The Huawei Matebook X Pro high price may put off many, but the cost evens out when you consider the large SSD and 16GB of RAM. Plus, it’s a match for the best laptops around in other areas.
- Sharp and bright screen
- Excellent build quality
- Quiet fans
- Good touchpad
- Single spec approach leads to a high price
- Slightly shallow keyboard
- Unflattering webcam
- UKRRP: £1599
- EuropeRRP: €1799.99
- High-end productivity performance:With an i7 Intel Core processor, this laptop excels at basic productivity tasks for the office and education.
- Hi-res screen:The 3000 x 2000 resolution ensures this laptop has a pin-sharp screen for documents and video.
- Touchscreen:The screen supports touch input, although this laptop does not have a 2-in-1 design.
The Huawei Matebook X Pro 2021 is the company’s closest equivalent to the MacBook Pro. It looks and feels fantastic, delivers a decent amount of power and has a great screen. Oh, and it costs a packet too.
It costs £1599, which puts it out of reach for the majority. However, a 1TB SSD and 16GB of RAM mean it’s actually £300 less than the equivalent MacBook Pro, and a similar price to the Dell XPS 13 once you kit it out with a generously sized SSD, a high-end screen and 16GB of RAM. It’s £100 cheaper than 2020’s MateBook X Pro, too. As such, the price is less egregious than it at first appears.
Unlike most rivals, Huawei keeps things simple: the Huawei MateBook X Pro 2021 is for high-end buyers, while the MateBook 13 2021 is for the rest of us. But is it one of the best laptops you can buy?
- Feels and looks like an expensive laptop
- Under-key webcam will find few fans
- Similar design to the 2020 version
Huawei hasn’t made many changes to the MateBook X Pro design for this 2021 update. In truth, it wasn’t necessary. This is one of the best-looking laptops available, and build quality – as was likely the aim – is comparable to that of a MacBook Pro.
Like the Surface Laptop 4, this isn’t a hybrid. The hinge doesn’t fold back beyond the old standard 130-degrees or so, and there are no eyebrow-raising extras: no displays hidden in the touchpad, for example. Neither is there 5G mobile internet to increase the price enough to make you break out in a sweat.
Huawei has focused on the laptop basics, ensuring the device feels as good as it possibly could. The body panels are aluminium, and about as flex-free as you could ask for. Weight is 1.3kg, which is bang on the category average – although, by shaving off an additional few hundred grams, you’ll (almost) always feel a difference in build quality.
The Huawei MateBook X Pro 2021 is a laptop that needs to feel expensive and pristine, particularly at £1599 – and it does.
It’s the “emerald green” model being reviewed here, which is a bold but sophisticated-looking shade. The anodised finish of the aluminium takes away any shininess that could become off-putting; but for those who may prefer something more subdued, it’s available in silver too.
Webcam placement is one area that is likely to displease a fair few folk. The MateBook X Pro’s ultra-thin screen borders has resulted in a lack of space for the webcam above the screen. Instead, it lives inside one of the keyboard keys. Press the key and it flips up, like some James Bond gadget.
As neat a mechanic as this is, such webcams are always horrible to use since they provide a universally unflattering angle: all neck and nostrils, not enough face. Webcam quality isn’t the worst I’ve seen in a high-end laptop this year, but it’s still a pretty basic 720p that reduces the picture to a low-res, splotchy version of your face.
If your work day comprises numerous video calls, I suggest you either don’t buy a Huawei MateBook X Pro 2021, or budget for a separate webcam.
The laptop’s connections are minimal, but you do at least get one classic USB-A port. There are two additional USB-C ports, one of which is likely to be taken up by the charger. These don’t have the classic Thunderbolt icon by them, but Huawei suggests they can hook up to two 4K monitors and offer 40Gbps bandwidth, in-line with the Thunderbolt 4 standard.
