We definitely didn’t see this coming, but there’s a new best laptop in town: the Huawei MateBook X Pro. We’ve been so taken by this sleeper hit laptop, that it now sits amongst the highest ranking in our top buying guides.
With the MateBook X Pro, Huawei has delivered the most luxurious, speedy and long-lasting laptop we’ve seen since the Dell XPS 13. Granted, Huawei did this by emulating trendsetters pretty closely, though none of its predecessors have been able to achieve quite this balance of function and form.
And, yeah, the Huawei MateBook X Pro is expensive, but the math works out in Huawei’s favor, offering capabilities that few of its closest competitors can muster for a similar price. Now, let’s get into it.
Watch our hands-on video below with the matebook X Pro:
Price and availability
After months of delay, the Huawei MateBook X Pro is finally here, and before Black Friday and Cyber Monday slice the price, you’re looking at $1,199 (£1,299, about AU$1,650) to start, with an 8th-generation Intel Core i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD.
From there, your next option is to bump up the spec sheet to double the amount of available storage and memory as well as pump up the graphics option to an MX150 GPU for $1,499 (£1,499 or about AU$1,999).
With these prices, the MateBook X Pro model reviewed here looks like a veritable bargain next to the most expensive 13-inch MacBook Pro configuration that costs $2,299 (£2,219, AU$3,479). Meanwhile, the XPS 13 is handily beat in terms of value, too, costing $1,999 (£1,649 AU$2,464) to meet the most expensive MateBook X Pro configuration – and with still only half the storage space.
Though, in either case, neither of these options offer the dedicated graphics that Huawei’s new laptop does.
The MateBook X Pro’s design keeps the premium feel of its predecessor alive, featuring an aluminum unibody design with diamond-cut edges and a sandblast finish. This results in a laptop that undoubtedly looks luxe – and feels that way as well.
When closed, the MateBook X Pro is just 4.9mm (0.19 inches) at its thinnest end, and 14.6mm (0.57 inches) at its thickest. All the while, it weighs just 1.33kg (2.93 pounds), which – as Huawei is keen to point out – is lighter than the MacBook Air’s 1.35kg.
Clearly, this is a slim and light-enough laptop to comfortably carry around. Again, the MateBook X Pro comes in two colors, Space Gray and Mystic Silver, and both look gorgeous up close. Of course, you’ll have to get the priciest version if you want that silver color – at least in the US.
When using the MateBook X in the real world, the lightweight and portable chassis means it can comfortably be clasped in a hand while rushing from meeting to meeting. It also fits in most backpacks – and even some tablet compartments and sleeves. So, despite considerable power contained within, it remains incredibly mobile.
Another welcome touch is that the laptop opens without needing to hold down the bottom half. Simply wedge your thumb or finger under the top of the screen when closed, lift and, as if by Apple-magic, the laptop opens with no awkward clamshell fumbles.
There’s a full size keyboard that’s backlit and spill-proof, though we wish the backlighting had more fine control than just a few brightness levels. That said, the travel on these keys is plenty deep for the laptop’s awfully thin profile, and they are just punchy enough on the return from a press to present little to no learning curve from other premium laptops, namely the MacBook.
Beneath the deep-and-punchy keyboard rests the large trackpad – which Huawei says is the largest one found on a 14-inch laptop. After a bit of use, we can confidently say that the extra-sized trackpad only helps the experience, with Microsoft’s Precision Touchpad technology and certification resulting in strong palm detection. This keeps your palms from triggering touches of the trackpad while typing.
On either side of the keyboard are two top-firing, stereo speakers (for a total of four) that support Dolby Atmos, and it shows. Audio set at 80% volume is loud and impressively nuanced when playing music or movies. We can actually hear the sound travel across the four distinct audio channels.
Above the keyboard is the power button, which – like the MateBook X – has a built in fingerprint scanner for Windows Hello. This is an excellent idea, as it means you can turn on the laptop and sign into it with just a single touch. Huawei tells us that, from cold startup to logging into Windows 10, it takes just 7.8 seconds to start the machine – and just 6.6 seconds from hibernation. We’re getting similar numbers in our testing.
This is thanks to the fingerprint sensor being a hardware-level part, meaning it’s controlled directly by the processor, not by Windows 10 – of course, it still works with Windows Hello. It’s little touches like this that help Huawei’s laptop stand out from the competition.
The 13.9-inch IPS (in-plane switching) screen now has impressively thin, 4.4mm bezels surrounding it. This keeps the overall size of the laptop down to just under 12 inches wide. Huawei claims that the MateBook X Pro is the world’s first ‘FullView’ notebook, with a 91% screen to body ratio.
In comparison, the original MateBook had a ratio of 84%. We’re serious fans of screens with tiny bezels, so by giving over so much space to its display, the MateBook X Pro is undoubtedly eye-catching.
