Huawei takes on Apple with sleek MateBook X Pro

25 Feb 2018

The new MateBook X Pro from Huawei. Image: John Kennedy

With its hidden-camera technology, the MateBook X Pro threatens to spark a new chapter in the PC v Mac wars.

Huawei didn’t reveal any new smartphones at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2018 in Barcelona. But what it did do was fire a new warning shot across Apple’s bows.

That doesn’t mean Huawei doesn’t have a new smartphone – it does, and it will be called the P20, due to debut in late March with some interesting new photographic capabilities.

‘5G will make 20Gbps possible. 5G is not just about connecting people but also the internet of things smart home, autonomous car driving and more’

At MWC, Huawei revealed a new AI-powered PC as well as two new tablet configurations.

The MateBook X Pro is a Windows 10-powered machine with an eighth-generation Intel Core i7 processor.

On first glance, you get the feeling that it is very similar-looking to the MacBook Pro. However, the similarities end when you notice just how slim the bezel is on the device.

That’s right, Huawei has leveraged its evolution from being nowhere in smartphones seven years ago to being number three in the world, and learnings from the smartphone world are evident in the MateBook X Pro.

After the bezel comes the fingerprint-recognition power button and a concealed camera that sits between the F6 and F7 buttons, popping up when touched. This is a nod to growing fears about always-on cameras on notebook computers.

Mac v PC – it’s back on!

Huawei takes on Apple’s MacBook Pro with sleek new MateBook X Pro

Close-up of the new hidden camera in the Huawei MateBook X Pro. Image: John Kennedy

Described by the CEO of Huawei’s consumer business group, Richard Yu, as the “world’s first full-view touchscreen notebook”, the MateBook X Pro has a larger 13.9in screen compared with the MacBook Pro but also a narrower bezel, which makes the display appear to float in mid-air.

It has a touchscreen, is surrounded in unibody metal, weighs just 1.33kg and is cooled by a shark-fin cooling system. It will come in ‘space grey’ and ‘mystic silver’.

The MateBook X Pro packs a solid punch in terms of graphic processing, with a Geforce MX150 graphic card, quad speakers powered by Dolby surround sound and a 57.4Wh battery that guarantees 14 hours of work time and 12 hours of video playback.

With two USB-C ports and a USB-A port, it also boasts the largest clickpad within a 14in laptop configuration. With a Thunderbolt 3 port, up to 1,000 photos can be transferred within three minutes.

Huawei wants to reinvigorate the tablet market

Huawei takes on Apple’s MacBook Pro with sleek new MateBook X Pro

Journalists get to grips with the new MediaPad M5 machines that convert from Android tablets into PC devices. Image: John Kennedy

As well as the MateBook X Pro, Huawei also revealed two new tablets: the 10.8in and 8.4in MediaPad M5 series.

The new tablets come with a curved-edge design and are capable of 56 hours of non-stop working and 12 hours of video playback.

The sleek tablets also come with 4G LTE connectivity and are capable of up to 300Mbps in broadband.

As well as a new M Pen – which can process 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity – and Histen 360 soundscape, the real punch is the ability to turn the Android tablet into a PC by connecting it to a keyboard.

5G vision for a world of machines

On top of the device announcements, Yu revealed a new 5G chipset: the Huawei Balong 5G01 modem. It is capable of peak rates of 2.4Gbps and a latency of just 33 milliseconds.

“5G will make 20Gbps possible,” Yu predicted. “5G is not just about connecting people but also the internet of things smart home, autonomous car driving and more.

“Huawei plays a very important role in 5G, and our main contribution is our innovative chipsets and 5G networks and devices,” Yu said.

The first wave of Huawei MateBook X Pro devices will ship in the second quarter in China, the US, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Spain, Italy and Nordic region, starting at €1,499 and rising to €1,899.

The MediaPad M5 Series roll-out will initially include Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, Switzerland, Ireland, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Austria, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary and the US.

Prices start at €349 for the 8.4in version and €399 for the 10.8in version, rising to €499 and €549, respectively.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years