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Huawei MateBook D 15 (2020) review

A mid-range laptop with high-end looks

Huawei MateBook D 15 (2020)
(Image: © Future)

Our Verdict

The Huawei MateBook D 15 (2020) is a nicely designed laptop that is reasonably priced and offers a decent level of performance thanks to AMD's mobile Ryzen technology. Despite taking a lot of design cues from Apple, it also includes some useful innovations, like a hidden webcam in the keyboard and NFC sharing with compatible smartphones, but the battery life and screen are disappointing.

For

  • Nice design
  • Good price
  • Good selection of ports
  • Some innovative features

Against

  • Battery life isn't great
  • Screen looks a bit washed out
  • Its best feature is exclusive to Huawei phones
  • Not available everywhere

Two-minute review

The Huawei MateBook D 15 (2020), is the Chinese company’s latest mid-range laptop. Huawei has been steadily making quite a name for itself in the laptop space, despite being primarily known (in the West, at least) as a smartphone maker.

In the past we’ve been mightily impressed with Huawei’s devices, including the Huawei MateBook 13, the 2018 model of the Huawei MateBook D and the flagship Huawei MateBook X Pro, and with this impressive start, we’re hoping that the company can continue that run of successful laptops with the new and improved MateBook D 15.

At first glance, the Huawei MateBook D 15 (2020) certainly seems impressive, with a design that takes obvious cues from Apple. The Space Gray color and keyboard layout all owe a debt of gratitude to Apple’s design team, but the Huawei MateBook D 15 (2020) avoids feeling like a cheap knock-off. Instead, it ends up being one of the most stylishly designed laptops in its mid-range price bracket.

There are some nice design tweaks as well, including full-size USB and HDMI ports, alongside a USB-C, offering better connectivity out of the box than any recent MacBook.

Huawei MateBook D 15 (2020)

(Image credit: Future)

The power button doubles as a fingerprint scanner for securely logging into Windows 10. When you push the button, it takes a reading of your fingerprint and stores it until Windows 10 boots up – then uses your fingerprint to log in. This saves you having to press the button more than once, and it works impressively well.

Another nice touch is that the webcam is built into a recess on the keyboard, and pops up when you press the button that’s nestled amongst the F keys at the top of the keyboard. Not only does this allow the Huawei MateBook D 15 (2020) to have impressively thin bezels around the screen, but it gives you an extra bit of privacy and security, as you can press the webcam down to turn it off when not in use.

Perhaps the best design decisions was to add NFC connectivity to the body of the Huawei MateBook D 15 (2020). This allows you to connect a compatible Hauwei smartphone to the laptop by tapping the smartphone against the ‘Huawei Share’ sticker. You can then quickly and easily share files between the two devices, as well as view the smartphone’s screen on the laptop.

It’s a great feature, but exclusive to Huawei and Honor smartphones.

Performance-wise, however, the Huawei MateBook D 15 (2020) doesn’t do quite so well. The AMD Ryzen 5 3500U is a decent enough mobile processor for day-to-day tasks, but the Huawei MateBook D 15 (2020) will struggle to do anything too strenuous. Gaming is certainly out of the question.

Meanwhile, the screen is too dim and washed out compared to other laptops at this price point, and the battery life of less than four hours for regular use is frankly disappointing.

Still, if you own a Huawei smartphone and are after a mid-range laptop that doesn’t cost too much, but still looks good, then there’s plenty to like with the Huawei MateBook D 15 (2020).

Huawei MateBook D 15 (2020)

(Image credit: Future)
Spec Sheet

Here is the Huawei MateBook D 15 (2020) configuration sent to TechRadar for review: 

CPU: 2.1GHz AMD Ryzen 5 Mobile 3500U (quad-core, 4MB cache, up to 3.7GHz)
Graphics: AMD Radeon Vega 8 (8-core, 1,200MHz)
RAM: 8GB DDR4 (2,400MHz)
Screen: 15.6-inch, FHD (1,920 x 1,080, IPS)
Storage: 256GB SSD
Ports: 1 x USB Type-C, 1 x USB 3.0, 2 x USB 2.0, 1 x HDMI, 1 x 3.5mm headphone jack
Connectivity: 802.11ac (2x2 MIMO), Bluetooth 5
Camera: 1MP webcam
Weight: 3.5 pounds (1.61kg)
Size: 14.08 x 9.05 x 0.66 inches (357.8 x 229.9 x 16.9mm; W x D x H)

