Huawei, one of the world’s largest electronics manufacturers — with over 200 million and 100 million smartphones and smart devices sold, respectively — is no stranger to the tablet and laptop markets. It launched its first slate — the MediaPad X1 — in February 2014 at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, and its inaugural 2-in-1 PC — the MateBook — in 2016. Both went on to spawn veritable portfolios of products, and now, like clockwork, Huawei is refreshing the lineups with new additions.
At the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, the Beijing company took the wraps off the MateBook 13, a 13-inch laptop that packs an Intel Whiskey Lake processor and a dedicated Nvidia graphics chip, and the MediaPad M5 Lite, a midrange tablet tailor-made for media consumption. Both were formally announced earlier this year at separate events in China, but today marked their stateside debut.
The MateBook 13 complements Huawei’s flagship MateBook X Pro and MateBook D, both of which launched in late 2018. It’s not compromising — the 3:2 aspect ratio FullView touchscreen has a 4.4-inch bezel and 88 percent screen-to-body ratio, which Huawei claims is “industry leading” — but it has a decidedly smaller footprint than the 14-inch X Pro and 15.6-inch D.
The MateBook 13 measures 11.26 inches wide, 8.31 inches deep, and 0.59 inches high and weighs in at 2.85 pounds. That’s only a tad heavier than Apple’s new MacBook Air, which is 1.75 pounds, and Dell’s XPS 13, the lightest of which weighs 2.67 pounds.
Gallery: Huawei MateBook 13
If you were to pry open the MateBook 13’s chassis — a procedure we don’t recommend, as you risk voiding your warranty — you’d first encounter what Huawei calls Shark Fin Design 2.0, a dual-fan cooling solution that reaches up to 8,000 revolutions per minute. Exactly what you’d find beneath it would depend on which configuration you chose:
- The $1,299 space gray MateBook 13 with a i7 8565U processor, Nvidia GeForce MX150 graphics (TDP 25W) with 2GB GDDR5, 8GB of RAM memory, and 512GB PCIe SSD.
- The $999 mystic silver MateBook 13 with a i5 8265U processor, integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620, 8GB RAM, and 256GB PCIe SSD.
A polished metal unibody closely guards the underbelly of tightly packed components, and the curved edges are a standout feature. The MateBook 13’s 5,252 diamond-cut, sandblasted aluminum chamfers curve smoothly around the chassis’ edges and protect against abrasion.
The aforementioned screen clocks in at 2,160 x 1,440 pixels at 200 pixels per inch with a 178-degree viewing angle, and it reaches a maximum brightness of 300 nits. It supports 100 percent of the RGB gamut for a total of 16.7 million different colors, and it’s adaptive — Huawei says it brought the blue light-filtering eye comfort technology in its smartphones and tablets to the MateBook 13.
A laptop is nothing without a reliable keyboard, of course, and Huawei contends that the MateBook 13 has one of its best yet. It’s full-sized and spill-resistant, and it offers 1.2 millimeters of key travel — for reference, a hair shallower than Microsoft’s latest-gen Type Cover (1.3 millimeters)
As for the MateBook 13’s other input devices, the touchpad is slightly larger than on previous MateBook models, Huawei says, and the One Touch power button doubles as a fingerprint sensor. A swipe wakes the laptop from sleep.
When it comes to I/O and wireless, the MateBook 13 is equally well-endowed. There’s a 3.5 headset jack and microphone 2-in-1 jack and two USB-C ports — one that handles data transfer and charging duties and a second that’s reserved for data transfer and display out via DisplayPort. And the wireless chipset supports dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n/ac networks and works with Bluetooth 5.0.
The USB Type-C charging port, it’s worth noting, has overheat protection and embedded quick charge tech that provides up to 2.5 hours of “everyday” office use with a 15-minute charge. Huawei claims that its proprietary battery and process management system can eke out 10 hours of HD video playback, 9.1 hours of productivity workload, and 7.3 hours of continuous internet browsing from the MateBook 13’s 41.7Wh battery.
At launch (for a limited time) a one-year subscription to Microsoft Office 365 Personal edition and the MateDock 2 — a multiport adapter with a USB-A port, USB Type-C port, HDMI port, and VGA port — is included with every MateBook 13 purchase.
MediaPad M5 Lite
For those on the hunt for a smaller device that’s more conducive to, say, streaming Netflix than drafting emails, there’s the $299 MediaPad M5 Lite. Huawei’s newest tablet was “built with families in mind,” the company says, with features like the child-friendly Kid’s Corner mode and a fingerprint sensor that can be used to quickly enable parental controls.
The MediaPad M5 Lite — which comes with Huawei’s M-Pen Lite rechargeable stylus and in one color — space gray — is an all-metal affair, with diamond-cut edges and chamfers to match the MediaPad 13. A 2.5-inch curved glass protective cover shields its 10.1-inch full HD (1,920 by 1,200 pixels) screen, which taps Huawei’s ClariVu 5.0 display tech to “optimize” the contrast and color saturation depending on the on-screen content.
It’s a match made in heaven for the M-Pen, which has a silver gray body that complements the M5 Lite’s space gray finish. It offers 2,048 layers of pressure sensitivity — half that of Microsoft’s latest Surface Pen — and a clip for storage, along with a detachable USB Type-C cable for charging.
Gallery: Huawei MediaPad M5 Lite
As far as the MediaPad M5 Lite’s hardware is concerned, it’s a decidedly middle-of-the-road affair, which doesn’t come as a complete surprise, given its price point. Inside is a Huawei Kirin 659 octa-core chipset paired with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, the latter of which is expandable up to 256GB with a Micro SD card. As for the battery, its 7,500 mAh capacity is billed as offering 13 hours of video playback, 8.5 hours of gaming, and a whopping 55 hours of music.
Much like Apple’s iPad Pro and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab A 10.5, the MediaPad M5 Lite boasts quad speakers — one near each corner — co-engineered with Harman Kardon. They’re powered by a dedicated amplifier and Histen 5.0, Huawei’s in-house audio engine that it claims delivers a “rich[er] and [more] powerful” soundstage than competing EQ.
The M5 Lite’s accouterments aren’t half bad. There’s a pair of 8-megapixel cameras — one front-facing, one rear — and a USB Type-C port that supports quick charging. (Huawei says the tablet can fully charge in about three hours.) Also in tow is a Micro SD slot and a wireless chip that supports 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi in 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz flavors and Bluetooth 4.2.
On the software side of things, there’s Kid’s Corner, which Huawei describes as a “customized environment” for children. It’s basically like Samsung’s Kids Mode: Parents can set time limits and control access to content. And with the M5 Lite’s fingerprint sensor, parents can also set up unique user profiles with different content restrictions.
The slate’s other kid-focused feature is what Huawei’s calling “advanced eye-comfort mode,” which uses a combination of sensors — chiefly the M5 Lite’s proximity sensor, ambient light sensor, and accelerometer — to detect when it’s being held less than 9.8 inches away from a user’s face or when it’s being viewed at a “lying angle.” (This sort of usage has the potential, Huawei contends, to negatively impact back and eye health.) When the mode’s enabled on the M5 Lite, an on-screen alert will inform kids when they’re holding the M5 Lite incorrectly and suggest healthier ways to use it.
Advanced eye-comfort mode can be switched off in the settings menu.