Huawei Matebook X
Still, it’s hard not to be skeptical of Huawei’s admittedly derivative pursuits. While their aspect ratios differ, MateBook X looks all too much like the 12-inch MacBook with Retina Display. Likewise, the “Prestige Gold” and the even more blatantly “inspired” Space Gray color variants of its all-aluminum shell are eyeroll-inducing, if only because of how unimaginative the naming conventions are.
Even so, you can’t fault Huawei for going after a market full of Windows users chomping at the bit for MacBook styled machine but dislike macOS.
Starting at €1,399 (about $1,570, £1,210, AU$2,090) with an i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM and 256GB SSD its also notably more affordable than the €1,699 ($1,499, £1,449, AU$2,199) MacBook Pro.
For one, it has a full-size keyboard uninhibited by the low travel of the MacBook Pro’s butterfly keys. It’s comfortable and, despite the MateBook X’s size, somehow feels more spacious than some 15-inch laptop keyboards.
X gon’ give it to ya
The MateBook X takes after Microsoft’s Surface devices and comes with an 3:2 display. Sadly, it isn’t the highest resolution panel around and with only 2,160 x 1,440 pixels across the screen, it’s just a step behind the MacBook Pro’s 2,560 x 1,600 Retina Display as well as the Surface Laptop’s 2,256 x 1,504 PixelSense Display.
It also takes advantage of the U-series Intel Core i5-7200U and Core i7-7500U processors depending on your configuration. Not only are these chips a step up from the Skylake processors you’ll find in the MacBook Pro, Huawei has implemented a fanless cooling system using an Microencapsulated Phase Change Materials.
If that sounds like some space age tech, that’s because it’s actually used into the aerospace field to absorb heat without the hassle of fan noise or having to worry about dust building up. It sounds like a novel system, but we’ll have to see how well it really works in our full review.As part of Intel’s more energy efficient CPU line, Huawei claims a 9-hour battery life for the MateBook X. That is, of course, the amount of time it would take for the Huawei MateBook X’s battery to deplete entirely from full health while playing 1080p video on continuous loop.
If a battery life of 10 hours is more than a declaration, Huawei could have a success on its hands, easily besting the its Matebook released last year.
Then there are the ports which, to be fair, don’t differ drastically from a lower-tier MacBook Pro. The Huawei MateBook X is similarly equipped with two USB Type-C ports (one of which is used for charging) and a headphone jack.
The main difference is that Apple expects you to pay $69 (£69, AU$109) for its AV multiport adapter. Meanwhile, the comparable MateDock 2.0 is bundled in with the MateBook X in addition to a USB-C to USB-A cable. The former gives you access to HDMI, VGA and USB Type-C for power, which can all be used simultaneously through a single cable.
Speaking of power, the MateBook X even comes with a smart charger, able to dynamically change its voltage depending on the device it’s connected to, suiting it just as well for your MateBook as for your smartphone or Nintendo Switch.
One of the coolest aspects of the Huawei MateBook X, however, lies in the onboard fingerprint scanner-power button combo. Unlike other fingerprint scanners out there, the MateBook X’s can tell who is using the computer, automatically booting up the device and logging into each user’s respective account with one simple touch.
Contrarily, in our hands-on demo with the MateBook X, Huawei was dead set on showing off the Dolby Atmos sound system, which in all honesty sounded okay at best. In an intro snippet we saw of Mad Max: Fury Road playing on the MateBook X, it was clear that Huawei wanted to prove that Dolby’s involvement in engineering the audio hardware was worthwhile.
The result was a middling series of sound effects and music that desperately wanted to emulate a cinema-quality surround sound experience. That’s not to say the sound on the MateBook X is insufferable, but bearing the Dolby Atmos name, it does leave something to be desired. It has range, but alas, audio from the laptop isn’t particularly loud or crisp enough to justify it as a central selling point for the MateBook X.
Lastly, the storage and memory options are pretty run-of-the-mill. As for storage, you can opt for either 256GB or 512GB of storage. That comes short of the MacBook Pro’s 1TB max of SSD storage, but we don’t suspect anyone will bat an eye with the money they’re sure to save. The 4GB and 8GB RAM options seem pretty light too, but you shouldn’t have any qualms if you go for the latter.
The Huawei MateBook X is like the new kid in school who jacks your style then somehow manages to pull it off better than you did. From the full-size punchy keyboard to the fairly sizeable wide-angle trackpad, the MateBook X takes everything we love about the 13-inch MacBook Pro and soups it up to make it even more compelling.
For Touch Bar skeptics, there’s a fingerprint scanner built into the power button, negating the need to buy an OLED strip add-on just for the added security protocol. And for everyone else, there’s a ton of promise here.
This machine is nearly as lightweight and silent, but with full-size 7th-generation Intel Core i5 and i7 processors instead of the performance-deficient Core M CPUs worn by the MacBook or the last generation CPUs in the MacBook Pro.
Plus, Huawei doesn’t kid itself. Although it’s a trend we’ve seen before from the likes of HP and Acer, any laptop that uses USB-C ports exclusively should come with the necessary adapters for USB-A, HDMI and the lot. We applaud the company for its bundling practices, though it was admittedly disappointing to hear that the Rose Gold-coated MateBook X is exclusive to Saudi Arabia.
With a significantly lower price, the MateBook X could really overshadow the MacBook.