The MateBook 13 is a fast and attractive ultraportable laptop with a very good keyboard, but the battery life is too short.
- Speedy performance
- Sharp, colorful display
- Comparably affordable
- Comfortable keyboard
- Short battery life
- No Thunderbolt 3 ports
Now that Huawei has successfully created the best MacBook Pro clone – the MateBook X Pro – it’s a shot in the right direction to improve Apple’s new MacBook Air. Yes, Apple has finally updated its entry-level laptop with a sharp, high-resolution screen, but the Huawei MateBook 13 starts at $200 less and offers much faster performance, thanks to U-Series Whiskey Lake processors. She keyboard on the Huawei is comfier than that of Apple. The big catch, however, is the long life of the MateBook 13, which for some might be a dealbreaker. If speed is your main priority, this laptop is worth watching. Let’s know more about this laptop in our Huawei MateBook 13 Review.
Huawei MateBook 13 Review – Design
Like the MateBook X Pro from Huawei, the MateBook 13 looks so much like a MacBook – with its understated, minimalist design – that it can easily be mistaken for a problem if it were not for the glossy Huawei logo on top of it. We have tested the Space Gray version of the MateBook 13 (which is also called a hue of Huawei Mystic Silver), which is an elegant color. The MateBook’s screen-to-bezel ratio also outperforms the MacBook Air’s, which seem rather thick in comparison. The MateBook 13 has slightly thicker bezels than the MateBook X Pro, but that’s because the webcam is stored in the top edge and is not hidden in a fake function wrench.
The MateBook 13 has dual USB Type-C ports – one pulls power; the other includes DisplayPort technology for expanding your screen – and a headphone connection. Frustratingly, both Type-C ports are Thunderbolt 3, the super-fast premium version of Type-C that allows dual 4K monitor connections. The MacBook Air has dual Thunderbolt 3 ports, while the MateBook X Pro has one Thunderbolt 3 port and a traditional USB 3.0 port, so your older devices do not need a dongle. The Dell XPS 13 also has two Thunderbolt 3 ports plus an SD memory reader.
Hidden in the power button you will find a fingerprint reader for Windows Hello logons. It quickly applied to me during my testing. I’m happy that Huawei has not reserved this option for the MateBook X Pro, which has the same technology in the same place, just like the XPS 13 and MacBook Air. (Although Apple uses Touch ID, which also works with Apple Pay.)
The MateBook 13, which weighs 2.9 pounds and measures 11.3 x 8.3 x 0.6 inches thick, is similar to the Huawei MateBook X Pro (2.9 pounds, 12 x 8.5 x 0.6 inches), which fits on a larger 13.9-inch screen within the frame. The new MacBook Air (2.8 pounds, 12 x 8.4 x 0.6 inches) is a bit lighter but has a larger footprint, including a slightly larger 13.3-inch panel. The new Dell XPS 13 (2.7 pounds, 11.9 x 7.8 x 0.5 inches) is lighter, thinner and smaller in height, with a wider chassis for its 13.3-inch screen.
Huawei MateBook 13 Review – Keyboard and TouchPad
I found the keyboard of the Huawei MateBook 13 easy to type. When I took it for a spin on the 10fastfingers type test, I clicked comfortably in my way to 71 words per minute, with an accuracy of 97 percent, pretty close to my 80wpm. The MateBook keys have a travel time of 1 millimeter, longer than the 0.6-millimeter keys in the MacBook Air, and connected to the 1-millimeter keys in the XPS 13. The 4.6 x 2.4- inch touchpad in the MateBook 13 provided solid accuracy as I navigated on the desktop. It even helped with fast doodles work in MS Paint.
Huawei MateBook 13 Review – Display
The 13-inch 2K screen in the Huawei MateBook 13 offers a solid color reproduction but could be a bit brighter. Looking at the John Wick Chapter 3 trailer, I saw inky black shadows in the corridors where Keanu Reeves roams, rich, saturated green lighting in a bank robbery scene and vivid, graceful gold in a hotel lobby. The MateBook’s screen has a resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels and offers so many details that I could see the looting of raindrops and read small names on a far-off blackboard at the headquarters of the hit man.
According to our colorimeter, the MateBook 13’s screen produces 122 percent of the sRGB spectrum, a speed that is higher than the premium laptop average of 117 percent and the 119 percent of the XPS 13, while being very close to 124 percent of the MateBook X Pro is coming. The MacBook Air scored a lower 109 percent.
The MateBook 13 screen radiates up to 318 nits of brightness, which is close to the 321-nit category average, and above the 234-nit MacBook Air. The 458-nit MateBook X Pro and 375-nit XPS 13 become brighter. Although that is so clear that the neon lights of the John Wick trailer remain 30 degrees to the left or right, they darkened as I moved further away from the bend.
