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Huawei MateBook X Pro 2021: Green is the color of envy, but should you give in to the temptation?

Redrick Oh - Philstar.com
Huawei MateBook X Pro 2021: Green is the color of envy, but should you give in to the temptation?
Huawei MateBook X Pro 2021
Philstar.com/Redrick Oh

MANILA, Philippines — It's true what they say, “once you go Mac, you’ll never want to go back.”

At first I thought it was absurd, impossible even, especially for someone who grew up (Windows 3.1) and got old (Windows 10) knowing and using only Mr. Gates’ operating system. But ever since I bought my first Macbook some five years ago, and got introduced to the macOs, I’ve never wanted to touch a Windows PC again.

It’s actually one of the reasons why I’ve been declining laptop reviews. But when I was offered the chance to try out the Huawei MateBook X Pro 2021, I just couldn’t say no.

After all, if there’s one compelling reason to try Windows again, the MateBook X Pro is probably as good as it gets.

The Huawei MateBook X Pro is the most premium among the tech giant’s 2021 lineup of laptops, and as you’d expect, it promises everything you’d want in a premium productivity machine--a great touchscreen display, powerful innards, long battery life and a slew of other unique features--but is it worth the P89,999 price tag?

Matebook X Pro 2021 specs

OS: Windows 10 Home

Processor:11th Gen Intel Core i5-1135G7 Processor

Graphics: Intel Iris Xe Graphics

Memory: 16 GB LPDDR4x 4266 MHz

Storage: 512 GB SSD

Display Size:  13.9 inches LTPS 3K resolution

Touchscreen: 10-point multi-touch sensitive screen

Keyboard and Touchpad: Full-size Backlit Chiclet Keyboard/ Touchpad with Multi-touch and HUAWEI Free Touch

Security: Fingerprint Power Button

Camera: 1 MP Recessed Camera (720P HD)

Audio: Speaker x 4 / Microphone x 2

Connectivity: Wi-Fi | IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax | 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz  | 2 x 2 MIMO

Support WPA/WPA2/WPA3

Bluetooth: Bluetooth 5.1

Battery: 56 Wh (rated capacity) Up to 10 hours of local video playback. 

Dimensions: 304 mm x 217 mm x 14.6 mm

Weight: Approximately 1.33 kg

Unboxing

The MateBook X Pro arrived securely packed inside two boxes--the first is the usual brown laptop box with a handle and inside you’ll find the familiar white Huawei box (similar to its phones and tablets) containing the laptop unit.

Lifting the lid of the box raises a platform and the MateBook X Pro. It's a nice touch that adds a bit of excitement to the unboxing and also makes it easier to take out the unit. Lastly, there’s a thin fabric sleeve that serves as the final veil concealing the MateBook X Pro. Our review unit came with just the USB-C charging cable and the 65W wall adapter.

I would have appreciated it if it came with a thicker/reusable sleeve or maybe even a free cleaning cloth, and I suggest you get one--especially if you are a bit OC like me. The metal surface is a smudge magnet and easily collects and retains fingerprints and grime. I actually have a microfiber cloth ready on my desk, just so I could wipe off my oily fingerprints and sweaty palm prints and maintain its pristine surface.

Build and design

If you thought it looked good in pictures, it's even more stunning in IRL. Like the gemstone of its colorway, the emerald green variant is an absolute stunner and easily stands out from a sea of black, gray and silver slabs.

Much Like its predecessor, the Huawei MateBook X Pro is slim and light, measuring only 14.6mm thin and weighing just at 1.33kg. You’ll have no problem slipping it in your laptop sleeve or backpack to bring it wherever you need to go.

In terms of look and feel, the MateBook X Pro features a durable, yet minimal aviation-grade aluminium alloy cut with CNC diamond cutting machine. Besides looking elegant, the chassis also has an outstanding build quality, able to hold itself against abrasions and impact while the sandblasted finish ensures a firm, comfortable grip. The chassis is highly rigid and there is no flex when the laptop is closed.

On the right side you’ll find a full-sized USB-A port while on the left is a 3.5mm audio port and two USB-C ports. The USB-C ports support dual-way data transfer at up to 40Gbps, as well as for charging and display (4K@60Hz, with a highest resolution of 3840x2160). It also supports reverse charging.

