MateBook X Pro first look: A MacBook Pro with Windows

MateBook X Pro first look: A MacBook Pro with Windows

  • 13.9-inch, 3000 x 2000 LTPS, 260ppi, 450 nits, 1500:1 contrast ratio 100% sRGB, 178-degree viewing angles, 10-point multi-touch
  • Intel Core i7 8550U
  • Nvidia GeForce MX150, 2GB GDDR5
  • 16GB LPDDR3
  • 512GB NVMe SSD
  • 1.33kg
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An opening look at Huawei’s super-expensive MacBook Pro killer

Huawei has unveiled its latest top-end MateBook X Pro Windows 10 laptop at MWC. An updated version of the original MateBook X that won us over last year, it features key improvements including a new, near-bezel-less design, the addition of a touchscreen, increased connectivity, and an upgrade to Intel’s 8th-gen CPUs.

The updates may not sound riveting, but having had some hands-on time with the MateBook X Pro, you can colour me impressed. Make no mistake, if it’s priced correctly then the MateBook X could be one of the best Ultrabooks to arrive this year.

MateBook X Pro specs

The MateBook X Pro matches the specifications of other top-end Ultrabooks and MacBooks, and will be available in two different configurations at launch. You can see the full specs of both models in the table below.

Model MateBook X Pro option one MateBook X Pro option two
Screen 13.9-inch, 3000 x 2000 LTPS, 260ppi, 450 nits, 1500:1 contrast ratio, 100% sRGB, 178-degree viewing angles, 10-point multi-touch 13.9-inch, 3000 x 2000 LTPS, 260ppi, 450 nits, 1500:1 contrast ratio 100%, sRGB, 178-degree viewing angles, 10-point multi-touch
CPU Intel Core i7 8550U Intel Core i5 8250U
Graphics Nvidia GeForce MX150, 2GB GDDR5 Intel Integrated Graphics
Storage 512GB NVMe SSD 256GB NVMe SSD
Weight 1.33kg TBC
Battery 57.4Wh 57.4Wh
Connectivity 1X USB C,v 1X Thunderbolt 3, 1X USB A,  1X 3.5mm, USB A 1X USB C,v 1X Thunderbolt 3, 1X USB A,  1X 3.5mm, USB A
Software Windows 10 (Pro on model demoed) Windows 10 (Pro on model demoed)

MateBook X Pro – Is it any good?

The specs are pretty par for the course for a 2018 Ultrabook and mean the MateBook Pro X should be able to go toe-to-toe with most competing products, such as the new Dell XPS 13. However, I won’t be able to confirm this until I’ve had a chance to benchmark the two devices.

My only slight quibble is that the company didn’t offer a definitive answer if it would ever consider releasing, or already plans to release, a version packing one of Intel and AMD’s shiny new G-series chips. The G chips were unveiled earlier this year and combine Intel’s existing H-series enthusiast mobile CPUs with AMD Radeon RX Vega M onboard graphics. They’re set to appear in a wave of new devices, including Dell’s spiffy-looking XPS 15 2-in-1.

Although I haven’t yet had the opportunity to test any laptop running them, if Intel’s claims are to be believed, these could completely shake up the market. They’d offer unheard-of performance and the ability to play AAA games at 1080p. I’m not convinced that this is something the MateBook Pro X could do, unless you use the Thunderbolt port to attach an external GPU.

What makes the MateBook X Pro appear special are the number of subtle improvements that Huawei has made to its overall design.

For starters, it’s a gorgeous-looking laptop. The unibody metal design has a wonderfully premium sandblasted finish and diamond-cut edges make the device look wonderfully high-end. The premium feel is further aided by the laptop’s ludicrously thin 4.4mm bezel, which to the naked eye looked even more slight than the edging around the XPS 13’s InfinityEdge display. The end result is a device that makes the Apple MacBook Pro and its larger bezel look slightly dated.

I’m also a huge fan of the fact that Huawei has taken note of our previous criticism about the MateBook X’s lack of ports and added a full-size USB-A port to the laptop’s side. That Huawei managed to do this while keeping the MateBook X Pro’s body to 4.9-14.6mm thick is an impressive achievement that’s to be applauded.

 From what I’ve seen, as on the original MateBook X, Huawei has also managed to get all the basics right. As before, the screen looks great. I didn’t get a chance to run a colorimeter over it, and the representative on hand couldn’t give me gamut coverage figures outside of “100% sRGB”, but my naked-eye impressions were positive.

Colours looked rich and vibrant, without being overcooked. Whites were nicely clean, and the panel appeared to match Huawei’s 450-nit max brightness claims, which will make it more than good enough for day-to-day and outdoor use.

Like the original MateBook X, the Pro has a backlit “spill-resistant” keyboard and touchpad, which Huawei claims is the largest you’ll find on a 14-inch laptop. In the time I had with the laptop, it felt great to use. The touchpad is sizeable and easily dealt with all the multi-touch commands I threw at it. The keyboard, while a little squished together, was suitably reactive, with the keys offering decent travel and a pleasing click action.

The return of the fingerprint scanner is also welcome. The scanner is built into the MateBook X Pro’s power button and lets you unlock and wake up the laptop with only a single click.

The company has also worked to improve the Pro’s audio capabilities, loading it with a new quad-speaker system. The four speakers sit at the top and bottom of the MateBook’s keyboard and support 2nd-gen Dolby Atmos surround sound. The speakers split frequencies, so the two on the front cover the upper frequencies while the two at the back cover the lower end.

As an added cherry on top, Huawei has loaded them with a double suspension system that separates the speakers from the motherboard and chassis, which will in theory reduce noise/distortion when the volume’s cranked.While I didn’t get round to testing these during my demo, considering how good the original MateBook X’s proved, I have high hopes.

The only design feature I’m not completely sold on is the MateBook’s custom “recessed camera”. Huawei made a big deal about this being a world first during its London press demo, but from what I’ve seen it isn’t actually that great. As a result of the reduced bezel, Huawei has taken the decision to embed the front camera in the laptop’s keyboard. It pops up from the keyboard when pressed, in theory making it a safer bet for privacy-conscious buyers.

The issue is that, as on the Dell XPS 13, by placing the camera so low it’s all but impossible to frame yourself for a video call without giving people a fairly unflattering view of your nasal passages. Also, if you need to type any notes during a video meeting, that’s also a somewhat distracting sight for everyone else.

MateBook X Pro price

Huawei hasn’t confirmed the MateBook X Pro’s UK pricing, but it will be available in Europe in the below options.

  • i5/8GB/256GB MW150, €1499 (roughly £1316)
  • i5/8GB/512GB MX150, €1699 (roughly £1419)
  • i7/16GB/512GB MX150 €1899 (roughly £1667)

The pricing puts the X Pro in the same ballpark as the top-end MacBook Pro and XPS 13. Considering Huawei’s lack of experience compared to both Apple and Dell in the Ultrabook space, this could be a key sticking point for more cautious buyers.

MateBook X Pro release date

Huawei hasn’t given the MateBook X Pro a firm release date. All we know is that it will launch at some point in spring.

First impressions

Huawei may not be the first name you think of when shopping for a top-end laptop, but from what I’ve seen so far, the MateBook Pro X is a stunning piece of kit. Featuring a wonderfully premium design, the X Pro easily gives the XPS 13 and MacBook Pro a run for their money when it comes to looks.

While I’d like to see a G-series model hit the market, the MateBook X Pro matches most of the big players when it comes to specs. This, coupled with a number of clever tweaks, mean it could be one of the best Ultrabooks to arrive this year.