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A week with Huawei MatePad Pro 10.8

The Huawei MatePad Pro 10.8 is one of the company’s newest tablets running on HarmonyOS out of the box. It now joins its more powerful sibling, the MatePad Pro 12.6, in the Philippines as an option for those who want a tablet they can take from work to play and back again.

I’ve spent over a week with the tablet, and I looked at what this premium gadget had to offer. Here’s how my first week with the Huawei MatePad Pro 10.8 went:

Day 1: August 26, 2021

I spent the first day familiarizing myself with the MatePad Pro 10.8 and setting it up for use. 

This is my first encounter with HarmonyOS, the operating system Huawei built from the ground up. It is based on the open-source OpenHarmony 2.0 for smart devices, and it uses many of Android’s core features, allowing you to install apps designed for Android tablets and phones. 

The experience doesn’t feel too foreign coming from Android. It supports gestures for navigation. When I swiped up, it led me to the app drawer (which you can enable or disable). I swiped right and accessed Huawei’s TODAY page, which shows my reminders, personalized news, and other relevant content. I didn’t feel like I was starting as a total newbie with HarmonyOS on this tablet.

But some touches are uniquely HarmonyOS, like the Bottom App Dock and the iOS-like Control Center. Bottom App Dock gives you quick access to frequently and recently used apps. Both features offer quick and easy access to the apps and settings you need.

Without Google’s mobile services onboard, you won’t have access to the Google Play Store. Huawei has been building its AppGallery to include more of the apps you use, so switching to the new ecosystem will be as painless as possible. 

For the apps you can’t find natively on AppGallery, Huawei’s solution is Petal Search. It’s integrated right into AppGallery, and it basically serves as a search engine for Android apps. 

When you search for apps like Facebook, Instagram, and Netflix on the MatePad Pro 10.8, Petal Search will let you conveniently install these. You will be prompted to “Get” the app through Petal Search, and it will ask you to download the installation file and then be prompted to install it. 

Huawei’s software will scan the .apk file for you and tell you about any file or security issues. This method simplifies the installation process and keeps you from having to browse online for third-party app stores. It’s also a way to access app updates for these apps.

A tablet, to me, is more of a work-centered device, so I needed access to apps that can help me work while I’m on the move (even if that just means working from a different room than my office these days). And with AppGallery paired with Petal Search, I was able to get all the apps and services I rely on while working.

I got the WordPress app through Petal Search. I got Canva through AppGallery. And the built-in browser lets me access the desktop site of Grammarly with its desktop mode. (Yes, you can toggle between the desktop and tablet/mobile versions of sites, which is quite handy.)

Right now, though, I ran into a problem with my Google accounts. With the default Browser, I couldn’t seem to log in with the error showing that it wasn’t a supported browser. I’m not sure if it’s an error with the marketing/non-commercial unit Huawei lent me. So, I decided to leave this alone for the time being to concentrate on setting up other apps.

Since my work relies heavily on writing and research, I could already tell from the first day that the MatePad Pro 10.8 is quite useful—issues with my Google accounts aside. I could easily do my research, write stories, and unwind by watching content online. 

If we weren’t still in a pandemic, I imagine I could take this tablet to events and use it to write my stories wherever I am. It’s so much lighter than a laptop, but with the promise of extended battery life. The latter I’ll find out more about as this week progresses. Now, I just use it to work away from my desk. I use a desktop at home, so this lets me work from another place with ease.

Huawei keeps the MatePad Pro 10.8’s look classy and clean with its relatively thin bezels, magnesium-aluminum alloy midframe, and micro-curved frame. The design makes this tablet look thinner while offering a more comfortable grip. 

It comes in an understated Midnight Gray, with a matte finish you can easily wipe smudge out. At just 460g, it’s easy to hold in your hands and slip into your backpack when you need it, almost like a thin, large paper notebook.

The company goes for a symmetrical look with this tablet. You see it in elements like the speakers’ placement, the bezel’s thickness, camera module’s placement. The classic look doesn’t take away from what matters: what you do on the screen. I’m missing a fingerprint scanner here. Perhaps Huawei couldn’t find the space for it, but I wished there is that security option.

