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HUAWEI MatePad 11.5 S PaperMatte Edition Review

Have you noticed the surge of tablets lately? Even sub-brands like POCO, Redmi, or HONOR have introduced their own tablets now. And if you’re someone who’s looking for a good tablet at a decent price, this newest offering from HUAWEI might be deserving a spot on your short list.

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So, without further ado, let’s jump right into our review of the HUAWEI MatePad 11.5 S.

Design & Construction

Starting off with design, the MatePad 11.5 S exudes a pretty common look. It features a unibody metal chassis with a matte finish giving off a minimalist vibe. The unit that we were able to test is in the Violet colorway, and to be honest, I like this color a lot.

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In landscape orientation, the single rear camera is located on the upper right corner alongside an LED flash, and the HUAWEI moniker at the center.

The tablet has a sleek and light profile measuring only 6.2 mm and weighs only 510 grams. What I really liked about its build is having slightly curved edges making it more comfortable to hold even without a protective case.

For I/Os, it gets the usual buttons and port layout. When facing the display, the power button sits on the upper left side and there’s the volume rocker on the top left. Also located on the top are two microphones and a small magnetic strip for the HUAWEI M-Pencil.

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Dual speakers are on the sides for stereo audio and the USB-C port is located on the right. The bottom part only sees the pogo pins for a seamless connection with a physical keyboard accessory.

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This tablet doesn’t have any IP ratings, so you might want to stay away from sand, dust, or any form of water when using the device. I mostly used the tablet with its keyboard accessory attached since it doubles as a protective case for the tablet. I mean, a little bit of protection is still a lot better than having no protection at all. wink

Display & Multimedia

Now, let’s talk about the highlight of this tablet: the screen. The MatePad 11.5 S, as the name suggests, sports an 11.5-inch IPS LCD panel with a buttery smooth 144Hz refresh rate. Details are crisp with a 2.8K resolution and the bezels are relatively slim.

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The most interesting bit is that the tablet features what HUAWEI calls the PaperMatte Display 2.0 technology. To me, this is a fancy way of describing an anti-glare coating, but I must say, this tech adds a satisfying feel as if you’re writing or drawing on an actual piece of paper. Be it with a stylus or just your fingertips, you can feel the paper-like texture as you glide through the display.

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Speaking of the stylus, I was also able to try out the HUAWEI M-Pencil that came with the tablet along with a keyboard accessory. I honestly enjoyed using the M-Pencil for drawing and taking notes. It even snaps magnetically on the tablet’s top frame, charging it directly, and giving me the convenience of not having to misplace the stylus around.

HUAWEI also adds its self-developed illustrator app called ‘GoPaint’ and an entirely new Notes app that are both dedicated for M-Pencil use — which we’ll talk more about later in this review.

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Going back to the display, since the tablet uses an LCD panel, expect the colors to be not as bright nor vivid as with OLED panels. So, you’re better off indoors for a better viewing experience.

Viewing angles are so great though, especially with that PaperMatte display, it won’t be as reflective as with other tablets. Watching media content is absolutely enjoyable on this machine. It can easily stream 4K videos on YouTube and it supports Widevine L1 for that high quality binge watching.

Listening to music is probably my most favorite thing to do with this tablet. It has a great sound stage with a nice punch to the bass and a good balance between the highs and the mids. It can easily fill up a room with a loud audio output that doesn’t get distorted too much at max volumes.

Camera

The camera department is where the MatePad 11.5 S falls a bit short, but aren’t all budget to mid-range tablets fall short in this area?

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For one, the tablet has a basic set of cameras: a single 13-megapixel main shooter at the rear and an 8-megapixel front camera for selfies. Second, the image quality it produces is acceptable but not decent enough for social media sharing, in my humble opinion.

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In general, we don’t really recommend using a tablet as a main shooter for photography. Because, aside from the inconvenience of pulling out a large device like this just to take a photo or video, tablets in this price range usually have underwhelming camera specs. So, it’s not the only one plagued with this kind of problem.

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Regardless, these cameras should be good for quick snaps of stuff like documents as well as for online meetings and conferences.

Performance & Benchmarks

Moving on to performance, HUAWEI didn’t specifically mention what’s powering the MatePad 11.5 S. But by looking at apps like CPU-Z for detailed information about its hardware, I found out that the tablet is equipped with HUAWEI’s Kirin 9000 WL chipset. If this is accurate, then it’s more or less the same chipset running on the latest HUAWEI flagship lineup: the Pura 70 Series.

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Screenshot from the CPU-Z app

The specific meaning of “WL” is unclear, but this chip uses a 12-core architecture and can reach up to 2.49GHz clock speeds. With that, I was able to play my favorite games with no obvious lag and I was able to multitask well, especially with the tablet’s multi-window feature. So far, I didn’t experience any hiccups in performance by jumping from one app to another. Navigating the UI is still smooth even if you leave multiple windows running.

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As for configuration, the tablet has 8GB of RAM and 256GB storage. Unfortunately, it’s not expandable so you may have to do some storage management on this thing.

For those interested in the numbers, below are the benchmark results that we got:

AnTuTu V10: 597,811
AnTuTu Storage Test: 78,255
S. Read Speed: 1945.0 MB/s
S. Write Speed: 1628.7 MB/s

3DMark Wild Life: 3,961

Geekbench 6 CPU
• Single Core: 1173
• Multi Core: 3400

Geekbench 6 GPU Vulkan: 2582
Geekbench 6 GPU OpenCL: 2602
PCMark Work 3.0 performance: 9493
PCMark Work 3.0 battery life: 13 hours and 43 minutes

OS, UI, & Apps

Software-wise, the tablet runs on HarmonyOS 4.2, and I must say, I kinda like it. The animations are now far better and smoother. Overall, the UI feels more fluid than a toned-down EMUI experience from previous Honor or Huawei phones that we’ve reviewed before.

