Huawei MateBook 13 Review: A High Performance Ultrabook With Caveats

Huawei MateBook 13: Final Thoughts and Conclusion

The Huawei MateBook 13 is among the more impressive performing ultrabooks we've tested to date. In fact, its only real competition comes from premium machines or those with larger 14" and 15" footprints. We do have to ask, however, if sheer horsepower is all that thin-and-light notebook consumers have in mind.

huawei matebook 13 overview

For all its brawn and suave looks, the MateBook 13 has made a number of compromises to bend to the forces of physics and economics. The primary complaint we have is the MateBook 13's mediocre battery life. One of the advantages of an ultrabook is how convenient it may be to carry around all day. It stands to reason that it should last all day on a single battery charge as well. We appreciate Huawei's fast charging claim to get two and a half hours of juice out of a 15 minute charge, but relying on a charger is not always convenient when trying to travel light.

Another shortcoming is the MateBook 13's lack of Thunderbolt 3 support. External IO is already slim here with the MateBook 13, with just two on-board USB-C ports. Users will probably find themselves relying more heavily on docks and dongles than slightly larger notebooks with an assortment of USB-A and video ports. By not supporting Thunderbolt 3, the MateBook is more limited than competitors such as the Dell XPS 13 when it comes time to connect high resolution displays and accompanying peripherals. A Thunderbolt 3 external GPU bolstering an integrated graphics only ultrabook, for example, may deliver better day-to-day longevity while still letting users settle down and game.

huawei matebook 13 fingerprint reader

Still, we admire with the MateBook 13's build quality and overall layout. We love how narrow bezels on tiny notebooks make the display feel more expansive. We also appreciate the extra engineering required to bring the webcam up from below the display to its rightful place. The dual purpose power button plus fingerprint reader with Windows Hello integration is a convenient added touch as well.

To address the elephant in the room, consumers will also need to assess their comfort with Huawei's brand. Our review is focused on the machine before us, but Huawei's future in the U.S. marketplace is uncertain. The company is currently being charged by the U.S. Department of Justice for a number of infractions. Huawei has contested the charges and allegations of spying for the Chinese government, but the matter is awaiting resolution.

huawei matebook 13 head on

In the meantime, we can say the Huawei MateBook 13 is pushing the envelope of expectations for high-performance, smaller form factor premium ultrabooks, and in that regard the system is a winner.

  • Productivity friendly 3:2 aspect ratio display
  • Unparalleled performance in 13" form factor
  • Very thin bezels
  • Premium milled aluminum construction
  • Dedicated GeForce MX150 GPU
  • Webcam above the display
  • Runs cool and quiet
  • Competitive price tag
  • Disappointing battery life in its class
  • Limited IO, no Thunderbolt 3
  • Memory limited to 8GB
  • Thin-sounding speakers

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