The Huawei MatePad 10.4 is a super exciting tablet because starting at around 300 Dollars it offers lots of premium features like high-end design, four speakers, an optional pen, and very fast internal hardware. All that comes with a catch though because the Google Play Store including all Google Services is missing. In this Huawei MatePad 10.4 review, you’ll learn whether that’s really such a big downside.
Design & Build Quality
With thin, black screen bezels, the Huawei MatePad 10.4 looks like a modern tablet. It has a metal frame which is 7.35mm thin. Yes, the frame is metal, but the back of the tablet is made of plastic. That design looks nice but since it’s not a unibody, it doesn’t feel as high-end as some competitors do. It has a similar weight of 450g which is very common.
On its sides, we get a power button, a volume rocker, and a USB C port. This is a USB C 2.0 port, so you can connect external SSDs and other accessories but external monitors are not supported. A headphone jack is missing but you can expand the storage with a microSD card.
Cameras & Speakers
The MatePad 10.4 has four speakers in total, two on each shorter side. That’s fantastic because, with Apple and Samsung, we’ve got to pay at least double to get four speakers. Here, the sound quality is as good as of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e which is a pricier mid-range tablet with four speakers.
Both cameras offer a resolution of 8 megapixels and photos and videos look good out of both. I like the front-facing camera in particular because the camera is placed in the middle when video chatting in landscape view. Most competitors position the camera at the side so that you’re never looking directly into the camera.
You can unlock the tablet using facial recognition. There’s no fingerprint scanner and no additional sensor for that facial recognition, so the front-facing camera is used only. It works fine in great light but not at all in the dark. And it’s less secure than Apple’s Face ID or Windows Hello.
Display & Huawei M Pencil
The Huawei MatePad 10.4 has a 10.4-inch IPS screen with a resolution of 2000 x 1200 pixels. Yes, that is a bit unusual and the only other tablet I reviewed with these display specs is the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite. Holding them side by side, the screens do look quite similar, although the colors are a bit different. But since you can adjust the colors on the software side, I’m still guessing that the screens are the same.
Well, as I said in my Galaxy Tab S6 Lite review, I think it’s a pretty good LCD screen. Sure, it’s not as pretty as an AMOLED panel, but I think the resolution is high enough, the brightness is good too, and I like that the screen is fully laminated.
By the way, you can’t watch Netflix in HD because the tablet has a Widevine level of L3. You’re stuck with Standard Definition.
Now, MatePad 10.4 does support an active pen which is called Huawei M Pencil. That’s the same pen that works with the MatePad Pro. But, here you’ve got to be very careful. If you buy the M Pencil made for the MatePad Pro, you’re just getting the pen. Instead, you need an M Pencil Set with an included charger. Or you need to get the charger separately. Otherwise, you can’t connect the pen to the tablet.
That’s a bit confusing and, as of now, I haven’t been able to buy the M Pencil Set with the charger. So, I couldn’t review the tablet with the stylus yet. According to some reviews out of China, the pen seems to work fine though.
Hardware & Performance
The Huawei MatePad 10.4 features a HiSilicon Kirin 810 octa-core processor which is made by Huawei. We also get 3 – 4GB of RAM and a 32GB to 64GB internal storage. I’ve gotten the one with 4GB and 64GB because that’s the only one available in Germany.
In benchmarks, the performance of the tablet is outstanding for this price class. In Geekbench 5 it performs much better than the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite and Galaxy Tab S5e which are direct competitors. But it’s not as fast as the Apple iPad 7 or the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6. The S6 is much pricier, of course.
The graphics performance is fantastic too. Again, especially for a price tag of around 300 Dollars. My gaming test confirms this. PUBG Mobile runs great on the MatePad 10.4, for instance. You can play it with graphics set to HD and it runs very smoothly. The same goes for Asphalt 9.
Because of those good four speakers, it makes lots of fun to play games like Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republik. It’s not a demanding game but good speakers improve the experience a lot.
I wanted to play Call Of Duty too, but apparently, you’ll need the Google Play Services for it to run. The performance should be fine for Fortnite as well – at least on paper. But when trying to install it, Epic Games says this device is not supported.
