the unexpected cross between a tablet and an e-reader

The Huawei MatePad Paper is the Chinese manufacturer’s first e-reader tablet. A fairly large device (10.3 inches diagonally) with an e-ink panel that also wants to be read and on which you can scribble, annotate and edit documents. Somehow a promising assistant at first glance.

Huawei MatePad paper // Source: Frandroid

And yet another unexpected product from Huawei! The Chinese brand joins the very select club of e-ink notebooks — notable members of which include the reMarkable 2 and the Kobo Elipsa — with the MatePad Paper, a new 10.3-inch-diagonal device we’ve had the pleasure of to see at MWC 2022.

A qualitative e-ink screen

Let’s start with the MatePad Paper’s e-ink screen. It has a resolution of 1872 x 1404, 32 backlight levels and a very good screen-to-body ratio of 86.3%. If you’re unfamiliar with e-ink screens, they don’t display colors and have a very low refresh rate. The objective is not to tire the eyes and to preserve the battery. This type of screen makes it possible to greatly increase autonomy. Here, we are talking about six days of continuous operation.

Design-wise, the MatePad Paper resembles the reMarkable 2, minus the “chin”. There is a thicker border along one side of the shelf where the blanket hangs. But, thanks to the thin borders, the surface of the MatePad Paper offers a very large reading or writing area.

Huawei MatePad Paper: the unexpected cross between a tablet and an e-reader
Huawei MatePad paper // Source: Frandroid

If you’re using the second-generation M-Pencil, Huawei claims latency is down to 26ms on the device, which should provide a smooth doodling and drawing experience. And the company has also included a smart refresh feature that’s supposed to dynamically adjust how often the e-Ink display performs a full refresh to better preserve the 3,625mAh battery.

Huawei MatePad Paper: the unexpected cross between a tablet and an e-reader
Huawei MatePad paper // Source: Frandroid

HamonyOS 2.0 in command

The big difference between the MatePad Paper and other e-Ink devices is its operating system. Many eReaders use custom software, developed exclusively for that device, or a version of Android. The MatePad, on the other hand, relies on HarmonyOS. We therefore find the AppGallery as well as many applications from the Huawei ecosystem.

Huawei MatePad Paper: the unexpected cross between a tablet and an e-reader
Huawei MatePad paper // Source: Frandroid

Huawei’s operating system resembles Android, with a more stripped down approach. Features that really make sense on a productivity device, like widgets for your mail and calendar (and access to their accompanying apps), are front and center, along with dedicated tabs for your notes and app of reading.

HarmonyOS also lets you get rudimentary multitasking, which a normal e-ink reader just doesn’t do. You can view your reading and your notes side by side, which is obviously possible on an e-ink device running Android, but which is done well here. The MatePad Paper also works well with other Huawei devices. So you can easily transfer files from your laptop to your tablet.

On this e-ink tablet, you can swipe down from the top right of the screen. Split screen can be activated by a stylus. If you have an obsessive compulsive personality, know that this type of device allows you to better organize your contents and notes.

This tablet can also be a practical digital assistant by, for example, launching an audio recording of your meeting, so that you do not miss any information. You can listen to recorded content associated with the notes you have. Be aware that electronic handwritten notes can also be converted to text. By the way, don’t worry about privacy, your notes are encrypted. Confidential notes can also be blocked by simply using the fingerprint power button.

Clarification, however, that due to the unique software situation of the MatePad Paper, there are major compromises. For example, you don’t have access to the millions of apps in Google’s Play Store. This could cut you off from your favorite reading apps and e-book stores, as well as apps you already have that might work just fine on Huawei’s device.

MatePad Paper pricing and availability

The Huawei MatePad Paper will be available in a pack with a folio cover and an M-Pencil for 499 euros in Europe. On this version, you get 4GB of RAM, 64GB of built-in storage, and Wi-Fi 6.

Leave a Comment