Technology

Huawei MateBook 16 review: a nose(cam) short of great

Huawei laptops haven’t been extensively obtainable within the US for years. However they’ve historically been unbelievable merchandise, with ok efficiency and construct high quality to make them severe MacBook opponents. So I figured I’d assessment the MateBook 16, Huawei’s newest flagship pocket book, regardless that it is probably not on the radars of our US readers. Think about this a useful resource for these in markets the place Huawei remains to be working but in addition a fast verify on what the remainder of us are lacking out on.

On the surface, the MateBook 16… form of seems to be like a MacBook Professional. Huawei’s received the colours and the final vibe down pat. Whether or not it performs in addition to a MacBook is, of course, one other query. Most of the MateBook 16 is great, from the speedy and comfy keyboard to the all-day battery life, huge 3:2 show, and surprisingly highly effective audio system. I do know individuals who have changed MacBooks with MateBooks as a major driver, and I can see how for many workplace employees, the every day expertise is kind of related.

However the primary distinction is that after I’m utilizing a MateBook, I sometimes come throughout bizarre issues. They’re not issues that make or break the expertise, however they’re simply odd flaws for such a good laptop computer to have. And so they add as much as make a product that’s great however not as great because it feels prefer it simply could possibly be.

Verge Rating

7.5 out of 10

akrales 211005 4788 0046SQ

Good Stuff

  • Quick eight-core processor
  • Very good chassis
  • Wonderful battery life

Dangerous Stuff

  • Drive partitions are a trouble
  • Nosecam
  • One thing bizarre happening with the microphones

The Huawei MateBook 16 on a black table facing forward, open. The screen displays The Verge homepage.

You can persuade me this was a MacBook in dim lighting from distant.

I ought to observe, earlier than we get too far into this, that the MateBook is just obtainable in a considerably restricted quantity of international locations. At the moment, you may solely order it immediately from Huawei’s website in the event you’re in China or Germany as of this writing. (I can’t think about it will likely be obtainable inside the US any time quickly, given Huawei’s relationship with the Biden administration.) Should you’re outdoors of these international locations however are prepared to ship one over, I’ve discovered fashions on AliExpress for as little as $1,259. My check unit, which has a Ryzen 7 5800H, 16GB of reminiscence, and 512G of storage, is at the moment obtainable for $1,469 on AliExpress. (After all, the standard caveats about ordering from third-party websites apply in the event you’re going to buy there — you most likely received’t recieve a guarantee, it’s possible you’ll must get a separate charger, and it’s best to be sure you’re shopping for from a respected vendor.)

The spotlight of this machine is the show

If you’ll be able to get your palms on one of these, it has a quantity of promoting factors. It’s pretty mild for a 16-inch pocket book at 4.39 kilos. The trackpad is clean and roomy, although it sometimes had points with palm rejection. The keyboard is sturdy and impressively quiet — it’s most likely probably the most MacBook-esque keyboard I’ve ever used on a Home windows laptop computer (and I imply the current fashions, not the god-awful butterfly ones). There’s a helpful port choice with two USB-C, two USB-A, a headphone jack, and HDMI. The audio system are fairly good, with bass that’s a bit weak. It’s received an unobtrusive, skilled look.

The touchpad on the Huawei MateBook 16 seen from above and to the left.

The touchpad is “a sturdy matte glass.”

The spotlight of the machine, for me, is the show. Not solely is it a whopping 16 inches, nevertheless it has a 3:2 side ratio, which is my favourite laptop computer side ratio. (Sure, I’ve a favourite.) There’s a ton of vertical area, and I comfortably labored in a number of home windows facet by facet; as somebody who typically makes use of a 13-incher, the additional room feels luxurious. The panel itself, whereas not fairly MacBook high quality, nonetheless shows robust colours and sharp particulars and kicked again virtually no glare. I loved taking a look at it.

The power button on the Huawei MateBook 16.

Fingerprint reader within the energy button.

Now, for the bizarre issues. The MateBook’s microphones come outfitted with Huawei’s Ai noise cancelation know-how that’s supposed to cut back echo and ambient noise, however coworkers mentioned that it made me sound very bizarre on Zoom calls. It was clearly processing my voice whereas I used to be talking; somebody mentioned I appeared like I used to be underwater. They may nonetheless hear and perceive me simply advantageous, nevertheless it’s an odd caveat to such a good laptop computer. I’ve requested Huawei about this challenge.

One other oddity: the SSD is partitioned? There are basically two drives on the MateBook 16. I’ve requested Huawei why that is, however I actually can’t fathom why this could be crucial on a client laptop computer. It appears more likely to trigger unnecessary confusion and trouble — I had numerous downloads interrupted halfway as a result of they’d been dumped into a partition that didn’t have room, and I needed to transfer a bunch of issues round to accommodate a massive folder I used to be making an attempt to load that was nicely beneath 512GB however too huge for both partition. Discovering recordsdata and functions that I wanted was additionally extra difficult, as a result of I couldn’t all the time keep in mind which drive they had been on.

And eventually, the webcam. The MateBook has a nosecam that pops out of the keyboard’s prime row if you press down on it. This, to me, is the equal of having no webcam — I’d slightly be a black sq. on Zoom calls than have coworkers staring up my nostrils. In order that’s additionally a factor.

The microphones made me sound bizarre on Zoom calls

The webcam of the Huawei MateBook 16, open.

Yep, that is the place the webcam is.