Price and availability

The Huawei MateBook D 15 (2020) is available right now with a quad-core AMD Ryzen 5 3500U processor, 8GB RAM and 256GB storage for £599.99 (around $780, AU$1,200). This price puts the Huawei MateBook D 15 (2020) firmly in the mid-range camp. These are laptops that offer better performance than budget laptops, but don't feature the most powerful components (or ultra-high prices) found with premium and high-end laptops.

As you’d imagine, it’s a crowded market that can be difficult to stand out in – which is why Huawei is going all-out with the Huawei MateBook D 15 (2020)’s design.

There is also a 14-inch Huawei MateBook D 14 (2020) for people who want a more portable laptop, and rather interestingly, this smaller laptop is being sold for more than the Huawei MateBook D 15 (2020) – with a price tag of £649.99 (around $800, AU$1,300).

This comes with the same specs as the 15-inch model, but with a smaller screen and a larger 512GB SSD.

This puts potential buyers of the Huawei MateBook D 15 (2020) in a slightly weird position. If you want the cheapest model, you’ll have to go for the 15-inch model with a 256GB hard drive. However, if you want more storage (and that’s not out of the question, as 256GB is pretty low these days), then you’ll need to pay more and make do with a smaller screen.

Meanwhile, when it comes to availability, things are also a bit complex. The Huawei MateBook D 15 (2020) (along with the MateBook D 14) are readily available in the UK from a range of retailers including Amazon, Argos and Very.

However, it doesn't look like it is available in the US and Australia at the time of writing. We’re following up with Huawei to get a better idea of worldwide availability. However, considering the US government’s complicated relationship with Huawei products, there may be a good chance that the Huawei MateBook D 15 (2020) will never be available there.

Huawei contacted with a list of regions the new MateBook D range is available in:  Europe, Asia Pacific, Russia, Latin America, Japan, and the Middle East. If you don't reside in those locations, then you'll find getting hold of one tricky.

Huawei MateBook D 15 (2020)

(Image credit: Future)

Design

From the outset, it’s clear that Huawei has wanted to create a mid-range laptop that has a design you’d expect to see in more expensive laptops. It’s a great idea, actually. Let the likes of Dell, Apple and HP fight it out over making the most powerful (and expensive) laptops in the world, while diligently redefining what we should expect from an affordable mid-range laptop.

It’s pretty clear that the Huawei MateBook D 15 (2020)’s design is seriously indebted to the Apple MacBook. From the gray aluminum design to the size and shape of the keyboard, you’d almost be forgiven for thinking this was an Apple device, if it wasn’t for Huawei’s branding and lack of Touch Bar.

Of course, it’s not quite as nicely designed as a MacBook, but it’s certainly one of the best looking mid-range laptops we’ve seen.

Size-wise, the Huawei MateBook D 15 (2020) measures 14.08  x 9.05 x 0.66 inches (357.8 x 229.9 x 16.9mm), which is slightly bigger than 2019’s MacBook Pro 15-inch, which measured 13.75 x 9.48 x 0.61 inches (34.93 x 24.07 x 1.55cm).

It also weighs in at 1.62kg for the model with an SSD and hard drive, and 1.53kg for the SSD-only model.

That’s actually lighter than the MacBook Pro’s 1.83kg, though Apple has crammed more tech (such as the aforementioned Touch Bar, as well as a discrete GPU) into the MacBook Pro.

Still, considering the price difference between the two, the fact that the Huawei MateBook D 15 (2020) manages to even come close to aping the style of the MacBook Pro is impressive.

Huawei MateBook D 15 (2020)

(Image credit: Future)

There are, of course, plenty of differences in the design – and some of them even work in the Huawei MateBook D 15 (2020)’s favor.

