HUAWEI MateBook X review

I’ll start my HUAWEI MateBook X review for the 2020 model by talking just a little bit about the MateBook X Pro, I had the pleasure of using in spring. I called it “one damn fine laptop” because it was spot on for everything I personally require on a daily basis from an ultra-portable computer. 

Back in May, I was pretty sure HUAWEI can’t do any better, but to my surprise, the company proved me wrong. Not because there is something wrong with the 2020 MateBook X Pro, which I still recommend, but because the company totally nailed it with the 2020 model of the MateBook X, which we’re currently reviewing.

They say a piece of paper is as smart as the words you put on it. In the case of the MateBook X, we’re looking at a damn smart piece of paper, as the computer not only fits on a sheet of A4 (297 x 210 mm), but it’s actually smaller. So what can you expect from a computer that’s this small and lightweight? Let’s find out in our HUAWEI MateBook X review below.

We’ve been using the HUAWEI MateBook X for two weeks exclusively, typing two reviews (this included) on it, as well as for everything else work and play.

Hardware

You have the option of choosing either the Forest Green or the Silver Frost (our current review unit) colors. Weighing just 1kg, the MateBook X measures 284.4 x 206.7 x 13.6mm, making this a very lightweight and portable machine. Don’t be fooled by its rather small footprint; it “makes up” for it in many other departments.

Designed for the fashion-aware urban user who’s on the go, the MateBook X has an elegant build and design. By utilizing an aluminum-magnesium alloy unibody, HUAWEI managed to keep the weight at 1kg, and by spray painting five times the company added a finish on top of it that speaks luxury and premium.

The design is so minimalistic that nothing distracts you from admiring the actual machine and finish. A subtle, polished HUAWEI logo on the top, and two delicate cutouts on the bottom curvature towards each side for two (of the total of four) speakers. No air vents, no grills, just uninterrupted finesse.

A thickness of 13.6mm (should be thinness) doesn’t allow a lot of wiggle room when it comes to ports. The MateBook X features 1 USB Type-C port on each side, granted, these support data transfers, display port, as well as charging.

There’s a 3.5mm headphone jack on the left-hand side, which doubles as a microphone input port as well, being a 2-in-one jack.

Display

That’s all there is to it on the outside, but the real surprise comes when you flip it open. You’ll be amazed that such a small footprint can be home to a full 13-inch display. HUAWEI achieved that by slimming down the bezels to an insane amount. Dubbed the Infinite FullView Display, it offers a whopping 90% screen-to-body ratio which is a sheer pleasure to look at.

The aspect ratio is 3:2 by design and on purpose, as HUAWEI claims it offers more screen real-estate than the traditional 16:9. This is true, but it also means that you’ll have some letterboxing going on when watching videos.

The 13-inch panel is LTPS, and one of the prettiest we’ve seen yet. At a resolution of 3000 x 2000 pixels, it brings 278PPI density, and the colors and contrast it delivers are amazing. Claimed brightness is 400 nits and viewing angles at 178 degrees, but the only thing that sometimes hinders the viewing experience is the glossy finish of the display and the reflections on it.

The panel is also 10-point touch-enabled and has been treated to an anti-fingerprint coating to minimize the smudges on the screen after operating it by touch. 

Keyboard

It should come as no surprise by now, if you’re even somewhat familiar with HUAWEI (and HONOR) laptops, that the webcam is located on the top row of the keyboard. This serves two purposes: not only allows for ultra-slim bezels, but it ensures your privacy, being a pop-up camera. It also has the inconvenience of a lower angle, hence by now the overused “nosecam” name it was labeled with.

The keyboard has a scissor approach for its buttons, offering a comfortable key travel (1.3mm). It is a full-size keyboard though, don’t let the compact design trick you. It is also backlit with nice, even, and quite bright light. We’ve seen no visible bleeding or dark spots, it gets as even as possible across all keys.

On top of the keyboard, you’ll spot the power button. It has an integrated fingerprint scanner which intelligently uses caching so that the same press of the button that turns the computer on is used to sign you in, without the need of touching the button once again. HUAWEI says it comes in pair with a smart optimized BIOS in order to improve Windows log-in speed and reliability.

Trackpad

For the 2020 model, the trackpad (or clickpad, as HUAWEI calls it) on the MateBook X is not only larger, but it now offers haptic feedback for a better tactile experience. The company calls it HUAWEI Free Touch, as it debuts on this model, but the changes don’t stop there.

Do you remember the NFC tag/stickers on previous models, used for pairing the laptop with the phone in order to use HUAWEI Share and Multi-Device Collaboration? They’re now gone, as HUAWEI built the NFC tag underneath the clickpad. 

The smarts

The 2020 MateBook X comes in two processor configurations: you can opt for the 10th Generation Intel Core i5-10210U processor or the corresponding Core i7-10510U. Both feature the same amount of memory, at 16GB of RAM (dual-channel, LPDDR3 2133MHz), as well as the same storage in the form of a 512GB PCIe SSD.

This is not a gaming laptop, and most who will opt to buy one (should) understand that. It is equipped with the integrated Intel UHD Graphics which is enough for office and multimedia, but, while it will handle less demanding gaming titles, it is not recommended for demanding ones.

Multimedia

The webcam we mentioned earlier, as a pop-up camera on the top row on the keyboard is a 720p HD camera. It gets the job done, granted, you’ll have to get used to the angle, but if you absolutely can’t, just buy an external webcam for your video calling needs. Make sure to unplug it, if you grab one, to protect your privacy, which is as easy as pressing it down into the chassis when it comes to the built-in camera.

