Why I Quit the MateBook X Pro and Switched Back to Mac

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After 20 years of using — and preferring — Macs, I spent the past month or so on Windows, using the Huawei MateBook X Pro for both work and play. Why? Apple's MacBook Pro designs — with their shallow, unreliable keys — irked me into considering leaving.

In the MateBook X Pro, I found a machine with keys I could trust, a look I already loved — it even confused a friend who was sure it was an Apple laptop — and speedy performance that allowed me to blaze through my work. And while I like the MateBook X Pro, Windows 10 kept pushing me away.

Moving over was pretty easy

For as long as I've lived on Macs, I found the transfer process to be pretty simple. Getting my online accounts natively integrated into Mail and Calendars was as easy as logging in via the Settings app in Windows 10.

I work so much out of Google and Dropbox already that I just smiled as Chrome made it easy. I finished the setup by installing must-have stuff for work, such as OpenVPN and a company-issued license of Microsoft Outlook.

Writing was a breeze

The whole reason I was curious about the MateBook X Pro, and possibly leaving macOS, is that Apple's keyboards have been getting the worst press lately. While I've never been a fan of their shallow depth (which I could get used to, with prolonged use), their butterfly-style switches have been in the news for failing when dust and crumbs get under the keys.

The good news is that a leaked Apple document reveals that Apple's keyboard redesign — initially promoted for reducing noise — also apparently makes the keyboard more reliable by adding a membrane layer that protects the switches from dust.

The Matebook X Pro, on the other hand, has a pretty good keyboard. It easily survived a month of me typing while I snacked on messy snacks, including cheese puffs. Sure, the keys are a little shallow (1.1 millimeters, whereas I'd prefer 1.5 mm), but I got used to that surprisingly fast, and each key gives solid feedback. For comparison, the MacBook Pro's keyboard offers just 0.5 mm of travel.

In a single day, I banged out a 3,518-word feature-length essay on the MateBook X Pro's keyboard. I've already had a brief moment with the 2018 MacBook Pro keyboard, and I think it would take me a while to get used to its shallow keys.

Replacing the basics

Moving to the PC, a lot of the time, has meant leaving the Mac apps I love, such as Tweetbot for Twitter, Things for productivity and Fantastical for managing my calendar. While I have their iOS counterparts on my iPhone, I want apps that sync across my devices.

So I replaced those apps with TweetDeck via Chrome, Google Keep for to-do lists and Google Calendar. While each does the trick — I never fell out of step with any of my work or projects — each also feels utilitarian and mundane, unlike those macOS apps, which are elegantly designed.

I even used iTunes on Windows, even though it's even slower than it is on macOS. While I'm OK with trying out new apps, I'm not leaving my iCloud Music Library, which I've uploaded rare tracks to that aren't on Spotify.

A podcaster's dilemma

I fell short of ignoring my MacBook Pro completely during this trial run. The night before I had to record a podcast, I realized I hadn't investigated audio recording software, and I started frantically looking for an option.

Most sites presented Audacity as my best option, but its user interface is so clogged with buttons and knobs that I didn't think I could learn it in time for the next morning. I wasn't going to try a new piece of software during a live recording with friends in remote locations, and threaten to screw up the process.

MORE: The Best Laptops for Business and Productivity

As I poked around Audacity, I was looking back fondly upon Quicktime, which has a super-simple look and makes it easy to create recordings. And so I cheated on the MateBook X Pro with the MacBook Pro, where I've used the reliably simple QuickTime for sound recording, which gives you a drop-down menu for quality and input.

The next day, when I was recording another podcast with a colleague at my office who uses Audacity, he showed me how most of its settings could be ignored and how all I needed to do was correctly select my microphone.

My funny font problem

Another hiccup came when I had to do some image editing for a Slack group I run. In that moment, I realized I hadn't thought about my need for a PC counterpart to Pixelmator, the hyper-affordable ($29) alternative to Photoshop. Of course, that meant installing a trial run of Adobe Photoshop ($9.99 per month), because I could not, for the life of me, find a similarly priced alternative (Affinity Photo is $49) with a rich feature set, which was annoying.

Once I got Photoshop up and running, I discovered that I was missing my font of choice, Helvetica Neue, which I then imported from my Mac. Although installing the font was as easy as opening the file, my system — especially Chrome — began using the font randomly, replacing a system default.

Googling to find a solution was fruitless, and the entire process just reminded me how Macs, which feature the excellent Font Book app, are more tailored to designers and creatives.

Rude webcam angles

I can't talk about the MateBook X Pro without bringing up its most unique feature: Its webcam is hidden under what appears to be a Function key. To use the webcam, you simply click the key to pop out the camera.

