It hasn’t even been that long since the last Huawei MateBook X Pro, and here we are again. The Shenzen-based manufacturer only released the most recent model in early 2022, but that was still running on 11th-gen Intel chips; this version packs an upgrade to a 12th-gen Intel Core processor, as well as a new display. At just 1.6cm thick and weighing 1.26kg, it’s a portable powerhouse.
We were lucky enough to test one of these out at IFA 2022, and will update this review once we’ve received one for full testing. Our initial impressions are good, though. The MateBook X Pro (that’s the Roman numeral 10, not the letter X) is Huawei’s premium productivity laptop, and the hardware update makes it even better.
Let’s not beat around the bush: some users will still harbor concerns about Huawei as a brand. The Chinese company had a reputation for cheaper but lower-quality hardware for a time, and if our press briefing was anything to go by, it’s been working hard to allay those fears. The X Pro is the perfect example of this; it doesn’t feel cheap at all, but rather a premium price of kit that anyone would be proud to use at work.
Price and availability
We don’t have full pricing details on this new version of the Huawei MateBook X Pro yet (and Huawei was quite elusive about pricing when we asked at IFA), but we can reasonably expect it to sit within the same range as the previous model, which cost €1,899 in Europe.
While Huawei laptops usually make their way to the UK and EU nations after release in the Asian market, we still don’t know if this new model will be available in the US since the 2019 trade ban on the brand enacted by former President Donald Trump. Huawei products can still be imported by American buyers, however.
In any case, the pricing puts it above the M2 MacBook Air in Europe, which is arguably its biggest competitor (though being a Windows laptop means it also goes toe to toe with a wide range of the best ultrabooks).
One immediately clear point of comparison with previous models of the Huawei MateBook X Pro is the new and improved display. With its maximum brightness upgraded to 500 nits (up from 450 in the previous model), this screen is bright and almost bezel-less, with a 3:2 aspect ratio that provides more vertical space for productivity and scrolling on the web.
The aspect ratio means this 14.2-inch screen uses a somewhat esoteric 3.1K resolution, but it looks sharp whether you’re playing videos or just doing work. Huawei says it’s the best display ever used in one of its laptops, and that looks accurate to us. Of course, it’s also a touchscreen, allowing you to quickly click, scroll, and zoom with your fingertips.
You might not want to use that touchscreen too much, though, because the touchpad on this ultrabook is genuinely excellent. We’ve seen it likened to an infinity pool, which is an apt comparison; the edge closest to the user reaches all the way to the edge of the chassis with no bottom border, which makes downwards swipes feel much smoother.
The touchpad is a decent size and has a good, firm click, but more interesting are the expanded gesture controls. The edges of the pad can be swiped up and down to adjust the volume and brightness, while the top edge can be used to control video and music playback. Gentle haptic feedback makes this feel more responsive and intuitive, and there are even gestures that don’t use your fingertips; for example, double-tapping with a knuckle takes an instant screenshot.
The keyboard isn’t much different from the previous model, with subtle but even backlighting and a decent amount of travel. It feels comfortable to use, though not revolutionary. In fact, we wish there was something a bit more unique about the MateBook X Pro.
It’s good – really good, even – but it feels like Huawei is playing it safe. While other laptop big dogs are pushing the envelope with weird, cool stuff like folding displays and touchpad-integrated screens, Huawei seems content to make products that perform well but don’t really innovate. The touchpad gesture controls are nice, but don’t exactly scream ‘cutting edge tech’.
Although we won’t have full benchmark results until we can properly test the Huawei MateBook X Pro ourselves, the upgrade to a 12th-gen Alder Lake Intel processor can only be a wise move in performance terms. This model will be available with either an i5 or i7 processor, depending on your performance needs.
Intel’s new big.LITTLE core architecture means better performance in both single- and multi-core workloads, with (hopefully) reduced power draw that should help the new MateBook X Pro stretch its battery life a little further – though this model actually includes a slightly more powerful battery too, which should be good.
In our short time with it, we quickly opened a tonne of tabs to see if we could force the ultrabook to lag – no luck there, though, which was a relief. The MateBook X Pro wakes from sleep super-fast and loads programs quickly too.
This is one of Huawei’s ‘Super Devices’, which is essentially just a way of saying that it sits within Huawei’s new hardware and software ecosystem. For example if you already have a Huawei phone or tablet, you can place it atop the palm rest for instant connectivity thanks to an NFC chip within the laptop. Smart device ecosystems are quickly becoming the norm (with Apple and Samsung at the forefront) so it makes sense for Huawei to push this right now.
We really enjoyed our time with the new Huawei MateBook X Pro. Assuming it doesn’t somehow fall apart during our testing process – which we would be surprised to see – we’ll feel very comfortable recommending it to anyone looking for a lightweight new laptop.
At this point, our main criticism is the relative lack of physical port options. There’s four ports in total (not including the headphone jack), all four of which are USB-C; No USB-A, no SD card reader, and no video output in sight. This is likely due to the ultra-thin form factor, but it’s still annoying that it necessitates the purchase of a USB hub when it’s already going to be quite pricey.
IFA 2022 is Europe’s biggest tech show, and TechRadar is in Berlin to bring you all the breaking news and announcements, plus our hands-on first impressions of the new TVs, wearables, audio devices and other gadgets on show.