Huawei MateBook X Pro review (2019): As good as before

The 2019 MateBook X Pro measures, weighs and looks the same as the 2018 model in almost every way. The only differences are cosmetic, as the old Huawei flower logo and Handel Gothic logotype are ditched in favor of an austere, all-caps branding. The big, screamy HUAWEI logo on the lid will mark it out in a sea of HP, Dell and ASUS logos, but it does lack humanity.Otherwise, it's the same MacBook Pro-inspired/rip-off design, with the same selection of ports as last year's model. Down the left, you'll find two USB-C ports, one of which supports Thunderbolt 3, although this year at full bandwidth, and a 3.5mm audio jack. On the right, a sole USB-A port remains for the throwbacks among us who've yet to embrace the dongle life.At 2.9 pounds, same as last year, it's hardly the heaviest machine in the world, and you'll not notice it in your bag at all. There's a similar sense of strength as in the previous model, too, and you expect it'll tolerate a fair amount of rough and tumble. Huawei wisely opted not to mess with the keyboard, the generous trackpad or the fingerprint sensor on the power button, either.One change Huawei made to the X Pro was OneHop File Sharing (via Huawei Share). Essentially, an NFC panel to the right of the trackpad lets you share stuff with your compatible Huawei phone. The list of features includes easy tethering of your phone's cellular connection, moving files and even copying items from your phone (or laptop's) clipboard back-and-forth.Setting up OneHop to connect to my P20 Pro was fiddlier than advertised, but it worked well after that. Taking a picture of a letter with the phone, tapping it on the laptop and getting an OCRed version seconds later was pretty cool. Personally, I wish this feature was universal, if only for when I need to get app screenshots on to the PC for a review. Clipboard sharing for getting complex URLs on and off the phone is another speedy trick.Unfortunately, the feature is only available for users with the new X Pro and a handful of Huawei and Honor phones. Specifically those with NFC and are running EMUI 9.1 / Magic 2.1, a list that currently includes the Mate 20, P20, P20 Pro, Mate 20 X and the Mate 20 RS. Given how few Huawei devices are available in the US, it's unlikely many will be able to take advantage of the option.It's worth bearing in mind that Huawei's brand has taken a battering as it's being hounded out of the telecoms industry by the US government. The company stands accused of conducting elaborate schemes to steal trade secrets from rival technology firms. And it fairly obviously adopts the trade dress of rival products, like the MacBook and MacBook Pro. So it's up to you to decide if you want to buy a laptop from a company that's got something of a bad rep.If there's a theme with the 2019 MateBook X Pro, it's that Huawei spent no time fixing what wasn't broken. I could paste in the paragraphs about the display and sound from my 2018 review and pass them off as fresh insight. You get the same 13.9-inch, 3K LTPS touchscreen with a 3:2 aspect ratio, 178-degree viewing angle and 450 nit backlight as before.It's still great for watching movies on but lackluster in bright sunlight. The glossy display has a horrible knack of picking up smears, so I wouldn't suggest using the touchscreen too often. Or, if you must, make sure you've got a lint-free cloth lying around to make sure it's readable afterward.I made this point last year, but I'm always frustrated by the agreed-upon lies that we use to talk about display measurements. A 40-inch TV is only 40 inches corner-to-corner, which isn't a reflection of its actual width. The 11.96-inches wide MateBook X Pro is a "13-inch" laptop, and Huawei crammed almost 14 inches of display into that frame. Like last year, the X Pro has Dolby Atmos 2.0 sound and comes with a Dolby-branded audio manager. And, just like last year, it all sounds pretty great at low volumes, not tinny like plenty of laptop speakers we could mention. Unfortunately, under big bass, and at high volumes, you'll still get that horrible rattle, ruining the effect.Mass-market laptops are not the place to introduce complex, fault-prone input methods. Huawei has stuck with the same chiclet keyboard that it, and every other sane laptop maker, uses in their machines. It is as brilliant as the previous iteration, with a good amount of travel and a satisfying amount of click at the bottom of each press.'Dan! Dan! Push your laptop back!' - Photo: Matt Brian / EngadgetLast year, I found the X Pro's trackpad to be a little fussy, and things have improved here a fair bit. Unfortunately, the company tried to squeeze more functionality out of the pad by loading it with gestures that easily confuse the system. The first thing you should do on buying this laptop is disable all these extra bells and whistles to make your life a whole lot easier.As before, the X Pro's one-megapixel webcam hides in a spring-loaded case between the F6 and F7 keys. It's a boon for privacy fans, who are spared adding ugly stickers to their laptops, but the angle and placement is still a problem. You'll still need to push the laptop further away from you to get a decent view, and the lack of adjustability remains annoying.PCMARK 7 PCMARK 8 (CREATIVE ACCELERATED) 3DMARK (SKY DIVER) ATTO (TOP READS/WRITES)Huawei MateBook X Pro (2019, Core i7-8565U, NVIDIA MX250)6,7033,6277,6442.81 GB/s / 3.09 GB/sHuawei MateBook 13 (2019, Core i7-8565U, NVIDIA MX150)5,8535,4929,3922.9 GB/s / 2.38 GB/sSurface Laptop 2 (2018, Core i5-8250U, Intel UHD 620)5,8564,3673,9771.5 GB/s / 781 MB/sHuawei MateBook ...Read more

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