Review unit provided by Huawei
The Huawei MatePad SE is the latest tablet to join the Huawei MatePad family. The official retail price is SGD 298 and this will be available from 26 Nov 2022 from Huawei Experience and Authorised Stores, select retailers, Shopee SG and Lazada SG. This tablet is more expensive than the Huawei MatePad T10 but cheaper than the Huawei MatePad 10.4 (2022) I reviewed recently.
By the way, this is not the usual artist review because this tablet does not have pen support.
Here's a currently Huawei MatePad tablet lineup arranged according to price from low to high:
- Huawei MatePad T10 (2021) - SGD 228
- Huawei MatePad SE (2022) - SGD 298 - Product page
- Huawei MatePad 10.4 (2022) - from SGD 328 - Review - Product page
- Huawei MatePad 11 (2021) - SGD 698 Review - Product page
- Huawei MatePad Pro (2019) - Review - Product page
- Huawei MatePad Pro 10.8 (2021) - SGD 998 - Review - Product page
- Huawei MatePad Pro 12.6 (2021) - Product page
This is a good looking tablet with fantastic build quality and finishing. There are certainly areas where the tablet doesn't feel as premium compared to the more expensive MatePad tablets but for a budget tablet the design and build quality here is above and beyond other budget tablets in the market. The Snapdragon 680 processor from Oct 2021 is a midrange chip that provides decent performance with mostly smooth lag-free user experience. The only area where there's lag is when gaming with 3D graphics intensive games.
If you have intention of installing apps from Google Play Store through Gspace (as mentioned further down), you can expect more lag when switching between those Gspace installed apps. Multi-tasking works fine and is mostly smooth with native apps installed from Huawei AppGallery, but there will be limitations given that the processor isn't as powerful compared to the MatePad 10.4 (2022) which was also released recently. If you have more budget, I do recommend the MatePad 10.4 (2022) with Kirin 820 where the price can go as low as SGD 268 from what I've seen.
- Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 680
- CPU: 4 × Cortex-A73 2.4 GHz + 4 × Cortex-A53 1.9 GHz
- GPU: Adreno 610
- 10.4-inch LCD (72% NTSC)
- 2000 x 1200 resolution
- RAM: 3 - 4GB
- Storage: 32, 64, 128GB
- Camera: 5MP rear, 2MP front
- Battery capacity: 5100 mAh
- OS: Harmony OS 3
For the full specs list, visit https://consumer.huawei.com/en/tablets/matepad-se/specs/
Shown above are the Huawei MatePad SE, MatePad 10.4 (2022) and MatePad Pro 10.8 (2019).
The Huawei MatePad tablets have the same design aesthetics. The bezels are thin and uniform. Corners and displays are rounded off. Sides are slightly curved.
The main difference in design would be where the front camera, power and volume buttons are located.
The Huawei MatePad SE has the power, volume buttons and 2MP front camera located on the horizontal side.
MatePad SE (left) vs MatePad 10.4 (2022)
These two tablets are almost identical. Both displays look good but the MatePad 10.4 (2022) has the better display because it's noticeably brighter. The MatePad SE has a plastic frame that separates the glass from body whereas the MatePad 10.4 is glass and metal.
On the back, there's one long edge where the 5MP camera is that's made with plastic that extends to the side.
It's the plastic parts that makes this tablet feel less premium compared to the all metal and glass construction used by the other MatePad tablets. Having said that, this tablet is far from feeling cheap. The design is beautiful and the build quality is solid.
The display has a resolution of 2000 x 1200 (225PPI) with no noticeable pixelation.
The main downside of the display the auto-brightness tends to make the display slightly dimmer than what I prefer whereas the other MatePads at the same brightness level will look brighter. The workaround is to adjust the brightness manually which isn't a big deal. You can just keep the brightness high. Battery life is easily 10 - 14 hours even at maximum brightness.
There's a 3.5mm audio jack and two sets of speaker grilles but one speaker on this side. The USB-C 2.0 charging port and two more sets of speaker grilles and one speaker are on the other side.
