The Huawei MateBook 16 is a large, premium-style laptop from the Chinese tech giant that sports one of the largest displays within the Huawei family. It targets similar luxury hardware such as the Dell XPS 15, while also offering similar ecosystem benefits as seen across the MacBook range, which allows for additional features if you happen to own additional Huawei products.
Which is exactly where the issues start. The Huawei MateBook 16 is nothing short of fantastic, and yet, we can't in good conscious recommend that most folk go out and buy one. That's a harsh statement to open a review with, but also reasonable if you make any attempt to hunt one down as outside of a small selection of European countries. The Huawei MateBook 16 is almost impossible to find on both physical and digital shelves in western regions.
Regional availability is limited not just for the laptop, but complementing hardware such as Huawei phones, which drags down the product that performs extremely well as part of its own ecosystem. And even in countries like the UK where a selection of Huawei products is available, they lack access to essential features like the Google Play store for apps, which makes them a hard sell against other smartphones on the market.
This is all a real shame because the MateBook 16 is a joy to use. It's well built, beautifully designed and works smoothly with very few issues. If the prospect of those additional benefits weren't dangled in front of you across most of the wider marketing material, you wouldn't feel like you're missing out, but it currently feels like a MacBook that's been blocked from most of the useful pairing and sharing benefits you get with other Apple products.
If availability improves and restrictions are lifted then the MateBook 16 is absolutely worth your time. It's easy to use and even easier to love, best suited for working professionals and students, though its smaller sibling, the Huawei MateBook 14s does offer a few additional benefits that would be of particular interest for those who use graphically demanding applications.
Price and availability
Here is the Huawei MateBook 16 (2021) configuration sent to TechRadar for review:
CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 5800H (Base 3.3GHz, Boost 4.8GHz)
Graphics: AMD Radeon Graphics
RAM: 16GB LPDDR4-4167
Screen: 16-inch IPS, 2520 x 1680 touch
Storage: 512TB SSD (PCIe M.2 NVMe)
Ports: 2 x USB Type-C, 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, 1 x headphone/microphone combi jack 1 x HDMI
Connectivity: Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX 201 (2x2), Bluetooth 5.1
Camera: 720p, concealed in keyboard
Weight: 4.3lbs / 1.99 kg
Size: 10 x 13.8 x 0.7 inches / 254.9 x 351 x 17.8mm (H x W x D)
The base Ryzen 5 5600H-powered Huawei MateBook 16 retails for €1,099, which works out to be roughly $1,250 /£935 / AU$1,750, while the more powerful Ryzen 7 5800H model is only a smidge more expensive at €1,199 ($1,350 /£1,000 / AU$1,900). Why are we providing the price in Euros? Well, the biggest issue plaguing this laptop is regional availability, and at the time of writing, there are very few English-speaking countries that we can find it available to buy.
The UK-based website will try to redirect you to the German language one if you try and buy it, and given the ongoing ban on Huawei products in countries like the US, we sadly don't see the regional availability issues changing any time soon.
There are only two configurations that we could find available, though the only differences between the two are the processors. You get a choice of either an AMD Ryzen 5 5600H, or a beefier Ryzen 7 5800H, with no Intel-based models listed.
The rest of the specifications remain the same for each model, featuring integrated AMD Radeon graphics (thanks to those Ryzen processors), 16GB of dual-channel DDR4 RAM, and 512 GB of SSD storage
This is slightly more expensive than products like the M1 MacBook Air or Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 if you're based in the US, but a more affordable option if you're based in the UK or Australia, which only rubs salt into the wounds if you were looking for something with a similar style but have an aversion to either of those offerings...for some reason. That said, you'll be adding additional expenses to import one over, so buying the MateBook 16 outside of regions like China doesn't make much financial sense.
Huawei has set a precedent for releasing some beautiful hardware, and the MateBook 16 is no exception. Much like the Huawei MateBokke 14s and MateBook Pro X, It has a CNC machined aluminum chassis that's surprisingly lightweight, coming in at 4.4lbs / 2kg. This is lighter than similarly styled laptops like the Dell XPS 15, but heavier than the M1-powered Macbook Air. It's a little weighty to carry around with one hand, but it's unlikely that you'll strain your back carrying it around in a bag.
It runs Windows 10 out of the box, but the system is eligible for the free upgrade to Windows 11 should you want to so you're not trapped using a dying operating system.
A small complaint is that while that brushed metal chassis is beautiful, it attracts grime like nobody's business, and fingerprints seemingly love to stick around (we wash our hands, don't come for us). If you're the kind of person that keeps their gear spotless then seeing those marks might irritate you, but we found it was easy enough to wipe down with a dry cloth.
