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Huawei MateBook Hands-on: Very Capable and Sleek Hybrid for Professionals

The Huawei MateBook
The Huawei MateBook

We Go Hands-on with the Huawei MateBook

After finding massive success in smartphones (Huawei registered +70% growth 2015 vs 2014), Huawei is now looking to expand their business in other consumer technology verticals. For the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the Shenzhen-based tech giant just brought one new device: the Huawei MateBook, a hybrid Windows 10 laptop-tablet that’s made for professionals and entrepreneurs. We were able to spend a couple of minutes with it and we’d like to share with you guys our initial impressions.

Huawei Matebook Key Specifications

  • Intel Core M3 to Intel Core M7
  • 4GB to 8GB RAM
  • 128GB to 512GB Storage
  • 12.0-inch IPS LCD 2,160×1,440 resolution
  • Fingerprint reader, stylus, port expander, optional keyboard case
  • 33.7Wh Battery
  • SRP: $699 – $1599 (Php32,000-Php73,000)

Key Focus: Ultra-portability without compromising performance

Our initial impression of the MateBook when first looking at it and touching it? It’s… not bad at all. It looks polished, sleek, and elegant thanks to it’s super thin 6.9mm metallic body. The detachable keyboard matches the premium feel as it has a faux leather exterior which is a great compliment to the body of the device.

Weird way to display the product here at the Huawei Booth in MWC, lol
Weird way to display the product here at the Huawei Booth in MWC, lol

We picked up the tablet and we were surprised at how light it was. It’s amazing how far consumer technology has evolved over the years to the point that you can put a full-blown PC in a 6.9mm 12-inch surface that just weighs at 640g. Makes one remember the old days when computers were just huge with those bulky CRT monitors, haha!

The detachable keyboard itself though could use some improvement. We’ve really been spoiled by the chiclet style keyboards of more premium laptops so we really felt the difference once we started typing on the MateBook. The keys were a bit too soft for our taste and could have used a little more space in between the keys.

Amazingly thin device
Amazingly thin device

Apart from the keyboard, you can also get the Huawei MatePen. It’s a powerful stylus that has 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity which makes it ideal for sketching, drawing, or just jotting down notes with pinpoint accuracy. We played around with it for a bit and it definitely lived up to the promise. It felt very much comparable to the experience we got with the Apple Pencil on our iPad Pro.

The MatePen is also supposed to function as a presenter’s best friend as the two multi-function buttons at the front can act as mouse clickers. This can also allow you to control slideshow presentations (woohooo) and even quick-launch applications. It also comes with a laser pointer at the back.

The Huawei MatePen
The Huawei MatePen

One more accessory that you can use with the Huawei MateBook is a port expander dock. It’s connects to the USB Type-C port of the Huawei MateBook and allows you to connect HDMI, VGA, USB 3.0 (x3), and a LAN port. We would have loved it if they were able to sneak in an SD card reader since we still use them a lot for writing but there are wireless solutions available already.

In terms of power, we obviously couldn’t run it through a battery of performance tests but the listed technical specifications can already give you an idea of how capable this is. It should be able to do everyday core tasks like office work, e-mails, and web browsing without any issue. More demanding applications and use cases like high resolution video editing and hardcore gaming will probably be too much for this.

Initial Verdict: They Need to Price it Competitively

Pricing, pricing, pricing!
Pricing, pricing, pricing!

As a newcomer to the PC market, Huawei needs to price this device competitively. They are not the brand that first comes to mind of Filipinos when they want to buy a PC or a Windows 10 tablet.

If Huawei wants to grab significant market share locally they need to be able to deliver more bang-for-our-buck so that consumers will think of switching from their usual Lenovos or Acers. As it is, for the regular consumer the current entry level price point is good but when you add the costs for the MatePen and the MateDock it almost hits the Php40,000 level. The higher end variant will almost set you back Php80,000. If they will pursue this route they definitely need a strong marketing campaign so they can successfully break into this market.

Alternatively, Huawei can offer this via enterprise in partnership with telco companies like PLDT Smart SME Nation or PLDT Alpha. That’s actually a no-brainer and we won’t be surprised if that’s how this will materialize in the Philippines in the next few months.

Carlo Ople

Carlo is the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of Unbox.ph. During daytime he’s the Managing Director and Partner of a Digital Marketing Agency in the Philippines and by nighttime he’s living out his passion as a gadget enthusiast and story teller through Unbox.

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