While I applaud Huawei for this clever move for privacy, which also allows for smaller bezels around the MateBook X Pro's display, there's little point in having a webcam when it's placed here. Just ask my colleagues at Laptop, who saw me from the most awkward angles on a web conference call when I was working from home and couldn't help but laugh.

When I was using the laptop from my bed, the camera captured that unflattering angle from under my chin. And when I used the MateBook at my desk, on top of a stack of books I use to keep the screen at the proper height, the camera showed off the space above me, so I had to reach into the air to wave hello.

Display pros and cons

I love, love, love the MateBook X Pro's 14-inch, 3000 x 2000-pixel display. Not only is its 3:2 ratio excellent for reading websites and splitting my screen between two apps, but its superbright, 458-nit screen rendered beautiful images producing 124 percent of the sRGB spectrum. Cuphead, the one PC game I actually play, looked great on this screen during the few rounds of play I got in during the month.

The perks, though, end there. Frustratingly, docking with my Dell 4K monitor and DisplayLink dock at work led to scaling issues. Sometimes, this was just a minor annoyance, with a border running around all application windows, or apps and their overlay messages rendering at slightly larger sizes than they should.

It got worse, though, as the expanding section of the task bar (the hidden items you click to reveal) wouldn't render properly, making some icons inaccessible. The only solution I found was to restart my computer. I've never, ever seen a Mac have such issues. And I find this funny, as the whole point of Windows — or so I thought — was to have a large number of devices that worked well with one another.

Windows being Windows

As productive as I am on the MateBook X Pro, it's still running Windows 10. And I've got nitpicks with that OS.. While I've been able to eliminate Cortana's needy presence, by turning off all of its options and removing that search bar and icon, I felt put upon for even having to do that. Apple puts Siri in the corner — in the menu bar, that is — and it's so easy to ignore up there.

MORE: How to Use Windows 10

Personally, though, I just find Windows 10 to be aesthetically lacking and dull. The blocky design of Universal Windows Platform programs makes them look like they're made in Minecraft, and sticks you with tons of white space (hi, Stride).

Coming back felt right

At the end of my month with the MateBook X Pro, I can definitely say I've warmed to Windows 10, which I've used only at work. Not only does this machine provide a keyboard that I prefer to any model Apple sells, but when I picked up my old, trusty 2012 15-inch MacBook Pro, I remembered that its 4.5-pound weight makes it heftier than the 2.9-pound MateBook X Pro.

Yes, on the night of Tuesday, July 17, after my month with the MateBook X Pro was over, I left that laptop at work and returned to my 2012 MacBook Pro. It's not dead yet, just a little slow, and it's still my favorite laptop. Also, while the MateBook X Pro's keyboard feels better than the 2018 MacBook Pro's, the 2012 MacBook Pro's keys have much more travel and have been going strong for six years now. So, for now, I'll treasure what I have, and hope that the 2018 MacBook Pro keys are as reliable as the leaked reports suggest.

Sure, I missed the MateBook X Pro's fingerprint reader when typing my exhaustively long 1Password password into my 2012 MacBook, but the new Macs feature a Touch ID sensor (though it requires you to ditch physical buttons for the gimmicky Touch Bar).

For now, I'm going to wait to see how the 2018 MacBooks hold up. Sure, their high-end Core i9 models have throttling issues, but if their keyboards are reliable, I don't need to leave the Mac apps I love for a laptop that's not nearly as seamless to use. Just consider how Tweetbot, the best Mac Twitter client, animates GIF images when your cursor browses over them. I saw nothing like that, with any similar care, as I browsed apps in the Windows app store. Tech shouldn't just be helpful; it should be fun — especially when you're spending $1,499 (the price of the MateBook X Pro I'd buy) or more on a laptop.

Credit: Laptop Mag

Author Bio
Henry T. Casey
Henry T. Casey,
After graduating from Bard College a B.A. in Literature, Henry T. Casey worked in publishing and product development at Rizzoli and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, respectively. Henry joined Tom's Guide and LAPTOP having written for The Content Strategist, Tech Radar and Patek Philippe International Magazine. He divides his free time between going to live concerts, listening to too many podcasts, and mastering his cold brew coffee process. Content rules everything around him.
Henry T. Casey, on
Add a comment
  • Tim Br Says:

    Running in circles, pointless article. It should have been why I switched back to Mac OS instead of Windows. Fundamentally nothing to do with the machine really.

  • N Siev Says:

    You seem quite amicable towards the new laptop yet the title says otherwise. What's the deal?

  • Abdul Qadir Khan Says:

    lol u went back to MacOS for OS reasons and put the blame on the Chinese hardware for it hahahahaha

  • steveywow Says:

    I prefer macOS to Windows as well, but recently I tried ElementaryOS (Linux) and I'm loving it. After installing a couple of tweaks for touchpad gestures and fingerprint access it's basically like a more advanced macOS (I'm not tied to any Apple services so I didn't benefit from things like iMessage in macOS anyways).

