Unboxing the HUAWEI MatePad Pro 12.6, and the best apps to get for its HarmonyOS system

Above: unboxing The HUAWEI MATEPAD PRO 12.6.

HUAWEI has been teasing new tablets with bigger and better screens since the middle of this year, and earlier this month, they launched the high-end MatePad Pro 12.6. Here’s a quick run down of the specs: a 12.6-inch OLED display (2,560 x 1,600 pixels), Kirin 9000E chipset, 256GB internal storage with NM memory card expansion up to 256GB, a rear triple-camera system (13 f/1.8 main camera + 8MP f/2.4 wide-angle camera + 3D depth-sensing), an 8MP f/2.0 front-facing camera, a 10,050mAh battery, 8-speaker sound system tuned by Harman Kardon, and a USB-C port.


Above: Inside the box — charger, USB-C to USb-C cable, audio adapter and pin ejector tool.

First Impressions

The form factor is sleek and fairly compact for a tablet of this screen size; I really like that it is slim, even with the Smart Magnetic Keyboard attached to it. When folded closed, the device is easy to carry around and feels sufficiently protected by the keyboard cover.


Above: it’s a full-sized keyboard with tactile keys that can support the matepad pro at two angles.

As it stands, this tablet has everything going for it — especially its price at $1,398, which is hundreds lower than other brands with similar screen sizes. But I’m not here to compare; I’ve always believed that between Apple, Samsung and Huawei, each brand has its loyal fan following, and consumers tend to stay within a brand’s ecosystem to get the most out of their devices. (Disclaimer: As a journalist, I work across all these brands and more, including Xiaomi.)

Above: The sleek form factor of the HUAWEI MatePad Pro.

The Essential Apps for HarmonyOS

So while I say that the MatePad Pro is an excellent device, the average consumer does have to consider that it’s powered by HUAWEI’s HarmonyOS  operating system. And this system certainly doesn’t have the biggest app store, but the HUAWEI AppGallery has been growing, and what a lot of users don’t know before getting a HUAWEI mobile device, is that HarmonyOS has an incredible function called “Petal Search”. This is a search tool integrated within the HUAWEI AppGallery that finds app available on the Google Play Store that you can download and install on your HUAWEI device.

Here’s an example of searching for Instagram on Petal Search (note: the Instagram app is not officially available on the HUAWEI AppGallery yet):

Above: Petal Search results for “Instagram”.

WIth Petal Search, I managed to find all the essential apps that fit into most of our lifestyle needs. So if you’ve just gotten your hands on a HUAWEI tablet, or are thinking of investing in one, you don’t have to worry about not having the apps that you need. Here are the ones that I recommend you install to really get the most out of the device.


For important apps from the government, there’s the all-essential Singpass app, Parents Gateway for every parent with a kid in school, and of course TraceTogether. You probably won’t use this tablet to “check-in” at venues, but it’s still good to have it installed.

I tested out these social media apps and they all work without issue. I love that I managed to find WordPress so I can blog on the MatePad Pro — which is where the Smart Magnetic Keyboard becomes extremely useful.

Apart from the usual entertainment platforms like Netflix and Disney+, I managed to find my favourite Sumikko Gurashi games on Petal Search.


Above: The HUAWEI M-PENCIL is a silver “pen” with a groove on the underside. This groove provides better grip on the pen, and it’s also the side that snaps onto the tablet for pairing and charging.

Also, whether you’re a creative such as a photographer or illustrator, or a student or business person that takes notes, the HUAWEI M-Pencil is a great accessory for the MatePad Pro (or any HUAWEI tablet for that matter). It pairs and charges magnetically by snapping on to the top of the tablet, and it has pressure-sensitive tips that feel natural to use and that give realistic results on screen. What’s really sweet is that 30 seconds of charging allows you to use it for 10 minutes longer; and a full charge which takes just an hour, gives up to 10 hours of use.

Above: There are two additional pencil tips in the box. These are non-slippery tips that sense both tilt and pressure.

These are some of the photography apps that I like to install on every mobile device that I review and use, and have installed on the MatePad Pro 12.6:

Here’s the pen in action in Abobe Lightroom. The pressure-sensitive pen tip works well in “brushing off” errors using the Healing tool, and in brightening or darkening areas precisely.

Above: The HUAWEI M-PENCIL used for editing a photo in adobe lightroom.

The above apps are my personal list of essential apps that I’ve found and installed on the MatePad Pro 12.6, but it’s not an exhaustive list; if you’re considering getting this device and need a certain app, you can always check petalsearch.com to see if it’s available.

Now’s also a good time to purchase a HUAWEI tablet as the brand is running a promotional campaign that includes attractive gift bundles from 26 October 2021 till the end of November 2021. Here are the details:

The HUAWEI MATEPAD PRO 12.6 is priced at $1,398, with a special launch promotion bundle worth $396 (includes the SMART MAGNETIC KEYBOARD and M-PENCIL).
Check out the full matepad range here:
MatePad Pro 10.8
Available at all Huawei Authorised Stores, selected consumer electronic stores including Best Denki, Challenger & HACHI.TECH, COURTS, Gain City, Harvey Norman, Sprint-Cass, and Huawei official online stores in Lazada and Shopee.