There are four speakers on the MateBook X, of which two tweeters are embedded under the keyboard to enable the laptop to deliver sound from its input devices. The MateBook X also supports virtual 5.1 channel output for a more immersive experience, as well as two microphones.

Also debuting on the MateBook X is the edge microphone setup, which delivers, according to HUAWEI, better signal-to-noise performance. Sensitivity-wise the microphones pick up sound from up to five meters and AI intelligently removes echoing that occurs in large conference rooms.

Connectivity

Aside from the two USB Type-C ports on each side, the MateBook X features Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac/ax at 2.4GHz and 5GHz as well as Bluetooth 5.0. Of note that there’s another first on HUAWEI laptops with this model: it features, for the first time, Wi-Fi 6, with advertised potential speeds of up to three times those of Wi-Fi 5.

Battery

There’s a 42Wh battery pack powering the MateBook X, and inside the box, you will find a 65W charger. Talking about in-the-box accessories, you’ll also find a USB-C power cable, and the HUAWEI MateDock 2, which, once plugged into the USB-C port, offers you a multitude of output options (HDMI, VGA, USB-A, and USB-C).

Performance and battery life

While I usually do more than a fair amount of testing and real-life usage with my review units, I’ll be honest: I think I exaggerated with the MateBook X. Not because I was trying desperately to find flaws, but simply because I couldn’t put it down. Once pressing publish on this review, I’ll be sad to see it go!

I carried it everywhere with me and it turned eyes everywhere it was seen. This of course means that I worked more than the usual hours that I do, but I didn’t mind, as the MateBook X made it a sheer pleasure.

For work: I’ve written reviews (including this one), responded to emails, created documents and spreadsheets, manipulated imagery, and had a fair amount of Skype and video calls. I’ve basically moved in making it my permanent mobile office for the review period.

For fun: I’ve listened to music, watched Netflix and YouTube videos, with a fair amount of chatting, whether through dedicated apps, or web versions of specific clients.

Nothing I threw at this machine made it ever hiccup or make me doubt that it’s going to get the job done, in a buttery smooth manner. I’m not a gamer, and I already advised above against trying to play demanding games on this machine. 

Benchmarks

If you’ve been following Pocketnow for a while you must already know by now that we’re not fans of benchmarks. We rely mostly on real-life usage scenarios, as that’s more likely what you’ll do (except if you’re the type of person who only runs benchmarks for a living).

However, we do understand that some of you appreciate seeing analytical and synthetic data, so we’ve run a couple. You can find the results below.

When it comes to battery life, things get a little bit tricky, and, it all comes down to your usage scenario. If you’re doing basic office work with documents, browsing, email, etc., you’ll likely make it through the day.

The higher the brightness on the display (say if you’re outdoors and you need to crank it up, or you are watching or streaming videos), the shorter your battery life will be.

The shortest we’ve got out of the MateBook X was close to six hours of streaming video with full brightness. For the benchmark people among our readers, that translated to 7 hours and 44 minutes on PC Mark 10.

Regardless of what’s been thrown at it, the system stayed fairly cool and silent.

Software and experience

The HUAWEI MateBook X ships with Windows 10. Our unit arrived with Windows 10 Home, and our experience refers to the operating system and drivers being up to date.

The entire experience is smooth, with nothing to report. Things just work as they should, and if you’re a Windows person you’re probably already used to how the OS handles updates and requires restarts. But once it’s settled in, things are buttery smooth.

There’s little to no bloatware on the device, but it does ship with the PC Manager app, which serves two purposes: 1. It makes sure your system stays in top-notch shape by checking hardware and drivers and 2. It’s the interface between connecting your smartphone and the computer.

We’ve detailed Multi-Screen Collaboration and how HUAWEI Share works among HUAWEI and HONOR (sadly limited to these two) smartphones with the occasion of our HUAWEI MateBook X Pro and HONOR MagicBook 14 reviews. Check those out if you need more details on how useful these features are.

The overall experience is top-notch, offered by a beautifully designed piece of jewelry you’ll be proud to show off. The system is silent and cool, and if you’re consuming multimedia, you’ll absolutely love how loud and clear those four speakers are.

Conclusion

About the only thing stopping us from saying that this is potentially the best ultrabook out there is competition from HUAWEI itself. We wouldn’t hesitate if there wasn’t a HUAWEI MateBook X Pro, but then again, we’d hesitate to call that one the best, because of this model.

HUAWEI did a great job of having two offerings which are both just as good choices, depending on the target audience, as they fall into two different categories.

With a beautiful design, lightweight and small footprint, great display, and some “first on a HUAWEI laptop” features, we have no doubts in highly recommending this computer. Whether it’s your MacBook Air replacement, or the first computer for someone who is constantly on the go, its beauty, smarts, and small/light unibody structure will make it a pleasurable companion.

Officially announced for €1,599 (Core i5) and €1799 (Core i7), the price varies, just like the configuration options, from market to market. HUAWEI currently sells the i5 version in Germany and France for €1,499, and in Romania for the equivalent of €1,530.

Pros

+ beautiful design;
+ small and light;
+ gorgeous screen;
+ snappy performance;
+ good battery life.

Cons

– only two USB ports;
– odd webcam angle;
– poor graphics for gaming;
– a tad on the pricier end;

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