    Try it!! I think you'll like it if you're okay with tinkering a bit to get things right

  • Richard D Blanton Says:

    I think you are nuts to buy a great Laptop like the Mate Pro and let it set in the corner at work most of the time. Just donate it to a worthy H.S. Student who can put it to good use, cause you sure don't.

  • Joseph White Says:

    So in summary, you switched back to Mac because you are more comfortable with Mac OS and didn't want to learn Windows?
    See? I didn't need a whole article.

  • John Nospam Says:

    The rant about Helvetica Neue sounds more like an old grumpy man set in its habits than anything else. From that point on, the reader can only assume that you were biased and set in your way, and did not even try.

  • i4stock Says:

    Suggestion for you: Install VirtualBox inside Matebook's MS Windows, and install MacOS inside VirtualBox, then you'll get the benefits of both MS Windows and MacOS.

  • Sohun Says:

    Often, we hear people say things like "I love the Boeing 777, the seats are so much more comfortable than in other aircraft". While in reality, airlines can install whatever seat model they want inside their planes, and the seats have nothing to do with the aircraft. It's the same here. The user can install whatever operating system he wants to use that is compatible with the computer. The title should be "Why I quit Windows and switched back to Mac OS". You haven't quit the MateBook because of the computer itself, but because of the OS it's shipped with and that apparently you think you have to use. But the title implies that it's about the computer.

  • John from Tiburon Says:

    I won't be as harsh as some of the other commenters. I think you are comparing operating systems more than hardware platforms. You like MacOS better than W10. Readers: Look elsewhere for reviews of the MateBook.

  • roboman Says:

    This article is literally just an old grumpy grandpa complaining that he was used to Mac OS and now can't get used to Windows 10 and is going back. Zero value. Tech journalism is ridiculous these days.

  • SlamHamdwich Says:

    Why the fuck do I give a shit about any of this? There's no fucking point to articles like this. No new information parsed, no new technical aspects overturned. Just "I tried this thing that was different and went back to more of the same....I like it." And pointless opinions.

    Writing like this is wheel spinning and pointless to all readers.

  • La-dee-da Says:

    I get wanting to stay with a system you're more comfortable with, but did you actually spend any time looking for alternatives? For podcasts check out ardour, for photo editing check out GIMP (free) or Affinity Photo ($49), for Twitter what about Tweetium? This is a review of Win 10 and your inability to find software, it has little to do with the hardware.

  • n13L5 Says:

    How well I can understand a disdain for Windows - especially when it comes to the hideous Monster that is Windows 10, whith its random resets of settings you laboriously adjusted, like wake timers, update settings to avoid having your work disturbed etc etc, the list never ends, I consider Microsoft's behavior amounts to remote computer hacking and breaking and entering. Heck, Windows Update will REMOVE software from your system without asking or prompt of any kind - if the patcher things that software might bee incompatible with their new version of Windoze. Hey Microsoft: Newsflash! I didn't purchase a computer for Windows, I purchased it exclusively for the software I use.

    If my software and a new version of Windows is really not compatible, its the new version of Windows that has to go, not my software. Lawbreaking Redmond Retards...

    If I had enough money and time to waste, I'd slap them with a cease and desist letter and sue them.

    And I get the pet peeve about unreliable keyboards - a LOT of them are like that these days. And this never used to be an issue, it seems like some kind of satanic plot to disrupt and block us doing our thing as much as possible.

    Now, to the other side of the coin: Its really not that hard to solve the Windows 10 Problem - you can install a clean Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, without Telemetry, forced updates or random changes to your software and settings.

  • Collin Says:

    After reading all that nothing remotely to call out the value of the Matebook X Pro.

    It isn't a Mac. It runs Windows.

    But it is $300 less at same spec with 8th generation GPU vs 7th and an actual GPU by Nvidia instead of integrated.

    Photoshop replacement? There are a handful, including GIMP which is free.

    This entire article is lazy with almost nothing to do with the Matebook Pro X and your disdain for Windows.

  • Nickk Says:

    Thanks for the article. While I don't think the other comments here are terribly helpful, I do also wonder of other reasons for your switch back. We all have our preferred OS. Mine is Windows, which I cannot stand on an Apple laptop. But for productivity, I am always surprised to hear that others prefer the new macbook, mostly because of the keyboard. As you say, it's something you just have to get used to (and even then it's not ideal). For me, the keyboard is just too important. Like you, I write for a living. I tried the new Apple keyboards--twice (gen 1 and 2)--and I never found writing pleasant, even after a month of using the keyboard for hours each day. I would be curious to hear what kind of word processing you (and others at the magazine) use on OSX and W10 and how this possibly influences your decisions to switch.

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