Huawei didn't fix what wasn't broken, and instead made the Matebook X Pro an even better laptop in 2019
Huawei is relatively new to the world of laptops, but every laptop that it has made so far has been a home run for the company. Huawei has taken what it has learned from making smartphones and tablets and brought it over to the PC space. With the Matebook X Pro (2019), it wasn't seeking to reinvent the wheel, but instead fine-tune the already popular Matebook X Pro it had released in 2018. And it looks like Huawei has done just that.
Lightweight, but not light on performance
One thing everyone can agree on, is the fact that we want lightweight laptops. We don't want a laptop that weighs 10 pounds, especially if we are traveling a lot, or taking it to the coffee shop or even back and forth to class. Having a lighter weight laptop is always the preference. But, when laptops are lighter, that usually means that the performance is not there. Not true with the Matebook X Pro.
Inside, Huawei offers the Matebook X Pro with either an Intel Core i5-8250U processor and 8GB of RAM, or an Intel Core i7-8565U processor with 16GB of RAM. These are the latest processors available at the time the Matebook X Pro was announced. The ninth-generation chipsets from Intel launched shortly after. Huawei also includes the NVIDIA MX250 for graphics.
Performance is pretty good, even though this has just a single fan inside. It will get warm from time to time, particularly when you are playing games on the Matebook X Pro. But for the most part, it stays pretty cool and quiet. It's able to handle everything we threw at it. Though, playing a few games of League of Legends back to back, does really get the fans going pretty loudly. But, on the flip-side, that's going to happen with any laptop that is not a true gaming laptop.
The NVIDIA MX250 is not the best graphics card out right now, and to some, it's a downgrade from the MX150 offered in last year's Matebook X Pro. But it gets the job done. If you're looking for something that's going to offer some impressive gaming capabilities, then you're going to want to look at Razer or even Dell's own gaming laptops. The Huawei Matebook X Pro can do a lot, but offering the best gaming experience, is not one of them.
In an effort to be totally transparent here, Huawei provided us with a review unit that sports the Intel Core i7-8565U processor, 16GB of RAM, and 1TB SSD storage.
Looks like a MacBook Pro, Doesn't act like a MacBook Pro
Some readers of Android Headlines might be surprised to learn that I've been a MacBook Pro user for almost a decade now. And the two months I've spent with the Matebook X Pro was the first time I've used a Windows machine on a daily basis since around 2010. So there was a lot to get used to, and that includes how Windows 10 works, compared to macOS Mojave. But after a few days, it was pretty easy to get used to a lot of the changes, and I have to say, the Matebook X Pro might look like the MacBook Pro, but it is definitely no MacBook Pro clone.
Sure, Huawei does have the same chiclet-style keyboard on the Matebook X Pro, and there's still not a ton of travel with the keys. For most people, that would be a turn off. But since I've been using a newer MacBook Pro for the past couple of years, that is something I'm already used too. It also has speakers on either side of the keyboard, which are miles above what Apple offers on its MacBook Pro.
The trackpad has improved on Windows, greatly, since 2010. To the point where you can actually scroll on webpages, instead of needing to drag the sliding bar on the side of the window. The many gestures that are built-in, work pretty well on this trackpad. It's a larger trackpad, but still not quite as large as the one that Apple has - which is just an absurd size for their 13-inch MacBook Pro.
During the two months that I used the Matebook X Pro, I really enjoyed it. It did take some getting used too, but it wasn't too hard to get used too. Though, having some apps missing from Windows (compared to them being available on macOS) did take a bit longer to get used to.
This display is amaze-balls
Having only used the previous Matebook X Pro for a short time, during hands on in Barcelona at Mobile World Congress, I really didn't get a chance to really appreciate the display Huawei put on its high-end laptop. After having spent a good amount of time with the 2019 model, it is pretty amazing how good this display is.
With the 3:2 aspect ratio, it's closer to a square than most laptops are these days, but as Huawei, Google and some other companies have pointed out, this aspect ratio is better for web browsing. And I definitely agree there. It makes your browser windows taller, so you're not scrolling as much, and can see more on the display.
This is also a 3K display, with a resolution of 3000x2000. That makes everything super crisp. Watching video on this screen is pretty incredible, and something I did (probably) to much of, while using this laptop. Add in the Dolby Atmos functionality, and this is a great media consuming laptop.
Speaking of Dolby Atmos, it really makes these speakers pop. Even with it turned off, these speakers get pretty loud, and still sound great. But with Dolby Atmos on, it sounds even better. The mids and highs are crisp and the lows are pretty bass heavy. You can also adjust Dolby Atmos based on what you're doing. Whether that's playing a game, listening to an audiobook or a podcast, or even just watching a video.
Battery life is unreal
Huawei touts that this laptop has great battery life, around 13 hours on a single charge. We've been able to consistently get between 12 and 15 hours on a charge, all depending on what we were doing that day. That is pretty insane when you think about it. Especially given how thin this laptop is and also how powerful it is. Compared to my MacBook Pro, it actually outperforms it, in regards to battery life.
