The MateBook X that Huawei introduced last year is so stylish that it looks like it costs far more than its $1,099 asking price. But it suffers from a few ailments that are all too common among high-end ultraportables, such as the lack of a touch screen, and the sole port option being USB-C connectors. This year, Huawei has apparently fessed up to these deficiencies, adding more ports, a touch screen, and several more goodies to a brand new Pro version of the MateBook X that will go on sale in a few months. We do`n’t know how much it will cost yet and we haven’t tested it in PC Labs, but judging from the few minutes we spent with it this week, it is far better than the old MateBook X and could potentially hold its own against the competition from Apple, Dell, and others.
The Space Gray color of the MateBook X Pro is a carryover from the MateBook X and is essentially a dead ringer for the color that Apple uses on its MacBook and MacBook Pro lineups, so it’s clear that the MateBook X Pro is yet another would-be MacBook killer. You can also order one in Mystic Silver, but no matter the color, the laptop comes with aerospace-grade aluminum alloy that makes it feel reassuringly sturdy.
When you open it up, you notice two more features that indicate the MateBook X Pro isn’t just gunning for the MacBook, it’s also seeking to be better than Dell’s XPS lineup and Microsoft’s Surface Pro$799.99 at Microsoft. The 4:2 aspect ratio that the MateBook X Pro’s screen shares with the Surface Pro’s display is rare on laptops these days, but it’s the ideal ratio for getting serious work done in Excel or other similar apps since you can see more rows of data or lines of text.
The border around this screen is incredibly thin, too, which evokes the thin bezel movement that the Dell XPS 13$799.99 at Dell ushered in a few years ago. Huawei claims that the MateBook X Pro has a screen-to-body ratio of 91 percent, which is even higher than the XPS 13. It’s a bit of a ho-hum arms race, to be sure, but there’s no denying that the thinner the bezel, the more futuristic and stylish the laptop looks.
To top off Huawei’s display dominance, the MateBook X Pro’s screen is touch-enabled and has a 3K resolution (3,000 by 2,000) and 450 nits of brightness. That means it’s an inch larger and has roughly a thousand more pixels than the MateBook X, and the difference is immediately apparent. The screen is incredible, and we can’t wait to get our hands on it again.
Unfortunate Camera Placement
Display brilliance aside, the most unique (and also most unfortunate) feature of the MateBook X Pro is probably the location of its webcam. The camera lens is hidden inside a dummy key in the middle of the keyboard’s top row. You press it to pop it out, and press it again to stuff it back into the keyboard when you’re done using it. Huawei claims that this placement is partly out of necessity, since there’s no room for a webcam on the thin bezel, and partly to eliminate the need for a sticker to cover the webcam when you’re not using it. Still, it’s clearly a suboptimal placement, since it mainly shows off a view of your knuckles if you’re typing and videoconferencing at the same time.
When the MateBook X Pro goes on sale in the US, it will be available in a few different configurations. The base model will have 8GB of RAM, an Intel Core i5 processor with integrated graphics, and a 256GB SSD. Stepping up to the Core i7 model will give you the option of adding a 512GB SSD and an Nvidia GeForce MX150 graphics card. A discrete GPU in an ultraportable is rare, and at 2.93 pounds and 0.57 inches thin, the MateBook X Pro could be the thinnest and lightest laptop to include one.
Port options include two USB-C ports, one of which has Thunderbolt 3 support, as well as a single USB 3.0 port. USB-C ports can charge phones or other gadgets, and they also double as power connectors for the 65W AC adapter. As an added bonus, Huawei will throw in a USB-C dock that includes HDMI and VGA ports for connecting to an external monitor. If only Apple would make such a customer-friendly gesture.
Don’t Worry About Bloatware or Spyware
The MateBook Pro X will come with a Windows 10 Signature Edition, which means that Microsoft controls the software that’s preinstalled on the laptop. The main benefit of Signature Edition machines is to cut down the amount of useless trial version software and links to websites that bloat a new PC.
For Huawei, conforming to Signature Edition standards is also an attempt to move past the privacy concerns that have plagued the company ever since US intelligence officials accused it of spying for the Chinese government by installing spyware on its products. We think such claims are bogus (here’s why), and the Signature Edition software should help assuage your concerns even if you disagree.
Check back in a few months for our full review of the Huawei MateBook X Pro.