Huawei MateBook arrives at MWC to take on the Surface (hands-on)
Phones may be taking center stage at Mobile World Congress this year, but that hasn't stopped Huawei from launching its own Windows 10 2-in-1, the Huawei MateBook. Gizmag stopped by the Huawei booth at MWC to get some first impressions of the latest tablet/laptop hybrid to arrive.
By now you're probably familiar with the 2-in-1 tablets that make use of a light, flexible, keyboard cover to turn them into makeshift laptops. Microsoft has perhaps the most well-known one, but the likes of Samsung, HP, Lenovo and others all have models of their own. It's the power of a laptop with the portability of a tablet, at least in theory.
Apple, meanwhile, ploughs its own furrow: it too wants iPad users to ditch their laptops for a tablet-plus-snap-on-keyboard combination, but unlike the Windows 10-powered devices we've already mentioned, it runs the mobile-friendly iOS rather than a full desktop operating system.
And so to Huawei's first foray into this field. The MateBook features a 6th generation Intel Core m3, m5 or m7 dual-core processor (clocked up to 3.1 Ghz), up to 8 GB of RAM and up to 512 GB of internal storage. The screen is a 12-inch 2,160 x 1,440 pixel IPS TFT LCD (a pixels-per-inch rating of 216). It's just 6.9 mm thick (same as the iPad Pro) and, in some cases, ships with a keyboard dock as well as a stylus that Huawei is calling MatePen (these may or may not be bundled together depending on region).
On paper, that positions the MateBook as a solid rival to the entry-level tier of Microsoft's Surface Pro line-up, which is probably exactly the Chinese company's intention. There's a lot of variation in the choice of configurations though, and Huawei says US pricing will range from $699 to $1,599 for the tablet on its own when it goes on sale sometime later this year.
We spent a few minutes putting the Huawei MateBook through its paces and liked what we saw: especially in terms of the design and appearance. Looks-wise this is as classy a device as you would expect from the company that designed the Nexus 6P and Huawei Watch, and the screen in particular looks sharp and vibrant. Clicking the tablet in and out of the dock is satisfyingly simple and of course Windows 10 jumps in and out of tablet mode as you do so.
You can hold the tablet with one hand, though you're going to feel the weight after a few minutes. Given that this is a 12-inch display, it's about as svelte as you can expect and Huawei's design team has once again delivered the goods. Performance is difficult to measure on a demo device, but we didn't notice anything untoward, with apps and menus opening in a snap.
The MatePen also felt fluid and responsive. Less impressive is the keyboard, which felt a little too cheap, clacky and typewriter-like for our tastes: that's an area Microsoft definitely wins in for now, and may hurt the device's chances as a true laptop replacement for the masses.
There are plenty of useful bells and whistles with the MateBook, including a fingerprint sensor and two bundled adapters (USB-C to microUSB and USB-C to USB-A) to help you get more from its solitary USB Type C port. Huawei will also be selling an optional multi-port USB-C adapter so you can charge and use accessories at the same time (there are also now plenty of third-party options on this front). We aren't sure why devices like this and the Galaxy TabPro S don't just include two USB-C ports, but perhaps it goes to show just how much influence Apple still has in the tech industry.
Keyboard aside, we're impressed with what Huawei has done at first glance, but you'll have to wait for our full review to see just how good Huawei's new 2-in-1 really is. The Huawei MateBook will start at $699 for the tablet alone, with keyboard starting at $129 and Pen at $59.
Product page: Huawei