Huawei MateBook X Pro (2022) review: Magnesium marvel
What we have here is Part 2 of Huawei’s 2022 update to its flagship MateBook X Pro. Part 1 of the update included a larger 14.2ins display and an improved sound system but the end result never made it to the UK market, presumably because it ran on an 11th-generation Intel CPU and Huawei thought that releasing a flagship with a soon-to-be-replaced processor into a highly competitive market was not a great idea.
That issue has now been addressed with the introduction of the Alder Lake Core i7-1260P chip into what is essentially the same machine, making this the MateBook X Pro 2022 v2.0.
Huawei MateBook X Pro review: What you need to know
The MateBook X Pro is the flagship of Huawei’s laptop range despite the fact that you can have a faster processor in the MateBook 16s: The X Pro’s claim to predominance rests on its small size, light weight and high-quality 14.2in touchscreen display rather than outright performance.
The high quality of the display has long been a primary feature of the MateBook X Pro because it’s one of the best displays fitted to any laptop on the market. The revised six-speaker sound system that was introduced in the X Pro 2022 v1.0 is equally impressive.
Oddly though Huawei hasn’t improved the quality of the webcam in its range-topper which now means that the camera in the MateBook 16s is much better. Nor has it upped the battery capacity to deal with the increased drain of the new Intel chip.
Huawei MateBook X Pro review: Price and competition
Configuration tested: Intel Core i7-1260P CPU, Intel Iris Xe GPU, 16GB of RAM, 1TB SSD. Price: £1,800
In terms of internal specification there’s only one version of the new X Pro available in the UK and it comes with a 1TB SSD, 16GB of quad-channel RAM and a Core i7-1260P CPU. It costs £1,800, is available now and if you buy one before 30 September you’ll get a free 28in Huawei MateView monitor thrown in, too.
The doyen of compact laptops is of course Apple’s MacBook Air which has recently been given more power in the form of the M2 chipset. The looks, performance and display quality are all up with the very best while the battery life can only be described as epic. Starting at £1,549 it’s good value too.
Dell’s new XPS 13 Plus heralds a new design language for the XPS machine with an edge-to-edge keyboard, capacitive Fn keys and an invisible trackpad. These features having been introduced just to make the 13 Plus pretty, they really do make it easier to use once you’ve adjusted to them. The 13.4in display is smaller than the MateBook X Pro and the touchscreen models start at £1,699 but that does get you a superb 3.5K OLED panel.
If saving weight is your primary concern then the LG Gram 16 is worth a look. It weighs just 1.19kg but still packs in a 16in 2,560 x 1,600 display. That’s thanks to a plastic and magnesium alloy construction that is a bit bendy but still claims MIL-STD 810G resistance against shock and dust ingress. At the time of writing it’s available for £1,269 making it a compelling alternative for the determined nomad.
If you want to spend rather less then the MateBook X Pro’s little brother, the MateBook 14s is well worth considering. It too has a 14.2in 90Hz display though the 2.5K screen isn’t quite as sharp and the Core i7-11370H processor can’t match the X Pro’s Alder Lake chip for performance. At the current price of £799, it is a fantastic bargain.
Huawei MateBook X Pro review: Design and build quality
The basic design of the X Pro hasn’t changed so it’s still a nicely rounded if aesthetically rather anonymous affair with a large silver Huawei badge taking pride of place on the lid. New for this season is an all-white colour scheme to accompany the Ink Blue and Space Grey models. Judging by the press images, the white version is a stunner. The white and blue models also have a new matte paint finish which is very pleasant to the touch.
The latest X Pro is still impressively solid and slim with even the 4mm-thick lid manfully resisting efforts to twist it out of shape. It is slightly larger than the 2021 model at 310 x 221 x 15.5mm but it’s also lighter. Or rather some models are lighter.
The white and blue ‘Premium’ models are now made from a magnesium alloy and weigh 1.26Kg while the grey model is still made from aluminium and weighs 1.38Kg, the same as the 2022 v1.0 model. That means the Premium models are only 20g heavier than the M2 MacBook Air and 30g heavier than the Dell XPS 13 Plus both of which have smaller displays.
Speaking of displays, the MateBook’s screen takes up 92.5% of the lid area which results in some impressively slim bezels; 5mm at the sides and 7mm at the top and bottom.
Connectivity is still limited to four USB-C ports but two of them – the two on the left – are now Thunderbolt 4 spec to facilitate the Intel Evo accrediation. Huawei bundles a Type-A adapter cable in the box and has opted to leave the 3.5mm audio jack in place, unlike Apple and Dell which have both dispensed with it on their MacBook Air and XPS 13 Plus machines.
Removing the rear panel of the X Pro involves removing the two rear rubber feet which cover two of the eight Torx screws holding it in place and they weren’t coming off without a struggle. I doubt there are any more options to be found by the bold than in the 2021 model which only lets you swap out the SSD after removing the cooling system shroud. Considering the X Pro has a 1TB Samsung drive with decent performance (sequential read and write speeds of 2,685MB/sec and 2,247MB/sec), I can’t see many people feeling the need to swap it out. Being a Huawei laptop, the SSD is divided into 119GB Windows and 814GB data partitions.
