designer. Affinity Photo, Clip Studio Paint, Krita, Sketchable, Concepts, Sketchbook Pro.
This was drawn with Photoshop. In this drawing, the diagonal line jitter isn't that obvious as some of the strokes were drawn faster and hence can be smoother. When drawing slower, jitter is more noticeable. If you need precision and accuracy with line art, perhaps the M-Pencil 2 may not be good enough.
This was drawn with Clip Studio Paint. Most of the strokes were drawn quickly so diagonal jitter is not really an issue.
Depending on what you draw, the strokes not being able to taper smoothly may present problems, such as when drawing grass or hair where you want the lines to taper nicely.
The workaround to drawing tapered strokes is simply to draw the strokes slower with pressure sensitivity. If you draw quick draws, the lines can't taper smoothly and sharply.
This was drawn with Concepts with a brush that doesn't have pressure sensitivity.
The line jitter/wobble may not be obvious due to the sketchy nature of my sketch.
If you look at the curves at the bottom, there are many wobbly lines. To reduce the line wobble, I could have drawn faster. But sometimes you want to draw slow because you want to draw more carefully, and that's when you'll see the line wobble.
This was drawn with Affinity Photo. The lines actually look alright.
I actually kinda enjoy drawing with Affinity Photo which performs better than Photoshop.
There seems to be less line jitter and wobble with Affinity Photo (above).
Medibang Paint Pro (above) performs alright for drawing despite what my earlier line tests show.
At this stage, you may be wondering. So is the drawing performance actually good or bad. It depends on the app you use. The apps that performed better for drawing are Affinity Photo, Clip Studio Paint, Medibang Paint. The apps that performs less well, but still usable, are Photoshop, Concepts, Sketchable, Sketchbook Pro.
The note taking and handwriting performance of the pen is pretty good. There are no issues with jitter or wobble when writing. My handwriting was captured quite accurately.
Vs Microsoft Surface Pro 8
This review will probably not be complete without a brief comparison to the Microsoft Surface Pro 8 which is the direct competitor to the Huawei MateBook E.
Below's the list of pros and cons with + in favour of SP8 and - in favour of MateBook E:
+ Front facing audio sounds better
+ Built-in kickstand
+ 2x TB4 ports and dedicated power charging port
+ Upgradeable SSD
+ 3:2 aspect ratio display
+ Longer battery life at 5-6 hours
+ More keyboard features, e.g. tilt, backlight
+ Quiet fans
- LCD not as vibrant compared to OLED
- More expensive
- Big charging brick
- Keyboard case (USD 179/SGD 239) and pen (USD 129/SGD 179) are not included
The Huawei MateBook E (2022) is a well designed compact tablet with a stunning OLED display. Overall performance is decent given the specifications. It's a tablet so don't expect the processing power to match laptops that are more powerful and have better thermals. Huawei also sells laptops by the way.
Limitations would be the single Thunderbolt 4 port, and the 4 to 5 hours battery life.
Drawing performance is a mixed bad and depends a lot on the apps you use. Use the right drawing apps and the drawing experience can be good. Note taking or handwriting performance is fantastic.
Pros and cons at a glance
+ Beautiful design
+ Solid build quality
+ Bright vibrant OLED display
+ 2560 x 1600 resolution at 240PPI
+ 16:10 aspect ratio
+ Colour support
+ 709g, compact and portable
+ Thunderbolt 4 port
+ Decent performance with 1th gen Intel processor
+ Competitive pricing
+ Huawei Super Device collaboration features
+ Excellent keyboard cover
+ Pen support
+ Good handwriting and note taking performance
+ Fingerprint unlock
+ Good deal if keyboard case and pen are bundled
- Limited ports
- Not build in kickstand
- Battery life 4 to 5 hours
- No face unlock
- Fans always spinning even when not under load
- Diagonal line jitter when drawing
- Strokes cannot taper smoothly
You can find the Huawei MateBook E at Best Denki, Challenger, COURTS, Gain City, Sprint-Cass and online store Metapod, Shopee and Lazada.
These are the other products launched by Huawei together with the MateBook E. If you don't actually need the pen support, the S$1398 Huawei MateBook 14 is a better deal with more ports and an additional year of warranty, but the screen is IPS not OLED and it's 1.49kg.
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