First Impressions: Huawei MateBook X Pro 2019 Review
The Huawei MateBook X Pro (2019) is an otherwise excellent ultrabook that’s undermined by a poor battery. Unless you’re going to be working somewhere with mains power close by, or you’re OK with lugging around a portable battery pack, I’d approach this MacBook Air alternative with caution.
- 13.9-inch 3000 x 2000
- Intel Core i5-8265U / i7-8565U
- Nvidia GeForce MX120, 2GB GDDR5
- 16GB RAM
- 1TB NVMe SSD
- Type-C USB, Type-A USB, Thunderbolt 3, 3.5mm
The MateBook X Pro (2019), also known as the ‘Huawei MateBook X Pro 2’, represents the high end of the recent Huawei laptop line, which includes the Huawei MateBook 14. Featuring much of the same specs of last year’s model, the key difference here is the presence of Whiskey Lake Core i5-8265U and Core i7-8565U processors, and a more powerful GPU, an Nvidia MX250 instead of an MX150.
In theory, this promises a little boost in performance and excellent battery life. In practice, it’s not quite as simple as that.
What is the Huawei MateBook X Pro 2019?
The Huawei MateBook X Pro 2019 / MateBook X Pro 2 is an upgrade of the slimline ultrabook Chinese consumer tech giant Huawei, perhaps better known for their excellent phones, released last year.
There’s certainly a lot to like here. A compelling alternative to the MacBook Air 2018 at a glance, the MateBook X Pro 2019 features a hybrid fingerprint scanner/power key, ultra-slim design, stereo speakers and Huawei Share, which lets you quickly transfer files from your Huawei phone.
The pop-up webcam, arguably the most attention-grabbing feature of the OG MateBook X Pro, returns here. Hidden underneath a dedicated key nestled between the F6 and F7 keys, this secreted 720p cam means that not only do you get a measure of extra privacy, but as Huawei hasn’t had to build a camera into the display, it can keep that bezel super-thin.
That big 13.9-inch 3:2 touchscreen display – an aspect ratio that’s favoured by Microsoft for its line of Surface convertibles and laptops – also looks great and promises to match the high brightness and colour space coverage levels we recorded on the previous model.
Related: Best Laptop 2019
Huawei MateBook X Pro 2019 – Design and features
The Huawei MateBook X Pro 2 looks a lot like an Apple MacBook Air. It’s a very thin laptop (measuring 304 x 217 x 14 mm) with a fingerprint scanner sitting in the top right corner, two Type-C USB ports sitting on the left hand edge, and low-travel keycaps book-ended by speakers sitting underneath columns of micro-drilled holes. There are nine columns of micro drilled holes on the Huawei MateBook X Pro 2019, whereas on the MacBook Air 2018, there are ten – so it’s not completely the same.
One thing that the MateBook X Pro 2 does better design-wise is include an old school USB-A port, on the right hand edge – the updated MacBook Air has just two USB-C ports.
Though Huawei’s gone one better here, this is still a pretty stingy offering, as it means if you want to connect to the Internet via Ethernet and hook your MateBook X Pro up to a monitor, you’ll have to invest in dongles.
Ultrabooks like the excellent Asus ZenBook 15 and LG Gram 14Z980 prove that laptops can be lightweight and powerful while also giving you more than a couple of ports to play with, though neither of those laptops are quite as thin as the MateBook X Pro, but they’re not much heavier or a pain to heft around.
I’m also a bit lukewarm on the new logo – just the company’s name in capitals instead of the old blooming flower/sunburst icon – that’s been etched into the back. The slightly boring logo aside, I do really like the overall look and feel of the MateBook X Pro 2019. It’s compact and razer-thin, taking up little space in your satchel or backpack. It weighs 1.33kg, but half of the time, when you’re on the move around town, you won’t even notice it’s there.
Related: Best Ultrabook 2019
Huawei MateBook X Pro 2019 – Keyboard and trackpad
While the keyboard looks a whole lot like one from a current-gen MacBook Pro or MacBook Air, I can tell you that the MateBook X Pro 2019 does not type like an Apple laptop. Depending on how you feel about Apple’s butterfly switches, this will either be a good or a bad thing. The keys of the latest Apple laptops boast incredibly low travel and a typing sensation that’s unlike most other keyboards. I personally find the new MacBooks easy to type on, but some people can’t get on with them at all.
On the MateBook X Pro, keycaps fire back in a much more traditional manner, and while they exhibit a fair bit of wobble, sensible spacing combined with an excellent trackpad means it doesn’t take very long to get used to things here at all.
I write ‘used to things’ instead of ‘comfortable’, because one thing I’ve noticed during my time with the new MateBook X Pro is that the keycaps have a tendency to pick up finger marks and, after a days’ solid use, the thing not only looks a little unpleasant, but can actually feel a little greasy and grimy too. This hasn’t hugely affected my typing speed or accuracy and I’m not so squeamish that it’s ever been a deal breaker for me, but some people may find this off-putting.