So, the real-life gaming performance is as good as the benchmarks suggest. But since you can’t play every game with it, I don’t think it’s a great tablet for gamers. Chances are that you’re not able to install your favorite game – or a favorite future game.
For all other things, the performance is fine too, of course. I was able to surf the web in Google Chrome and edit photos in Adobe Lightroom without any issues. Multitasking works fine too.
Software: Android 10 Without Google
Let’s get to the software of the Huawei MatePad 10.4. Out of the box, it’s running Android 10 with the EMUI in version 10 on top of it. That’s the own interface from Huawei which looks almost identical to previous versions of it.
While Android 10 is the operating system, it does not include any Google apps or services because of the trade war between the US and China. I’m sure you’ve heard of the embargo already.
Now, there are several tutorials online that show you how to install the Google Play Store and Google Services on Huawei devices. I tried a couple of methods and failed. I’m not sure why and I’m not comfortable with them anyway because it’s not as easy as with the Amazon Fire tablets.
It seems like with most methods, you’ve got to download some Chinese app and login with your Google credentials. That does not look very trustworthy. Well, needless to say, that I used this tablet without Google services.
As I said, it’s still Android. And that means you can install most Android apps once you download the APKs. I was able to install Google Chrome and YouTube for instance. And Chrome works fine but you can’t log in to your Google Account. YouTube does not run at all because it needs those Google services. If you want to watch YouTube, you’ve got to use the browser.
There are several alternatives to the Google Play Store. One pre-installed alternative is the Huawei App Gallery which has many apps like Microsoft Office, TikTok, Snapchat, Asphalt 9, and much more. Many like Netflix, Adobe’s apps, Facebook, and others are missing though.
You can install the Petal Search app which lets you search for your favorite app APKs very easily and you can install them very easily. That’s how I installed Netflix and Adobe Lightroom and it works great.
I also installed the Amazon App Store and used it to install PUBG Mobile, for instance, and that works fine too. But all of those methods don’t give you the Google Services. Even though there are alternatives, I think that’s a huge downside because, for most people, there’s no point in getting an Android tablet without Google’s stuff.
When streaming HD videos on YouTube inside the browser at maximum brightness, the battery of the MatePad 10.4 lasts 8.5 hours. If you loop an HD video locally at medium brightness, you can get a runtime of up to 20 hours. Both are pretty good results.
Huawei MatePad 10.4 Review: Final Verdict
Now, what’s the final verdict of my Huawei MatePad 10.4 review? Well, I think most aspects are very good. It has a nice screen, supports a stylus, has four good speakers, and the performance is excellent for its price. But that it’s missing the Google Services is a huge downside.
With those Google apps, MatePad 10.4 would be among the tablets that I would highly recommend. It has great potential. And you can look up my reviews of previous Huawei tablets – I did recommend them a lot because the value has been great in the past too.
But I can’t recommend an Android tablet without Google apps and especially if there’s no easy way to securely install them. Most people that buy an Android tablet want to use YouTube, Gmail, and you probably want to watch Netflix with HD resolution too. And no, YouTube in the browser is not as good as the YouTube app. The experience is much worse.
Now, if you don’t want any Google stuff anyways, and you don’t want to watch Netflix with HD resolution, then the MatePad 10.4 might be a great value for you. But for the average consumer, it’s not.
It’s a great time for consumers right now because you can choose between lots of alternatives.
If you want a good performance and a great stylus, you can check out the Apple iPad 7. The gaming performance is fantastic and pretty much every game including Fortnite and Call Of Duty runs great on the iPad 7. It costs a bit more but since you’ve got to buy the pen separately with both, the differences are not that big.
If you prefer an Android tablet with a pen, you should check out the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite. If you include the pen, this is a bit cheaper option because the S Pen is included here. The performance is not as good but the screen seems to be the same. And it’s running Android 10 including all those Google apps. The S Pen is supported very well.
Another alternative is the Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e. That’s an interesting choice if you want those four speakers. Here you get them too, and you even get a very pretty AMOLED screen, and here you can watch Netflix in HD resolution. It’s fine for gaming too, but the performance is not as good.
- Premium design
- Powerful SoC
- Good LCD screen
- Stylus support
- Great speakers
- Android 10
- No Google services
- No Netflix HD support
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