Wireless duties are now handled by an Intel AX211 rather than an AX201 card which means support for 6GHz Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2. Like all new Huawei laptops, the latest MateBook X Pro comes with Huawei’s Super Device screen and content sharing system but this only works with selected other Huawei phones, displays and tablets.
Huawei MateBook X Pro review: Keyboard, touchpad and webcam
The keyboard is a very decent affair; solid, near-silent and with a nicely judged 1.5mm key movement and a clean and precise action. The two-stage backlight works perfectly and there are no idiosyncrasies to the layout. As is becoming usual with Huawei notebooks the middle key in the Fn row launches Windows voice typing software. Again as it tradition for Huawei the fingerprint scanner is built into the power button which is separated from the keyboard to avoid accidental shut downs.
The 120 x 83mm touchpad extends right to the front edge of the keyboard deck to maximise surface area and has a couple of convenient features that Huawei calls Free Touch. Press the right edge of the pad and run your finger up and down and a haptic volume control comes alive while doing the same on the top edge lets you fast forward or rewind video (or scrub the cursor back and forth through text). Repeat on the left edge and you get a haptic brightness control. The cut-out at the bottom of the trackpad makes flipping up the lid with one finger a cinch.
The webcam is something of a disappointing now that it can be compared to the excellent 1080p camera fitted to the new – and cheaper – MateBook 16s. It’s a rather grainy 720p affair though it does now come with Huawei’s Smart Conference software that includes features like virtual background and a tracking facility to keep you centred in the image. The webcam also supports Windows Hello IR facial recognition, giving you two forms of biometric security.
Huawei MateBook X Pro review: Display and audio
The new MateBook X Pro carries over the same 14.2in LTPS touch display as the Tiger Lake model with a resolution of 3,120 x 2,080 and a resultant pixel density of 264ppi. Like the 14s it also features a higher refresh rate than the usual 60Hz so the new X Pro’s screen can turn over at 90Hz, making onscreen animations and transitions that bit smoother.
I measured the maximum brightness at 556cd/m2 which is a good result if some 40cd/m2 lower than the Tiger Lake model. Huawei has installed a small control panel that lets you swap between native, sRGB and Display P3 colour spaces but no matter which you use there is plenty of colour available with 139% of the sRGB gamut volume accomodated along with 96% Adobe RGB and 98.7 DCI-P3. The screen is also very colour accurate, registering a Delta E variance of just 0.99 against Display P3 and a barely higher 1.04 vs sRGB. Those are excellent results.
According to Huawei the display of the MateBook Pro X is covered in a “magnetically-controlled nano optical layer that reduces light reflection by 60%.” The first half of the sentence may be word salad but the second half is true enough. For a glossy display, it really does do an excellent job at keeping reflections at bay both indoors and out.
There are no less than six speakers buried inside the MateBook X Pro’s slender frame and the sound they produce is superb with a firm, punchy bass and plenty of volume. The maximum peak volume I recorded from a music source was 89dB with an average of 85dB which is a very good result. If playing music is something you do a lot on your laptop then this new Huawei should be top of your buying list.
Huawei MateBook X Pro: Performance and battery life
Expert Reviews’ multi-media benchmark returned a score of 239 points, a healthy increase on the 148 scored by the Tiger Lake model and also better than the 197 that the LG Gram 16 – which uses the same processor and same amount of RAM – scored. The Dell XPS 13 Plus scored even higher but our review sample had 32GB of RAM. The new Huawei even has the M2 MacBook Air beaten. If you are wondering about the difference between the MateBook and Gram 16, the LG laptop lacks Huawei’s Performance mode which adjusts the power settings and runs the fans harder in order to get the absolute most out of the CPU.
Without a discrete GPU, the MateBook X Pro gaming credentials are a little wanting but it’s far from unusable just as long as you are prepared to forgo ray tracing and knock the resolution back in pursuit of a decent frame rate. Doom Eternal ran at a comfortable 50fs at 1,600 x 900 with the detail set to medium while Elden Ring ticked over at a playable 35fs at 1,440 x 900 with video detail set to high to maximise the game’s visual impact.
Sadly battery life has taken a bit of a tumble. Even with the display refresh rate turned down to 60Hz the X Pro only managed 6 hours 54 in our standard video run-down test. That’s almost three hours less than the Tiger Lake model despite the two sharing the same 60Wh battery. The LG Gram 16 can last twice as long, albeit thanks to an 80Wh battery, while the latest M2 MacBook Air can hit the 17-hour mark on a paltry 52.6Whs.
It’s becoming quite clear that the extra performance of the latest Intel processors has come at the cost of power efficiency so Huawei really should have looked to increase battery capacity.
Huawei MateBook X Pro review: Verdict
Until I did the battery test I was all set to call this latest MateBook X one of the best compact laptops money can buy. The display, keyboard, speaker system and performance are all top-notch. It’s a very, very well-made laptop too and in the new white livery, it looks absolutely stunning. But that sub-seven-hour battery life is disappointing, especially when you consider how far it is from the Tiger Lake model we tested earlier in the year. It knocks some of the shine off MateBook X Pro, which is a shame because otherwise, it is an absolute cracker.