- High quality design, fit, and finish
- Long battery life
- Liquid resistant keyboard
- High screen-to-body ratio with minimal bezels
- Compelling Dolby Atmos speaker system
- Fast Windows Hello fingerprint scanner
While Huawei primarily focuses on smartphones, last year it released the MateBook Windows tablet. This year, Huawei announced two laptops and a tablet as it continues to bring its smartphone innovation to the desktop.
For the past couple of weeks, I have been using the Huawei MateBook X as my primary computer for the home office and while commuting on the Sounder train. It's an elegant Windows 10 laptop with long battery life, awesome display with an 88 percent screen to body ratio, and form factor that makes it easy to carry and use on the commute.
The Huawei MateBook X takes on the new Microsoft Surface Laptop that ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley just reviewed and it looks like the MateBook X stacks up well as an ultra portable laptop, but may be priced a bit too high for many folks.
- Processor: Intel Core i5-7200 7th generation with fanless design
- Display: 13 inch 2160 x 1440 pixels resolution Gorilla Glass IPS
- Operating system: Windows 10 Pro
- RAM: 4GB or 8GB LPDDR3
- Storage: 256GB or 512GB SSD
- Battery: 5,449 mAh
- Front facing camera: 1 megapixel
- Wireless connectivity: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1
- Sensors: Fingerprint, ambient light, accelerometer
- Dimensions: 286 x 211 x 12.5 mm and 1.05 kg (2.3 pounds)
The Huawei MateBook X will be available in space grey, prestige gold, and rose gold.
Huawei builds gorgeous smartphone hardware with beveled edges, brushed aluminum shells, minimal bezels, super fast fingerprint scanners, and clear displays. The MateBook X has all of these design elements in a laptop form factor and the result is one of the most compelling laptops I have ever seen.
The MateBook X is only 12.5 mm thick with a lovely aluminum body that gives it an expensive look and feel. There are four large rubber circles on each corner on the bottom to keep it from sliding around on a desk or table.
The model I tested has a 7th generation Intel Core i5 processor and 8GB of RAM with a 256GB SSD. You can also purchase the MateBook X with an i5 processor and 512GB SSD or an i7 processor and 512GB SSD.
The 13 inch display has side bezels that are only 4 mm wide so there is nothing to distract you from your content. The 3:2 display is great for working on documents and spreadsheets. The top and bottom bezels are not much wider with a front facing camera above the display and Huawei branding below it. The display is crisp, clear, and bright. It is not a touchscreen display so as a Surface Pro 4 user it took a bit of time for me to stop tapping at it.
The keyboard extends from one side to the other with only a couple mm on each side to the edge of the computer. The keyboard is inset into the bottom piece so that it is flush with the rest of the unibody aluminum bottom. There is great travel (1.2mm), backlighting, and six rows of keys to help you get work done without compromise.
Although Huawei smartphones do not yet have any water resistant characteristics, the MateBook X keyboard is splash resistant so spilling a drink on the keyboard should not kill the computer.
The trackpad is large and supports multi-finger actions such as pinch-to-zoom, scrolling, task switcher access, and more. It also has good response as a button when you press down on the trackpad.
The power button is positioned above the keyboard on the upper right. It is modeled after the typical rear fingerprint scanners on Huawei smartphones and responds just as fast to unlocking your laptop. Windows Hello support makes using this button even faster than the facial recognition on my Surface Pro 4.
One of the rather unique features of the MateBook X is the support for Dolby Atmos Sound System. This isn't just a simple software enhancement either, Huawei worked with Dolby to make sure that custom stereo speakers and software were combined to provide an enhanced sound experience for MateBook X customers.
There are two USB Type C ports, one on each side. The one on the left supports data transfer and charging while the one on the right supports data transfer and the MateDock 2. There is also a standard 3.5mm headset jack on the left, next to the USB Type C port.
While there are only two USB Type C ports, Huawei includes a MateDock 2 in each retail box. The MateDock 2 plugs into the right Type C port and provides you with HDMI, VGA display, USB-A, and USB Type C ports.
The battery is advertised as providing up to 10 hours of 1080p video and my experiences in typical daily use show a bit less than this. It will still get you through most of day without being charged up, but it's not going to last for a couple of days.
The Huawei MateBook X runs Windows 10 Pro and for the most part performed as expected over the past couple of weeks. For some reason Microsoft Edge would freeze up on me if I closed the lid and then opened up the computer a few hours later. I had to use the Task Manager to shut down the browser and restart it to use it again. This may be a Microsoft issue though.
The MateBook X comes loaded with typical Windows 10 software, such as Mail, Photos, Groove Music, Cortana, OneNote, and more. You will also find plenty of pre-loaded games or samples, including Candy Crush, Asphalt 8, March of Empires, and Xbox Live items.
Specific to the MateBook X, we see the Dolby Atmos Sound System app that lets you tweak the equalizer settings and view help files for different modes.
The MateBook Manager is installed on the device and requires a Huawei ID to login and use the utility. MateBook Manager is designed to facilitate a connection between the MateBook and a Huawei smartphone. I tried to create a Huawei ID to test out this feature, but was unable to get a text message to send for verification. Once you get it setup, the utility provides a seamless connection online when WiFi is not available. You can transfer files between the MateBook and Huawei phones and even connect other Huawei phones to share files from the MateBook X.
Pricing and competition
We understand the MateBook X will eventually be coming to the US, but at this time we only have European pricing information. Prices start at EUR1399 ($1569) for the i5/8GB/256GB model with the i5/8GB/512GB at EUR1599 ($1793) and i7/8GB/512GB model at EUR1699 ($1906).
In comparison, the new Microsoft Surface Laptop is priced from $999 and goes up to $2199 for i7/16GB/512GB. The Apple MacBook is similar in size, specs, and elegance with a price of $1599 for an Intel Core i5/8GB/512GB model.
Daily usage experiences and conclusions
One of the reasons I have loved using my Surface Pro 4 is the extreme portability of the device with the full power of Windows. After testing out the Huawei MateBook X I see there are other alternatives out there that may even fit my needs a bit better. I rarely use my Surface Pro 4 without a keyboard and find the MateBook X keyboard to be quite good.
Huawei has some fantastic smartphone designs and it is pleasing to see the company bring those same design elements to computers. The MateBook X is a fantastic piece of hardware and if you are looking for an extremely portable computer that focuses on providing you with a big screen and small bezels then you need to consider this device.