Huawei MateBook X vs Huawei MateBook X Pro full review
When Huawei revealed the MateBook 13 laptop at CES 2019, it was immediately hailed as a Windows rival to Apple’s revamped MacBook Air. That might sound familiar, because not so long before the company’s MateBook X Pro was in turn championed as an equivalent to the MacBook Pro - while the first MateBook X before it was in turn a MacBook Air rival itself.
It’s easy to see why - Huawei’s MateBooks boast the same simple aluminium finishes and slim chassis designs of the Apple laptops, and at a glance it’d be easy to mistake one for the other.
Equally so, at first glance all the MateBooks look seriously similar to one other. They’re similar sizes, similar designs, and have - mostly - similar specs, but there are a few key differences that might help you pick between the three.
Price & availability
The MateBook X and X Pro are both available now, after releasing in 2018, but the MateBook 13 releases in the US on 29 January, with a firm UK release date as yet unannounced.
As for price, the MateBook 13 runs cheapest officially, with a base model for $999 - with a Core i5 processor and 256GB storage - or $1,299 for a premium version with an i7, 512GB storage, and discrete graphics in the form of Nvidia’s MX150.
The MateBook X Pro starts at £1,299/$1,199 for a base model with an i5 and 256GB storage, jumping up to £1,499/$1,499 for the amped up model with an i7, 512GB storage, a jump to 16GB RAM, and the same Nvidia MX150 graphics package. It's now usually possible to find most models for a hundred or so less than the official asking price though.
Finally the MateBook X is the oldest of the three. We can't find it on sale in the US, but if you're in the UK you can pick it up for £949 with a slightly older 7th gen Core i5, 8GB RAM, and 256GB storage - though no graphics card - down from the original price of £1,199.
That means that for fairly comparable specs you’re paying noticeably more for the X Pro - can it possibly differ enough elsewhere to justify the additional cost?
Spot the difference
Set the laptops side by side and you’ll probably struggle to tell them apart - at least at first.
All are available in the same Space Grey - though the X Pro gets an additional Mystic Silver colour option while the X gets Mystic Gold. The 13 and X Pro weigh almost exactly the same - 1.3kg for the MateBook 13, and 1.33kg for the X Pro - while the X is noticeable lighter at just 1.05kg.
Dimensions are also very similar - the X Pro has a slightly larger surface area (304 x 217mm vs 286 x 211mm), but the 13 is a little thicker at 14.9mm, with the X Pro sitting at 14.6mm - and the regular X again coming in smaller at 12.5mm thick, which explains the lower weight.
Specs are basically the same between the two more recent models, as we mentioned above. Both laptops offer the same 8th gen processors, same storage options, and same option upgrade to an Nvidia MX150 for graphics processing.
The only material specs difference is in RAM: both start at 8GB, but the X Pro lets you jump up to 16GB, while the 13 is stuck at 8GB - which was our main complaint with the laptop after seeing it at CES.
This is potentially a significant performance difference - and will likely come to matter more and more in terms of the laptops’ longevity - so for many people will be a massive point in favour of the X Pro.
The X understandably lags behind here - it's an older device, running 7th gen processors, and right now you can only buy it with an i5 and 8GB of RAM. It'll still perform well for basic tasks, but would probably no longer meet the needs of power users.
OK, so if the build and specs are almost identical, where’s the extra cost of the X Pro coming from? Well, the first culprit is the display.
The X Pro packs a slightly larger display - 13.9in rather than 13in in the other two devices. The X Pro also packs more pixels into that larger panel: 3000 x 2000, rather than 2160 x 1440 on the 13 and X.
Every model of the X Pro uses a touchscreen display, but only some versions of the 13 do - so take care to check that the model you’re buying packs the touch tech - and the original X has no touchscreen support at all.
All three use Huawei’s preferred 3:2 aspect ratio - a boxy display that’s ideal for productivity and browsing the web, but a little too square for optimal Netflix content. The X Pro features slightly slimmer bezels though, which helps it feel a little more premium as a product, but comes with one big downside…
Yup, the X Pro is most famous for its webcam, which isn’t sitting in the top bezel of the display where you’d expect it. It isn’t even in the bottom bezel, as you’ll find in the Dell XPS 13 (well, until the new 2019 model fixed things at least).
