Huawei MateBook X Pro review

BACK IN FEBRUARY, we were lucky enough to get our hands on one of the first MateBook X Pro devices – Huawei’s challenger to the Macbook. Since then, we’ve been using it as a main device. So does it stand up?

Basically, hell yeah.

It doesn’t take a genius to work out that the MateBook X Pro is a homage to the MacBook. It’s super-slim design, smooth angles and colouring (grey or silver) will instantly make anyone feel at home if they’ve landed from Mountain View.

The screen is virtually bezel-free – 91 per cent of the display is screen and it looks beautiful. The Gorilla Glass (2.5) screen is 3K in resolution and the difference between that and a regular 1080p is striking – everything looks crisp and clear.

On the flipside, the lid is clearly an Apple homage with the logos switched around. The Huawei logo uses a reflective relief and doesn’t illuminate but it still looks lovely.

It’s easily light enough to hold with a thumb and forefinger, and despite all this, there are only a few vents at the back for cooling – the tech inside takes care of the residual heat.

On one side, there are two USB-C ports, one supports Thunderbolt 3. On the other, there’s a full-size USB-A port. There’s a stereo headset jack too. If you want more, you’ll need a hub, but even this is a cut above many ultrabooks on the market.

The keyboard is a dream to type on with very low profile keys that respond beautifully to touch. The power button is one of two hidden secrets – it also envelopes the fingerprint reader (powered by an independent chip for added security.

The other is the webcam. Removed from the screen bezel for obvious reasons, it is hiding between the F6 and F7 keys, disguised as another key, and popping up where it’s needed. It’s quite beautiful and a nod to the fact that Huawei is very aware of security and privacy concerns. Plus its so good for showing off.

Software and features
Anyone who is slightly wary on taking on a Huawei device, given the great lengths they have gone to with Android needn’t worry – the MateBook Pro runs Intel i5 or i7 chips and Windows has been virtually untouched.

The only significant addition is a PC Manager app which helps keep drivers up to date and check for misbehaving components. It can also grab on to your Huawei phone and display files (including photos) stored on it, as well as tap its 4G for an Instant Hotspot. There’s still the odd bug here and there, but nothing remotely show-stopping.

Also included is Huawei Share – a way of sharing data between Huawei devices wirelessly that the company claims is 100x faster than Bluetooth. We tried testing it but we weren’t fast enough with the stopwatch. It’s fast. Let’s leave it at that.

Sound comes from four speakers – a bass and a treble for left and right. The sound is more impressive, no doubt, but it’s still not a patch on an external speaker, obviously. That said, the Dolby Atmos compatibility brings some quite spectacular results.

Our unit was top of the line, so it offers an i7 processor, 16GB of RAM and 2GB of NVIDIA GPU. As a result, virtually nothing throws it. Nothing. In three months there were no freezes, no glitches, no lags.

Sure, we’re not hardcore gamers, but 4K video was effortless and the games we played worked beautifully both in situ and using Steam Link. Cuphead, for example, isn’t fast moving in the great scheme of things, but it’s beautiful.

For art, the touchscreen works great, but the lack of a compatible stylus is a disappointment – the most recent stylus from Huawei for the Mediapad M5 Pro doesn’t do a thing. But again, a complete nit-picking point.

The embedded webcam is designed with Huddle Rooms in mind. Being up close to the computer usually means the webcam gets a view of your beer gut and we could do without that, but for most, it’ll work a treat. We’re not going to penalise it for that – the far field microphones are designed to be used this way too, and not only that, it makes it very likely to be an Alexa machine sooner rather than later.

In short
It would be very easy to say “wow, Huawei, you’ve made something resembling an Apple product”, but it’s deeper than that. Despite running Windows, Huawei has created something with the elegance and feel of a MacBook and has had to do very little to the interface to make it happen. It behaves as an ultra-slim laptop should, only much faster because of the sheer amount of power under the hood.

The webcam could be seen as a gimmick, but it’s a confidence security feature that requires a slight change in user behaviour. We’re down with that. Change can be good.

Portability is on a par with the big names too, it’s nothing to carry it around in a bag, so light and thin it is.

Sure, a SIM or eSIM option would be nice, and the option to take the storage up to a full terabyte would be similarly amazing – but they’re not significant in the great scheme of things.

Although it would be easy to baulk at the (still TBA but think around £2k) price, its significantly better value than most in this form factor and having used it for three months, Huawei will have to tear it out of our cold dead hands – this one is a keeper that we can’t see being bettered for a while. μ

The good
Incredible power, very slim and light, looks great

The bad
No 4G, webcam placement takes a bit of user adjustment

The ugly

Bartenders Score



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