The board is backlit, helpful for when you’re working late at night. The letters and symbols are also semi-transparent, and the brightness not at borderline-actinic levels like some keyboard backlights feel when you’re working away in the dark.
And that trackpad is very good indeed, one of the few laptop trackpads I’ve been able to use out of the box without having to mess around in the settings. The sensitivity is set to the second-highest level by default, but it felt perfectly attuned to how I like to swish and scroll around web pages, documents and spreadsheets. It’s wide enough for me to be able to easily move the cursor from one side of the screen to the other.
One thing I should point out is that my review unit featured the U.S. layout, meaning there’s no ‘£’ sign and by default, you type the ‘@’ symbol by pressing Shift+2. Not a huge issue, but hopefully Huawei will release models with a UK board in future.
Huawei MateBook X Pro 2019 – Display
Huawei has not updated the display of the MateBook X Pro for its 2019 refresh, which is both good and bad.
The good news is you get an excellent, high-resolution display boasting high levels of brightness, high colour fidelity and an excellent contrast ratio.
The bad news is that the brightness readings and colour space scores I recorded are more or less in line with what Trusted Reviews saw on last year’s model so there’s been no real improvement.
The Huawei MateBook X Pro 2019’s display measures 13.9-inches diagonally and has a high resolution of 3000 x 2000. That means it has the same 3:2 aspect ratio of the Microsoft Surface Laptop 2’s 13.5-inch 2256 x 1504 display, but crams in more pixels-per-inch (259.3 vs 200.8). That’s also better in those terms than the MacBook Air too, the 13.3-inch 2560 x 1600 display of which gives you 226.98ppi.
It’s not all about how many pixels you’ve got though. Using our i1Display Pro x-rite Colorimeter and DisplayCAL software, I recorded a maximum brightness of 534.5 nits, way above the 450 nits Huawei claims this thing’s screen will kick out. With the brightness pushed all the way up, I recorded a black level of 0.32 nits, which adds up to an excellent contrast ratio of 1635:1.
Any display with a contrast ratio – in other words, the ratio between the darkest black and the brightest white images a display can produce – at or around 1000:1 is about the standard you should expect from any high end laptop’s display in 2019. In practical terms, a score like this means that dark areas of games and videos will look less murky, and the brighter areas of photos won’t look so washed out.
The colour temperature score I recorded was 6550K, a hair away from the 6500K ideal, which means white areas of the display won’t look overly warm (red) or cool (blue). Tallying with this relatively neutral colour temperature score is a solid Delta-E average score of 0.12, indicating high colour accuracy. Any Delta-E figure between zero and one is good, the closer to zero the better.
The Huawei MateBook X Pro 2019’s display covered an impressive 97.2% of the sRGB colour gamut. That’s a fantastic result, a hair away from the 100% coverage level Huawei claims, but great news nonetheless. As most digital artists and web design is done within the sRGB colour space, this means online media and digital art look as they should. Any digital photos taken with sRGB settings will look great too.
|Model||Huawei MateBook X Pro 2019||Asus ZenBook Pro 14||Apple MacBook Air 2018||Microsoft Surface Laptop 2|
Coverage of the wider Adobe RGB (favoured by some photographers) and DCI-P3 (favoured by videographers) spaces is less impressive – the Huawei MateBook X Pro 2019’s display maxed out 67.3% and 69.3% of these spaces.
Those are not atypical scores, most laptop displays can only muster around the 60-70% coverage of those latter two colour gamuts, as you can see from the table above.
That said, with the relatively small screen size and GPU, you shouldn’t be looking at a laptop like this for detailed photo and video work. For that, you’ll want a high-end MacBook Pro 2018, a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1, or maybe an Asus ZenBook Pro 15. All of these feature displays with wider colour space coverage, as well as hardware more suited to heavier media work.
Bad news for anyone looking to do any drawing here – while the touch interface will let you scroll through documents and web pages and interact with media controls on streaming services, there’s no stylus support – not that you’d want to do lots of drawing on a screen that can’t be angled so that it’s flush with a desktop, mind.
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Huawei MateBook X Pro 2019 – Audio
The upward-firing speakers of the Huawei MateBook X Pro 2019 are excellent, especially for a device that’s not certified by Dolby, or tuned by the likes of Harman Kardon (high-end Asus laptops) or Bang & Olufsen (high-end HP laptops).
While you won’t want to listen to music full blast on this, I was pleased to hear most streamed playlists sounded clear and crisp with everything turned up to 100. Nothing from the high or low ends dominates, and everything I listened to, from Madonna to The Mars Volta, sounded pretty fantastic.