LiTT Tip #1: Sign in to accounts with a username and password is the easiest method to access apps here. I rely a lot on Google’s sign-in for third-party apps, which caused me a bit of grief as I set this tablet up. When you can, make sure to take the time to sign up with an email and password for different sites. Many sites and services will let you switch from the Google sign-in to a username and password login. Take advantage of this. It makes it easier to migrate to this ecosystem.

Day 2: August 27, 2021

Before yesterday ended, I tried to sign in to Google services again, and somehow one of the accounts I use for work signed in. But I couldn’t replicate that for the other accounts.

The solution that came to mind today was to download a third-party browser to sign into my accounts so I don’t run into the issues I was running into. I got Microsoft Edge with the help of Petal Search and then set it as my default browser. That made it possible to sign into my Google accounts without any trouble. And so it became easier to work throughout the day.

What makes it easier to work on the MatePad Pro 10.8 is Huawei’s Smart Magnetic Keyboard. The accessory is definitely worth investing in as it turns the tablet into a more capable work machine. You just place the tablet into its designated spot, and it instantly connects via Bluetooth.

With a 7,250mAh battery, I expect to get a full day’s use out of this tablet. Before I went to bed the previous night at around midnight, the battery level was 80%. There was only a 2% battery drain when I woke at 7 am, and then I could use the tablet well into 4 pm.  

Charging time is as advertised at under two hours with the 22.5W fast charger it comes with. But Huawei mentioned this tablet can support Huawei’s 40W SuperCharge. If you want to charge wirelessly, the MatePad Pro 10.8 supports the Qi wireless standard. You can also top-up other devices with its support for reverse wireless charging. If you can only afford a quick charge, a 30-minute charge can get you up to four hours of use.

LiTT Tip #2: You can change your default browsers easily in the Settings. Scroll down to Apps, then head to the Default Apps category. You’ll see there the Browser App options. That’s where you can select which browser you want to access the internet and open any links.

Day 3: August 28, 2021

The third day into using this tablet, and I’m starting to notice its quirks. I’m not sure if it has to do with app implementation on tablets in general or it has something to do with HarmonyOS. I just wanted to point them out.

I use Instagram as a Progressive Web App on this device. That’s the first link you’ll get when you search for Instagram on AppGallery. (You can still download the .apk through Petal Search, though.) And I’ve noticed that it will only let me watch stories in landscape orientation. But to view those stories above your feed, you’ll need to switch to portrait first. It’s a bit inconvenient, especially when you have the tablet attached to its keyboard. 

I’d definitely suggest getting the app through Petal Search, so when you view Stories, you get to watch them take up the entire display. TikTok keeps to its portrait orientation, allowing me to enjoy videos on a bigger screen. 

Typing status updates on Facebook only works in portrait, too. But I could reply to comments in landscape. It’s just a bit weird. 

I’ve kept this tablet mostly in its keyboard case since I’ve gotten it. It’s just the most natural position for my use case. It is the best orientation to take advantage of Huawei’s Multi-Window feature. It allows me to run two apps side by side. It’s adjustable, so you can have one app taking more of the screen than the other. It’s helpful for when I’m writing stories, and I have my notes on the side. 

This tablet remembers the apps you’ve paired, so if you pull up your recently opened apps, they’ll still show as paired, and you can pull them up together again.

The MatePad Pro 10.8 takes multitasking further with floating apps. You can have two floating windows on the screen as you work with two other apps on your Multi-Window. It makes it so easy for me to do tasks like answering messages while watching or reading something or looking up something online while I’m writing. It’s the most seamless multitasking experience I’ve had on a tablet.

Huawei then makes it easy for me to do a quick app switch with App Bubbles. This can store up to 10 floating windows, and you can dock them to the left or right side of your screen. App Bubbles collapse into a small bubble with the icon of the most recent app you’ve used with it.

LiTT Tip #3:  To enable Multi-Window, head to Settings, then scroll down to Accessibility features. From there, you can see the Multi-Window option, which you can just toggle on or off.

Day 4: August 29, 2021

I wanted to check out what games I could play on this tablet. I’ve enjoyed titles like Ragnarok X, Alto’s Odyssey and Adventure, and Angry Birds 2. The large display makes it enjoyable to play on.

Unfortunately, one Huawei feature I couldn’t test was Multi-Screen Collaboration. This feature turns this tablet into a secondary screen for compatible Huawei laptops and makes it easier to transfer and edit files between devices. Even without this feature, I’ve been able to access my files and documents on my desktop with Huawei Cloud. Huawei offers some free space for users with a Huawei ID, so I’ve been able to quickly transfer files to and from this tablet.