I took the Huawei Matebook X Pro to Google I/O earlier this month, and did all of our coverage off of it, and didn't charge it once during the day (only at night). That included writing hands on of the Pixel 3a and Google Nest Hub Max, as well as live-tweeting the keynote at Google I/O, all on battery. Even though Google provided plenty of places for press to plug in their laptops and smartphones, I never needed too. After the first day of Google I/O was over, I still had about 40-percent charge left. Compare that to my MacBook Pro that I used last year at Google I/O, it would have been dead.
This is even more impressive, since the Matebook X Pro was at full brightness the entire time - since Google I/O is outdoors. But if you're wondering whether you can get a full day of battery life out of this laptop, don't worry, because you can.
As always, it's worth mentioning that you might not get the same battery life as we did. As with smartphones, battery life on a laptop is going to largely depend on what apps you are using, what settings you have, as well as the brightness of that display. So keep that in mind.
The webcam is garbage, and you shouldn't use it
The nearly bezel-less display does look amazing, but that means that Huawei had to find another place to put the webcam. And that other place was actually in the keyboard. It is between the F6 and F7 keys, and has a big camera icon on it. Just press that button and the camera opens up to use as a webcam. But it's in a terrible position. It's not even going to get your face in the frame, if you're looking at the display of the Matebook X Pro. If Huawei were able to make it stick up a bit more, it might be more usable, but then it would also be more likely to break. But this is not a great spot, for those that actually use their webcam.
On top of that, built-in webcams generally aren't of great quality. And that is also true here with the Matebook X Pro. The webcam is a 0.7-megapixel webcam, and it definitely looks like it. Using this for Skype or Hangouts video calls, users on the other end have trouble even seeing you, because the camera is just that bad.
Now, in Huawei's defense, the company does say that the majority of users do not use the built-in webcam. If they use a webcam, they have an external one (like myself, with the Logitech C920). On top of that, most also put tape or some sort of cover over their webcam so that it is not recording when they don't want it too. By putting it in the keyboard this way, users don't need to cover it up. So Huawei sought to put the webcam in the keyboard because (1) most users don't use the webcam and, (2) users won't need to put tape on it.
With more and more people working remotely these days, webcams are starting to really gain in popularity, mostly because of video calls. So hopefully Huawei is able to find another place to put this webcam in a future Matebook X Pro release.
OneHop Sharing is useless if you don't have a specific Huawei or HONOR smartphone
When you first open up the Matebook X Pro, there is a big Huawei sticker, that's also pretty thick. And it's next to the Intel sticker, beneath the keyboard. This is actually an NFC sticker, allowing you to quickly share files between your smartphone and your laptop. On paper, it's pretty cool, but there are a lot of limitations here, which makes it a pretty poor implementation.
First off, it's only available for Huawei and HONOR phones. Secondly, that phone needs NFC. Finally, these phones need to be running EMUI 9.1 or MagicUI 2.1 (if it's an HONOR smartphone). That list is pretty short, only the Mate 20, P20, P20 Pro, Mate 20 X, Mate 20 RS, P30 and P30 Pro are compatible with this feature. So needless to say, we weren't able to check it out. Since we don't have a Huawei or HONOR smartphone compatible with it.
Normally, this wouldn't be in the bad section of a review, but it is this time around because of how many Huawei and HONOR phones are available in the US. There are virtually no Huawei or HONOR smartphones available in the US, and of those on the list above, none of them are here in the US. Users would need to import them, which will happen, but you shouldn't import it just to use this OneHop feature.
There's really no reason why Huawei couldn't expand this to other smartphones, particularly other Android smartphones. Since this is just NFC, and not really anything else. But Huawei wants you to use their phones and not their competitors, which makes sense, unless you live in the US.
Display is not perfect for outdoors
While we were geeking out over the display on the Huawei Matebook X Pro, it's not a perfect display. It is bright, but not quite bright enough to be used outside in direct sunlight. As I mentioned, when talking about the battery life, I used this outside at Google I/O earlier this month, and even at full brightness, it was still pretty tough to see the display on the Matebook X Pro. It was usable, for the most part, particularly if you were in the shade. But otherwise, it was very tough to see the display. Luckily I didn't have dark mode on, or it would have made it much more difficult.
The Matebook X Pro's screen only gets to about 450 nits of brightness, which does explain why it was so dim, outside. However, most people aren't going to be sitting outside working on their laptop all the time. So this is likely not a deal-breaker for most people, but still worth mentioning.
Pricing is on the high side
The Matebook X Pro is not available in the US, officially yet, and pricing has not yet been announced. So we are stuck with having to convert European pricing to the US, and it comes out pretty pricey for the Matebook X Pro. With the entry-level model coming in at $1800 USD. That comes with an Intel Core i5 and 8GB of RAM, that seems pretty pricey for what you're getting. With the higher-end model, the one we've been testing, coming in at about $2250. Hopefully those prices do come down when they launch in the US, as that is a bit overpriced for what you're getting.
That's nearly the same price as the Razer laptops that are available right now, and those offer much faster chipsets and more RAM, not to mention they are better for gaming too.
In the two months that I've had the Huawei Matebook X Pro, I've truly fallen in love with this laptop. It does everything really well, being ultra-portable, powerful, and having long battery life. Sure there are a few things here that aren't perfect, like the display brightness, or the Huawei OneHop sharing, but as a package, this is likely one of the best ultrabooks on the market right now.