It's also pretty scratch-resistant and feels robustly made so it can take a bit of a beating. It's pretty hard to find protective skins for it unless you ship one from overseas, but despite its large size (10 x 13.8 x 0.7 inches / 254.9 x 351 x 17.8mm), it fits nicely into a generic cloth laptop case to help keep it in good condition.
There's very little flex to the keyboard and the display hinge is stiff enough to keep it in position with zero wobble when typing, but doesn't put up a fight if you're trying to open it with one hand. Speaking of typing, it's a decent experience, neither mind-blowing nor disappointing. The keys aren't especially spongey, but you'll find that rival offerings such as the Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 are much more tactile.
The key travel is great and you thankfully all of the usual bells and whistles found on modern laptop keyboards, such as backlit keys for writing in dim light. The power button is also located at the top right-hand side of the laptop rather than built into the keyboard itself like it is on most of the current Dell XPS range, so you can avoid any accidental typos that might set your laptop to sleep.
The power button also acts as the device's fingerprint scanner if you want password-less sign-in, and we found it to be impressively accurate. It didn't reject our reviewer's fingerprint once, while also not permitting unauthorized users any access.
The touchpad is nothing to write home about. The surface has a very fine grain to it that feels nice to run your finger over, but the buttonless left/right-click commands can be misjudged if you're used to a laptop that has a clear separation between the touchpad. You'll have a much nicer user experience if you invest in a decent wireless mouse, but that's the same with pretty much every laptop on the market right now so we won't hold that against the Huawei MateBook 16.
The 16-inch display is gorgeous. You're getting a 2520 x 1680 resolution in a 3:2 aspect ratio, which provide the ideal working space for multitasking functions. It was pretty easy to split the screen and have two different instances of Chrome open to boost productivity without feeling cramped, and the colors are sharp, with the MateBook 16 capable of displaying the full 100% of the sRGB gamut.
The screen has a slightly matte coating that helps to reduce glare in bright environments though it's certainly glossier than you'd assume. The maximum brightness is also 300 nits, which is surprisingly low for something intended to go toe-to-toe with other premium laptops. Inside and in dim environments, this won't be an issue, but even that slightly matte display didn't make it easier to use outside in broad daylight.
The refresh rate is also fairly 'meh', capped at 60Hz, unlike the smaller MateBook 14s that can switch up to 90Hz when required. We would have loved to see a similar refresh rate, or even one pushed to 120Hz but if you're only using this for standard office or school work then you won't have any real need for a higher refresh rate anyway.
In terms of Ports, you're getting two USB-C ports, one of which doubles as the charging port for the laptop, two USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 ports, a standard audio jack, and an HDMI port. That's a pretty decent selection for a slim, modern laptop. You could argue that a memory card slot would be a welcome addition, but it's isn't especially necessary as this isn't a device targeting creatives.
If you have a Huawei mobile phone then you can also use the touchpad as a built-in NFC (Near Field Communication) to use Huawei Share, which allows you to quickly sync your mobile to the laptop to transfer files. You can also do this with a Huawei tablet like the Huawei MatePad 11 or MatePad Pro, as well as an additional feature that can extend the Huawei Matebook 16 screen to use as a secondary display as well, running multiple programs while using the same peripherals, even drag files, folders and windows across between the devices.
This also allows you to use the Huawei M-Pen with the tablet, which will act as a display drawing tablet when connected to the laptop. It's a bit niche, but very useful if you like to take physical notes or prefer using a stylus to make simple graphical edits to images and documents.
The biggest caveat to all of this of course is that these additional devices need to be Huawei products. Not only are they hard to find outside of Asia as Huawei Mobiles are banned or at least, heavily restricted in regions like the USA and the UK, but they're also dwarfed by the likes of Apple's own ecosystem which is far more popular and easier to find in the west.
Here’s how the Huawei MateBook MateBook 16 (2021) performed in our suite of benchmark tests:
3DMark Night Raid: 15,137; Fire Strike: 3,437; Time Spy: 1,357
Cinebench R20: 4,493 points
GeekBench 5: 1,440 (single-core); 7,117 (multi-core)
PCMark 10 (Home Test): 5,274 points
PCMark 10 Battery Life: 12 hours 25 minutes
Battery Life (TechRadar movie test): 11 hours 57 minutes
Our review model is the more powerful AMD Ryzen 7 5800H version of the Huawei MateBook 16. This is one of the few AMD laptops within the Huawei family, so the benchmark results are pretty scattered compared to other products.
This outperformed the Intel-powered Huawei MateBook X Pro and the smaller Huawei MateBook 14s in multitasking benchmarks but struggled to keep up with either for single-core tests. Still, in real work applications, it was very pleasant to use, never struggling to run any day-to-day applications like Adobe Photoshop or the frankly embarrassing amount of Chrome tabs that we had open.