In fact, the bezels are so small that Huawei came up with a unique placement for the MateBook X Pro’s webcam: it’s actually in the keyboard beneath a key with a camera icon on it. Pressing the key depresses a latch that lets the 720p camera appear.
This doesn’t really solve the whole ‘ChinCam’ problem we’ve seen on laptops like Dell XPS 13. Rather, it exacerbates the issue with this new webcam position creating an all new 'KnuckleCam' problem. Excited typing can result in rogue knuckles appearing on-screen and, unlike the camera on the XPS 13, the MateBook X Pro camera can't be tilted up or down.
That said, the ability to completely hide away the webcam is excellent for privacy. In this way it feels like a more elegant and clever solution other thin-bezel laptops.
Now, back to that display: it’s now a touchscreen with snappy response and Gorilla Glass protection to keep it from getting scratched. It also has a 3K (3,000 x 2,000) resolution, which leads to a 260 PPI (pixels per inch) pixel density. So, the display is plenty sharp, though you may notice that it is more ‘square’ than other laptops.
This is because it features a 3:2 aspect ratio, like the MateBook X before it, rather than the most common ratio of 16:9. So, it offers more vertical space than other laptops, which can help with productivity, though watching movies and TV on it will result in more pronounced black bars at the top and bottom of the display than most.
No matter what you use it for, the screen undoubtedly looks sharp and vibrant, with a 450 nit brightness able to combat some serious glare even at 50% brightness and 1,500:1 contrast ratio for seriously deep blacks.
Considering the spec listed before, that the MateBook X Pro absolutely flies through basic tasks shouldn’t be too surprising. The version here uses an Intel processor that is 40% faster than the previous model’s. Huawei is keen to point out its use of a U series CPU, rather than an M series, which is more often found in laptops of this size.
That point, coupled with Nvidia MX 150 graphics, leaves us with a laptop that’s prepared to take on nearly any major productivity task short of editing and rendering 4K media. The laptop keeps pace well enough with the comparably-specced Dell XPS 13, beating its Geekbench 4 Single-Core score and coming within the margin of error of most other benchmarks.
As for the 13-inch MacBook Pro, the MateBook X Pro handily squashed it in both our Geekbench 4 and Cinebench tests, proving how much stronger Apple’s leading laptop would have been had it waited a bit longer for 8th-generation Intel processors. Meanwhile the MateBook X Pro’s dedicated graphics chip means it can handle media editing and rendering better than either competing device without issue.
In short, the more holistic power profile within the MateBook X Pro makes it perhaps an even more alluring alternative to the Dell XPS 13 and MacBook Pro performance-wise, a surprising development.
The wins don’t stop there. The MateBook X Pro is one of the longest-lasting Ultrabooks – much less Windows laptops in general – we’ve ever tested. At 6 hours and 12 minutes on the PCMark 8 battery test, this laptop beat Dell’s flagship by just under two hours.
Meanwhile, it outlasted both the XPS 13 and MacBook Pro by more than two hours and 90 minutes, respectively, in the TechRadar local video rundown test. We definitely didn’t see the day coming that would have a laptop outlast both the best Windows laptop around and Apple’s leading MacBook.
At this point, you’re looking at a laptop that’s not only more powerful than both the top 13-inch models for Windows and macOS, respectively, but one that also lasts longer. How much does this laptop cost again?
Software and features
While the MateBook X Pro does promise a Microsoft Signature Edition of Windows 10 on its latest laptop, Huawei did inject just one app into the operating system: Huawei PC Manager. This service allows for more instant wireless connection between it on the MateBook X Pro and Huawei phones.
The PC Manager tool also allows for Huawei Share, a sort of Apple AirDrop competitor that permits file sharing with nearby devices at speeds using the service up to 20 Mbps. It’s a fine enough feature, but requires for not only the user to buy all-in on Huawei devices and services, but all of his or her friends and co-workers, too – a tall order.
Beyond that, the only other marquee feature of the MateBook X Pro is its USB-C, 65W power adapter that houses a smart controller, allowing it to deliver just the right amount of voltage and amps depending on what type of device is plugged in. Better yet, for this laptop, it offers up fast-charging capabilities, so it will charge the MateBook X Pro faster than you can burn its battery down.
Frankly, we’re stunned by Huawei’s sophomore effort in the laptop category. In one fell swoop, the MateBook X Pro presents an overwhelming alternative to our favorite laptop, the Dell XPS 13, and the MacBook Pro.
From its slick, subtle design to its luxurious typing and navigating experience, and its powerhouse performance to its storied battery life – not to mention a sublime touchscreen – the Huawei MateBook X Pro is an incredible laptop. Its apparent flaws are few and far in between, like the lack of an SD card slot and webcam trick that’s clever, but flawed nevertheless.
All told, the MateBook X Pro will be one of the answers we give readers and friends when they ask the broadest of questions: ‘what’s the best laptop?’ For that, it’s earned our Best in Class award.
from TechRadar - Technology Reviews http://www.techradar.com/reviews/huawei-matebook-x-pro