First generation devices usually lack finesse and style, or at least still have a lot of rough edges, but not the Huawei Matebook X.
As the first clamshell laptop manufactured by Huawei, the Matebook X looks like a Macbook Pro running Windows 10. The 13-inch fanless notebook has Intel's latest-generation processor, a crazy-sharp 2K screen and a fancy power button that doubles as a fingerprint reader. It has the chic design and high-end trimmings that any premium laptop needs. All it's missing, for now, is an official price.
That's right, Hauwei gave us a Matebook X to test, but the company is not yet announcing how much this new slim laptop is going to cost in the US. Several configurations of it will be available in Europe for between €1,399 and €1,699, but it may be closer to the expected summer ship date before we have prices and configuration options for other markets. The review unit we tested had an Intel i7 CPU, 8GB of RAM and 512GB of SSD.
How much it costs in comparison to the MacBook Pro, as well as the bevy of Windows alternatives such as the new Microsoft Surface Laptop, will determine if Huawei's first clamshell laptop will convince laptop shoppers to try this new-to-them brand.
We'll update this review with further benchmark results and a final rating when these worldwide price and availability questions are answered.
Luxury doesn't boast. Luxury just is. The Huawei Matebook X is a perfect example. The laptop's matte, metallic aluminum construction oozes style, and it feels as premium as it looks. Similar to the Huawei Mate 9 phone, the Matebook X's elegantly inconspicuous power button doubles as a Windows Hello-compatible fingerprint reader.
Available in gold, grey and pink, the Matebook X's dimensions are thinner and it weighs less than the 13-inch MacBook Pro. Its 12.5 mm thick and weighs 2.31 pounds, while the comparable MacBook Pro is 15 mm thick and weighs about 3.02 pounds. (The 12-inch MacBook, which uses lower-power Intel Core M processors, is 13 mm thick and weighs 2.03 pounds.)
There is a striking resemblance between the two high-end laptops. That's a big compliment. If the TouchBar-less version of the MacBook Pro is the "Retina MacBook Air" you've always wanted, the Matebook X is the Windows 10 version you never knew you needed.
The Matebook X is the first laptop to feature Dolby's Atmos sound system. (This is different from devices that simply have Dolby Atmos software technology that only optimizes sound via headphones). Using integrated software and hardware solutions for superior sound quality, it emulates the way sound travels in real life for an immersive viewing experience.
Dolby collaborated with Huawei to help design the speakers, as well as the preloaded software that optimizes the sound for movies, music or gaming. The speakers sound satisfyingly full and loud. Dialogue is clear, background and soundscape noises are fittingly accentuated and sound travels up and down the speakers for a movie theater-like experience. At maximum volume they don't sound tinny, though highs can get a little screechy when maxed out. I was usually able to find a happy medium.
Laptops don't have a high bar for sound quality. It's nice to see (and hear) Huawei putting in some effort.
The Huawei laptop's 2K resolution screen is beautifully sharp and vibrant, with super-narrow 4.4 mm bezels that maximize screen space. Its 3:2 screen ratio (like the Microsoft Surface Pro) is more conducive for office or school work than HD movies, but it works excellently for both.
It has a full-size chiclet keyboard that's surprisingly roomy for such a small laptop. It feels fluid to type on and it's conveniently backlit for typing in dark environments.
Though it only has two USB-C ports, one on the left that charges and another on the right, Huawei includes the MateDock 2.0 USB-C dongle in the box. That gives you an additional USB Type-A port, DVI, HDMI and a second USB-C port for pass-through charging. No word on if Huawei plans to sell it separately.
Performance should satisfy the average user, as it was usually zippy and smooth. It powered up quickly, the fingerprint reader response was consistently accurate and fast, and it handled multitasking well. While intermittently streaming music and HD video, I was able to have about about a dozen Chrome browser tabs open before performance started to slow down.
All of the issues I had with the laptop seemed to be app related; Microsoft Edge browser wouldn't properly load Spotify's web player, but Google Chrome would. The menu screen of the Netflix app also acted wonky occasionally, randomly glitching while browsing, but the service worked fine on Edge and Chrome.
Huawei estimates battery life at 10 hours. After one battery test run it lasted about 8.5 hours. Anecdotally, after using the Matebook X for about a week, I found its battery life to usually last me an entire work day. It charges really fast over USB-C, too, so running low on power was never a burden. In comparison, the lower-end 13-inch Pro without the Touch Bar ran for 11:36 in same test.
Everyone who I showed the Huawei Matebook X to agrees it's a gorgeous laptop. Huawei has finally flexed its design prowess in the laptop category and other manufacturers should be worried. The Matebook X is a legitimate contender.
Of course, a lot depends on the price, which Huawei hasn't announced yet. Considering the comparable MacBook Pro starts at $1,499, £1,449 and AU$2,199, Huawei could match the price and still have a unique product on its hands. But that would make it a really expensive laptop. There are plenty of notebooks out there to choose from, ranging from cheap Chromebooks to affordable Windows 10 models, such as the new $999-and-up Surface Laptop from Microsoft. Why would a consumer choose Huawei, a relatively unknown brand, over Apple, or something more affordable? A competitive price could be the answer.
|Huawei MateBook X|
|Price as reviewed||N/A|
|Display size/resolution||13-inch, 2,160x1,440 display|
|PC CPU||2.7GHz Intel Core i7-7500U|
|PC memory||8GB DDR3|
|Graphics||128MB Intel HD Graphics 620|
|Networking||802.11a/b/g/n/ac Bluetooth 4.1|
|Operating system||Windows 10 Pro (64-bit)|