Huawei’s new MateBook X Pro builds on its predecessor – which was Huawei’s first-ever laptop – with upgrades galore including a touchscreen, better performance and a lower price.
It’s called the MateBook X Pro rather than the X2 because Huawei is pitching it against MacBook Pro and hoping that the lower price (and Windows) will tempt buyers away from Apple’s offering.
We’ve spent some time with the laptop and our first impressions are mostly positive.
PRICE AND AVAILABILITY
Huawei announced the MateBook X Pro at MWC 2018 in Barcelona and you shouldn’t have long to wait before you can get your hands on one. Rumour has it that it will go on sale in March. For the latest details check out our separate article covering its release date and price.
Suffice to say that there are two models: one with a Core i5 and one with a Core i7. And each will be cheaper than the equivalent MacBook Pro.
Seemingly unable to help itself, Huawei has copied Apple’s colour options for the X Pro. This means you have a choice of Space Grey and Mystic Silver: it no longer comes in Rose- or Prestige Gold.
FEATURES AND DESIGN
At a glance, it isn’t easy to spot the differences between old MateBook X and new. However, you probably will notice the screen has grown and the bezels shrunk.
In a chassis that’s basically the same size, Huawei has managed to fit a 13.9in panel and increased resolution to 3000x2000 pixels. It has also added a touch layer so you can use all 10 digits on it simultaneously. A sheet of Gorilla Glass covers the entire display, running right to the edges of the lid.
However, the hinge design hasn’t changed so the screen stops at around 130 degrees – it doesn’t fold flat against the desk or even underneath the keyboard for a tablet mode.
Build quality is very good and there’s the same all-metal unibody design with diamond-cut edges and a sandblasted satin finish. Huawei’s flower logo is now on the lid alongside the company’s name and it certainly looks good even if it’ll be unfamiliar to many who see it.
In a bid to trump the MacBook Pro, the new MateBook is fractionally thinner (by 0.3mm) and lighter (by 400g) than its rival.
The trackpad is bigger than before and the backlit keyboard is now spill-proof. As there’s no room for a webcam above the screen, Huawei has cleverly hidden it in the keyboard. Just press it and up it pops, ready for action. When you don’t need it, it’s hidden out of sight: handy for security, too.
Its position is far from ideal, though. As with other laptops that place the webcam below the screen, the viewing angle is less than flattering. In the MateBook X Pro’s case, the camera points at your chest rather than your face if you sit in a normal working position. So you’ll have to move back further than normal if you want your face to be in the shot on video calls.
You still get the power button with a built-in fingerprint sensor but it works quicker. From a cold boot, it’ll take just 7.6 seconds until you see Windows 10’s login screen and it’s marginally quicker if the laptop’s already in hibernation mode. Your fingerprint is stored in a separate security chip.
On the sides, ports are swapped around a little. Instead of a USB-C port on either side, you’ll now find a traditional rectangular USB port on the right. That’s useful because no-one wants to have to carry an adaptor just to plug in a flash drive.
There are two USB-C ports, but they’re now on the left. One can be used for data and charging and the other supports Thunderbolt 3 which means you can hook up an external graphics card.
We’re unconvinced many people will want to spend a lot of money on a graphics card and a special external PCIe enclosure to play games on a 14in laptop, but it’s possible nonetheless.
The top-spec model – as mentioned – has a Core i7 processor, the 8th-gen 8550U. It also has 16GB of RAM, a 512GB NVMe SSD and an Nvidia MX150 graphics chip. The latter means you can have reasonable gaming performance without stumping up for an external GPU.
In the lower-spec version is an i5-8250U, 8GB of RAM and no separate GPU. That means you get essentially the same graphics power as the original MateBook X which also used the Intel chip’s built-in graphics. And it isn’t much cop for gaming.
Another upgrade is the audio system. There are now four separate speakers, with tweeters added alongside the stereo woofers. There’s Dolby Atmos branding again, but until we can get the MateBook X Pro in a quiet room we can’t say how much of an improvement this is over the already decent sound quality from the first MateBook.
What is an LPTS screen?
Returning to the screen for a moment, Huawei has used the same LTPS technology it uses in some of its phones. It’s an LCD panel which uses a different type of silicon to regular LCD displays. Put simply, this allows higher resolutions and lower temperatures, and also happens to be cheaper to manufacture. A win-win situation, really.
Obviously, we couldn’t break out our colorimeter during our short hands-on time with the MateBook X Pro, but the display did look good to the naked eye. The higher resolution makes everything that bit sharper and brightness and contrast appeared to be in line with Huawei’s claims.
If you didn’t know better, you’d assume it was an IPS screen.
Huawei hasn’t yet quoted any run-time figures for the laptop, but did say using the bundled USB-C charger for 30 minutes will provide around six hours of use.
The original MateBook X lasted around 10 hours in our tests: good but not outstanding. In real-world use, we struggled to make it last more than 8 hours, which isn’t wonderful.
The 8th-gen Intel processors are more efficient, and Huawei has added a power profile which it reckons makes the laptop around 15 percent more power efficient than the original. Let’s hope it can at least match the MacBook Pro when we run our benchmarks in due course.
- Windows 10
- 13.9in 3000x2000 LTPS touchscreen, 260ppi
- SKU1: 8th Generation Intel Core i5-8250U processor + Intel UHD Graphics 620
- SKU2: 8th Generation Intel Core i7-8500U processor + Nvidia MX150 (2GB RAM)
- 8/16GB RAM
- 256/512GB SSD
- Pop-up web cam
- Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, 2.4/5GHz 2x2 MIMO
- Bluetooth 4.1
- 57.4Wh non-removable battery
- 14.6mm at thickest point