The Huawei MateBook X Pro 2021 keyboard sits towards the shallow end of the spectrum. Feedback is a touch more substantial than the Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360, less so than the Microsoft Surface Laptop 4.
For me, the Huawei MateBook X Pro 2021 has just enough key depth and feedback to allow for comfortable and confident typing – but do bear in mind that this is a relatively shallow keyboard with a mellow key action. This is not the most robust keyboard you can get for your money.
The MateBook X Pro 2021 touchpad is more interesting. It’s a large pane of textured glass; it’s what I’d expect to see on a high-end portable laptop. However, instead of using a mechanical clicker, it has a haptic one. This means there’s a motor inside that emulates the feel of that classic click, without moving parts. Apple introduced this approach in its MacBooks in 2015.
Huawei’s attempt at the same isn’t quite as good. There’s less dynamic range to the customisable click effect, but it’s a lot better than the first Huawei haptic touchpad laptop I used a year or so ago.
You can choose from three levels of click depth, as well as the pressure required to make that click happen. I recommend using the lowest or middle sensitivity setting, and the highest level of click “feel”.
Post-customisation, the Huawei MateBook X Pro 2021 makes a great impersonation of a normal ultra-high quality touchpad. It’s one of the better units available, although I still think the MacBook Pro’s and Microsoft Surface Laptop 4’s are superior.
- High resolution makes images and text appear sharp
- Good peak brightness
- So-so colour depth falls behind some rivals
The Huawei MateBook X Pro 2021’s screen claws back a lot of that lost ‘work laptop’ credibility. This is a 13.9-inch 3:2 aspect screen, one that feels like it’s made for productivity apps, where a 16:9 aspect display is preferable for movies and games.
Resolution is the star here. It’s 3000 x 2000 pixels, which is far higher than the 1080p found with most laptops. This kind of pixel density is fantastic for those who spend a lot of time looking at documents or complicated interfaces, since the mild pixellation of 1080p disappears and text looks much smoother. It’s the “Retina” effect Apple used to talk about a lot.
The Huawei MateBook X Pro 2021 doesn’t have as many pixels as a 4K laptop, but I often question whether 4K resolution is worth it in a portable laptop, since it will significantly impact battery life.
The Huawei MateBook X Pro 2021 is good outdoors, too. Its screen surface is glossy, since it’s a glass touchscreen, but it comes with a solid anti-glare coating. Maximum brightness is very good at 488 nits.
Other aspects are more ordinary, but this is to be expected given the laptop uses an LCD panel. I measured a contrast of 1240:1 using my SpyderX Pro colorimeter, and 93.4% coverage of the sRGB colour gamut.
I wouldn’t say this is particularly impressive in a £1599 laptop, and it’s a little behind the Dell XPS 13. It only covers 65.6% of Adobe RGB and 68.5% of DCI-P3. What does this mean? The Huawei MateBook X Pro 2021 doesn’t really have the colour depth that some video graders and photo editors may want. Nevertheless, its actual colour accuracy is decent, and tones appear well saturated in person. It just isn’t a wide colour gamut screen.
- Some minor performance compsomises to accomodate the design
- Quiet fans – they never seem to make much noise
- Like other style laptops, gaming performance is basic
There’s no such thing as a low-end Huawei MateBook X Pro 2021; at least in the UK, there’s only one spec available with an 11th-generation Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD. This helps explain its high price.
However, the Huawei MateBook X Pro 2021’s benchmark performance is actually a level below some laptops I’ve used recently with the same processor and less RAM.
|Huawei MateBook X Pro (2021)||Dell XPS 13||MacBook M1|
|Processor||Intel i7-1165G7||Intel i7-1165G7||Apple M1|
|3DMark Time Spy||1469||1657||N/A|
This suggests that Huawei has prioritised thermal concerns over raw performance to some extent. That should be a significant concern if you’re after a portable laptop for fairly heavy tasks such as video editing.
