Huawei made its name in smartphones, but laptops may be the Chinese tech giant's best shot at expanding outside its homeland.
Unlike its Google-less smartphones, Huawei's notebooks are not affected by the United States trade ban.
On the contrary, Huawei's laptops are stuffed to the gills with American tech, including a 10th-generation Intel Core i7 processor, an entry-level Nvidia GeForce MX250 graphics chip and Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system.
Its latest MateBook X Pro (available on Lazada and Shopee), which was launched last month in Singapore, is a premium model that will give high-end ultrabooks such as Dell's XPS and HP's Spectre series a run for their money.
For one, the 13.9-inch MateBook X Pro is as sleek as its rivals. Its build quality is impeccable with an all-metal chassis that is firm and unyielding.
The design is unchanged from last year's version. But this is probably a moot point to local consumers as the 2019 edition was not launched in Singapore.
At around 1.3kg, the MateBook X Pro is reasonably light, though there are more portable laptops in the market. I feel that its heft helps to convey a sense of quality.
The MateBook X Pro is one of the few notebooks with a 3:2 display, which is optimal for productivity as it offers more vertical screen real estate to let you view more of a document or Web page.
This touchscreen is also said to offer 100 per cent coverage of the sRGB colour space. It certainly looks lively and vibrant. It is also brighter than usual, at up to 450 nits, though its Corning Gorilla Glass finish is more reflective than a matt surface.
While the screen bezels are incredibly slim, they come at a price. Because the razor-thin top bezel cannot accommodate a Web camera, Huawei has relocated it to between the F6 and F7 keys.
This pop-up camera is hidden from view until you depress it. While this design ensures privacy when the camera is not in use, its placement means that the camera is looking up at your nostrils and chin.
One of my favourite features is its huge touchpad. It is clicky, with ample room for multi-touch gestures. The keyboard, though, is stiffer than expected - more pressure is required for a key press to be registered.
Another useful feature is the PC Manager utility, which is a convenient dashboard to monitor hardware issues and check for new drivers. There are also shortcuts to useful tools like the calculator, screenshot utility and notepad.
Those with a recent NFC-capable Honor or Huawei smartphone that supports the Huawei Share feature can tap their phones on the MateBook X Pro's palm rest to connect to the notebook.
Once the two devices are linked, you can drag and drop files and copy text between them. You can even control the phone via the laptop and make calls or view phone notifications.
The MateBook X Pro has a USB Type-A port, so you don't need a dongle to connect a USB Type-A device, such as an external hard drive.
There are also two USB Type-C ports, which can be used with the compact power adapter, to charge the notebook battery.
Surprisingly for a laptop boasting the latest computing hardware, Huawei seems to have neglected the Wi-Fi adapter, which supports the older Wi-Fi 5 standard and not the latest Wi-Fi 6.
But in general, I have no complaints about the MateBook X Pro's performance. It is responsive and fast. In the PCMark 10 benchmark, the laptop scored 4,162 compared to 3,747 for Huawei's mid-range Core i5-powered MateBook 13.
The MateBook X Pro also performed very well in our video-loop battery test. With the screen set to maximum brightness, the notebook lasted just six minutes shy of the nine-hour mark, putting it among the top notebooks for battery stamina.
- Impeccable build quality
- Near-bezel-less 3:2 touch display
- Huge, clicky touchpad
- Excellent battery life
- Web camera placement
- No Wi-Fi 6
Processor: Intel Core i7-10510U (1.8GHz)
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce MX250 2GB GDDR5
RAM: 16GB DDR3
Screen size: 13.9 inches, 3,000 x 2,000 pixels
Connectivity: 2 x USB 3.1 Type-C Gen 1, USB 3.0 Type-A, audio jack
Battery: 56 watt-hour
Value for money: 3.5/5
Battery life: 5/5