Unlike the MateBook 14s though, there's no option to include a dedicated graphics card which makes this unsuitable for most creative professionals working with 3D media. Yes, Photoshop handled well with some small image edits, but more demanding applications like Blender could really benefit from that additional boost
You're getting 16GB of DDR4 RAM which is plenty to run several apps at once without complaint, and the 512GB of speedy SSD storage is sizable enough to save your files. We are a tad disappointed that there's no option for a 1TB SSD (at least in the small handful of online listings we could find), but if you have access to a Google Drive or Cloud storage then the 512GB available to you should be plenty.
That lack of GPU also means the MateBook 16 isn't well suited to gaming. We were able to run Minecraft at around 43 FPS at 1080p, so you can crack open some low demand titles in a pinch, but it's not going to cope with any recent AAA releases.
The fans were pretty quiet during these more intense benchmarks though, and it didn't run particularly hot even when used on a lap. It's not a workhorse, but it's ideal if you want something silent without opting for a fully-fanless device like the new MacBook Pro range.
If you like to use your laptop to watch online content then you'll likely be as impressed by its speakers as we were. These are large, front-facing stereo speakers, which sit on either side of the keyboard, capable of kicking out some loud and well-balanced audio. High-quality headphones or even a good Blueooth speaker offer greater clarity for the audiophiles among you, but as far as built-in speakers go, we really can't fault them.
The battery life is certainly one of the highlights of using the Huawei MateBook 16, having achieved 12 hours and 25 minutes average on the PCMark 10 benchmarks and 11 hours 57 minutes when playing a looped video.
By contrast, the M1 MacBook Air manages 11 hours and 15 minutes in the same PCMark test, with the HP Spectre x360 similarly achieving 12 hours and 52 minutes, though the smaller Huawei MateBook 14s still trumps its larger sibling by achieving 13 hours 23 minutes (PCMark10) and 12 hours 17 minutes (looped video test).
Still, that's plenty enough for a full day of work or study and then some thanks to its large 84Whr battery and AMD’s power-efficient chipset design, allowing you to use it while commuting on public transport or for a few additional hours in the evening without anxiously keeping an eye out for a power outlet to plug into.
Charging was pretty speedy too. The laptop is bundled with a 135W USB-C charger (though you can use any other USB-C charger outside of the one provided), and this managed to provide around 50% of battery life in just 45 minutes.
We can only assume that everyone on the development team for the Huawei MateBook 16 was a total bombshell, as that would explain why we're still getting a 'chin cam' on a premium laptop.
Yes, the webcam is concealed within the keyboard and can be revealed by gently clicking it. This is great for keeping the bezels on the display extra skinny, but the angle is unflattering on anyone who doesn't look like Henrey Cavill or Adriana Lima, and even they might have to panic about nose hair when they start a call.
The quality is pretty underwhelming too, with a grainy 720p resolution that struggles with framerate and background noise. This is very typical for a webcam on even premium laptops though so our expectations were never high to begin with. Still, the angle is unflattering enough that we would suggest forgetting it exists and instead buying one of the best webcams on the market if you have any important calls, unless you have a neck tattoo you're especially keen to display.
The built-in microphones include built-in AI noise cancelation to filter out any background noise, and the clarity is pretty decent overall but you'll still get better results from using a headset mic or USB microphone. Again, even the most expensive laptops can only do so much so the bar is pretty low, and the quality here is no less than something built into portable workstations like the Dell XPS 15.
Buy it if...
You want something that feels high quality
Its looks are on par with modern MacBooks and other premium Windows laptops, so if you're bored of the usual offerings, this is one of the more unique options that looks as nice as it can run.
You're after a slim, powerful laptop
The MateBook 16 is silent, hard-working and dependable, so you're unlikely to be disappointed by its performance if you do manage to get your hands on one.
You have other Huawei products
If you're already part of the Huawei ecosystem by owning a smartphone or tablet then you'll have access to some of the closed-off ecosystem features that you'll otherwise miss out on.
Don't buy it if...
You work in a creative industry
There's no SD card slot in any of the configurations, nor an option that would include a dedicated GPU. The integrated Radeon graphics work just fine for most tasks, but you need to look elsewhere if you work with apps like Blender or Maya.
You're on a budget
Given this is a premium product, it comes with a sizable price tag. There are more affordable options available if you want to save yourself some cash, especially if you just need a laptop that can handle day-to-day tasks.
You're outside of Asia
You can technically import this device over to many other regions, but that will drastically impact its affordability and frankly, it's not quite good enough to justify going to all that work.
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