"If it ain't broke, don't fix it," may very well be the mantra of the new Huawei MateBook X Pro.
Shipping globally in April 2019 — with pricing starting at 1,599 Euro (which converts to a steep $1,809) — Huawei's new MateBook X Pro upgrades our favorite MacBook Pro clone with newer processors and graphics cards. Plus, Huawei is also rolling out a MateBook 14 that features a port not found on the company's pricier laptops.
Huawei MateBook X Pro and MateBook 14 Specs
|MateBook X Pro (2019)||MateBook 14|
|Starting Price||1,599 Euro (around $1,809 U.S.)||1,199 Euro (around $1,357 U.S.)|
|CPU||8th-Generation (Whiskey Lake) Core i5 or Core i7||8th-Generation (Whiskey Lake) Core i5 or Core i7|
|RAM||8GB or 16GB||8GB or 16GB|
|SSD||256GB or 512GB||256GB or 512GB|
|Display||13.9 inches (3000 x 2000)||13 inches (2160 x 1440)|
|Graphics||Nvidia GeForce MX 250 with 2GB memory, Intel UHD Graphics 620||Nvidia GeForce MX 250 with 2GB memory, Intel UHD Graphics 620|
|Ports||1x Thunderbolt 3, 1x USB-C, 1x USB 3.0, headphone jack, fingerprint sensor||1x USB-C, 1x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0, 1x HDMI, headphone jack, fingerprint sensor|
|Battery||57.4 WHr — 12 hours of web surfing (claimed)||57.4 WHr— 10.5 hours of web surfing (claimed)|
|Size||11.96 x 8.54 x 0.57 inches||12.11 x 8.81 x 0.63 inches|
|Weight||2.93 lbs.||3.28 lbs.|
MateBook X Pro 2019: Performance-based upgrades
The biggest changes to this beloved ultraportable can be found in its motherboard, as Huawei upgraded from Intel's 8th Gen Kaby Lake Core i5-8250U and Core i7-8550U processors to their successors: the 8th Gen Whiskey Lake Core i5-8265U and Core i7-8565U. At a private press event, Huawei said that these new CPUs should provide 10 percent faster performance.
Huawei's also updating the MateBook X Pro's discrete graphics, to the Nvidia GeForce MX250 card, with 2GB of memory, which is no longer optional, and comes in the Core i5 model as well. The Core i7 version of the 2018 MateBook X Pro featured the GeForce MX150 card, which also had 2GB of memory. Huawei upgraded the laptop's Thunderbolt 3 port to the full speed, and the port will support the GTX 2080 external GPU.
The new MateBook X Pro also features Huawei's Shark Fin 2.0 advanced cooling technology, which was first seen in the MateBook 13. But unlike previous implementations, this feature will have both passive and active modes, so you're not using the fans when you don't need to. Our heat test showed that the MateBook 13's temperature (after streaming 15 minutes of HD video) peaked at 97 degrees on the machine's underside. The original MateBook X Pro, which had Shark Fin 1.0, topped out at 103 degrees on the underside.
Huawei claims that the new MateBook X Pro's 57.4-watt-hour battery will last for 12 hours of web surfing, a claim we look forward to testing ourselves. Hopefully, the size of this battery (the same as in the original MateBook X Pro) means this laptop's test score will be closer to the 9:55 we saw from the original than the 6:15 from the MateBook 13, which has a 41.7-watt-hour battery.
This laptop should also get faster Wi-Fi speeds than the MacBook Pro, with download speeds of up to for 1,733 MBps, versus the 867 MBps from the MacBook Pro. The MateBook X Pro also packs Bluetooth 5, which the company notes is twice as fast as its predecessor, with four times the range.
What Stays the Same
Beyond that, in terms of hardware, everything will stay the same. The aluminum 2019 MateBook X Pro looks just like its predecessor, with the only difference being a slightly different logo. You still get the same high-res, 3000 x 2000-pixel screen, with superslim bezels. Huawei rates this screen for 450 nits of brightness, while the previous model hit 458 nits in our testing.
