Huawei MatePad 10.4 Review : Practical But Not Great
If there are elements that make a device stand out beyond its hardware, viewing the Huawei Matepad 10.4 from an angle that doesn't support Google Services might be a dealbreaker to most. We sought to understand Huawei's plan in building an olive garden of their own - investing most of their efforts reestablishing themselves as a formidable contender, and allocating resources in software development to appeal to the rest of the world outside of China.
So do these efforts translate real usability in the MatePad 10.4 as your go-to productivity device? Or is this best suited only for exclusive users embedded deep into Huawei's ecosystem?
With a matte black finish, aluminium frame, and an 81% screen-to-body ratio, there's nothing out of the norm here except for the fact we noticed the USB-C input on the bottom is slightly off centre. There is some weight to it weighing 450g, so operating this as a conventional tablet without any accessories attached does feel good in the hands. It is relatively smaller compared to some tablets on the market measuring only 9.65 x 6.10 inches. And while it might not be as small as an iPad Mini, it does feel more like a tablet than the MatePad Pro which comes with an option of a 10.8 or 12.6 inch display with smaller bezels, might be considered laptop territory for some.
So it depends whether you prefer a bigger screen or portability, as some users with bigger hands will still be able to grip this MatePad 10.4 one-handed. It is suitable to carry in slimmer bags being only 7.4mm thin. Right out of the gate, the 10.4 inch IPS LCD screen doesn't quite meet the standard of displays with higher refresh rates, topping at only 60Hz. And despite it being able to produce 16.7 million colours, it still lacks vibrancy and brightness, though it's not much of a surprise coming from an LCD panel with a typical value of only 470 nits.
Deep blacks from an OLED or AMOLED might be missed here when watching shows on Netflix, with more visible black bars for wide-aspect ratio movies and leaving hints of light leaks around the corners which are noticeable when viewed at an angle. But if all of those shortcomings don't bother you, then it should serve you sufficiently to navigate through different apps or windows and enjoy some light gaming.
Audio quality is considerably loud with quad speakers. Tuned by Harmon Kardon, it doesn't have any issues filling up the room with an immersive sound experience. Unfortunately it doesn't come with a headphone jack but at least it does come with a USB-C to 3.5mm jack adapter in the box. Otherwise, bluetooth 5.1 should pair with wireless headphones seamlessly as an alternative option
Other features that Huawei promises its users for productivity will ultimately depend if you're deep into Huawei's ecosystem. It supports Multi-window & Multi-screen collaboration that could take advantage of other Huawei devices you might already own. But if you're keen to use the MatePad 10.4 as your daily driver if you aren't an exclusive Huawei user, accessing Google Play services may take a few steps to get things running as it should via 3rd Party apps such as APKpure or Dual Space.
These workarounds would let you access certain apps such as Instagram and Twitter, which surprisingly still feel native and functions as it normally would. But other apps such as YouTube, Google Docs or Google Drive, you will still be denied full access. As frequent Google users, we found it hard to consider a productivity machine. Otherwise, it might've had its appeal to get light daily tasks going and would've been ideal for users such as students looking for something of this calibre and price range.
Powered by Android 10, 4GB RAM, Kirin 710A and Mali G51, our Geekbench scores show relatively low marks scoring only 303 for Single-Core score and 1298 for Multi-Core. Quite the under performer when compared to something like a Xiaomi Pad 5, which performed better on Geekbench coming with a Snapdragon 860, 6GB of RAM and comes with internal 128GB storage capacity as standard and at a very similar price range.
The gaming experience isn't too noticeable with lower graphics if you're not peeking too much into frame rates. However, our 3D Mark WildLife Stress Test does get it to run to hotter temperatures reaching up to 37°C at 1200 frames with an average frame rate of only 3.40fps.
The 8MP camera at the back suffices for scanning documents and your casual snaps. Even the 8MP front facing camera will do decently enough for video calls provided sufficient lighting with resolutions up to 1080p@30fps.
The MatePad 10.4 supports native accessories such as Huawei's Smart Keyboard for long-form writing and for artists looking to doodle with the M-Pencil. While it does come with a very odd charging dock for the M Pencil – connected via USB-C - but it turned out to be surprisingly convenient when you need to use it while it gets charged. Design wise, this pairing could've been less finicky in our opinion but still practical overall.
Battery life does a decent 7 hours under load and has an approximate standby time of about 5 days with its 7250mAh battery. It comes with a 33W charger included in the box that should get you back to 100% in under an hour.
The Huawei MatePad 10.4 comes with Android 10 and storage options of 64GB or 128GB and starts at RM1,599 or S$698.
Objectively, you'll probably get better bang for your buck with something else in this price range like the Xiaomi Pad 5 that comes with an 11inch 120Hz display, supporting Dolby Vision, a larger 8720mAh battery, and with a newer operating system, Android 11, while also coming at a slightly cheaper price tag as well.
For us, the MatePad 10.4 truly feels like it needs a refresh if it were to stand out in its class and might have you look away completely when priority revolves around native Google apps to be considered as a productivity machine for most users.
It's unlikely the circumstances will change anytime soon for the people that look for an all-rounder Huawei tablet that isn't secluded to its ecosystem to reap the benefits of its functions, despite suggesting some reasonable hardware and a competitive price point. The MatePad 10.4 is practical for some but not that great overall.
Written by Fitri Aiyub