Huawei’s MateBook X Pro ultraportable laptop is here, and it’s an impressive rival to the Apple MacBook
- Stunning bezel-less design
- Excellent performance
- Ultra-thin and lightweight
Last year’s Huawei MateBook X was an impressive challenger to the Apple MacBook. The Chinese smartphone giant’s first Windows 10 laptop successfully crammed a 13in laptop into, essentially, a 12in chassis. It looked great, battery life was top notch, and the screen was sumptuous too. Yet after an initially positive reception, it was largely forgotten about amidst a flurry of XPSes and MacBooks.
Now Huawei is back at it with the MateBook X Pro. The new model brings a slightly tweaked design, faster internals – and a couple of less obvious new features that could swing the deal.
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Huawei MateBook X Pro review: What you need to know
The Huawei MateBook X Pro is the successor to last year’s excellent MateBook. This second outing is super-thin and lightweight, but it doesn’t compromise raw processing power in favour of lavish looks.
In short, it’s a device for those who want the best of everything. Huawei has squeezed a 13in display into a very dinky frame with tiny bezels, and the whole thing is powered by Intel’s latest eighth-generation CPUs. It’s an impressively well-made laptop, with plenty of raw processing grunt at your disposal.
Huawei MatebBook X Pro review: Price and competition
While the spec is impressive, the MateBook X Pro is – like last year’s effort – far from cheap. Prices start at €1,499 for the base model, with an Intel Core i5-8250U processor, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of PCIe SSD storage. This translates to a UK price of around £1,309.
For Windows users, the obvious competition is the iconic Dell XPS 13, with prices starting at £1,249 for an eighth-generation Core-i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of SSD storage. For those who prefer Apple, the 13in MacBook Pro also starts at £1,249 in a seventh-generation Core i5 configuration with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.
Huawei MateBook X Pro review: Design, key features and first impressions
As soon as you open the lid of the MateBook X Pro, you’re struck by the almost full-face display. Last year’s MateBook looked stunning with its minimal bezels, but this year’s effort goes even further, offering a massive screen-to-body ratio of 91%, with a super-slim 4.4mm bezel all the way around the display.
In short, this laptop is completely dominated by its massive, 14in LTPS screen. It looks even more sophisticated than Dell’s XPS 13 with its InfinityEdge panel – that’s how good this is.
The only small catch is that the bezel is so thin there’s no room for a webcam. So instead, the camera is discreetly recessed between the F6 and F7 function keys. Push down on it lightly and the lens pops up, like the hidden headlamps of old sports cars, or that alien that pops out of the desert in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Screen aside, the Pro’s aluminium chassis is itself absolutely gorgeous – even more so than its predecessor’s – with sandblasted grey and silver colouring, and shiny diamond-cut chamfered edges. It weighs a mere 1.33kg, too.
You aren’t left lacking when it comes to ports, either. You’ll find two USB Type-C ports – one Thunderbolt 3 enabled – and a 3.5mm headphone jack on the left edge, while the right side houses a full-fat USB Type-A port.
Finally, a fingerprint reader is built into the circular power button, as on the first MateBook – and this now cleverly allows you to boot up the laptop and log in with a single press, rather than having to turn the device on and then authenticate separately when you reach the login screen.
Huawei MateBook X Pro review: Keyboard and touchpad
The MateBook X Pro has a low-profile keyboard, but it’s not as shallow as the MacBook Pro’s: you get an extra few millimetres of travel, which, for my money, makes it much pleasanter to type on, with plenty of clicky feedback. Generous spacing also helps keep typos to a minimum. The huge, glass-topped touchpad meanwhile occupies roughly 50% of the palm rest. Multitouch gestures are easy to carry out, and its built-in mechanical button is light enough to press easily for double clicks.
Huawei MateBook X Pro review: Display and speakers
Let’s take a closer look at that massive screen. It’s a 14in LTPS display with a resolution of 3,000 x 2,000 pixels, for a pixel density of 260 PPI. It boasts ultra-wide viewing angles and, Huawei claims, 100% sRGB coverage with a 1,500:1 contrast ratio
Our X-rite colorimeter largely backs this up. In our tests, the Matebook X Pro’s 3K panel reached a peak brightness of 488cd/m2, with a punchy contrast ratio of 1,515:1. It covered 96.2% of the sRGB colour gamut, and returned an average Delta E of 1.27. We’ve absolutely no complaints about the quality of this display.
The MateBook X Pro also supports Dolby Atmos audio, and comes with speakers in all four corners. This quad-driver array produces broad, detailed sound; the treble comes from the speakers at either side of the keyboard, while deeper bass tones are fired downwards from the slots underneath.
Huawei MateBook X Pro review: Performance and battery life
The MateBook X Pro comes in two configurations. The basic model features an Intel Core i5-8250U processor with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of SSD storage. The second – the configuration we tested – is far beefier, with an Intel Core i7-8550U, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB NVMe SSD, plus discrete Nvidia MX150 graphics.
As you’d hope, this powerful hardware performed brilliantly in our 4K benchmarks. With an overall score of 76, the MateBook X Pro ranked ahead of both the similarly-priced 13in MacBook Pro and Dell’s Kaby Lake-equipped XPS 13 from last year.
The NVMe SSD is nippy too, producing sequential read and write speeds of 2.3GB/sec and 417MB/sec when tested with the AS SSD benchmark.
And the X Pro’s 57.4Wh battery will effortlessly last you an entire day of light use on a single charge, helped along by a new power management system that promises to boost the new machine’s power efficiency by 15%. If you do run short of juice, the USB Type-C fast charger can give you six hours of usage from just 30 minutes of charging.
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Huawei MateBook X Pro review: Verdict
Huawei’s MateBook X Pro is something special – not that we expected any less after last year’s model. Indeed, while that laptop struggled to gain the recognition it deserved, this 2018 re-do is better in almost every respect: it’s faster, it has a great, bezel-free display and, well, it looks seriously good, too.
Whether it will be able to take the Apple MacBook’s crown in this fiercely competitive category remains to be seen. But one thing’s for certain: if any device is going to do it, there’s no more deserving contender than the MateBook X Pro.