While Huawei hasn’t included support for anything like object-based sound, little things like hearing the rolling bottle lid in Pixar’s Kitbull travel between the two channels was especially pleasing.
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Huawei MateBook X Pro 2019 – Webcam
Trusted Reviews tends not to comment on a laptop’s built-in webcams, as they’re generally of a similar quality. Typically being crammed into thin increasingly thin bezels, the sensors tend to be not that big, and therefore the photos and videos they take are not that detailed. Most of them only support 720p HD quality video calls, and produce grainy photos.
In other words, they’re not great – if you want something for Twitch streaming or for making good quality videocalls, buy a dedicated webcam.
We’re making an exception here for the camera you get with the Huawei MateBook X Pro 2019, mainly because of its uncommon integration. It’s hidden underneath a spring-loaded key that sits in the top row between the F6 and F7 keys. It requires a bit of force to open – there’s no chance you’ll reach for one of the function keys and accidentally trigger this instead – and can be tucked away easily.
The thinking behind this is twofold; should somebody remotely take control of your laptop, even if they engage the camera software, they’re not going to see much, You can see in the photo below what happens if you take a picture when the camera is stowed away. Secondly, by not having to build the camera into the screen portion, Huawei can maintain a nice 91% screen-to-body ratio here.
Sadly, while the position of the camera is ideal in terms of having a skinny bezel, it’s less good for, well, doing what a camera is supposed to do. In most cases, the camera will give whoever is on the receiving end of a Skype call a great view of your hands and chin, especially if, like me, you happen to be tall.
Quality-wise, it’s nothing to write home about, as the camera really struggles in low light, which is perhaps just as well, because you can’t unlock the Huawei MateBook X Pro 2019 with your face. Windows Hello biometric recognition software is present, but it’s only the fingerprint scanner which supports it – so you won’t be able to have this pop-up camera scan your face and unlock the laptop for you.
All the Huawei MateBook X Pro’s camera really offers is noisy, grainy 720p HD streams and ropey stills even in amply-lit spaces. Were it not for the pop-up James Bond-style integration, I wouldn’t have mentioned it.
Huawei MateBook X Pro 2019 – How to use Huawei Share
Huawei Share is a wireless transfer system that lets you quickly drop individual photos, videos and MP3s from your Huawei phone to the MateBook X Pro 2019.
The MateBook X Pro 2019 features an NFC chip, a fact which you can’t miss, as the reader is sat beneath a dirty great ‘Huawei Share’ sticker on the front.
This means you can simply pop your Huawei phone on top of the laptop to pair it with the laptop. After then, a simple tap of the Share icon next to a file will see it transferred directly to the laptop.
At present, this feature only works with Huawei phones running EMUI 8.1, so if you’re running an older version of Huawei’s software you’ll need to update your phone.
As well as sharing single files, you can use Huawei’s PC Manager software, which is pre-installed on the MateBook X Pro. This gives you more access to files stored on your phone, and if you want to quickly grab a couple of pictures or video clips, that’s easier to use.
That said, the PC Manager software didn’t pick up any of my interview recordings from my Mate 10 Pro – it only picked up WhatsApp audio and MP3 of Slack notification noises, which wasn’t helpful at all.
If you want to transfer lots of things from your Huawei phone in one go, your best bet is to just stick to transferring everything over USB via Android File Transfer.
Huawei MateBook X Pro 2019 – Performance and battery
The Huawei MateBook X Pro 2019 scored well in Trusted’s usual synthetic benchmark tests, but didn’t always dazzle.
PC Mark 10, which simulates a variety of everyday PC tasks gives a good indicator of a system’s overall prowess, with a score of 4000 indicating you’ll be able to run most office applications and throw in some light photo editing without breaking a sweat. The score I got here indicates it’s not quite up to snuff, but this benchmark doesn’t give you the whole picture.
Geekbench 4, which we use to benchmark CPUs, spat out scores a little below what we’ve seen on laptops like Asus’s ZenBook Pro 14 and ZenBook 15, which both feature the same processor.
For context, Geekbench 4 sets a score of 4000 as the baseline for good single-core performance, and 8000 for multi-core tests – as you can see, the Huawei MateBook X Pro 2019 cleared these.
|Laptop (processor)||Huawei MateBook X Pro 2019 (Core i7-8565U)||Asus ZenBook Pro 14 UX480 (Core i7-8565U)||Apple MacBook Air 2018 (Core i5-8210Y)||Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 (Core i5-8250U)|
|PC Mark 10||3459||4172||n/a||2216|
|Disk read speeds||3417.1 MB/sec||527.6 MB/sec||2036.2 MB/sec||1637.5 MB/sec|
|Disk write speeds||2808.1 MB/sec||499.7 MB/sec||1091.9 MB/sec||776.0 MB/sec|
|Cinebench 15 CPU||618 cb||651 cb||252cb||485 cb|
|Cinebench 15 OpenGL||61.29fps||96.94fps||34.08fps||37.93 fps|
I also ran Maxon’s Cinebench R15, which is a good stress test for GPUs. The scores I got here were about what you could expect for a laptop with an Nvidia MX250 graphics unit. This is suitable for photo work, but you’re not going to do any triple A gaming on this – compare this to results I got with the Asus ZenBook Pro 14, which features a much more capable Nvidia GTX 1050 graphics processor.