However, it doesn’t affect how the Huawei MateBook X Pro 2021 performs day-to-day for normal productivity jobs. It’s fast, and the SSD speeds are excellent: 3391MB/s reads and 3014MB/s writes. This should result in very speedy data transfer from and to the physical drive.
The laptop is also quiet, even under extreme pressure. It isn’t silent like a MacBook Air, nor near-silent like the MacBook Pro. But the whirr it generates even when maxed out for an extended period is barely noticeable in a room with a decent level of ambient noise, and only adds to the sense you’re using a luxury laptop.
This may well have been a factor when Huawei designed the MateBook X Pro 2021’s thermal system, which again seems to be tailored for lower noise and heat generation, rather than to squeeze out the very best performance possible from the Core i7 CPU.
There’s another notable aspect to the MateBook X Pro 2021’s performance. Where the step-down MateBook 13 offers the Nvidia MX450 graphics card, the Pro model only has integrated Intel Xe graphics. You can have some fun with Xe graphics; the chipset has enough power to run games such as Alien Isolation, The Witcher 3 and Grand Theft Auto 5. However, for newer titles such as Assassin’s Creed Oydssey, the Nvidia MX450 is preferable, and offers up to double the frame rate in some games.
The speakers are consistent with this approach, too. While they’re not the loudest around, the MateBook X Pro 2021’s stereo drivers deliver a level of bass that’s still missing from most laptops. It makes music sound fuller, and gives movies the clout they so often lack.
The units round off the laptop nicely, completing the picture of a design process in which nothing has been neglected. Well, apart from the webcam.
- Ten hours of real-world use is similar to Huawei’s claims
- Handy small-scale charger
It seems Huawei’s battery testing may be pretty similar to ours. It claims the MateBook X Pro 2021 lasts for up to 10 hours off a charge; I recorded 9hrs 57mins in PCMark 10’s Modern Office test.
This is a perfectly sound outcome, giving you a little scope to push slightly beyond the light app use the Modern Office test emulates and still achieve eight hours for a ‘full day’ of work. Of course, there are plenty of longer-lasting options out there.
The cheaper Lenovo Yoga 7 Slim with AMD CPU lasts almost twice as long, and the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro with M1 chipsets are radically better for heavier workloads. Nothing can match the latest Apple laptops for battery life when taxing the processor.
Huawei’s charger is great for portability, though. It’s much more like a phone charger than a traditional block-style unit; it’s smaller and lighter. And, like just about every unit in this class, it’s a 65W power supply.
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Should you buy it?
If you want a high-end productivity laptop:
The MateBook X Pro may cost a lot but it comes with the build, storage and RAM to justify the price.
You want the best performance per pound:
This is a reasonably pricey laptop, and you in part pay for high-end construction and nice extras such as better speakers.
The Huawei MateBook X Pro’s build quality is excellent and the screen is sharp and bright. Huawei’s Apple-style haptic touchpad is a success, and the device runs quiet, if not outright silent because this is an Intel Core-powered laptop, after all. What do you miss? Lovely as the screen it, it doesn’t have wide gamut colour. And while the battery life is solid, it isn’t class-leading.
Yes, this laptop has a multi-touch capacitive screen but it doesn’t support a pressure-sensitive stylus.
This is a Wi-Fi-only laptop. There’s no slot for a 4G or 5G SIM card.
There are currently only versions of this laptop with Intel chipsets.
Trusted Reviews’ test data
ThunderboltThunderbolt is a port technology that enables faster data transfer speeds than standard USB-C ports, while also allowing for multiple other functions such as outputting images to external monitors, power delivery and connecting to an Ethernet network.
GPUThe graphics processing unit is designed to render graphics, which is particularly important for gaming, creating 3D models and editing video.
USB-CThe modern USB connector you’ll find on most Android phones, new laptops, cameras and games consoles. It’s reversible and used for charging along with data-transfer.
The brightness level of a display. 300 nits is regarded as the minimum target for high-end screens.