Emblazoned onto the display lid is the Huawei brand name, letting everyone know of your brave bold choice. You can open the lid with one finger and you’ll be greeted by the almost bezel-less display and the familiar keyboard layout.

At the upper-right of the keyboard is the power button, which also doubles as a fingerprint reader. Yup. No more typing passwords over and over everytime your laptop goes into sleep mode. The fingerprint scanner is surprisingly fast and responsive just like on your smartphones. Pressing the button once (even when its completely off) boots up to the homescreen and it will be ready to go without the need to scan your digits again. 

The MateBook X Pro 2021 has a chiclet keyboard with 2-levels for its backlight that you can toggle by pressing F3. The keyboard keys are evenly spaced, with about 1mm of key travel, which is the norm for laptops this skinny. Its comfy and good enough to make it clicky, but heavy typers like me, might wish for a little more especially during those times when you just want to pound on the keyboard.

The speakers flank the MateBook X Pro’s keyboard on both sides, fitting into almost impossibly thin grills. The original MateBook X Pro was praised for being one of the best sounding laptops and this 2021 version, I think is even more impressive. Both the quality and volume of the sound that emanates from them are superb. It’s loud enough to to fill a medium-sized room, and it does a great job of giving you a rich, warm audio that’s great for watching movies or listening to music. You definitely won’t be needing a bluetooth speaker with this one.

I suggest you search for the preinstalled “nahimic” app and make sure its turned ON as it makes the sound quality a lot better, plus you also get to customize the equalizer.

Hidden between the F6 and F7 function keys is the recessed camera that you have to press to make it “pop up” when needed. This hidden keyboard-placed webcam was once an ingenious solution when the MateBook X Pro first debuted a few years back, but that was a very different time. With the pandemic banishing our social interactions onto Zoom calls, everyone now uses their webcams all-day long for working and learning from home.

Sadly, the 720p camera of the MateBook X Pro is passable at best. Considering that Huawei makes the best cameras on a smartphone, this is one thing they need to improve in the next iteration. The other, of course, is the placement. This position basically makes it a nose cam, with the focus on the lower part of your face, which isn’t the most flattering of angles especially if you have a double chin like me. It’s not a dealbreaker, as you could simply get a better webcam that you could position anywhere you like.

Below the keyboard is one of the larger touchpads I’ve seen on a 14-inch laptop. This makes it a lot easier to use especially when you are mobile and working on the road. The MateBook X Pro has an improved touchpad that’s more more precise, and has better haptic feedback thanks to eight piezoelectric sensors evenly spaced underneath the trackpad. This means there are eight points that provide haptic vibration feedback when you are clicking.

The touchpad also pulls double duty as there’s an NFC sensor beneath it that allows you to connect to your Huawei smartphone making it easier to file-share or remote-control the phone from the PC, more about that in a bit.

Display

Now let’s talk about one of the highlight features of the MateBook X Pro--the touch screen display.  

The  MateBook X Pro flaunts the MateBook family’s iconic FullView Display and its absolutely fantastic.

Thanks to the narrow bezels at the top and on the sides, the device gets a 91% high screen-to-body  ratio. The thinner bezels enable the laptop to house a bigger display in the compact body, packing the viewing experience you could expect with a 13.9-inch laptop screen in a 12-inch laptop body. 

The LTPS display supports up to 3K (3000x2000) resolution at 260ppi, which means it can natively display full high-definition content.

The 3:2 aspect ratio on the other hand results in more vertical space rather than the more common 16:9 widescreen formats we see in most smartphones, but this ratio is actually more suited for reading documents, scrolling through web pages and content creation tasks.

The screen supports 100% of the sRGB colour gamut and 1500:1 contrast ratio ensuring that the display produces the brightest colors with the most realistic, lifelike characteristics and deep blacks. The high contrast also helps make the text razor sharp and more readable.

Perhaps the best thing about this display is that it is also a touchscreen--something the Macbook might never have. The MateBook X Pro retains its exquisite 10-point touch support, allowing you to interface with the device directly by tapping on or dragging your fingers across the screen.

