Huawei MateBook X Pro: Design And Build Quality
Huawei offers two color options for the MateBook X Pro, Space Gray and Mystic Silver. However, those options only exist for the lower end model. The higher end SKU with a Core i7-8550U processor inside is only available in Space Gray, at least for the time being. It's not clear if Huawei will offer a Mystic Silver option on the pricier configuration at some point.
The MateBook X Pro is excellently crafted from a build quality standpoint. Huawei tells us that the metal chassis consists of an alloy that is used in aerospace, and invited us to give the machine a bend test. We obliged, as we typically do with all laptops, and sure enough we found it to be solid, with only minimal play resulting from the overall thinness of the lid. It looks and feels like a premium laptop.
Huawei also tells us it sandblasts the metal, both for added grip and to protect against fingerprints. It's a very smooth finish, and despite the sandblasting, finger smudges do show up on the chassis, though they are far less visible than any number of glossy laptops on the market. Still, the MateBook X Pro could use a quick wipe down every once in a while to keep it looking like it is fresh off the assembly line.
Hauwei's reflective logo and brand is stamped on the center of the lid, sitting alone as the only ornament on an elegantly designed system. Full appreciation requires a closer look, as that is when the beveled edges and metallic accent bordering the bottom portion become evident.
Every laptop manufacturer seems obsessed with maximizing the display real estate by carving away as much of the bezel as possible, and Huawei is no exception. The 13.9-inch display offers a 91 percent screen-to-body ratio, besting even Dell's excellent InfinityEdge displays as found on laptops like the XPS 13, which have an 80.75 percent screen-to-body ratio. Huawei's display implementation looks every bit as good, though it also means having to place the webcam somewhere other than the top bezel (more on that in a bit).
Every MateBook X Pro ships with the same LTPS (low-temperature poly-silicon) panel with a 3000x2000 resolution. That works out to a 3:2 aspect ratio. Huawei rates the brightness at 450 nits, which is on the brighter side of things for a laptop, along with a 1,500:1 contrast ratio and 100 percent coverage of the sRGB color space. What all those numbers effectively mean is that it's a high quality panel with plenty of brightness and accurate color reproduction.
In our tests, that was certainly the case. We still give the edge to Dell's IGZO panels, but the display quality is comparable, offering up bright and vibrant visuals and responsive 10-point multi-touch support. The only real quibble is the 3:2 aspect ratio, and that depends on your preference between 3:2 versus 16:9, the latter of which is a bit more common. If you're watching a movie on the MateBook X Pro, the bars on the top and bottom will be thicker than on 16:9 laptops. However, some people prefer a 3:2 aspect ratio for productivity chores.
A full-size, spill-proof keyboard is sandwiched between a pair of speaker grills on both edges of the laptop. It sits slightly recessed in the base of the chassis and uses low profile keys, as most ultraportables do. The keyboard looks and feels similar to typing on a MacBook Pro. That's to say it's extremely low profile with shallow keystrokes, but also sturdily designed without any wiggle. It takes some getting used to if you're accustomed to typing on keyboards with deeper key travel, though if this is your primary machine, your fingers will get the hang of things rather quickly.
There's no dedicated number pad, and thankfully so because that would have required squishing the main keyboard to make room for one. You also won't find dedicated media keys—instead they're integrated into the Function keys along the top row. One of the controls (F3) is for the keyboard's white LED backlight. There are two brightness settings, or you can turn it off altogether.
Above the keyboard, Huawei embedded a fingerprint sensor into the circular one-touch power button. There's actually a hardware chip that reads and processes the fingerprint biometrics, rather than relying on software (Windows 10). That means your fingerprint data is stored on the chip itself, and not the storage drive.
A large touch pad is centered below the keyboard. It's bigger than most we have seen on this class of laptop, and according to Huawei, it's the biggest around on a 14-inch machine. It works well, and with Microsoft's Precision Touchpad technology helping out, we didn't run into trouble it accidentally detecting our palms.
Remember when we said there wasn't enough room to stick a webcam in the top bezel? Rather than move it to the bottom bezel, as HP did on its Spectre x360, Huawei cleverly hid it beneath a pop-key in the Function row. It resides between the F6 and F7 keys, and when pressed the 1-megapexal (720p) webcam pops up.
The downside to this approach is that the upward angle can be a little awkward. You'll end up capturing more the ceiling in the background than whatever is behind you. On the flip side, we appreciate that the camera is hidden when not in use. Not only that, but it's always turned off until you use an app as an added security precaution. There's also a small LED on the camera to let you know when it's capturing video.
Huawei offers both USB-C and USB-A connectivity on the MateBook X Pro. On the left side, you'll find two USB-C ports, one of which supports Thunderbolt 3, along with a 3.5mm audio jack. And on the right side there is a full-size USB 3.0 Type-A port. Huawei also bundles in its MateDock 2 accessory for added connectivity options.
Now let's have a look at the software...