Cut corners: Huawei hopes that by pushing new devices with Harmony OS 2.0 and updating many existing ones, it can free itself from the shackles of US sanctions and migrate more than 300 million users to the new operating system in a relatively short period of time. Whether or not they can succeed is anyone’s guess, but the company seems confident that it can thrive without the services of Android and Google.
Huawei has thrown out Several new products powered by homegrown Harmony OS 2.0. The company aims to show that it can compete with Android by starting the transition with its high-end devices and completing it with existing models that can be upgraded over the air.
The first devices to see the update to Harmony OS 2.0 are the Mate 40 series, Mate 30 series, and the exotic Mate X2 folding phone. People with older phones like the Mate 10 and P20 series are scheduled to receive the update in the first half of next year. According to CEO Richard Yu, nearly 100 models of Huawei tablets, phones and watches will be able to run the operating system by the end of 2022, including the upcoming P50 smartphone that was teased during the Harmony OS live stream.
The company took advantage of today’s media event to reveal updated versions of its iPad clones. The latest lineup includes a new, larger 12.6-inch MatePad Pro, a 10.8-inch MatePad Pro, and the MatePad 11. In addition to running Harmony OS 2.0, the Pro versions also come equipped with Huawei’s Kirin 9000 chipsets, but in particular the MatePad 11 uses a Snapdragon 865 SoC.
Huawei spent a lot of time talking about the new Harmony OS experience in the new MatePad lineup, but it really can be summed up as a weird knockoff of Apple’s iPadOS, from the overall look of the home screen to the “Task Center.” The company even added a feature called “FreeScript” that allows you to use the new M-Pencil to write directly in dialog boxes where your handwriting will be converted to typed text. You can also mirror the screen of a MateBook or Huawei phone to a MatePad or MatePad Pro.
However, not everything about the MatePads is a direct copy of a design decision or software feature present on the iPad Pro. For one thing, Huawei placed the webcam on the long edge, which is ideal for many people who they use their tablets in landscape mode when making a video call. And while the latest iPad Pro features a Mini LED display, the new MatePad Pro tablets come with OLED displays.
Other notable features are support for 5G and Wi-Fi 6 connectivity, and Huawei promises up to 14 hours of battery life on the MatePad Pro. Even if it doesn’t last that long, there’s support for fast charging of up to 40 watts per cable. and up to 27 watts with a wireless charger. If you are using accessories that support wireless charging, you can also charge them from a MatePad Pro.
The prices were detailed only for the Chinese market, but it is possible that they will also arrive in Europe in the coming months. The 12.6-inch MatePad Pro and 10.8-inch MatePad Pro will start shipping on June 10 and start at 4,999 yuan ($ 780) and 3,799 yuan ($ 530), respectively, while the M-Pencil will cost you 599 yuan. ($ 93). Pricing and availability for the MatePad 11 have yet to be announced.
The new Huawei Watch 3 and Watch 3 Pro are also the company’s first smartwatches to run Harmony OS. On the hardware side, these borrow aesthetics from various competitors, but it’s harder to find an exact watch that these would be a clone of.
It has a new rotating crown in place of the top button on the side of the stainless steel case, and is greeted by a 1.43-inch AMOLED display with a 326 ppi pixel density and a maximum brightness of 1,000 nits. It’s also surprisingly slim at just 12.15mm thick and weighs 54 grams. The Pro variant is 14mm thick and weighs 63 grams.
The company is promoting support for more than 100 training modes and support for monitoring blood oxygen saturation (SpO2), and in theory at least, you should be able to extend the battery life to 21 days if you turn off the 4G connection. LTE and puts the watch in a low power mode. Realistically, you can expect around two days of battery life with normal use, but after that, you’ll need to put it on a Qi wireless charger.
The software side has the same shortcomings as the other devices in the Huawei ecosystem – it is limited to the Huawei App Gallery, which may not work if you are located outside of China. The company says it’s working to bring more apps to Harmony OS, but that’s not a guarantee and will likely be a deal breaker for many. For what it’s worth, you can participate in video calls made through Huawei’s MeeTime app.
The Huawei Watch 3 and Watch 3 Pro will start shipping on June 11 in China and will cost 2,600 yuan ($ 407) and 3,300 yuan ($ 517), respectively. The Watch 3 will also arrive in the UK on June 18 at an introductory price of £ 349.99, followed by the Watch 3 Pro, which will cost £ 499.99.