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Huawei MateBook

Editor's rating (1-5): rating starrating starrating starrating star

What's Hot: Slim, elegant with a premium look and feel. Works with optional pen, nice display, silent fanless design.

What's Not: Keyboard, pen and dock sold separately and easily bring price up. Keyboard portfolio design could be even better.


Reviewed July 5, 2016 by , Editor in Chief (twitter: @lisagade)

Huawei MateBook

Microsoft Surface Pro competitors are a bona fide thing. It took a few years, but now nearly everyone is making a tablet that turns into a laptop. Even Huawei, a phone and Android tablet maker is jumping on the upscale Windows convertible tablet market with the MateBook. It's an excellent first foray into the world of x86 architecture and literally bigger things. No, the MateBook isn't perfect, and there are a few gotchas that a more seasoned company would have avoided (the flawed magnet interaction between keyboard portfolio and tablet). There are also some really strong points, including an incredibly thin and light design (you'd easily mistake this for a 12" Android tablet), high class materials, a nice display and a stable of Mate accessories to make the tablet more useful in the world of PCs.

Specs and Performance

Like many, but not all Windows tablets in the 12" size range, the Huawei MateBook runs Windows 10 on 6th generation Intel Core m3 and m5 CPUs (an m7 option is coming) with Intel HD 515 integrated graphics. That's the same CPU used in the competing Dell XPS 12, base model MS Surface Pro 4, Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet and the Samsung Galaxy TabPro S. The Intel Core m is the lowest powered and slowest CPU among the "Core" branded CPUs. It's not as fast as the Core i5 and i7 dual cores used in all but the base model of Surface Pro 4 and Ultrabooks. It's much faster than Intel Atom CPUs however, and is roughly similar in performance to the Intel Core i3 (with lesser graphics performance but similar CPU benchmarks). It's fine for everyday productivity working with Office files, email, web with several tabs open and streaming video. It's even a good match for light to moderate photo editing and occasional full HD video editing. If you need a laptop that will quickly compile code, encode and render video for more than occasional casual use or if you spend lots of time in Adobe Lightroom, you'll want a Core i5 or i7. If your workload is light and you prefer a silent, fanless machine, the MateBook fits the bill. It gets toasty on the back, but will never make a sound since the Core m needs no fans for cooling.

The tablet looks a lot like the TabPro S, and that's not a bad thing. In fact, Huawei's looks a little classier thanks to the aluminum back. The tablet is incredibly thin--the 3.5mm headphone jack is almost too thick to fit, and it weighs just 1.4 pounds (640g). Of course, once you add on the all but required though not included $129 MateBook keyboard portfolio, the weight jumps to 2.5 pounds.

Huawei MateBook

The machine is available with 4 or 8 gigs of DDR3L RAM and your choice of a 128, 256 or 512 gig SATA SSD (right now, in the US RAM amount and SSD capacity are bundled, so it's not a mix and match system). The base model has the Intel Core m3, 4 gigs of RAM and a 128 gig SSD and sells for $699 (tablet only, no keyboard or pen). The Core m5 with 8 gigs of RAM and a 256 gig SSD is $999, which nets you the same config but a faster Core i5 and faster PCIe 128 gig SSD for Surface Pro 4 (there is no higher end, matching configuration for the Galaxy TabPro S). The Core m5 with 8 gigs of RAM and a 512 gig SSD is $1,199 and there's no price at this point for a Core m7, though we've heard that top of the line model might sell for $1,599.

The tablet is sealed with no visible screws, so it's not something you'd want to upgrade yourself at a later date (I suspect one would have to pull the screen to access the internals).

Broadcom dual band WiFi 802.11ac with MIMO and Bluetooth 4.1 are standard, as is a front 5MP camera. There is no rear camera, unlike many other tablets. The MateBook has stereo speakers that are relatively loud for a tablet, but don't expect much bass or lower midrange. Beyond the combo mic/headphone jack, there's a lone USB-C 3.1 Gen. 1 (equivalent in speed to USB 3.0). The charger plugs into this port, so if you wish to use peripherals while charging, you'll need a splitter dongle or Huawei's $89 MateDock that has Ethernet, HDMI, VGA, two USB 3.0 ports and a pass through USB-C port for charging. If you need a DisplayPort, you'll have to look to third party USB-C adapters and docks.