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As expected, the tablet doesn’t have core Google apps, and while there’s the improved HUAWEI AppGallery, patience is still a must when sideloading apps on this machine. However, at the end of the day, what really matters is the apps and games will run just fine, so I don’t mind just a bit of a hassle.

There is still bloatware in here, but Huawei is kind enough to compile them in folders, and are not pre-installed per se. So, you can easily get rid of them. A couple of apps are useful though, such as Huawei’s self-developed illustrator app, ‘GoPaint’ and an additional Notes app that are both made for using the M-Pencil.

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GoPaint appears to be a challenger to Apple’s ProCreate, and while it’s a relatively new software, I feel like it’s a full-fledged one already. Surely, there is a bit of a learning curve, but I did get the hang of it after a while — thanks to a little tutorial that Huawei added as an art canvas inside the GoPaint app.

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Not to mention, the tablet itself supports ‘NearLink’, which is a better connection over Bluetooth. This brings lower latency and can allow over 10,000 pressure sensing levels for the M-Pencil. With that, I could tell that the lines can get definitely thicker as I glide through the stylus with more pressure. Palm rejection is also good, albeit not perfect since the tablet sometimes still registers some accidental touches.

There’s also this second Notes app that would’ve been absolutely useful for me if I was still a student. Inside the app, you can create different notebooks with a selection of different cover designs, page styles, and paper sizes. You can even add voice recordings in each one of the pages, bringing us to a whole new level of notetaking.

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My only gripe is compatibility with other Android devices. The tablet, by default, relies on Huawei Share and not Quick Share by Google. So, it’s a hassle for me to transfer files from the tablet to my other devices. Good thing I still have my good old HONOR Play from 2018 that can still receive files via Huawei Share and at the same time, can send files via Quick Share.

I just hope that there would be a proper way in the future iterations of HarmonyOS or EMUI to install Quick Share for Huawei devices.

Connectivity & Battery Life

Connectivity-wise, the tablet covers all the essentials except cellular, GPS, and NFC. But what the tablet does have that’s also unique is ‘NearLink’. It basically allows more convenient pairing with other NearLink compatible accessories like the M-Pencil and the keyboard.

Like I said earlier, the M-Pencil snaps magnetically onto the tablet and a simple notification pops up prompting me to connect the accessory. Once it’s paired, the stylus will conveniently charge whenever you snap it on the tablet.

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That goes the same with the keyboard, but what’s mind-boggling for me is you can still use the keyboard even when it’s detached from the tablet. I mean it doesn’t even appear to have a built-in battery since there’s no charging indicator whatsoever that pops-up on the tablet.

Speaking of battery, the MatePad 11.5 S itself packs an 8800mAh unit with support for 25W charging rate. In our PCMark testing the tablet was able to last 13 hours and 43 minutes.

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With my experience, the tablet was able to last at least half a day until at 20% battery. But that’s me playing lots of matches on Pokémon Unite and binge watching some anti-superhero series online.

Conclusion

Overall, the HUAWEI MatePad 11.5 S checks so many boxes on being a good tablet. It offers an above-average performance, a display that’s satisfying to the touch, and all the bells and whistles that are absolutely useful to have in this form factor.

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If you’re looking to get a tablet yourself, the MatePad 11.5 S is an incredibly good starting point. The HUAWEI MatePad 11.5 S PaperMatte Edition starts at PHP 24,999 (8GB+256GB) for the unit only. A bundle with a physical keyboard is available for PHP 29,999.

Stuff like NearLink for seamless connection with the stylus and keyboard accessories, as well as the new GoPaint app are all welcome additions. Especially if you’re someone who likes to draw or to take notes a lot, then this tablet will feel right close to home.

What we liked:

  • Superb paper-like display
  • Great sound stage
  • Seamless connection via NearLink
  • Above-average performance

What we didn’t like:

  • Mediocre camera performance
  • File sharing incompatible with other Android devices
  • No expandable storage

HUAWEI MatePad 11.5 S (PaperMatte Edition) specs:
11.5-inch 2.8K TFT LCD (IPS)
2800 × 1840 pixels, 144Hz adaptive refresh, 291 ppi
3:2 aspect ratio, PaperMatte Display 2.0
HUAWEI Kirin 9000 WL 12-cores, up to 2.49GHz
8GB RAM
256GB storage
13MP f/1.8 rear camera, autofocus
8MP f/2.0 front camera
Wi-Fi 6, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax
Bluetooth 5.2
USB Type-C (USB 3.0)
NearLink short-range communication
Face unlock
Dual stereo speakers
HarmonyOS 4.2 (based on Android 12)
8800mAh battery, 22.5W charging (wired)
177.3 x 261 x 6.2 mm (dimensions)
510grams (weight)
Space Grey, Violet

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Avatar for JM Chavaria

JM's highest stat is probably his curious ardor to anything tech—electronics and gaming in particular. He certainly heeds utmost regard to specsheet, visuals, and rule of thirds. If creativity and wit sometimes leave JM's system, watching films, anime and a good stroll for memes are his approved therapeutic claims.

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