Huawei MateBook E

Key Features

  • 7th-gen Intel Core M3 or Core i5-Y processor
  • 4-8GB LPDDR3 memory
  • Folio keyboard included
  • 12-inch, 2160 x 1440-pixel IPS touchscreen
  • Total weight: 1.1kg
  • 1x USB-C, 3.5mm headset jack
  • 128-512GB SSD
  • MateDock included (in some regions)

We try out Huawei’s second-gen MateBook 2-in-1

It’s safe to say I wasn’t a huge fan of the Huawei MateBook that launched in 2016. As a first attempt at a 2-in-1, it had some hallmarks of a good device, but overall felt compromised. Fortunately one year on, I think Huawei might almost have cracked it with the new MateBook E.

Almost everything about the tablet portion of this 2-in-1 remains as it was in the first device. It has the same ultra-low-power Intel chips, although updated to the latest generation, and the same 12-inch 2160 x 1440-pixel IPS display. So far, the best parts of the recipe haven’t changed.

Related: Best laptop

But the worst parts have. The first-gen MateBook came with a terrible folio keyboard, which used a folding magnetic stand to keep the screen upright. It didn’t work particularly well; it was difficult to use. This time around, Huawei has gone for a much more robust, hinged approach – and it’s good.

MateBook E

Essentially, it’s a piece of faux-leather attached to a firm hinge. In practice, it works reliably well. Tilt the stand to any angle and it will remain in place. It provides a huge degree of freedom – to the level of the Surface Pro 4. The MateBook E still feels inferior quality-wise, but that’s a compromise you’ll have to make for a cheaper 2-in-1.

MateBook EMateBook E

I also wasn’t a fan of the MateBook’s keyboard: the button press was harsh and the layout felt cramped. The MateBook E ditches that design and and uses island-style keys, which work far better and feel more responsive. The keyboard is also backlit, which is welcome.

I’m not a huge fan of the touchpad, though: it doesn’t feel as responsive as I’d have liked, despite the fact it’s a Microsoft Precision-certified piece of hardware. 

The keyboard also doesn’t offer any elevation; it sits flat on the desk. It does at least feel stable, but it would have been nice to have some tilt for comfort.

Like the original device, the MateBook E will be compatible with MatePen, but whether it comes bundled with the device will likely depend on the retailer and the region you’re in.

MateBook E

The tablet alone weighs 640g, and the keyboard adds an extra 560g to the overall weight – which is still nice and light. The MateBook E is available in three colour options: grey with a blue folio keyboard; gold and brown; or gold and pink.

Specs-wise, there’s a choice of either a Core M3 or Core i5-Y series processor, up to 256GB of storage and 4 or 8GB of LPDDR3 memory. Battery life is rated at nine hours of offline video playback, which isn’t brilliant  – but doesn’t appear to be a huge improvement on last year’s model.

Early Impressions

I’m pleased that Huawei has taken another stab at the 2-in-1 market. With prices starting at €999 (probably £900 inc VAT) with the keyboard included in the box, it’s going to be a tight fight between the MateBook E, the more premium Surface Pro and Samsung’s various Galaxy Books.