The MateBook 13 touch screen accurately traced my taps and smears as I navigated the desktop and opened Windows menus. I also noticed smooth scrolling when I dragged a finger up and down the screen to search a Google document.
Huawei MateBook 13 Review – Graphics
On the 3D Mark Ice Storm Unlimited graphical test, the combination of the MateBook 13 of integrated UHD Graphics 620 and its discrete Nvidia GeForce MX 150 GPU (2GB memory) earned a high 141,995, which beats the average of 88,029. We also saw lower scores of 116,359 of the MateBook X Pro (Nvidia MX150 with 2GB of memory) and 88,473 of the XPS 13 (Intel UHD Graphics 620). The MateBook 13 also kicked the Dirt 3 racing game, with 166 running frames per second , a much smoother pace than the average of the 75 fps category, as well as the numbers we received from the MateBook X Pro (117 fps), the MacBook Air (22 fps) and the XPS 13 (88 fps).
Huawei MateBook 13 Review – Audio
The Huawei MateBook 13 pumps a fair amount of sound, as I discovered when it filled one of our mid-sized private offices with a solid reproduction of James Blake’s “Where’s The Catch?” Blake’s frightening vocals sounded not only beating, but the agonizing synthesizers sounded sweet and the drums hit sharply. The included Dolby Atmos app is prefilled and my advice is to keep it on and forget that it is there. I have tried to adjust the settings, between the standard detailed and other, presets for music and movies, but I have never noticed that a noticeable difference has been made. Your time is better spent enjoying music and movies.
Huawei MateBook 13 Review – Performance
The Huawei MateBook 13 takes a lot of speed, thanks to the 8th Gen Core i7-8565U processor and 8GB RAM. When I split my screen between a 4K episode of the Binging with Babish cooking series on YouTube and a dozen Chrome tabs (including Gmail, Giphy, and the Google document of this review), I did not see any delays or stuttering when I typed, scrolled and looked.
On the overall performance test of Geekbench 4, the MateBook 13 earned a high 17366, jumped above the 13.058 premium laptop average, the 13.769 from the MateBook X Pro (Core i7-8550U with 16GB RAM), the 7.871 from the MacBook Air (Intel Core i5-8210Y with 8GB of RAM) and the 14,936 of the XPS 13 (Core i7-8565U processor with 16GB of RAM).
The 512 GB NVMe SSD in the MateBook 13 copied 4.7 GB of media files in 8 seconds, at an amazingly high speed of 636 MBps, which is the category average of 526.92 Mbps. We saw lower speeds of the SSDs in the MateBook X Pro (283 MBps) and the XPS 13 (565 MBps). However, the 2,066 MBps speed of the MacBook Air blows everyone out of the water.
The MateBook 13 completed our Excel VLOOKUP test, corresponding to 65,000 names and addresses, in 1 minute and 5 seconds, sliding below the 1:31 category average, as well as the 1:49 of the MateBook X Pro, the 3:26 of the MacBook Air and the 1:10 of the XPS 13.
Huawei MateBook 13 Review – Battery Life
Unfortunately, the Huawei MateBook 13 does not offer much endurance. The MateBook 13 lasted only 6 hours and 15 minutes on our battery test (our test includes surfing the Internet with 150 nits). That’s a whole movie shorter than the category average of 8:38, and less time than we got from the MateBook X Pro (9:55), the MacBook Air (9:32) and the XPS 13 (7:50). We will report back once we have tested the Core i5 model to see if it will last longer.
Huawei MateBook 13 Review – Heat
The Huawei MateBook 13 can get a bit warm, but not too hot. After 15 minutes of streaming Full-HD video on the laptop, our heat gun caught cool temperatures on its touchpad (86 degrees Fahrenheit) and keyboard (90.5 degrees), but its bottom reached 97 degrees, and barely exceeded our 95 degrees comfort threshold. But nothing serious heat problems.
Huawei MateBook 13 Review – Conclusion
Our Huawei MateBook 13 Review shows that Huawei has a big punch in the small frame of this notebook – thanks to the Core i7 processor and Nvidia MX 150 graphics – on top of a color screen and solid sound and a comfortable keyboard. If only the battery could support this, we would say that this machine is a great option for everyone. For longer endurance, look for a comparable 4K Dell XPS 13, although it will cost you about $500 extra – or $300 if you’re willing to settle for a 1080p screen, giving you even more battery life.
And while a comparable MacBook Air lasts longer than 3 hours longer than the MateBook 13, you exchange a lot of performance. However, if you are looking for a lot of speed in a design of fewer than 3 pounds, the MateBook 13 is definitely worth considering.