Last year, Huawei made their first laptop, and it was pretty good for a first effort! The MateBook X had pretty short battery life and a so-so touchpad, but it got a lot right, too — it had the best laptop audio we’ve ever heard, top-notch specs, and a premium aluminum build (albeit one a little easy to scuff up, as we learned the hard way). Huawei is looking to improve on that first effort with the MateBook X Pro, which they announced this week at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The MateBook X Pro represents a slight redesign and a spec upgrade, but not everything has been changed for the better.
First, the obvious stuff — the processor has been upgraded to an 8th generation Intel Core i7 or i5 CPU, the latest generation available. Unlike last year’s laptop, Huawei has included a discrete GPU in the MateBook X Pro. The Nvidia GeForce MX150 isn’t exactly a world beater, but it’s more powerful than integrated Intel graphics, so it’ll give a little boost to gaming and video and image editing software. That’s all still paired with 8 GB or 16 GB of RAM and either a 256 GB or a 512 GB NVMe PCIe SSD for storage.
The MateBook X Pro has a 13.9″ 3000 x 2000 resolution display. Once again the bezels are extremely thin, keeping the laptop as small as possible. It’s still a bit bigger than the MateBook X, and as a result weighs 2.93 pounds instead of the super-light 2.31 pounds of the MateBook X. That’s still pretty light, especially considering it’s larger and contains a discrete GPU. It’s still definitely light and thin enough to be easy on the back for all you mobile workers out there.
The new display looks terrific, but that also means there’s going to be more drain on the battery — something that was already bad news for the MateBook X. The MateBook X Pro does have a larger 57.4 Wh battery (up from 41.4 Whr), but we’ll have to do a full review to see if the larger capacity makes up for the improved display and actually adds to battery life. We only got five to seven hours out of the MateBook X (and far less than that at full brightness), so Huawei has a lot of ground to make up here.
The audio, at least, should be just as great. The Dolby Atmos Sound System from the MateBook X returns, meaning the MateBook X Pro should be tough to beat. The Dolby Atmos Sound System is a bit more than Dolby’s Atmos technology, which creates a really impressive virtual surround sound effect. The complete sound system is so far unique to Huawei — Dolby usually just supplies the software, but here, they’ve designed and placed the speakers in the laptop to optimize their software. The effect should be even better this time, as they’ve used four speakers instead of two.
Huawei has also included four mics, but despite that, you might find video calls with the MateBook X Pro disappointing. Because the bezels around the display are so thin, there wasn’t room to put the webcam in its usual spot above the display. Huawei’s solution is admirably clever, but flawed — in the middle of the row of function keys on the keyboard, Huawei hid a little pop-up webcam. That’s pretty cool in that you can hide the webcam when not in use — no more needing to put tape over your webcam, which is a completely legit thing (if Mark Zuckerberg feels the need to do it, there must be good reason). Unfortunately, as we’ve learned from recent Dell laptops, putting the webcam below the display makes for a horrible camera angle. We appreciate the inventiveness of the pop-up camera, but nothing’s worth having to do video calls where the other person is looking up your nose.
But anyway, speaking of security, the fingerprint scanner embedded in the power button is back! This was a minor but pretty handy feature in last year’s laptop — once your fingerprint is registered to the laptop, turning it on and getting started only takes a few seconds and a single button press.
Port fiends may be bummed about the lack of USB Type-A ports — you’ll only find two USB Type-C ports (one with support for the speedy Thunderbolt 3 standard) and a headphone jack. There’s no SD card slot either, so all you photographers out there will for sure need some kind of adapter (the MateDock 2 has USB Type-A and video ports, and is available as an optional accessory).
We’ll have to do a full review to really know how the MateBook X Pro performs, but unless Huawei has made some huge and unexpected goof, the only real question is how the battery will handle the extra power and the greater demands of the improved display. If the battery life is indeed much improved, then we’ll have an excellent Windows laptop on par with anything the likes of HP, Dell, Lenovo, and Asus are making — even if it’s not one that’s going to give you flattering video chats.
The MateBook X Pro is confirmed to be on its way to North America in the spring, and will come in grey and silver. Huawei is quoting the starting price at €1,499 (i5/8 GB RAM/256 GB storage). That comes out to about $1,835, but the actual price in the United States could end up being less than that.