From the moment you touch this convertible laptop, you immediately realize this is not your run of the mill Windows 10 machine. In fact, your mind will associate it with a tablet rather than a notebook, even though the MateBook is Huawei’s answer to Apple’s iPad Pro, the Retina MacBook and Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 line.
It’s so incredibly thin and light that it doesn’t have any connectors aside from the USB-C port, which you’ll need to charge it and to connect additional hardware. That means that, yes, you will need to buy a separate accessory to turn it into a full-fledged PC that can be connected to external peripherals. But this fantastic device is perfectly fine on its own, too.
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Starting at just $699, the tablet – I’ll keep calling it that because that’s what it feels like – packs 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. A sixth-gen Intel Core m3 processor powers the device and there’s a 33.7Wh high-density battery inside that’s good for nine continuous hours of Internet browsing or 29 hours of music playback.
The MateBook also goes from empty to fully charged in 2.5 hours, and it reaches 60% in just one hour.
There’s no fan cooling down this beast, as Huawei uses Intel’s latest chips and what it calls a “stacked hardware process” that doesn’t need air cooling.
Buyers who want to spend a little extra on a fully loaded MateBook will be able to do so by going all the way up to a sixth-gen Intel Core m7 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 512GB of storage. That’s a configuration that’ll cost you $1,599.
According to Huawei, the device does have some neat tricks under the hood, including Wi-Fi mobile hotspot support and a yet-to-be-explained method of transferring files seamlessly from an Android device to the MateBook and back. Also, the tablet comes with the world’s “first one-touch unlock” fingerprint sensor that should log you in faster than other solutions.
No matter what kind of MateBook buyer you end up being, you should know that no accessories are included in the box.
The keyboard dock costs $129, but try it before you buy it because the keyboard does feel cheap, and you might want something a little better to handle your typing needs. The MatePen costs $59 while the MateDock retails for $89. Of these three, you’ll likely need the MateDock most since it features a couple of USB 3.0 ports, Ethernet, HDMI, and even the dated VGA port that we hoped we would never see again.
The stylus also feels rather unspectacular, but it still gets the job done. Of course, there are many other alternatives out there so artists will surely find an option that better suits their needs.
I saved the best for last: The screen.
The tablet’s most valuable asset is the gorgeous touchscreen display. We’re looking at a 12-inch IPS screen that has a slim bezel for a total screen-to-body ratio of 84%. And it’s a high-res display in there, packing a 2160 x 1440 resolution (2K).
If you’re at MWC and want to get your hands on the MateBook as fast as possible, definitely check out Huawei’s booth. Not only will you be able to interact with the gorgeous device, but you’ll also see how slim it is compared to all the ultraportable and detachable 2-in-1 devices out there.
Huawei’s solution is the one that wins. The MateBook is just 6.9mm thick and weighs in at 640g.
This is exactly the type of computer I’d willingly buy from Apple, and I wrote about this before. You might argue that the iPad Pro is practically a MateBook, but unfortunately it runs iOS, which isn’t always ready to offer the kind of computing experience I need.
As for the MateBook itself, the only issue – and I’m not seeing this as a problem that will affect consumers – is that it runs Windows. After working on OS X for so long, I’d have a hard time switching back.