Multi-touch support is perfect for many scenarios, one of them being Fingers Gesture Screenshot that lets you take and save a screenshot by performing a quick three-finger downward swipe on the screen. It can be a bit tricky at first, especially if you are trying to screenshot a website and it keeps scrolling down.

I suggest you do the three-finger gesture near the top of the screen where the menu is located and then you can do a diagonal gesture to capture the entire screen or just trace the outline of the image.

Performance and battery life

The MateBook X Pro isn’t just style and screen as it also packs a lot of power to keep up with your demanding workload.

Under the hood, the Huawei MateBook X Pro (2021) has a high-end 11th Gen Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of the current-fastest LPDDR4x RAM, running at 4266 MHz and a 512GB of SSD storage. Huawei also opted for a more powerful GPU, the integrated Intel Iris Xe, which is said to be around 20% faster than Intel's 10th gen integrated graphics and faster than the NVIDIA MX250 GPU in last year's MateBook X Pro making this more capable when it comes to gaming than its predecessor.

This means that for overall general productivity like working, word processing and web browsing, the Huawei MateBook X Pro performs exceptionally well and can handle everything with ease. It's also good for light video editing and casual gaming.

When things get too busy, it can also handle the heat with its smart cooling system. The smart heat dissipation system utilizes the new Huawei Shark fin dual fan design with a higher density of thinner S-shaped blades. What’s more, an ultra-thin vapor chamber is added for cooling, letting the heat conduct to the surface more evenly so you don’t have to worry about the unit heating up on your lap.

For faster internet connections, the MateBook X Pro now supports Wi-Fi 6. This  allows for faster connection, a wider signal coverage, more powerful anti-interference and a more stable connection. When paired with a Wi-Fi 6 router, the laptop supports theoretical transfer speeds of up to 2.4Gbps, around three times of Wi-Fi 5’s theoretical rate.

As for the battery, the MateBook X Pro features a 56 Wh (rated capacity) battery that Huawei says allows you to watch 1080P local videos for up to 10 hours, or handle daily work tasks for 11 hours, or browse web pages for 10 hours. For the past two weeks that I’ve been using for blogging, social media postings and browsing, I got a good 6 to 7 continuous hours before having to search for the charger. I’d say battery life is just average.

The good news is that with the 65W AC adapter a 30-minute charge is enough to get you at least three solid hours and an hour of charge  should get you from 0% to 80%. The Huawei’s 65W charger is also just a bit bigger than your smartphone charger making it very easy to carry around.

Huawei Share 

The MateBook X Pro runs Windows 10, and has everything a typical Windows laptop offers. The thing that makes it truly unique and makes it more ideal for Huawei smartphone owners is the addition of Huawei PC Manager.

As most of us are using several devices for work--a smartphone, tablet and laptop, Huawei Share makes transferring files between devices a breeze, as well as gives you the ability to manage your phone using multi-screen collaboration. To connect all you have to do is enable NFC and Wi-Fi on the Huawei smartphone, then tap the back of the device against the touchpad.

Once connected the smartphone’s interface will be displayed on the laptop screen, meaning you can now use both devices within one screen. You can control the smartphone on the laptop side, and get access to Huawei’s apps through the laptop. 

To transfer files between two devices you can simply drag-and-drop via the touchscreen.  Content can be directly copied and pasted between two devices, and you can use a mouse and keyboard to control your smartphone.

Huawei Share also lets you run multiple mobile apps on the PC. When Multi-screen Collaboration is active you can open up to three mobile apps on the PC display for a seamless and productive multi-tasking experience. A sample usage scenario would be when comparing products from multiple shopping apps, or attending a meeting on one app and taking notes on the second, while discussing with your team on the third one.  

Final verdict

Overall score 8/10

The Huawei MateBook X Pro 2021 is one of, if not the nicest-looking premium Windows laptop in the market today. This ultra-portable is best suited for writers, content creators and those who work mostly on documents, presentations and administrative work as it's very light to bring just about anywhere. Plus, if you already own a Huawei smartphone, it has a definitive edge as the integration between devices is very intuitive and convenient.

HUAWEI MATEBOOK X PRO 2021
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