The keyboard, for example, has a slightly deeper travel than MacBooks released before the end of 2019. This leads to a more satisfying ‘click’ when typing. Recent MacBooks used Butterfly switches for the keyboard and they had some well-publicized problems – which in turn led to Apple changing the keyboard switches it used in the MacBook Pro 16-inch.

MacBooks also come with the Touch Bar: a thin OLED touchscreen that runs along the top of the keyboard and shows different buttons depending on the task you’re performing and the app you’re using. The Huawei MateBook D 15 (2020) has nothing like this – which is understandable for the price – but it does have a power button with a fingerprint sensor built-in.

Using a fingerprint to sign in to Windows 10 is a great feature, and the Huawei MateBook D 15 (2020) has the added bonus of including tech that reads your fingerprint when you press the power button. Your fingerprint is securely saved as the Huawei MateBook D 15 (2020) boots, and then used to log into Windows, so you don’t need to press it a second time. It’s a little thing, but it’s a nice touch and makes using the Huawei MateBook D 15 (2020) a much smoother experience.

Another thing we like about the Huawei MateBook D 15 (2020) compared to the MacBook is the number of ports. While you’re stuc

k with two or four Thunderbolt 3 ports on a modern MacBook, the Huawei MateBook D 15 (2020) comes with three full-size USB ports, alongside a USB-C port for newer peripherals and a HDMI port.

The screen is surrounded by impressively thin bezels, which keeps the overall size of the Huawei MateBook D 15 (2020) down, while also adding to that premium and modern look of the device. This does mean that the webcam is not situated at the top of the screen. Instead, it’s built into the keyboard. Between the F6 and F7 keys there is a button with the icon of a camera. 

Huawei MateBook D 15 (2020)

(Image credit: Future)

Pressing it pops up the webcam. It’s an elegant solution which provides an added level of privacy – you can press the camera back down into the keyboard to turn it off. However, the location of the webcam won’t be to everyone’s taste, as it points upwards towards you which can lead to some rather unflattering shots.

Overall, the Huawei MateBook D 15 (2020)’s design does an excellent job of making this affordable mid-range laptop look and feel more expensive than it actually is. Its design borrows liberally from the MacBook, but it just about manages to avoid coming off as a cheap knockoff. Huawei adds a few innovative features, and we’d like to see more of that in the future as the company becomes more confident in its own design department.

Huawei MateBook D 15 (2020)

(Image credit: Future)
Benchmarks

Here’s how the Huawei MateBook D 15 (2020) performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

3DMark Sky Diver: 8,306; Fire Strike: 2,390; Time Spy: 847
Cinebench GPU: 55.15fps
Cinebench CPU: 644 points
GeekBench 4: 3,782 (single-core); 11,533 (multi-core)
GeekBench 5: 565 (single-core); 3,008 (multi-core)
PCMark 8 (Home Test): 3,046 points
PCMark 8 Battery Life: 3 hours 44 minute
Battery Life (TechRadar movie test): 5 hours and 28 minutes

Performance

The Huawei MateBook D 15 (2020) comes in a single configuration with a quad-core AMD Ryzen 5 3500U processor, 8GB RAM and 256GB. For anyone with knowledge of laptop specs, you’ll be able to tell straight away that this laptop isn't going to break any records when it comes to performance.

While 8GB of RAM is the amount we’d like Windows 10 laptops to come with as a minimum, the 256GB SSD is a bit on the tight side – you may find yourself running out of disk space, especially if you have large collections of big files, such as videos and music. You can forget about games as well – there’s simply not enough space to install most modern titles, and the hardware of the Huawei MateBook D 15 (2020) wouldn’t run them well anyway.

Huawei has done something a little different with the MateBook D, fitting it with an AMD Ryzen 5 3500U processor rather than an Intel chip. We’re all for offering consumers more choice, but AMD is gearing up to release its Ryzen 4000 series of chips, which promise big performance gains over the 3000 series – including the Ryzen 5 3500U.

If you’re looking to buy the Huawei MateBook D 15 (2020), you’re likely not too concerned about having a laptop with cutting-edge tech, but the idea that this laptop could be superseded soon may give you pause for thought.

