Huawei MateBook X Pro review: Minimal bezels, touchscreen, and excellent sound with secure camera placement

  • Editors' rating
    8.2 Excellent

Pros

  • High quality design, fit, and finish
  • Gorgeous 13.9 inch display with 91 percent screen-to-body ratio
  • Solid battery life
  • Liquid resistant keyboard
  • High screen-to-body ratio with minimal bezels
  • Compelling Dolby Atmos quad-speaker system
  • Fast Windows Hello fingerprint scanner

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Camera embedded in the keyboard can produce odd results
  • Keys are a bit mushy and loose

It's like a MacBook, but with a 91 percent screen-to-body ratio, more ports, better sound, and a touchscreen display.

Huawei is known for its stunning designs in smartphones and laptops. At MWC in February, Huawei announced the Matebook X Pro and I've been using one for the past couple of weeks.

This year's Matebook X Pro builds upon last year's elegant Matebook X with a new processor, larger display, new camera design, and quad speakers.

Specifications

  • Processor: Intel Core i7-8550U (or i5-8250U) 8th generation with fanless design
  • Display: 13.9 inch 3000 x 2000 pixels resolution (3K) Gorilla Glass IPS touchscreen with 4.4mm bezels
  • Operating system: Windows 10 Pro
  • RAM: 8GB or 16GB
  • Storage: 256GB or 512GB SSD
  • Battery: 57.4 Wh provides up to 12 hours of video or typical 14 hour workday usage
  • Ports: Two USB-C (one supports Thunderbolt 3), one USB-A, and a 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Speakers: Four speakers with Dolby Atmos technology make this a movie machine
  • Wireless connectivity: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac dual-band WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1
  • Dimensions: 304 x 217 x 14.6 mm and 1.33 kg (2.93 pounds)

The Huawei MateBook X Pro will be available in space grey and mystic silver.

Hardware

Huawei builds gorgeous smartphone hardware with beveled edges, brushed aluminum shells, minimal bezels, super fast fingerprint scanners, and clear displays. The MateBook X Pro has all of these design elements in a laptop form factor.

The MateBook X Pro is only 14.6mm 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.

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The model I tested has an 8th generation Intel Core i7 processor and 16GB of RAM with a 512GB SSD. You will also be able to purchase the MateBook X Pro with an i5 processor, 8GB RAM, and 256GB or 512GB SSD.

The 13.9 inch display has side bezels that are only 4.4 mm wide on the top and both sides so there is nothing to distract you from your content. The 3:2 display is great for working on documents and spreadsheets and I am a fan of this for work while 16:9 displays are nice for media-focused machines.

The 3K display is crisp, clear, and bright. I am so used to my Surface Pro 4 and Google Pixelbook having touch screen displays that I naturally reached up to use the MateBook X Pro and was pleased to see that it is also has a touch screen. Mac users have been looking for this for years and Apple continues to avoid providing such a display.

The keyboard extends from one side to the other with only a couple mm on each side to the edge of the computer. These sides house the four Dolby sound system speakers and they sound amazing. I usually plug in headphones when using devices, but these speakers are so good that movies rocked better just through the integrated quad speakers.

The keyboard is inset into the bottom piece so that it is flush with the rest of the unibody aluminum bottom. There is automatic backlighting and six rows of keys. The keys have decent travel, but there was a bit of "play" in the keys as you rested your fingers on them and my other devices provide a better typing experience. I was still able to write quickly and used the computer to draft this review.

One interesting security feature that is implemented on the MateBook X Pro is the embedded camera that is found under a key positioned between the F6 and F7 key. You press down on the key and the camera pops up. At first, it served as a nostril camera, but if you move back just a bit then the view is fine. If you want to look more directly at people as you video conference you do have to make an effort to look down. The security aspect may trump the nostril view though for enterprise users.

Many Huawei smartphones have now implemented water resistance and like last year's MateBook X keyboard the one on the MateBook X Pro is splash resistant. Spilling a drink on the keyboard should not kill the computer, but you should still try to keep liquids away while working.

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 Pro 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 quad speaker system provides an enhanced sound experience for MateBook X Pro customers.

There are two USB Type C ports on the left side with one supporting Thunderbolt and both usable for charging the computer. There is also a standard 3.5mm headset jack on the left. A USB Type A port is found on the right side, which is useful to have since there are still plenty of devices that use this port for connectivity.

There is no port for connecting an externa display, but you can use an optional MateDock 2 connected to a USB-C port to have HDMI, VGA display, USB-A, and USB Type C port support.

The battery is advertised as providing up to 12 hours of 1080p video and 14 hours of typical office use. I was easily able to go for a couple of day use since I don't sit and use my computer for eight hours straight, but bounce in and out of use throughout the day.

Software

The Huawei MateBook X Pro runs Windows 10 Pro and performed as expected over the past couple of weeks. I enjoyed video content, wrote articles, viewed and edited spreadsheets, worked with email and Microsoft Teams, and went about my daily business with the MateBook X Pro.

The MateBook X Pro 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 Soda Saga, Disney Kingdoms, March of Empires, and other things you are likely to remove.

Specific to the MateBook X Pro, we see the Dolby Atmos Sound System app that lets you tweak the equalizer settings and view help files for different modes.

The Huawei PC Manager is installed on the device and requires a Huawei ID to login and use the utility. The Huawei PC Manager is designed to facilitate a connection between the MateBook X Pro and a Huawei smartphone. 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 (at speeds up to 20 Mbps) and even connect other Huawei phones to share files from the MateBook X Pro.

Pricing and competition

The MateBook X Pro is planned to eventually come to the US, but at this time we only have European pricing information. Prices start at EUR1499 ($1846) for the i5/8GB/256GB model with the i5/8GB/512GB at EUR1699 ($2092) and i7/16GB/512GB model at EUR1899 ($2339).

In comparison, the new Microsoft Surface Pro i5/8GB/256GB model is priced at $1,299. The new Apple MacBook Pro i5/8GB/256GB model is priced at $1,499.

Daily usage experiences and conclusions

Huawei's MateBook X Pro is a solid piece of hardware that appeals to those who want the biggest touchscreen display possible in the smallest form factor while also enjoying an amazing speaker experience. It is quite expensive compared to competing products and realizes its full potential when paired with a Huawei smartphone.

It performed very well for me over the past couple of weeks and I would love to see all laptops minimize the bezels like Huawei.

Specifications

System
Notebook Type 2-in-1

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