Huawei MateBook benchmarks

Design and Accessories... Dock and Keyboard

This is a crazy thin and light 12" Windows tablet. It weighs just 1.4 lbs. and is just 6.9mm thick. It looks like a high end piece of technology with slim bezels and a good looking aluminum back. The tablet is rigid and nicely finished from the polished edges to the nicely mated seams. We know from the lovely Nexus 6P Android phone that Huawei can make nice things. It's noticeably thinner than the Surface Pro 4 and similar in size and thickness to the Samsung Galaxy TabPro S. The tablet has a power button up top and volume buttons on the right side. There's a fingerprint scanner nestled between the volume buttons, and it works with Windows Hello for log in.

Huawei MateBook

The tablet has just two ports, the headphone jack and a single USB-C port, and that means you'll either want to buy the MateDock or a collection of dongle adapters or other USB-C dock. The $89 MateDock isn't a dock at all, but a small device that houses commonly used ports (other than DisplayPort). It too has a faux leather wrap to match the keyboard portfolio, and the wrap has a pen holder. The tablet is too thin for a pen silo and there's no pen holder on the keyboard case. You can buy USB-C DisplayPort adapters, should you need that monitor connection. Huawei includes both USB-C to USB 3.0 and USB-C to micro USB cables in the box, so you can use traditional USB peripherals without buying an adapter. The micro USB port is handy for connections to smartphones and to charge the optional $59 MatePen.

Huawei MateBook

The MateBook has a magnetic pogo pin connector on the bottom for the optional $129 keyboard portfolio that's both a backlit keyboard and a faux leather case (available in black or brown). The keyboard gets power from the pogo connector, so you don't need to charge it. It's a decent keyboard for a tablet accessory, though it flexes and trampolines more than the Surface Type Cover and the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet keyboard (it's much better than the keyboard folio included with the Samsung Galaxy TabPro S). If you're not a long form writer, you'll probably learn to get along with it. It's backlit in white and is spill and slash resistant. The keys are traditional non-island style keys with no space in between (I'm OK with that), and travel is good at 1.4mm. That said, flex is noticeable and that detracts a bit from the typing experience. It's a decent but not great keyboard.

The keyboard is embedded in a portfolio case that's easy to set up as a stand, but you get just two positions, one very upright and one with a slight tilt away from you. Magnets hold it shut for transit and those magnets will also put the tablet to sleep when you close the portfolio. Unfortunately, they'll also shut it off when you wrap the flap behind the tablet, as you would when handing it to another person to share content. That's a novice mistake on Huawei's part. The portfolio case, like the iPad Pro keyboard case and other competing products, is reasonably stable, though bumpy bus rides might dislodge it.

Huawei MateBook


Deals and Shopping:


Huawei MateBook Video Review


Huawei MateBook vs Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Comparison

Huawei MatePen

The mystery pen that sells for $59 isn't one of the usual suspects (Wacom EMR, Wacom AES, N-Trig, Synaptics or iPad Pencil--we tested them all). The passive digitizer built into the display requires power (just a tiny bit) from the pen, and thus it has a rechargeable battery that you'll charge using the included micro USB cable or your smartphone's charger. It should last for weeks on a charge and is fairly quick to charge. It's a thick pen, almost too thick for my tastes, but I'll take that over the toothpick that Lenovo includes with some recent ThinkPads (to be fair, Lenovo sells a normal size pen separately). Huawei's pen has a laser pointer on the back end--a joy to cat owners and PowerPoint presenters. It has two buttons on the barrel that by default do right click and erase. You need not pair the pen to use it with the tablet, but if you do pair it via Bluetooth, double-clicking on one of those buttons will take a screen shot and the other will launch Microsoft OneNote.

Huawei MatePen

The great news is that the pen works very well: it has good palm rejection, a reasonable hover distance of .25 to .33 inches and 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity (but no tilt feature for shading with the side of the pen). The nib is fairly thick and blunt, but it does taper to a fairly narrow point, and Huawei includes a spare in the box. The pen works well both for note taking and for art work. Really, the tablet is limited more by the low power CPU if you work on complex pieces of art with many layers, than by the pen.