Disk read and write speeds, which we tested with the CrystalDisk tool, are also excellent. The review model I picked up came with a 1TB Western Digital SN720 NVMe SSD, which is a PCI Express-type drive, offering, on paper, read speeds of up to 3400MB/sec.
For comparison, that’s significantly faster than the read speeds I saw on the Asus ZenBook Pro 14 – but then again, the model I reviewed here featured a SATA-type drive. There are ZenBook Pro 14 variants with PCIe SSDs, and while Trusted has yet to test these, they would likely give you similar read and write results.
Practically, this means files, apps, games and the like will load in no time at all, something which bore out in my real-life observations. The Huawei MateBook X Pro 2019 only really visibly struggled when I tried to open 50 photos in GIMP at once.
Though it’s not a gaming laptop, I’ve thrown in scores for 3DMark’s Ice Storm (a stress test for computers using a CPU’s integrated graphics) and Fire Strike (which tests out PCs running a dedicated graphics card). As the Huawei MateBook X Pro 2019 has a small GPU, I thought I’d run both, to give you an idea of how it’ll stand up if you were tempted to get a bit of Fortnite or PUBG in between work.
Compare the scores of 29407 for Ice Storm and 2663 Fire Strike I recorded with the Huawei MateBook X Pro 2019 with what I got with the ZenBook Pro 14 – 81902 and 5164 respectively. The Razer Blade 15 2019, a dedicated gaming laptop, gave Trusted a Fire Strike score of 14047.
Games like Dota 2 will run fine enough, but don’t expect to comfortably play anything along the lines of Metro Exodus on this thing.
Sadly, the MateBook X Pro 2019’s battery is not great. It managing to give me just a wimpy three and a half hours when I used the Powermark benchmarking tool, with the screen’s brightness set to 150 nits.
This score is consistent with what I’d get out of the laptop day-to-day as well, sometimes giving me less when I was listening to music or doing light photo editing.
Even when I spent days simply writing and checking emails, with no Spotify playing away in the background, I’d struggle to approach the four hour mark without Windows asking me to plug the charger back in.
This is odd, because other laptops I’ve tested with the same processor – an Intel Core i7-8565U – and even hungrier GPUs have been able to give me at least ten hours of power.
The Huawei MateBook X Pro 2019 does have a smaller battery (57Whr) than both the Asus ZenBook 15 (73Whr) and ZenBook Pro 14 (70Whr), but that shouldn’t account for such a big drop in battery performance.
There are no air vents and the base of the laptop does have a tendency to get hot, so this could well be the reason for the battery performance is not fantastic.
While it doesn’t take a huge amount of time to charge back up – just under two hours from flat – I should point out that the review sample I was sent came with a U.S. mains adapter, meaning I had to pick up a UK converter, so it might be that your experience is different to mine if you happen to pick up one with the right adapter.
Or, the review unit I picked up could simply be a bad apple. Other reviews of this device I’ve seen elsewhere on the web say you’ll get around ten hours out of this model. The anomalous result compared with similarly-specced laptops means I’m dubious about what I’ve seen here. I’ve asked Huawei for another review sample of this to double check and will update this section in future.
If this is normal for the MateBook X Pro 2019, then, that’s a shame, as that’s a pretty heavy strike against the device.
Should I buy the Huawei MateBook X Pro 2019?
The Huawei MateBook X Pro 2019 is lightweight, features an excellent display, loads things quickly and is generally a breeze to use. For most work purposes, it’s more than capable of doing what you need to do, and it’s nice to look at too.
Unfortunately, the battery performance is sub-par, about what I would expect to see on a big and bulky gaming laptop – which the MateBook X Pro 2019 obviously isn’t.
Without having UK price and release date info for the new MateBook X Pro range to hand, I can’t really say if this is a good value for money purchase or not.
Last year’s models went on sale for around £1200, and, assuming this is the case this time around, I couldn’t recommend this. For similar money, you could pick up an Asus ZenBook Pro 14 or a Microsoft Surface Laptop 2, both of which offer similar performance and better battery life instead.
Review in progress
The Huawei MateBook X Pro 2019 is almost the complete package, offering solid performance, lightweight design, an easy to use keyboard and trackpad, a brilliant display – all of which, sadly, is undermined by a weak battery.
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