Huawei didn’t really have to improve much upon its best-in-class Huawei MateBook X Pro, but it went ahead and did it anyway with the Huawei MateBook 13. The end result is yet another Best in Class laptop from Huawei.
You may have read a similar line in last year’s MateBook X Pro review: the Huawei MateBook 13 offers better performance than most laptops of its class for less cash. Not to mention all within an equally gorgeous form factor that’s almost better looking and feeling than a 2018 MacBook Air – almost.
Sure, you may be missing a few minor niceties here and there to achieve such a competitive price, but on the whole, this is the most value-packed flagship laptop that we’ve ever tested.
Here is the Huawei MateBook 13 configuration sent to TechRadar for review:
CPU: 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-8565U (quad-core, 8MB cache, up to 4.1GHz)
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620; Nvidia GeForce MX150 (2GB GDDR5)
RAM: 8GB DDR3 (2,133MHz)
Screen: 13-inch, 1440p (2,160 x 1,440, IPS, 300 nits, 1,000:1 contrast, 100% sRGB, 3:2 aspect) touch display
Storage: 512GB SSD
Ports: 2 x USB-C 3.1, headset jack
Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1
Camera: HD (720p, 0.9MP) webcam
Weight: 2.87 pounds (1.3kg)
Size: 11.26 x 8.31 x 0.59 inches (286 x 211 x 14.9mm; W x D x H)
Price and availability
Huawei is selling two configurations of the MateBook 13 laptop, an entry-grade version and a high-end version, but both contain the same 13-inch, 2,560 x 1,440 (220 pixels per inch) touchscreen in a 3:2 aspect ratio and 8GB of LPDDR3 memory as well as a fingerprint reader embedded into the power button.
Otherwise, the more approachable model includes an 8th-generation Intel Core i5 processor with integrated graphics and 256GB of solid-state storage (SSD) for $999 (about £785, AU$1,403) to start. Meanwhile, a $1,299 (about £1,020, AU$1,825) model with an Intel Core i7 processor and Nvidia MX150 discrete graphics chip inside as well as a 512GB SSD is available.
Both models also include a helpful USB-C dock in the box as well as one free year of Microsoft Office 365 Personal. This pricing smartly undercuts Apple’s latest MacBook Air by 100 bucks, and remains quite competitive with other competing Ultrabooks, namely the Dell XPS 13.
It all comes down to how the MateBook 13 part configurations compare, largely offering the same or more power than either option for less. Namely, neither the XPS 13 nor the MacBook Air offer discrete graphics. As low-power as the Nvidia MX 150 might be, it gives this laptop a clear competitive advantage in video rendering and gaming.
Both models are available on Amazon and Newegg in the US at the time of writing, with wider retail availability come February. Huawei has not yet disclosed exact UK and Australian pricing or international availability.
Design and display
You wouldn’t be wrong to think of the MateBook 13 as a further refinement of Huawei’s best-in-class MateBook X Pro of 2018, but the company intends to sell both separately. You see, the MateBook 13 looks nearly identical to the X Pro, only slightly smaller.
This laptop is fitted into the same aluminum body as before in your choice of a Space Gray or Mystic Silver color option. Open the laptop, however, and you’ll notice one key difference: the webcam has moved – again.
While the webcam was cleverly hidden beneath the keyboard in the X Pro, Huawei has done this MateBook right with a webcam resting above the display. However, it’s rated for a mere 0.9-megapixels at 720p resolution, so it’s not going to make you look amazing online.
Measuring just 0.59 inches (14.9mm) thin and weighing a mere 2.87 pounds (1.3kg), the MateBook 13 is narrowly heavier and actually – just by a hair – thinner than the latest MacBook Air. That’s mighty impressive for a laptop that contains a full-fat Intel mobile processor as well as a dedicated graphics chip.
Equally as impressive is the keyboard and touchpad on offer here, with plenty of key travel at 1.2mm and the punchy, forceful feedback that we need to type fast. Likewise, the Microsoft Precision touchpad is also a delight to use as well as wide and spacious, though it’s notably missing a smooth glass coating.
Now, if you enjoyed the touchscreen display on the X Pro, you’ll love it all over again on the MateBook 13. While a touch smaller now at a straight 13 inches on the diagonal, the screen still puts out a 1440p picture at 100% of the sRGB color gamut – and its touch digitizer is as snappy as ever.
Couple that with a 1,000:1 contrast ratio and up to 300 nits of brightness, and you have the makings of a once-again excellent display. However, the 3:2 aspect ratio allows for more content to fit on the screen vertically, but that means thicker bars above and below your full-screen videos.
While this is essentially the same design as last year’s flagship Huawei laptop, we can’t help but appreciate the refinements that the company has made to that design at almost every level.