When you think of Huawei you instantly think of smartphones boasting high-fidelity camera technology. But what you may not know is that Huawei has also been a player in the laptop game for a few years now, with their MateBook range launching in 2016. Since then, the Chinese-based company has honed its laptop craft, forging a name for itself in the top echelon of mobile computing, alongside products such as Apple’s MacBook, Microsoft Surface, HP Spectres and so on.
My current laptop is a Microsoft Surface (Gen 1) and I have had a love-hate relationship with it ever since I bought it (I actually had three units in the first month). I’ve had it for a few years now, so I’m starting to look at upgrading, so given that I could be in the market for a new laptop and I am a fan of Huawei’s smartphone technology, I was keen to go hands-on with the Huawei MateBook X Pro.
Rocking an i7-10510U processor, with 16GB RAM, and 1TB of SSD storage, the MateBook X Pro has more than enough grunt to handle office computing, graphic design, video editing and other rudimentary needs. Booting into Windows 10 Home takes a little less than nine seconds, which is almost five seconds faster than my Surface (i7-7660U). But all that power and storage won’t come cheap, setting you back a whopping $3299.
Although Huawei promises longer use times, when it comes to battery life I got a full day’s work (around eight hours) from a single charge, about the same as my Surface Laptop, meaning you’ll definitely need to charge it daily. The MateBook X Pro uses a 65W USB-C charger, which plugs directly into the wall and is annoyingly large, which may result in you being unable to use the power port next to the charger. One thing I did notice is that when using the machine plugged in for longer periods it got a little hot at the top of the keyboard, even with the fans trying to work their magic.
The keyboard is a highlight of the MateBook X Pro
Like most laptops of this ilk, it’s not only about performance and battery life, it’s also about looks. From an aesthetic viewpoint it would be easy to look at the MateBook X Pro and say it it’s nothing more a MacBook Pro ripoff with its Space Grey finish, but even though I’m not a Mac user and prefer Windows, I think Apple’s MacBook range oozes style, so if you are going to imitate any look, it may as well be one of the best.
As a result, the MateBook X Pro is a sexy looking piece of technology; it’s slim, sleek and weighing in at 1.35 kgs, it’s got enough weight behind it to carry around without feeling cumbersome. The machine’s dimensions are 14.6 mm H x 304 mm W x 217 mm D makes it 15% slimmer than the MacBook Pro, and like most modern laptops, the machine’s real estate has been crafted to maximise the user experience.
When it comes to ports, Huawei has kept things pretty simple. It’s got two USB-C ports (one for charging and one with Thunderbolt 3 functionality), one USB-A 3.0 port, and a 3.5mm audio port. If you’re looking to connect the laptop to an external monitor you’ll need to use the appropriate USB-C adaptor. Thankfully there is one included in the box, which features HDMI, VGA, USB-C and USB-A ports. Furthermore, the machine’s power button, which is located in the top right of the keyboard, also acts as a fingerprint scanner should you wish to forgo the traditional password. On either side of the keyboard you’ll find quad speakers which provide decent enough audio quality.
The MateBook’s 13.9″ LTPS LCD touchscreen is a beautiful sight and one of the machine’s highlights thanks to its 3K resolution, 100% sRGB colour gamut and 450 nits of brightness. Colours are vibrant and vivid, and the image quality is excellent. Huawei has also included an Eye-Comfort Mode, which reduces the amount of strain on your eyes and allows you to utilise the machine for work or entertainment for longer periods.
The MateBook X Pro has two USB-C ports, one USB-A (other side) and a 3.5 mm headphone jack
There’s no doubt that the MateBook X Pro is a cracking piece of technology, with only a few minor issues sullying the overall experience
One of the features I love about the Surface Laptop is the keyboard, and for someone who types a lot, having a keyboard that is comfortable to use is a huge boon, in fact it’s one of the core reasons I would consider buying (or not buying) a laptop. Up until now I’d say that the Surface Laptop keyboard is the best keyboard I’ve ever used, but after a couple weeks of using the MateBook X Pro’s full-sized backlit keyboard with 2mm spacing, I’m not sure the Surface Laptop remains numero uno. It’s super comfortable to type on, and I wish Huawei sold its keyboard separately as I am crying out for a new one for my desktop. Come on Huawei, make it happen!
One aspect that took me a while to become accustomed to was the sensitivity of the trackpad. I would often pull Chrome tabs into new windows or highlight all the text in a Word Document, which was slightly annoying at first. Perhaps it’s because I was used to the Surface Laptop trackpad, but while MateBook X Pro does feature a nice spacious trackpad, it did take a little getting used to.
Most rival laptops utilise integrated graphics when it comes to gaming, however the MateBook X Pro features an NVIDIA MX250 graphics card, making it quite serviceable for gaming, but don’t expect it to have all the bells and whistles you’d get from PC gaming (such as Ray Tracing). Given I’m not the most ardent PC gamer, my Steam library isn’t laden with titles that will make your PC start smoking, but I was able to test a few titles to see how the machine performed.
Remember Me, the 2013 action-adventure game from DONTNOD managed to run on high with no issues, however Sniper Ghost Warrior 3, which utilises CryEngine, struggled on medium settings, with the game suffering from a stuttering frame rate and other performance issues. While playing both games the PC’s fans were working overtime trying to keep the machine cool, at which it did an okay job. Although, it did drain the battery quicker than I expected, going from 100 to 60% in a little under an hour.
The addition of a dedicated graphics card is another string in the MateBook X Pro’s bow
With cyber security and privacy such an important factor in today’s landscape, Huawei has made this somewhat of a focus on the MateBook X Pro with the inclusion of a recessed camera instead of the camera being built into the screen. The recessed camera sits in the middle of the function keys and can be activated by simply pushing down on it. Being able to control when the camera is turned on is a decent idea in theory, however the positioning of the camera means it doesn’t always capture your best angle. Furthermore, the 1MP camera lacks the quality you’d expect in a machine of this price point, especially from a brand that features some of the best camera technology in the smartphone industry.
Another unique feature is the ability to connect your compatible Huawei smartphone to the MateBook X Pro using the Huawei Share functionality. This allows you to use your smartphone, calls, messages and apps directly from the laptop, furthermore you can easily transfer files and photos between the two devices, something which I found incredibly useful. Huawei also includes its PC Manager software, which allows you to transfer files, update drivers and perform system troubleshooting and repairs all via one program.
Huawei Share in action
There’s no doubt that the MateBook X Pro is a cracking piece of technology, with only a few minor issues sullying the overall experience. But as much it is a premium product with some neat features such as a dedicated GPU and Huawei smartphone connectivity, it is wildly expensive, meaning that very few consumers are going to be able to afford Huawei’s flagship computing experience. After using the MateBook X Pro I can definitely see myself jumping from the Surface to a Huawei laptop, however I don’t think I can justify the price point of the MateBook X Pro.
You can find the full list of specifications here.
+ Beautiful design
+ Screen quality is excellent
+ Keyboard is a delight to use
+ Tons of power and storage
+ Huawei Share is a neat feature
+ Dedicated graphics card
– Very expensive
– Heats up when connected to power
– Recessed webcam is ideal in theory but compromises practicality
Review unit supplied by the manufacturer