The webcam of the Huawei MateBook 16, depressed.

No, significantly.

Huawei fanatics can use a Multi-Display screen collaboration characteristic to attach the MateBook 16 to a Huawei cellphone or pill. You’ll be able to then drag and drop recordsdata between the tethered units, entry their apps interchangeably, or use the latter as a conventional exterior show. I wasn’t capable of check this, as I didn’t have any Huawei telephones or tablets readily available, nevertheless it sounds handy and much like Apple’s Sidecar characteristic. It does appear that it’s a must to enter a passcode each time you reconnect a machine, which might most likely drive me up the wall after a whereas.

The MateBook additionally connects simply to Huawei earbuds — per Huawei, the 2 devices will immediate you to pair them mechanically in the event you put them close to one another. Huawei is clearly shifting in the direction of a sturdy and developed ecosystem, although whether or not individuals purchase in will possible rely upon how nicely the options proceed to work as new merchandise are launched. Regardless, it’s one thing I’m jealous of as somebody whose Bose 700 come disconnected from her Floor Guide at the very least a few instances a week.

The Huawei MateBook 16 seen from above angled to the right side, open. The screen displays a blue and purple desktop background.

With Multi-Display screen Collaboration, use a Huawei pill as a touchpad.

The Huawei MateBook 16 on a table with a potted plant in the background, angled to the right, open. The screen displays a blue and purple background.

90 % screen-to-body ratio — it’s a magnificence.

As a work driver, the MateBook’s eight-core Ryzen processor did a wonderful job. The followers had been silent beneath heaps of Chrome tabs, Spotify streaming, and Zoom calls. I used to be by no means nervous about something crashing or slowing down, and nothing was ever sizzling. You’ll be able to swap to a devoted Efficiency Mode by urgent FN+P, although I’m unsure the place a consumer who doesn’t have Huawei’s reviewers’ information would discover that data out.

As we typically count on from AMD Ryzen 5000 programs, the MateBook did fairly nicely on multi-core benchmarks and lagged behind a bit on single-core units. It additionally didn’t blow any graphical duties out of the water — AMD’s built-in graphics haven’t acquired a main replace for a couple years. We noticed a mean of 15 frames per second on Shadow of the Tomb Raider on the MateBook’s native decision of 2520 x 1680 and 28fps at 1920 x 1080. Neither of these is a unbelievable gaming expertise, they usually’re considerably worse than what we noticed from the 13-inch M1 MacBook Air.

MateBook 16 Benchmarks

Benchmark

Rating

Benchmark

Rating

Cinebench R23 Multi

11666

Cinebench R23 Single

1415

Cinebench R23 Multi looped for half-hour

11928

Geekbench 5.3 CPU Multi

7213

Geekbench 5.3 CPU Single

1466

Geekbench 5.3 OpenCL / Compute

15783

The MateBook took 13 minutes and 44 seconds to finish our 4K export check. This isn’t a horrible end result amongst AMD programs with built-in graphics, nevertheless it does underscore the delta between a system like this and a heavier-duty inventive workstation (which individuals usually count on 16-inch laptops to be). The newest MacBook Professionals, even the 14-incher, all took beneath three minutes for a similar job. On the Puget Systems benchmark for Premiere Professional, the (*16*) far behind Apple’s machines, together with the very similarly priced MacBook Air. None of that is to say that the MateBook is a dangerous laptop computer; it’s simply to emphasise you can get extra graphics energy for this worth if that’s a precedence for you.

The ports on the right side of the Huawei MateBook 16.

Two USB 3.2 Gen 1 on the best.

The ports on the left side of the Huawei MateBook 16.

Two USB-C, one HDMI, one audio jack on the left.

What AMD’s chips are likely to lack in single-core energy, although, they usually make up for in battery life. The MateBook comes with an 84Wh battery, and I averaged simply over 10 hours of steady use with the display screen round 200 nits of brightness. (Huawei claims you’ll get 12.5 hours of “steady native 1080p video playback,” so I assume take observe in the event you do a lot of that.) That does beat the MacBook Air (though not by a ton) and lots of Intel laptops of this dimension.

To me, the battery life is the strongest argument in favor of shopping for the MateBook. It ought to get you thru a workday with no drawback, which is particularly spectacular contemplating the large high-resolution display screen. I’d love to have the ability to carry this round a convention, charger-free, and have a lot actual property to work with every time I opened it.

The AMD Ryzen 7 sticker on the right palm rest of the Huawei MateBook 16.

Because of AMD, it’s Huawei’s strongest MateBook thus far.

Whereas the MateBook 16 looks as if a pocket book with the potential to have widespread enchantment, the oldsters I’d most suggest it to are largely nonetheless Huawei superfans. The MateBook’s compatibility with different Huawei merchandise is one thing that nothing from Apple or Asus can supply. I can see that profit outweighing the odd drawbacks for those who already personal different Huawei units.

For everybody else, I believe the MateBook could possibly be a advantageous buy for a normal work driver, however you may get different laptops with most of the identical advantages and with out the weirdness surrounding the webcam, audio system, and drive. Even when MacBook Professionals are outdoors your worth vary, many Ryzen units have related efficiency and battery life to the MateBook, in addition to a practical webcam and microphones. The MacBook Air is principally there as nicely (and as dangerous as its webcam is, I’ll take that over a nostril shot any day). Mainly, I believe it’s a must to actually, really need the 16-inch, 3:2 display screen for the MateBook to have a shot.

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