Day 5: August 30, 2021

I didn’t mention this earlier, but I initially ran into trouble getting Netflix to work on this tablet. It let me install the app, but it wouldn’t let me sign in. The fix simply required the cache to be cleared, and then I could watch on the streaming service.

And it is a treat to watch content on this 10.8-inch tablet. It comes with a 90% screen-to-body ratio, 2,560 x 1,600 resolution, 280ppi, 540 nit brightness, 1500:1 contrast ratio, and DCI-P3 support (a cinematic color gamut supported in Hollywood movies). The 16:10 aspect ratio is just slightly larger than the 16:9 aspect ratio most commonly used for films. So, there are tiny black bars at the top and bottom while watching movies and some content, but I tend to forget it’s there. The screen gets affected by glare on sunny days, but I can still use it without much of an issue.

The only downside is that this tablet only has Widevine L3 certification, which means they only play in SD for Netflix content. It is a waste for this great display. But it hasn’t really stopped me from watching shows here. If you want to enjoy Full HD content, download the Viu app for your fix of Asian entertainment. You will need a subscription to access this resolution, though.

If I had to choose between a small smartphone screen and this device, I’d pick this tablet, especially since it comes equipped with Harman Kardon-tuned quad speakers. Watching videos and listening to music on these speakers is a delight. It gets a bit tinny when I max out the volume, so I keep it around 80% when listening through the speakers.

I’ve also taken to listening through wireless earbuds a lot, especially since Huawei offers its Histen 7.0 multi-channel 3D surround sound system for earbuds and headphones. It makes the songs I listen to sound better and more immersive. And it works with Huawei and non-Huawei audio gear. 

LiTT Tip #4: This tip is originally from the site Internet Access Guide. If you find yourself stuck in a login loop with Netflix. Try clearing the cache and then sign in again. Head to Apps in the Settings and then look for the Netflix app. Head to the Storage option, then tap on the Clear Cache button.

Day 6: August 31, 2021

On the sixth day of using this tablet and I discovered another quirk. The PWAs won’t let me open multiple instances. Google apps are available as Progressive Web Apps on the MatePad Pro 10.8. And this tablet won’t let me repeatedly tap on the icons on the homescreen. You’ll have to pull up, say, YouTube from your recent apps if you’ve opened it recently. You’ll just run into an error if you don’t do this.

Huawei equips this tablet with a 13-megapixel rear and 8-megapixel front camera. They’re not the best cameras Huawei has put on its device, but you don’t really use a tablet for photography. I’ve just used it to take photos of receipts for filling and for video calls. The call quality is pretty good on this phone. It can eliminate wind noise from fans so those on the other end can hear me clearly. 

Day 7: August 31, 2021

Another useful Huawei accessory you can pair with the MatePad Pro 10.8 is the 2nd-generation M-Pencil. If you draw or like taking handwritten notes, it’s an excellent tool to have in your arsenal. 

The design is inspired by traditional wooden pencil with its hexagonal unibody design. I like the feel of it in hand, and it offers a pleasant writing experience for me. I can easily select text and other elements with it. And with 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity and 20ms low input latency, I haven’t felt any lag when it comes to writing or scribbling. Some apps can even support tilt-writing, which allows you to do shading. I don’t really draw, but I can see how helpful the M-Pencil can be for those who do. 

Huawei will let you handwrite and edit what you in the search bar with the M-Pencil. And I discovered it’s easy to drag paragraphs from one app to another with this stylus, which is the most helpful feature for me.

When it isn’t in use, you can just attach it to the long ends of the tablet. If you place it on the side near the front-facing camera, the M-Pencil will charge. I’ve taken to just leaving the stylus there.

Running on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 870 processor with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of expandable storage, the MatePad Pro 10.8 worked swimmingly throughout this week. No matter what I did, I didn’t feel it slow down or crash. It is a device for those who need a powerful tablet, so I’d hope for this result.

It’s been a great, productive work week for me with this tablet. If you need a device to improve your productivity, the MatePad Pro 10.8 has many features to offer you.

The Huawei MatePad Pro 10.8 retails for PHP 44,999.

Buy the Huawei MatePad Pro 10.8 HERE. *

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