Huawei MatePad SE (2022) Review: Affordable Android tablet with a caveat

If you are looking for a very affordable Android tablet for your parents or yourself, you might want to take a look at the Huawei MatePad SE (2022).

Huawei MatePad SE (2022). (Photo: Huawei)
  • Price: From S$278, get it at Shopee or Lazada
  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 680
  • Display: 10.4 inches (2,000 x 1,200 pixels)
  • Memory: 4GB
  • Storage: 64GB or 128GB
  • Cameras: 5 megapixels (rear); 2 megapixels (front)
  • Weight: 440g

Despite starting from only S$278, this Android-based tablet comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 680 processor and a 10.4-inch 2K display. Huawei calls it its 2K Eye Comfort FullView Display, which offers a nice 83% screen-to-body ratio as well as passing the TÜV Rheinland Low Blue Light and Flicker-free certifications for eye fatigue relief.

The bezels are not particularly thick but not very thin either. But any content display on this screen looks bright and vivid. On the downside, the display does not support even its own stylus, such as Huawei M-Pencil.

Very affordableNo Google Play Store
Right size for holdingDoes not support Huawei M-Pencil Stylus
Bright and vivid display
microSD card slot for storage expansion

Design wise, the MatePad looks pretty much like any previous MatePad tablets. This is a good thing, as its predecessors have been minimalistically sleek. The MatePad SE has a beautiful metallic gloss, thanks to its aluminium alloy.

It feels sturdy too, despite being quite lightweight at only 440g. It gives you plenty of confidence when you are holding the tablet. Not to mention, I find the 10.4-inch display size to be just right for a good grip to hold and view content. A 12.9-inch tablet display is always too big to hold with one hand, while a 7.9-inch tablet display is too small for viewing or reading.

This tablet is great for holding on one hand. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

Two speakers on the top and bottom of the tablet offer a great listening experience with Huawei’s very own Histen 8.0 sound system. You can also find a USB-C port and a microSD card slot at the tablet’s bottom, while a 3.5mm jack is at the tablet’s top. The power button and volume controls are found on the tablet’s right.

You will find the USB-C port and microSD card slot at the tablet’s bottom. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

The front-facing camera is located at the right bezel of the MatePad SE, or top bezel when it is in a landscape orientation. This makes more sense than the iPad Pro’s left bezel front-facing camera placement (when in landscape orientation), which gets blocked by your hand when you try to press the unlock button.

Unfortunately, this Android-based tablet does not come with Google Mobile Services, or GMS, due to the trade sanctions. In other words, the MatePad does not have Google Play Store, Google Maps and other services offered by GMS.

Like recent Huawei mobile devices, the MatePad SE does not come with GMS. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

Instead, it comes with Huawei’s AppGallery that already has many of the apps you will use. You can download Disney+, Viu, Netflix and other streaming apps from AppGallery. You can also even find “cannot-live-without” apps like TraceTogether and SingPass, in the AppGallery.

In fact, the MatePad SE runs on Huawei’s own HarmonyOS 3. If you have HarmonyOS devices such as P50 Pro or MateView, you can share images and files as well as cast your content easily. In addition, HarmonyOS 3’s all-new Multi-Window feature as well as the new and improved App Multiplier supports up to four concurrent tasks, making the MatePad SE an outstanding multi-tasking tool.

Using multi-window feature is easy on this tablet. (Photo: Huawei)

Given its entry-level status, the MatePad SE is not going to break any performance records. Unfortunately, I was not able to test its performance, as I could get to install GeekBench 5 using either AppGallery or APKPure app store. Somehow, there is always a parsing error during installation. One of the pitfalls of not having a Google Play Store…

In real-life situations though, I have hardly experienced any noticeable lag when browsing the Internet or streaming dramas on Netflix or Viu. Playing games like Mobile Legends: Bang Bang (MLBB) have no issues as well. In fact, it is superb to play MLBB with this tablet, thanks to its big display.

Playing games, like Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, is superb on this tablet. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

In our intensive battery test (looping a 720p video with Wi-Fi switched on and the display at full brightness), the MatePad lasted about 6 hours 33 minutes. This is pretty average battery performance. For instance, the 2019 iPad I previously reviewed can last more than 8 hours.

Battery mileage will of course vary depending on your usage. My usage daily routine included checking e-mails regularly, reading news every other hour, watching video clips on Facebook and reading eBooks at night. And there is still around 60 per cent battery life left by the time I go to sleep.

VERDICT: If you are looking for an affordable Android tablet for both entertainment and productivity, the Huawei MatePad SE (2022) might just fit the bill. That is, if you can live without GMS.