MWC 2018 | The new 2018 Huawei MateBook X Pro is hiding a James Bond-style pop-up webcam
Huawei is kicking off Mobile World Congress this year not with a smartphone but with a laptop. The flagship MateBook X Pro will replace last year's impressive MateBook X with even more features and a new design to further distinguish itself from the crowded Ultrabook market.
First, let's get the nitty-gritty internal specifications out of the way. The upcoming MateBook X Pro is a 13.9-inch notebook in the same uncommon 3:2 aspect ratio as the original MateBook X, Google Pixelbook, and the Surface Pro. Key details like brightness, resolution, and ports have all changed from the previous generation as listed by the table below. The more obvious updates include the larger screen size, 8th gen Intel U series processors, Thunderbolt 3 integration, and dedicated GeForce graphics.
|Huawei MateBook X||Huawei MateBook X Pro|
|CPU||Core i5-7200U, i7-7500U||Core i5-8250U, i7-8550U|
|GPU||HD Graphics 620||GeForce MX150 w/ 2 GB GDDR5 VRAM|
|Display||13.3-inch, 2160 x 1440 resolution, non-touch||13.9-inch, 3000 x 2000 resolution, 10-point capacitive touchscreen|
|RAM||8 GB LPDDR3||8 to 16 GB|
|Ports||2x USB Type-C Gen. 1, 3.5 mm audio||USB Type-C Gen. 1, Thunderbolt 3, USB 3.1 Type-A, 3.5 mm audio|
|Battery||40 Whr||57.4 Whr|
|Dimensions, Weight||12.5 x 286 x 211, 1.05 kg||14.6, 1.32 kg|
|MSRP||1100 Euros||1500 Euros|
On the outside, the metal chassis is made of a similar aluminum alloy used in the aviation industry to increase durability and - based on our short time with the pre-production unit - creaking from twists and depressions are unnoticeable. The lid itself feels about as rigid as on the XPS 13 9370 because the reinforcement from both the thick outer metal lid and overlying Gorilla Glass touchscreen panel. The backlit keyboard keys feel firmer than they do on the XPS 13 and the "Full View" 4.4 mm bezels on all three sides of the display are tenths of a millimeter thinner than they are on the Dell InfinityEdge equivalent. Overall, the luxurious and inarguably MacBook-inspired impression from the original MateBook X remains despite the design overhaul.
One particular aspect users may have already noticed about the MateBook X Pro is its size. Indeed, the upcoming model is thicker (14.6 mm vs. 12.5 mm) and heavier (1.32 kg vs. 1.05 kg) than the outgoing model similar to how HP's latest Spectre x360 15 is thicker than the last. In this case, Huawei is not afraid to go bigger in order to boost both performance and features to make up for the gain in weight. The differences in girth can be largely attributed to the addition of discrete Nvidia GeForce MX150 graphics and the decision to employ an active cooling solution. Unlike most Intel U series notebooks, the original MateBook X was fanless and completely silent no matter the workload. The Nvidia GPU is roughly 250 percent faster than the HD Graphics 620 in the MateBook X and Huawei is clearly hoping that the implementation of a fan will be a small price to pay for the astronomical graphics boost. When considering the CPU throttling issues on last year's model, we certainly can't disagree about incorporating a more capable cooling solution.
The last major surprise is the positioning of the webcam itself. Much like other notebooks with very narrow bezels, Huawei had to get creative in regards to how the webcam can be properly integrated. For the MateBook X Pro, the webcam is now a spring-activated popup button on the keyboard for easy access. Its unique implementation is also a direct response to users taping up webcams for privacy concerns not unlike Lenovo's "Thinkshutter" webcam slider revealed earlier this year at CES 2018.
As "perfect" as the MateBook X Pro may seem, it carries a handful of notable omissions and disadvantages aside from being larger and heavier than the original. First, missing features include SIM, NFC, a Kensington Lock, and SD reader. Secondly, convertible competitors like the Surface Book, Lenovo Yoga 920, and HP Spectre x360 13 continue to be more flexible to use especially for touchscreen inputs. Lastly, the camera is only 720p instead of 1080p and so don't expect video quality to be significantly better than what the original MateBooks X offers. In fact, the angle doesn't appear to be any better than the under-the-nose viewing angle that users berate about on the XPS 13 series. Why have such a unique camera feature if the camera sensor itself is of a very low megapixel count and with no Windows Hello support?
Outside of the above shortcomings, it's tough to find much else to complain about at first glance. Outdoor visibility seems decent for a glossy display and there's no denying its visual appeal. We'll have to wait until this Summer before we can put the final retail model through its paces for a verdict.
The MateBook X Pro is launching this Summer in Mystic Silver and Space Gray colors for a "disruptive" starting price of 1500 Euros for the entry-level Core i5/256 GB SKU. Huawei will also be throwing in a 65 W AC adapter, a smaller and more portable Type-C charger, a Matedock 2.0 USB Type-C adapter, and a bloat-free Windows 10 Home Signature Edition at no extra charge for the North American market.