The Huawei MateBook X Pro (Mach-W19B) with its aluminum body, raw computing power and excellent audio quality cuts a new picture of how ultraportables ought to look and perform in 2018 and beyond.
- Thin, sleek design
- Comfy, oversized touchpad
- Excellent audio quality. Gorgeous, bright screen
- Incredible battery life
- Creative webcam is still flawed
- Lacks an SD slot
We have seen PC manufacturers go heads-over with top-notch technologies and designs, but we didn’t anticipate Huawei’s direct assault on the bests of Dell, Apple, Lenovo and Asus in the high-end computing niche. For buyers looking for an attractive alternative to the clichéd Surfaces and MacBooks of this world, the Huawei MateBook X Pro (Mach-W19B) is perhaps the only thing worth considering among the best laptops in the market.
Huawei has managed to deliver a sleek ultraportable laptop that mimics the Apple MacBook Pro (2018) on everything –from color to keyboard switches. But in surprising twist, Huawei’s replica of the MacBook Pro is luxurious, performant and long-lasting, with subtle improvements upon both Apple’s design and the Dell XPS 13’s performance.
Granted, the company has achieved such a design by emulating the trend setters, albeit closely, it’s clear that none of them has managed to realize this level of balance of form and function. Sure, you may opt to pay handsomely for the big names, but if brands don’t excite you, the math works in Huawei’s favor with a complete experience that none of its competitors have managed to muster for a similar price.
The MateBook X’s competitors boast of impeccable designs, solid materials and are valuably portable. So, Huawei had to make theirs more premium if they were to garner more fans to their side despite the stiff competition. The latest iteration of the MateBook X Pro (Mach-W19B) sports an aluminum unibody design with diamond-cut edges engraved in a sandblast finish. The final product is an ultraportable laptop that looks luxe – and carries the same feel as well.
Measuring 0.19 inches at its thinnest end and 0.57 inches at its thickest flank, this is no ordinary ultraportable. All that while, it weighs a paltry 2.93 pounds, making this Huawei flagship laptop lighter thinner than even Apple’s MacBook Air (5.3 pounds).
It is interesting to note that Huawei are keen to point out that this is a very slim and thin laptop that you can comfortably lug around, may it be to college or during a business trip. It comes in two colors, Space Gray and Mystic Silver (our review model), but both look fascinating up close. For a daily use ultraportable, the lightweight and portable profile means that you can comfortably tuck it into a backpack or a tablet sleeve, and still enjoy the incredible power contained within.
In addition to the design, you might take note of the laptop’s opening mechanism when closed. To open it up, all you need to do is slide your finger under the top of the screen, lift it, nod the laptop springs open smoothly. This is particularly useful if you want to use the laptop in one hand, or need to demonstrate something using the other hand.
Keyboard and Touchpad
Huawei’s designers managed to recreate the MacBook Pro’s keyboard, complete with the signature shallow key travel that always keeps MacBook users on the edge. The keys are comfy and sturdy, but they hardly flex when you press them –which is a nice thing to have on a laptop. However, with the firmness, you’ll either love or hate the typing experience, but in either case, you’ll get used to it. Maybe, over several weeks of using the keyboard surfing the web or crafting mails, your fingertips will get used to the shallow key travel.
Next in line is the touchpad, which is the best you can ever get on a Windows laptop. While not surprising for a laptop of this ilk, it’s worth noting that the touchpad is inspired by the Apple Force Touch pad, which itself is much better than most Windows Precision Touchpads. Let’s face it, Huawei made attempts to recreate even the MacBook Pro’s touchpad, and they did succeed to a higher degree, resulting in a huge, sturdy and extremely responsive pad.
Just about the only difference between what you have on the MacBook Pro, is that the former uses a physical switch mechanism that is harder to click at the top than at the bottom. To improve usability, Apple uses haptic feedback to deliver uniformity in the virtual click mechanism at the point where your finger meets the pad.
Biometrics and Webcam
On the upper right corner of the keyboard, you’ll find a power button that doubles as an incredibly accurate fingerprint reader. You’ll be surprised at how accurate it can read your print, in a way that you can’t compare with many fingerprint readers, meaning that with a single press, you start up the PC and log into your Windows 10 account.
It is a nice feature to have, considering that the MateBook’s webcam (embedded into the keyboard) lacks the requisite infrared sensors needed for face recognition logins. Apparently, the laptop’s webcam is on the borderline of being unusable, making it perhaps the only serious flaw on this laptop. It is creatively positioned in a pop-up housing in the middle of the keyboard’s top row, since there isn’t space for it on the insanely thin bezel.