Again, the MateBook X Pro achieves those thin bezels by hiding its webcam in a fake key, located between the F6 and F7 keys, that you click to pop open. The new MateBook X Pro also offers the same power button that doubles as a fingerprint reader found in the machine's predecessor.
The MateBook X Pro will also give you a keyboard that aims to provide a more comfortable typing experience than that of the MacBook Pro. Other perks include a quad-speaker Dolby Atmos setup and a quad-mic array for far-field Cortana usage.
For ports, the new and old MateBook X Pro pack the same assortment: dual USB Type-C ports (with one providing Thunderbolt 3 speeds); a boxy, traditional USB 3.0 port; and a headphone jack.
Pricing and Availability
Huawei's announced April 2019 as the MateBook X Pro and MateBook 14's release date, but it's only talking about global pricing, and in Euros, with the Core i5 MateBook X Pro running you 1,599 Euro (around $1,809) and the Core i7 MateBook X Pro costing 1,999 Euro (around $2,262). Huawei hasn't announced U.S. pricing and availability yet, but if those prices hold up, it will be much more expensive than the original, which topped out at $1,499 and started at $1,199.
The MateBook 14 is going to start at 1,199 Euro (around $1,357) for the Core i5 model, and 1,499 Euro (around $1,696) for the Core i7 model.
New Software Tricks … Depending on Your Region
Huawei also packed in some new interaction features, such as a gesture for creating screenshots: You swipe three fingers down from the top of the screen to open a screenshot mode. When I got to see this in action for myself, I thought it was cool but needed more work. There was a slight lag, and the feature didn't always work. I hope it gets fixed before this notebook goes on sale.
Huawei is also adding the third generation of its Huawei Share technology to the MateBook X Pro, depending on where you live (details coming soon). Some users will get Huawei Share 3.0, which comes with OneHop, a one-tap NFC file transfer of images between Huawei phones and tablets. The Share technology also comes with a PC screen-recording feature activated by shaking your Huawei device. Other software upgrades also include a cross-device shared clipboard, similar to Apple's Continuity Clipboard.
Meet the MateBook 14
Coming as early as May 2019 at a yet-to-be-announced price, the 14-inch aluminum MateBook 14 joins the MateBook 13 in the midrange of Huawei's lineup, below the MateBook X Pro and above the MateBook D.
Huawei says the MateBook 14 will cost less than the MateBook X Pro, and the 14 is rated for less battery life, with an estimated 10.5 hours of Wi-Fi surfing. The MateBook 14 features the same 57.4-watt-hour battery as the MateBook X Pro, so the new midrange machine should provide decent endurance.
The 14-inch MateBook rocks a 2160 x 1440-pixel screen that gives the laptop a 90 percent screen-to-body ratio, which is a hair smaller than the sharper 13.9-inch MateBook X Pro's 91 percent ratio. Much like the X Pro, the MateBook 14's screen will offer a 3:2 aspect ratio that's more about productivity than it is watching ultrawide movies. Huawei rates the MateBook 14's screen at a slightly dimmer (vs the MateBook X Pro's 450 nits) 300 nits.
The MateBook 14 won't get a touchscreen by default, though, as Huawei's limiting that to the higher-end Core i7 configuration that costs 1,499 Euro (around $1,696 U.S.).
The 3.28-pound, 0.63-inch thick MateBook 14 is heavier and slightly thicker than the 2.93-pound, 0.57-inch-thick MateBook X Pro. The MateBook 14 will get the same Whiskey Lake Core i5 and i7, both sporting the MX 250 GPU; these are the processor and graphics options you get with the MateBook X Pro.
In exchange for a slightly thicker and heavier design, you get one less port than on the MateBook X Pro: the HDMI-out port that many (myself included) can take advantage of only if we attach a USB Type-C hub. In exchange, you give up the X Pro's Thunderbolt 3 USB Type-C port and gain a Type-A USB 2.0 port, as both laptops have the same power button/fingerprint sensor.
The MateBook 14 will also give you the hidden-in-keyboard webcam, while the aforementioned Huawei Share 3.0 technologies arrive if you're not in the U.S. We look forward to putting the new MateBook X Pro and MateBook 14 through their paces later this year, so stay tuned for our full reviews.