The 2020 version of Huawei’s MateBook X Pro still looks and feels like the original. Apart from a minor upgrade to its internals, and the option for a new green finish, you’d be hard pressed to find many other differences in this new ultraportable. But when a laptop is this good—its first iteration received our coveted Editors’ Choice—why would you want much to change? Our only concern about this solid entry, at least in the U.S. market: Whether it will achieve any kind of widespread availability outside of circuitous side channels remains unclear.
The latest MateBook X Pro has the same sleek, ultra-slim body as its predecessors. A little over half an inch thick and weighing 2.9 pounds, this laptop remains light and slim enough to slip into any backpack or briefcase.
It retains its unconventional 13.9-inch, 3,000-by-2,000-pixel display, but Huawei has shrunk the bezels around the screen to give it more space. Though the aspect ratio means it’s short of 4K resolution, having the extra space is handy and simply makes this laptop look better than most others on the market.
Smartphone vendors have continually battled for a high screen-to-body ratio, and it’s nice to see that competition come to laptops. The screen is bright and punchy, and although we have not put it through the PCMag Labs for a proper comparison, anecdotally there’s little we could find qualms with. It also has touch functionality, which is a neat addition for those who want it.
One of the ways Huawei has managed to keep its screen bezels small is the removal of the webcam, pulling it from the top of the screen to a hidden pop-up button in the keyboard—to much controversy. There are benefits and drawbacks. It’s a boom for privacy advocates, as even if your PC picks up some malware that tries to access the camera, all it’s going to be able to see is black when the camera is retracted. However, its placement means that you can’t use the keyboard easily while the 1-megapixel webcam is on (your fingers get in the way), and the viewing angle remains poor. At a time when everyone is taking Zoom, Skype, or Hangout calls during quarantine, that can be a real hindrance.
Unfortunately, having a concealed webcam means you cannot have the speedy face-recognition sign-in of many current laptops using Windows Hello. However, Huawei has compensated for that with a fingerprint-scanner-cum-power-button, which can also be set to sign in specific users if you set up multiple profiles. This is quick and reliable, and a solution that I personally find preferable to the questionable security of facial recognition.
The keyboard and trackpad are ergonomic and easy to use—for the most part. The keyboard is well-spaced and well-balanced, and the trackpad underneath it is surprisingly large for such a small laptop. However, its physical switch design means that it’s easier to click from the bottom than from the top, in contrast to Apple’s MacBook range (and, now, other Windows laptops) that use haptic feedback for a more universal response across the whole pad. This is far from a deal-breaker, though. It’s just a matter of which feels more satisfying.
One trait that the MateBook X Pro does have over the MacBook Pro, while we’re comparing, is its ports. It comes with two USB Type-C ports that can also charge the laptop, as well as a standard USB 3.0 Type-A port and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Apple’s most recent laptops unfortunately lack the Type-A connection, making it more difficult to use legacy peripherals without shelling out for dongles.
As well as our Space Grey preview version, Huawei has introduced an Emerald Green finish to this laptop for people who, well, like green. Enough said.
Specs and Performance
The MateBook X Pro comes in a few varieties. Given that the primary Western market for the MateBook X Pro is Europe and Great Britain, we’ll talk about pricing in Euros, pounds, and dollars.
A €1,499 (£1,300/$1,600) configuration will net you a Core i5-10210U with 16GB of RAM and a 512GB solid-state drive. Another €200 gets you Nvidia’s GeForce MX250 GPU, and €300 on top of that provides a Core i7-10510U processor and 1TB of storage (our preview unit) for a grand total of €1,999 (£1,750/$2,150).
That’s a hefty sum considering that most 13.3- and 14-inch ultraportables are hundreds less. The 16-inch MacBook Pro currently retails for approximately $2,200, and even the Razer Blade 15 Advanced Model (usually priced at $2,999 and one of our best laptops for 2020) is, at this writing, available for $2,099.
We’ve yet to put it through proper benchmarking, but we suspect the MateBook X Pro will put up a decent fight; the laptop is powerful enough to run games like Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor without any trouble, although whether that potency will extend to more recent games remains to be seen. Adobe Photoshop and Premiere Pro also work smoothly, which should be expected for any real ultraportable on the market.
We would like battery life to be a little better, though. While the MateBook X Pro will get eight hours of conventional use and approximately six hours of its best performance, laptop battery life is approaching an entire day’s use, although it will take some time before that’s the new normal. Huawei as a company has always been a pioneer of battery technology in its smartphones and tablets and popularized wireless charging in that space. While it is not expected, it would be pleasing to see the company take up the challenge in the laptop market too.
On the software side, Windows is as Windows does. It was touch-and-go for a moment, but Huawei’s laptops have not seemingly suffered from the U.S.-China trade war and all the expected assets of Microsoft’s operating system are here with minimal bloatware. The MateBook X Pro does come with Huawei’s “PC Manager” app, which can be used to update drivers, run diagnostics, and keep a log of what has been in your Clipboard or what files you’ve recently opened. On the whole, it’s a nice feature to have in the Windows taskbar, but it’s barely noticeable if you decide never to open it.
There is also a particular boon if you’re tied into Huawei’s ecosystem: Huawei Share. By tapping a compatible smartphone on the right side of the palm rest, next to the trackpad, you can have your phone as a second, windowed screen so you can send text messages, take calls, and drag and drop files from one device to another. While people in Europe (and certainly in the U.S.) are less likely to be buying Huawei smartphones than in China, it’s a good feature at its core.
Windows laptops and Android smartphones have suffered from a lack of integration that can adequately combat the seamless use of iMessage, AirDrop, and iCloud that Apple users have, and while this is not a perfect solution—the drag-and-drop from phone to laptop is a little fiddlier than I would like—it’s laudable to see companies trying to produce alternatives. The sooner Huawei opens this up as a separate Windows 10/Android app configuration so that other smartphones and computers can benefit, the better.
The only real drawback to the MateBook X Pro, apart from its contentious webcam, is its price. When Huawei first launched the laptop, its $1,499 price tag was particularly compelling. Two years later, with minimal upgrades, it’s difficult to see where the extra money is going compared to other Windows 10 ultraportables.
Nevertheless, if you can stomach paying a little more, and especially if you are already in the Huawei device world via a smartphone, the Huawei MateBook X Pro is a solid performer. It will be a while until it launches in the U.S. so we can benchmark it properly, but if you’re willing to step outside the mainstream it should keep you satisfied.
Huawei MateBook X Pro (2020) Specs
|Processor||Intel Core i5-10210U|
|Processor Speed||1.6 GHz|
|RAM (as Tested)||16 GB|
|Boot Drive Type||SSD|
|Boot Drive Capacity (as Tested)||1 TB|
|Screen Size||13.9 inches|
|Native Display Resolution||3000 by 2000|
|Variable Refresh Support||None|
|Screen Refresh Rate||60 Hz|
|Graphics Processor||Nvidia GeForce MX250|
|Graphics Memory||2 GB|
|Wireless Networking||802.11ax, Bluetooth|
|Dimensions (HWD)||0.57 by 12 by 8.5 inches|
|Operating System||Windows 10 Home|