However, with the location, it means that you can’t really use it for a video call whilst typing, since the fingers will be blocking the lens. How much that is of concern really depends on how often you need a webcam versus how worried you’re of hackers spying on you.
Now you can interact with the MateBook Pro via a 13.9-inch touchscreen with snappy response and a Gorilla Glass coating to protect it from scratches. It is a 3K (3,000 x 2,000) resolution panel, adding up to 260 PPI (pixel per inch) pixel density, meaning it is fluently sharp, although you may notice that it’s squarer than most everyday laptops. The rationale behind that shape is the 3:2 aspect ratio, rather than the common 16:9 ratio.
As a result, you get more vertical space tan you’d get from other laptops. A 3:2 aspect ratio is a big bonus for productivity, but if you’ll be watching movies and TV on this screen you might experience pronounced black bars at the top and bottom of the display. It doesn’t matter what you use it for, but the screen looks sharp and vibrant, thanks to a 450-nit brightness and 1,500:1 contrast that combine to deliver vibrancy and extremely deep blacks.
Moreover, the glossy finish and In-Plan Switching (IPS) technology make colors more brilliant. It doesn’t include a digital stylus, something digital artists use, but for the rest of us the touchscreen is more than a bargain here.
The Mach-W19B includes a full-fledged USB 3.0 Type-A port, in addition to a pair of USB-C ports, of which one is used as a receptacle for the included charger. The Type-A port eliminates the need to carry around a host of Type-C adapters, while the full Thunderbolt 3 port allows you connect and power all your peripherals, displays and external eGPUs with ease.
Missing are an SD card reader and the occasional SIM slot you find in most business laptops. If you must use an Ethernet connection, you’ll need an adapter, meanwhile you can do with the MateBook’s built-in 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
With an 8th Gen Intel Core i5-8250U processor running at a clock speed of 1.6GHz, 8GB of memory, 256GB solid-state drive and Intel HD Graphics 620, the Huawei MateBook X Pro is configured to handle all types of everyday tasks you’re likely to perform on a modern ultraportable laptop. The screen resolution gives some headroom for video and photo editing, and it even allows for some casual gaming at medium quality and lower resolutions.
For those with less demanding needs like watching video and checking mail, this is the best choice, with a configuration that closely matches the entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro. To get a glimpse of how much value the MateBook X Pro carries, just consider this configuration in relation to its Apple competition, the 13-inch MacBook Pro featuring a Core i7 CPU, 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD, but cost over $2100.
If your computing needs are a bit more demanding –perhaps you need a sleek machine for video and photo editing as well as other office tasks– you’ll be fine with the Huawei MateBook X Pro (Mach-W29C), which comes with an Intel Core i7-8550U processor running at a clock speed of 1.8GHz, 16GB of memory, 512GB SSD and a Nvidia GeForce MX150 graphics card.
Overall, the MateBook X Pro stacks up well against competitors like the Dell XPS 13, with most of them boasting Core i7-855U CPUs and displays with greater than 1080p resolutions. Simply put, the holistic power and profile envisaged within the MateBook X Pro makes it perhaps an even more appealing alternative to the Dell XPS 13 and MacBook Pro, both on performance and design-wise.
Excellent battery life. How else can you describe more than 11 hours of juice on a thin and light machine with a high-res display? The MacBook Pro 13 leads the packs with 16 hours and 15 minutes, but we’re still contented with the fact that you’ll have enough juice to see you through a full work day, and then some to get you back home. If you need to charge it, it won’t take long too, typically less than an hour gets you from about 15 percent to a full charge.
The Bottom Line
Let’s be honest here. Huawei’s sophomore effort in the laptop category has paid off well with MateBook X Pro –that’s unapologetically a MacBook Pro clone, but an excellent one for that matter. It features an intriguing screen ration, nimble sound quality, and a sweet blend of price and performance than the machine that inspired it. The webcam position renders it untenable for videoconferencing, but its just about the only deal-breaker you’ll ever find on this system, especially for folks who spends lots of time on video calls.
For the rest of us, the MateBook X Pro is excellent, and is perhaps the only alternative for both the macOS MacBook Pro and mainstream ultraportables like Dell’s XPS 13. If your budget is cordial to an ultraportable laptop that costs, it should be at the top of your list.