Huawei MatePad Paper Hands-On: E-Ink screen meets Android tablet

If you’ve ever used an e-ink screen, it was probably on something like an Amazon Kindle. They have a few advantages over normal monitors, although they are very specific. They are capable of wide viewing angles with a really low power consumption and outstanding daylight visibility, but the benefits stop right there. Aside from their intended purpose – reading text – e-ink screens are not really good for anything else. They have low refresh rates, image ghosting and are typically monochromatic. Huawei recently launched MatePad Paper, but the interesting thing is that it runs HarmonyOS, which means you can also sideload Android apps on it.

Please note that during this review, Huawei contacted me and told me that a software update would be rolled out to address a number of issues that had been reported, and asked me if I could wait to release this review. Most of this review was written on the older software version, but where issues have been fixed, I have said the same.

Reading "Thousand Sole" by Alex Scarrow on Huawei MatePad Paper

Need to buy MatePad Paper? It’s complicated. If what you want is a premium e-reader with more versatility than just a Kindle, then MatePad Paper is worth a look. If you also want to take notes with the included pen, it’s good for that too, though I’m not sure why you will have to. It’s a bit of a random feature to have, to be honest.

But if all you want to do is read books and you do not care how, then you should honestly just get something cheaper. This is way too expensive to just reads books and comes in at over double the price of the Kindle Oasis. In context, a Kindle Oasis (the best Kindle on the market) costs € 229. Huawei MatePad Paper sells for € 499 in Europe, which is significantly more expensive. Huawei’s offerings will give you more features and last just as long, but it’s up to you whether it’s worth the extra investment.

    Huawei MatePad paper

    Huawei MatePad Paper is a Huawei competitor to Kindle Oasis, and it packs everything and more that you would expect from an e-reader. Not only that, but it also has HarmonyOS with support for all your favorite Android apps.

Huawei Matepad Paper folio case lock

About this practical experience: Huawei sent us the Huawei MatePad paper on March 30, 2022. The company had no input into the contents of this hands-on.

Huawei MatePad Paper: Specifications

Specification Huawei MatePad paper
Dimensions & Weight
  • 225.2 x 182.7 x 6.65 mm
  • 360 g
  • 10.3 inch e-ink screen
  • 1872 x 1404 resolution
SoC HUAWEI Kirin 820E
RAM & stock
Battery & charging
  • 3,625 mAh
  • 22.5W wired fast charging
Security Top-mounted fingerprint scanner
Rear camera (s) REACH
Front camera (s) REACH
Port (s) USB Type-C
  • 802.11 a / b / g / n / ac / ax, 2 x 2 MIMO, 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz
  • Bluetooth 5.2
Software HarmonyOS 2
Sound 2 speakers
  • Huawei M-Pencil support
  • Folio cover

Huawei MatePad Paper is not a normal tablet

Enlarged edge on Huawei matePad Paper

The Huawei MatePad Paper is an interesting device for a number of reasons and there is a lot to like about it. It’s a nice mix between an Amazon Kindle and an Android tablet, and Huawei is positioning it to be exactly that. However, it is also significantly more expensive, which is why there is more than just the device itself.

In the box you get both the Huawei M-Pencil and the Huawei Folio case. If you do not want to use the tablet with the folio case, the tablet has a larger edge on the left side to hold it while you use your right hand to switch between sides. The M pencil can be used to take notes, and it is instantaneous when you type on the display. You also get access to AppGallery, which means there is a fairly wide selection of apps to choose from, and you can also install APK files online.

Huawei MatePad Paper apps

To be ready as it is an e-ink screen, you will want one very different experience than a typical Android based device. We tried loading Genshin Impact on it to have fun and the results were less than desirable. Some other apps barely work, and the low refresh rate makes any kind of scrolling difficult to achieve. I was able to connect the device to my computer and control it using scrcpy on an older software version, even though an update received on the tablet recently broke it.

The tablet itself comes with a pair of speakers that are optimized for spoken words and not for playing normal media such as music. Think of podcasts and audiobooks.

Other hardware includes the on / off button, which doubles as a fingerprint sensor, a backlight for the screen with 32 different levels of brightness, and the screen itself has a paper-like texture. This makes it comfortable to iron on and write on, so it feels a little bit more authentic than just a normal tablet. The beauty of e-ink is also that it is easier to use in direct lighting, which means you can take it outside in the sun and have no visibility issues using it.

HarmonyOS modified for e-ink

Huawei MatePad paper

Huawei’s software is quite heavily modified for this screen, and you can take a look at some of the screenshots below. Screenshots come out in full color, though the entire user interface is still designed to be completely monochrome. It is nicely laid to the screen and looks really good.

Using this device as an actual e-reader was not possible for me until the last software update. Many opportunities to browse books were not loaded, except for those who did – but only in Spanish. This was corrected and although I still get a lot of Spanish suggestions when I browse the bookstore, there are also English language options that were not there before.

However, I have also found that you can load ePub files and others through e.g. ReadEra with great effect, and it’s as good an experience as it would be on a Kindle. You can export books from services like Kobo for use on your Huawei MatePad Paper if you want to read an ePub file. I installed ReadEra using the Aurora Store sideloader, though the official Huawei Books app will open them fine. The screen itself is quite annoying and cumbersome to navigate, so I used adb to install the Aurora Store APK file instead of downloading it on the device as I normally would.

A sophisticated Kindle

The Huawei MatePad Paper is an interesting product that is essentially just a sophisticated Kindle, and I’m not sure how big an appeal it really holds. It’s expensive, but it’s also a more premium experience than you’ll find anywhere else that’s easily accessible. The hardware is great, the speakers are loud and clear, and even the software is more Versatile than you get on other devices. If you’ve ever used a Kindle, you will few The MatePad paper.

However, is it all worth it? It depends on. I found that Huawei’s own bookstore was quite limited, and I would highly recommend using ePub files or other proprietary formats that you can read on Android through the use of third-party apps. The official Huawei book app can actually open them too, but if you want to go out of your way to export books from other services, you might as well use a more customizable – not to mention better – e-reader app . The Huawei Books app integrates with the system and essentially attaches books to your launcher, so it would certainly be a better option if all you want to do is open a book and read it.

Since it’s Android, you can also install Android apps, and these apps include Genshin Impact. Due to the low refresh rate of the screen, no games can be played. In fact, using apps that roll is quite painful. Just because it works, does not mean you have to do it, is the lesson you have learned here.

Back of Huawei MatePad Paper

Overall, this Huawei MatePad Paper leaves a strange place. I like it, but the price is hard to justify apart from the most niche use cases. Either way, it’s a first-class hardware experience and it’s entertaining compared to what it’s intended to do.

    Huawei MatePad paper

    Huawei MatePad Paper is a Huawei competitor to Kindle Oasis, and it packs everything and more that you would expect from an e-reader. Not only that, but it also has HarmonyOS with support for all your favorite Android apps.

If you are looking for a more conventional tablet experience, we recommend that you check out recommended iPads and Android tablets.