Speakers sound slightly hollow but still serviceable. Speakers on the other MatePad tablets sound nearer and audio quality is noticeably better.
Huawei MateBook SE is available with 3 to 4GB RAM and 32/64/128GB storage. Storage expansion is possible with the included micro SD card slot.
Overall performance of the tablet is smooth and lag-free with the Snapdragon 680 processor. Gaming is possible as long as the game isn't heavy on 3D graphics. I tried Genshin Impact and the tablet lagged so bad I had difficult using finger gestures to go to the home screen. In other words, this tablet is not a gaming tablet.
Huawei MatePad SE runs on HarmonyOS 3 which doesn't have Google Play Store but it is possible to install Google Play Store through the Gspace app that's available from the Huawei AppGallery app store. After Gspace is installed, you can install all apps available from the Google Play Store including the Google apps. All your past purchases from Google Play Store will also be restored.
The downside to the Gspace installed apps is they take a 1-2s longer to launch. But after apps are launched, they work fine with no lag. Shown above is the Amazon Kindle app installed via Gspace.
And this is Youtube app installed via Gspace. This tablet is great for watching shows.
Huawei AppGallery actually has many apps but majority are Chinese apps. Variety of English apps is limited, and they aren't updated as often. I was able to find Microsoft Office, Outlook, Edge, Opera. But there's no Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and of course the Google apps.
Resizable Service Widgets
The tablet runs of HarmonyOS 3 and there are many features you can find out more about from this page. Features such as resizable Service Widgets, privacy and security features are kinda standard nowadays. The most useful feature for me is Huawei Super Device.
Huawei Super Device
This is an advertised feature that comes with the tablet but for some reason I wasn't able to get it to work. My Huawei laptop could not detect the tablet wirelessly so I wasn't able to extend my workspace over to the tablet, and I could not transfer files wireless too. This featured worked fine with the other MatePad tablets I've tested. This issue I experienced may be due to the review unit running a non-commercial version of HarmonyOS.
Anyway, many of the Huawei Super Device features are also available via third party apps. It's just that you have to spend the time to find those apps (e.g. SuperDisplay, Airmore) vs having them already pre-installed and working.
The tablet does not have pen support and hence the Huawei M-Pencil does not work on this tablet.
The Huawei MatePad SE looks good and has decent performance for a tablet that has such an attractive price point. It is certainly not as good compared to the more expensive MatePad tablets but at its price point it's pretty good.
Main downside for me would be the auto-brightness that has the tendency to make the display look dimmer than expected. This is not a gaming tablet so I don't expect fantastic gaming performance. Light gaming is fine. Minor downside is the 4-way speakers sound slightly hollow.
Battery life is amazing. You can get 2 to 3 days of usage with moderate use.
The only areas where I notice lag would be extra startup time for opening apps installed via Gspace. And if there are too may apps in the background, switching apps may cause the current app to refresh. These are just minor issues.
This is a good tablet to consider for those who have limited budget and don't mind sacrificing some quality. If you have more budget, I highly recommend getting the MatePad 10.4 (2022) instead mostly for the brighter display and better audio quality.
Pros and cons at a glance
+ Beautiful design
+ Compact and lightweight (440g)
+ Solid build quality
+ Smooth performance overall
+ Bright and colourful display
+ Laminated display
+ 4-way speakers
+ 10 to 14 hours battery life
+ Micro SD card slot available
+ Google Play Store can be installed easily
+ Huawei Share collaborative features with other Huawei devices
+ 3.5mm headphone jack included
+ Attractive price
- Gaming performance choppy with graphics intensive games
- Speakers sound slightly hollow
- Auto-brightness tends to be slightly dimmer
- No M-Pencil support
- Plastic parts of construction make the tablet feel less premium
Purchases made between 26 Nov 2022 and 31 Dec 2022 will get a free Bluetooth speaker (brand not mentioned).