Oscar Wilde once said that beauty is a form of genius, “is higher, indeed, than genius, as it needs no explanation.”
That’s a rather high-brow way of describing how we feel looking at the Matebook X Pro, the latest in Huawei's laptop line up.
It’s a slim, sleek machine that seems to borrow more design inspiration from the latest smartphones rather than laptops: bezel-less, compact, powerful, and with a huge screen. But then maybe that's no surprise, coming from one of the world's biggest phone makers.
Huawei is pitching this as a MacBook-killer, but does it have more than looks to pull off that lofty goal? We found out when we got our hands on one ahead of the official reveal at Mobile World Congress this week.
Huawei Matebook X Pro Design & Build
Compared to the MacBook Pro, the MateBook X Pro is both thinner (14.6mm compared to 14.9mm) and lighter, weighing 1.33kg compared to the MacBook’s 1.37kg. Every millimetre counts when it comes to high-end laptops, so it’s off to a good start.
Once you open it up, though, it feels a lot bigger than it actually is; that’s because the screen cuts so close to the edges - a 91% screen-to-body ratio, according to Huawai, compared to the 85% on the regular Matebook X.
It’s a touchscreen too, for those that actually like the gestures built into Windows 10. Since it’s made of Gorilla Glass, it should shrug off your greasy fingerprints without leaving any scratches.
One of the reasons Huawei is able to make the screen so big is the omission of the webcam, which you'd usually find at the top of the screen. Instead of ditching it completely, the MateBook X Pro cleverly pockets it away underneath a button on the keyboard.
This is a neat, space-saving design, and means security-conscious users can rest easy knowing that if hackers gain access to the camera without their knowledge, all they’ll be able to see is blackness. Until you pop it up, of course.
On the side are two USB-C ports for charging and data, but since not everyone has made the transition yet, there’s a regular USB port too.
Bashing out a few lines of “the quick brown fox” on the keyboard, it felt good to use and pretty responsive. Knowing that it’s spill-proof puts our hearts at ease too, but we look forward to splashing our morning cup of coffee on it just to be sure.
The huge trackpad is appreciated as well, and should mean you’re nipping about the screen without any trouble.
Huawei Matebook X Pro Screen & sound
Huawei reckons the MateBook X Pro has a 1500:1 contrast ratio and 450 nits of brightness, stretched across 3000x2000 pixels. That sounds impressive, and to its credit, it looked pretty good when we saw it. Crisp when it came to detail, and with a nice range of hues to the green fields and mountains used as its desktop background.
Since we were stuck in Huawei's demo room for our hands-on, we can’t yet say whether it'll hold up quite as well outside in the glaring sun.
Wide viewing angles mean you can still see what’s onscreen even when you’re nearly side-by-side to it, which is good if you’ve got some friends gathered round the laptop to watch a movie or look at holiday photos. If you’re working with sensitive information (or simply don’t want nosy parkers looking at what you’re doing), though? Then you might not appreciate it as much.
The MateBook X Pro has Dolby Atmos audio, much like the original MateBook X did, but here Huawei has split the frequency range up into what it’s calling a quad speaker setup: there are two speakers on the left and side – one for bass at the bottom, and one for treble at the top – and two matching speakers on the right hand side.
Demos are good and all, but it’ll be interesting to see whether this diminutive device can really blast your tracks you way you want it. We'll find out in a full review closer to launch.
Huawei Matebook X Pro Performance
Although we didn’t quite have enough time to truly put this machine through its paces, we do know what it’s packing: an 8th generation i7 Intel processor – more specifically, the i7 8550U.
That's a chip you'd normally find in a thicker laptop, but Huaweu reckons it is able to keep the silicon cool enough to run it at peak performance, giving it an edge over M-series Intel chips.
There’s also 16GB of RAM and a 512GB NVMe SSD, which should easily be enough power and storage for most people on the go, and it’s powered by a 57Wh battery.
Battery life was undoubtedly what a part of what stopped the original MateBook X being a five-star performer, as working with anything more arduous than Microsoft Office and Google Chrome saw the laptop lose power in three or four hours. Hopefully this is something that Huawei has improved upon for its more professional machine.
Huawei Matebook X Pro Initial verdict
The MateBook X Pro certainly feels like a future-facing laptop. The Cat’s eye-esque camera is a considered approach to how people use webcams, and is a smart way of getting more screen for your money.
The powerful processor, oodles of storage space, and USB-C ports are sure to turn the head of the Windows power user looking for something they can use on the go, too.
With a slick design, there’s no doubt that Huawei is talking the talk when it comes to putting out a laptop that could knock Apple’s MacBook off its perch – the only question is if it can walk the walk too. We'll find out when we give it a full review ahead of the official launch.