Our overall impression of the display is quite positive. It's decently bright, has a wider than average color gamut that fully covers sRGB and covers 84% of Adobe RGB (most tablets hit 75% of Adobe RGB). Black levels at max brightness are decent at 0.49 and our Spyder4 Pro colorimeter measured 287 nits max brightness for a contrast ratio of 590:1. Gamma is too low at 1.6 (2.2 is ideal and fairly common) and that may be to compensate for the very high 8200K white point that's too high (6600K is ideal). That means whites look stark and somewhat blue, but the marriage of gamma and white point actually results in a display that looks good with vibrant colors, a bright look and pleasing, though not class leading like the Galaxy TabPro S or Surface Pro 4, contrast. It's easily brought in line with calibration using a colorimeter for those who need accurate colors, though I'd prefer a display with a more normal gamma and white point for pro photo editing.

Huawei MateBook

Battery Life

Despite its lower wattage, the Intel Core m has rarely offered greatly improved battery life over the more common Ultrabook Intel Core i5 CPU. Sadly, the Huawei MateBook is no exception, despite a decent 33.7 Whr battery inside. As with many Intel Core m tablets and laptops, battery life greatly depends on what you're using it for, since that CPU has a very low base clock speed but will aggressively Turbo Boost to much higher clock speeds if you're using it for demanding tasks like heavy multitasking, editing large images, editing video or running the sometimes piggish Chrome web browser with many tabs open. If you're simply working on a Word document, writing emails or browsing the web with just a few tabs open, battery life can hit 7 hours. With heavier use, it can drop to 6 hours, which is similar to the faster Surface Pro 4.

The included charger is a slightly larger version of the typical smartphone charger (in fact, it looks like a bigger version of the Samsung Galaxy S7 charger). It comes with a removable USB-C cable. We were able to charge the tablet with other USB-C laptop chargers like the Apple MacBook and Dell Latitude 13's charger, but not the Nexus 6P's USB-C charger.

Huawei MateBook


The Huawei MateBook is an excellent first foray into the world of Windows tablets. It's chic, well made, has an aluminum back and slim bezels. The accessories are a welcome and necessary compliment to a tablet that has just one USB-C port and a headphone jack. They are good enough to turn the MateBook into a full-fledged small laptop replacement, though the limited stand positions and bouncy keyboard may irk some. The display's metrics aren't ideal, but it nonetheless is a great looking panel with a very natural 3:2 aspect ratio that makes using it in portrait mode pleasant. Battery life is OK but not what we'd call great, but on the upside you get a very thin and light tablet and a tiny charger that fits in a pocket.

The MateBook isn't likely to dethrone the Microsoft Surface Pro 4, but it is worth a look if absolute thinness and portability are paramount. The Samsung Galaxy TabPro S is another fierce contender with a similar slim and light 12" design (but less classy materials and presentation). The TabPro S' keyboard isn't as good as the MateBook's, but the Samsung's vivid, high contrast AMOLED display and very good battery life are hard to beat.


Price: starting at $699 (tablet only)


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Display: 12", 2160 x 1440 IPS display (3:2 aspect ratio). Intel HD 515 integrated graphics. Supports MatePen pen (sold separately) and touch.

Battery: 33.7 Whr Lithium Ion rechargeable. Compact 12V/9V/5V/2A USB-C power adapter.

Performance: Availalbe with your choice of 6th generation Skylake Intel Core m3-6Y30 900 MHz with Turbo Boost to 2.2 GHz or Core m5-6Y54 1.1 GHz with Turbo Boost to 2.7 GHz. 4 or 8 gigs of DDR3L RAM (not upgradable). 128, 256 and 512 gig SATA3 SSDs available.

Size: 10.97 x 7.64 x 0.27 inches. Weight: 1.4 pounds.

Camera: 5MP front webcam.

Audio: Built-in stereo speakers, dual mics and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone/headset jack.

Networking: Integrated Broadcom dual band WiFi 802.11b/g/n/ac with MIMO and Bluetooth 4.1.

Software: Windows 10.

Expansion and Ports: 3.5mm audio and one USB-C 3.0 Gen 1 port.



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