- Comfortable to hold
- Handy laser pointer
- Straight lines drawn slowly end up wavy
- Requires adapter to charge
Quick TakeThe Huawei MatePen is easy to take notes with, and the built-in laser pointer is a nice bonus, but this item and the MateBook just aren't a good combination for artists.
One big advantage tablets and 2-in-1s have over notebooks is that users can scribble on touchscreens for notes and drawings. An active pen, like the Huawei MatePen ($59) designed for the MateBook, makes this a more robust activity, adding pressure sensitivity, quick launch shortcuts, and more.
We used this accessory for several days, and put it through our standard stylus test. Keep reading to see how well it performed.
Design and Build
The MatePen is 5.7 inches long, and it has a diameter of 0.4 inches. It’s comfortable to hold and well balanced. Rubberized plastic ridges sit in the middle of the band and aid grip.
The body is silver metal on the two ends, and the ridges are white. The look is quite professional, with a high build quality. The pen didn’t flex when we tried to bend it during testing.
There’s a pair of buttons near the tip used for a variety of functions, especially with the MatePen and MateBook connected via Bluetooth. For example, in non-drawing applications, one functions as the left mouse button, and the other the right. In apps like OneNote, pressing the front button turns the pen into an eraser.
The user needs to get used to holding the pen in such a way that these buttons are positioned so that can be easily pressed when they are needed, but not touched accidentally.
The tip of the MatePen is easily removable, and Huawei includes one replacement tip in the box. Further replacements are not yet for sale.
The end opposite the drawing tip is a laser pointer–a nice feature that sets this stylus apart from its rivals–and the buttons can be used to advance and reverse the slides in a PowerPoint presentation. The laser runs off the same rechargeable battery as the active tip.
The Huawei MatePen offers 2,048 points of pressure, so line thickness can vary by how hard the user presses on the screen. Of course, this requires drawing and note-taking applications that support this feature. Though Huawei has not officially confirmed, we believe it is powered by Wacom technology, as opposed to the N-trig tech found on other popular 2-in-1s, like the Surface Pro 4.
The stylus’ plastic tip slides smoothly on the display. It doesn’t feel like pencil on paper, though, as there’s too little friction. Adding a screen protector should increase it, but it also will increase wear on the nib.
Writing with the MatePen on the display results in a definite series of tapping noises. These are no louder than the sounds we experience printing on most other tablets and 2-in-1s, but it’s something people who will be taking notes while in quiet locations should be aware of.
We ran into some issues when we put the MatePen and the Huawei MateBook through our standard round of tests. Lines that were drawn quickly off the left side of the screen were dropped well before the left edge. When we slowly drew straight lines off the right edge, these were turned into shallow waves. The lines drew straight, but turned irregular by the rendering process.
Based on these results, we can’t recommend the MatePen for artists, but it’s fine for note takers.
Huawei promises that this accessory is good for up to 100 hours of use on a single charge. Naturally, this will be affected by how much the laser pointer is used. We can’t confirm 100 hours, but the battery lasted through several days of our tests without needing to be plugged in again.
Recharge the battery in the MatePen by pulling off the end with the laser pointer and plugging in the USB-C/microUSB cable that comes with the MateBook. Or any micro-USB cable and 5V wall charger will do. An LED on the side of the stylus glows to indicate charging status.
The list price for this item is $59.99, the same Microsoft asks for a Surface Pen Designed for the Surface Pro 4. That said, the MatePen is the only pressure-sensitive stylus we can confirm will work with the MateBook, so comparing this price to other active pens is somewhat futile.
People who are just planning to just scratch out the occasional note on their Huawei 2-in-1 might settle for a simple capacitive stylus, which can be found for only a few dollars. Huawei also offers the MateDock USB Type-C hub for $89, which is extremely useful.
The design of the Huawei MatePen is good, and it’s easy to take notes with. The built-in laser pointer and PowerPoint remote is a nice bonus. But this item and the MateBook just aren’t a good combination for artists.