No, instead Huawei hid the X Pro inside the keyboard, hiding it under a function key which can lift up to reveal the webcam. On the one hand, this is exceedingly cool - and an ideal way to get rid of the camera if you never use it anyway - but on the other, gives you the absolute least flattering camera angle possible, along with a lot of shots of your fingers typing.
By contrast, the MateBook 13 and X keep the webcam in its natural home above the screen. If you use the webcam a lot you’ll almost certainly prefer this - it’s worth a few extra mm of bezel. If you don’t use your laptop for video calls anyway, then the X Pro’s hidden camera might suit you better.
All three cameras use the same 1MP sensor - which is alright for a webcam, but honestly not great.
One other area of small differentiation is the port selection.
All three laptops feature dual USB-C ports along with a headphone jack, and use one of those USB-C ports for charging.
However on the X Pro, the second USB-C port also supports Thunderbolt 3, and that laptop also includes a USB-A 3.0 port - completely omitted on the MateBook 13 and X - which will be a big help for anyone hoping to connect up wired USB accessories without a dongle.
Finally, all three have a fingerprint sensor built into the power button, which sits above the keyboard.
Built to last
There’s one final area where the X Pro has a real edge over the others, and it’s a biggie: battery life.
It’s worth flagging that we haven’t tested the battery on the MateBook 13 yet, so this is all based on specs, but on paper the X Pro looks to have a big advantage: its 57.4Wh battery packs a lot more oomph than the 41.8Wh cell in the 13 or the 41.4Wh capacity of the original X.
The bigger screen in the Pro will drain a little more power, which should even things out a little, but expect the MateBook 13 to last for less time than the 8 hours or so of normal use we got out of the X Pro.
Is the MateBook X Pro worth paying an extra few hundred for then? Realistically it’ll come down to how much you value the slightly larger display, (probably) longer battery life, optional extra RAM, and the addition of a USB-A port.
Those are individually small aspects of the laptop, but each can potentially have a major quality-of-life impact. Then there’s the webcam placement to consider - neither design is necessarily better, but it’s definitely a question of taste and how often you make video calls.
Really it probably makes more sense to think of the X Pro as the MateBook 14: it’s a slightly larger model of essentially the same device, which uses the extra space to cram in another port and a bigger battery. If those matter a lot to you then pay the extra, but if not you’ll probably find one of the smaller laptops more than sufficient.
As for choosing between the MateBook 13 and the original MateBook X, it really comes down to whether you prioritise performance or portability. With more recent processors and the option to upgrade to an i7 with discrete graphics, the 13 will definitely pack more oomph - but the original X is notably thinner and lighter, so will win out for anyone who just needs to do basic work and wants something lightweight to carry around all day.
Huawei MateBook X Pro: Specs
- Windows 10 Home
- 13.9in 3000x2000 LTPS touchscreen, 260ppi
- SKU1: 8th Generation Intel Core i5-8250U processor + Intel UHD Graphics 620
- SKU2: 8th Generation Intel Core i7-8500U processor + Nvidia MX150 (2GB RAM)
- 8/16GB RAM
- 256/512GB SSD
- Pop-up 1Mp web cam
- Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, 2.4/5GHz 2x2 MIMO
- Bluetooth 4.1
- 57.4Wh non-removable battery
Huawei MateBook X: Specs
- Windows 10
- 13in 2160x1440 IPS non-touchscreen, 200ppi
- WT-W09: 7th Generation Intel CoreTM i5-7200U processor
- WT-W19: 7th Generation Intel CoreTM i7-7500U processor
- Intel HD Graphics 620
- 4/8GB LPDDR3 RAM
- 256/512GB SSD
- 1Mp front facing camera
- IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, 2.4/5GHz 2x2 MIMO
- Bluetooth 4.1
- 5449mAh non-removable battery
- 12.5 mm x 286 mm × 211 mm
Huawei MateBook 13: Specs
- Windows 10
- 13-inch 3:2 (2160 x 1440) touchscreen display
- 8th Generation Intel Quad Core i5 or i7 processor
- Intel UHD Graphics 620 or Nvidia GeForce MX150 (US-only)
- 8GB RAM
- 256GB or 512GB SSD
- 41.8 WHr battery (built-in)
- 2x USB-C 3.1
- 1x 3.5mm headphone jack
- 1MP webcam
- Full size, backlit chiclet keyboard
- Windows Hello fingerprint reader
- 14.9mm x 286mm x 211mm