In day-to-day use, however, the Huawei MateBook D 15 (2020) performs well. As long as you know to keep your expectations in check and not try running too intensive tasks – such as 3D rendering or playing the latest games – then you should be reasonably happy with the performance of this laptop considering its price.

The AMD Ryzen 5 3500U comes with AMD Radeon Vega 8 integrated graphics, and while they can handle basic 2D gaming, anything more taxing is not going to run well.

The screen is a bit disappointing though, and with a contrast ratio of just 800:1 and a relatively low brightness of 250 nits, the display feels a bit anaemic and washed out. It’s a far cry from some of the bright and vibrant screens we’re used to at this price point – and nowhere near the quality of a MacBook screen.

More successful is the Huawei Share feature. This is an NFC badge the allows you to tap a compatible Huawei phone and seamlessly swap files between it and the Huawei MateBook D 15, as well as view the phone’s screen on the laptop.

It works impressively well, and for anyone with a Huawei handset (certain Honor phones also work), this is a really strong selling point. However, while limiting this feature to Huawei handsets is understandable, it’s also disappointing if you have a different brand of smartphone, as you won’t be able to make use of this feature.

Throughout our time with the Huawei MateBook D 15 (2020), the laptop remained impressively quiet, even during strenuous tasks. According to Huawei this is thanks to the new SharkFin 2.0 cooling tech, which is the same cooling solution used in its flagship laptops. If includes fans that have around 50% more blades, which means they can draw in cool air and dispel hot air much more effectively. 

Huawei MateBook D 15 (2020)

(Image credit: Future)

Battery life

The battery life of the Huawei MateBook D 15 (2020) is decent, though unexceptional. In our battery benchmark test, where we ran a looped 1080p video full screen, the MateBook D 15 lasted almost five and a half hours.

That’s not too bad, and would last you almost an entire work day, but there are some caveats that leave us slightly less impressed. First, this is looping a video, which isn't the most intensive of workloads. If you’re also going to be surfing the internet, editing photos and writing up text documents, then that battery life is going to deplete a lot faster. Huawei told us to expect 13 hours of office work with a single charge of the MateBook D’s 56WHr battery – something it fell far short of in our tests.

Also, we’re seeing an increasing number of laptops hit battery lives in the double digits – including some that go for over 20 hours. These days, a five and a half hour battery just isn’t that impressive.

There's better news when it comes to recharging the Huawei MateBook D 15 (2020), however. It uses a USB-C port to charge, which means you can top it up with any USB-C charger, which is handy if you forget yours, and the included charger is supposed to deliver enough power to quickly charge the Huawei MateBook D 15 (2020). We say ‘supposed’ as unfortunately Huawei did not include a charger with the unit they sent us, so we had to make do with a spare one we had lying around. Still, the Huawei MateBook D 15 (2020) did replenish its charge impressively quickly.

Huawei promises that the official charger will give you four and a half hours of battery life after a 30-minute charge.

Huawei MateBook D 15 (2020)

(Image credit: Future)

Buy it if...

You want a stylish and affordable laptop
For a mid-range machine, the Huawei MateBook D 15 (2020) is an impressively designed bit of kit, taking design cues from the more expensive MacBook, and adding a few novel twists.

You’re sick of Intel
Tired of having to stick with Intel for your laptops? The Huawei MateBook D 15 (2020) is one of a growing number of laptops that comes with hardware from its rival AMD.

You have a Huawei smartphone
If you have a compatible Huawei smartphone then you can make use of one of the Huawei MateBook D 15 (2020)’s best features – Huawei Share, which lets you easily connect the laptop and phone.

Don't buy it if...

You want a powerful laptop
The Huawei MateBook D 15 (2020) offers decent performance for its price, but there are more powerful laptops out there for not much more money.

You want a gorgeous screen
The Huawei MateBook D 15 (2020)’s display does the job – but that’s about it. It’s peak brightness and lack of contrast makes the screen a rather underwhelming experience.

You need all-day battery life
The battery life is perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the Huawei MateBook D 15 (2020). Despite Huawei’s bold claims, our model didn't reach anywhere near the advertised times.