It would have been easy to overlook the MateBook 14 when Huawei unveiled it at MWC 2019 in Barcelona in February. With both the Mate X foldable smartphone and a new version of the top-of-the-line MateBook X Pro also making their debuts, the less ﬂashy MateBook 14 had to contend for attention with its own stablemates, let alone everything else at the show.
And yet, actually using this laptop has revealed it to not just be an excellent ultraportable, but quite possibly better than the MateBook X Pro itself, at least in terms of how worthy it is of your cash.
MateBook 14 Specs
PROCESSOR: Quad-core 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-8565U (Available with Core i5 processor)
SCREEN SIZE: 14 inches
SCREEN RESOLUTION: 2,160×1,440p
GRAPHICS ADAPTOR: Nvidia GeForce MX250
TOTAL STORAGE: 512GB (Upgradeable to 1TB)
OPERATING SYSTEM: Windows 10 Home
WARRANTY: Two years
How slick and Smart
The MateBook 14 isn’t as sleek as the MateBook X Pro nor as compact as the MateBook 13, but it’s still a lightweight laptop with slim screen bezels. Its 1.5kg weight is acceptable for a 14in machine, especially one with dedicated graphics, and it’s well crafted in general, with minimal screen ﬂex and a solid-feeling, all-metal chassis.
The MateBook 14’s Type-C port can handle data transfers and Display Port video output, but will likely most often be ﬁlled by the charging cable.
This is also the only one of the three new MateBooks to have two full-size USB ports (one USB2, one USB3), in addition to a single USB Type-C port, full-size HDMI output, and 3.5mm headphone jack.
This makes it the best-equipped model of the three if you want to use multiple USB peripherals and devices without adaptors, although the MateBook X Pro has the advantage of a Thunderbolt-3 port.
Not So Clever Positioning.
As with the original MateBook 14, the webcam is hidden inside what would typically be a function key, popping up when you press it. This is a clever idea in theory: moving the camera away from the screen keeps the top bezel thin, and anyone with privacy concerns can keep it folded away.
In practice, however, it makes for a very unﬂattering shooting angle. It’s better at capturing the user’s chest than their face, and actually typing on the keyboard while in a video call will treat whoever’s on the other end to an extreme close-up of your ﬁnger.
Along with its other two new laptops, there’s support for OneHop, which lets you transfer ﬁles between the laptop and a compatible smartphone (basically any Huawei or Honor handset running EMUI 9.0or later). Simply pair the phone with the MateBook, and with a combination of Wi-Fi Direct and NFC, you can tap the phone on to the laptop to share photos and videos, among other things.
It takes mere seconds to get a smartphone photo onto the MateBook 14’s screen and, if that picture includes text, you can even use the Text Recogniser tool to extract it in editable form. This text recognition is surprisingly accurate, too.
The Hard Presses
The keyboard, for instance, is great: even with a short travel depth, each keypress has a positive, crisp action, and the keycaps are nicely spaced. There are no unusually undersized keys or other oddities, though some might ﬁnd the cursor key layout something to get used to. The touchpad is good, too.
Besides being smooth and responsive, it’s pretty big for a laptop this size. There’s more than enough space to get the cursor from one corner of the screen to the opposite in a single swipe, even when set to a somewhat low-ish default sensitivity.
Power of Display
At 14 inches across the diagonal, the MateBook 14’s touchscreen is the largest in Huawei’s 2019 line-up. It’s a 2, 160×1,440 IPS panel with a 3:2 aspect ratio, which proves handy for reading web pages or editing long documents as you’ve got a touch more height than on 16:9 laptops such as the Dell XPS 13.
The Potential of Chip
Another advantage the Huawei MateBook 14 has is its Nvidia MX250 graphics chip, which is the successor to the MX150 found in the most expensive MateBook 13 spec, as well as the Blade Stealth 13. Compared with this previous GPU, it seems to provide only a modest gaming performance bump rather than a massive one.
Beats The Mates
Huawei MateBook 14 lacks a handful of the MateBook X Pro’s truly high-end perks, like Thunderbolt 3, but the key internals are equally potent and it’s more versatile than the MateBook 13, with a better variety of ports and more powerful graphics.
You can get the Dell XPS 13 cheaper, which could be the way to go if you don’t mind a lack of gaming power, but considering the MateBook 14 is only 100GBP, 129USD, 18000PKR more and yet offers discrete graphics, a higher resolution, more features, better connectivity, double the RAM, double the storage and almost the same battery life, we’d say that’s an excellent deal.
Some Other Perks
- In our video playback test, XPS 13 lasted 10 hours 35 minutes where the MateBook 14 managed 10 hours 24 minutes. That’s still a superb result for the Huawei, especially when you remember the higher resolution and always-on touchscreen would have a negative impact.
- OneHop works only with Huawei and Honor phones is also a considerable, if not entirely surprising, limitation. But it would have been a much more compelling reason to buy a MateBook if it worked with other Android devices.
- It’s worth noting that, while images transfer in a couple of seconds, videos take a lot longer. A 201 MB MP4 ﬁle took 1m 6s to transfer, which is a lot longer than it would take to just grab a USB cable or upload (of course, not in Pakistan) it to cloud storage.
- Much better is the ﬁngerprint sensor, which, in another case of borrowed design from the MateBook X Pro, is integrated into the power button. It works reliably and near enough instantaneously and, when you switch the laptop on for the ﬁrst time, it stores your ﬁngerprint data, so it can log you in automatically once the laptop fully powers up.