Huawei Unveils $700 12-inch MateBook 2-in-1 Surface Competitor

Chinese manufacturer Huawei trotted out a 2-in-1 device at Mobile World Congress 2016, one that looks like a less expensive alternative to Microsoft's Surface Pro line. Called the MateBook, pricing starts at a comparatively affordable $699/€799 for a configuration that's similar to an entry-level Surface Pro 4.

All MateBook configurations sport a 12-inch In-Plane Switching (IPS) multi-touch display with a 2160x1440 resolution. It has an ultra-narrow frame and an advertised screen-to-body ratio of 84 percent. According to Huawei, the display's color gamut reaches 85 percent—not top of the line, but also not too shabby for a lower cost 2-in-1 device.

Huawei MateBook

Huawei's pitch is that its MateBook combines the mobility of a smartphone with the power and productivity of a laptop, and that it's designed with simplicity in mind. The company might be right on the latter claims, but comparing its mobility to that of a smartphone, which can be stuffed into your pants pocket, is marketing hyperbole. The question is, can it be overlooked?

Unless you're really expecting a tablet-turned-laptop that can fit inside your jeans, then sure, why not? On paper (we haven't played with one of these in person yet), the MateBook looks to be a promising 2-in-1 solution, one that's made of a "high-quality aluminum unibody that is both elegant and sophisticated." And as far as portability goes, it weighs just 640 grams (1.41 pounds).

What about the hardware? Here are the configurations:
  • $699: 6th Generation Intel Core m3, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD
  • $849: 6th Generation Intel Core m3, 4GB RAM, 256GB SSD
  • $999: 6th Generation Intel Core m5, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD
  • $1,199: 6th Generation Intel Core m5, 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD
  • $1,399: 6th Generation Intel Core m7, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD
  • $1,599: 6th Generation Intel Core m7, 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD
Like Microsoft does with its Surface Pro, Huawei sells a keyboard separately—it's priced at $129. You can also purchase a MatePen for $59 and a MateDock for $89. Going all in, pricing for the entry-level model jumps to $976.

Huawei MateBook MatePen

The keyboard is made of PU leather and features chiclet-style keycaps with a 1.5mm keystroke. It has a built-in touchpad. You can also register inputs via the MatePen, which features 2,048 levels of sensitivity.

Finally, Huawei outfitted the MateBook with a 33.7Wh battery that it claims can last up to 9 hours of work and Internet use, or up to 29 hours of music playback.

You'll be able to purchase the MateBook in Asia, Europe, and North America "in the coming months."