The Huawei MateBook E, before you get confused, is a new version of the original MateBook launched in 2016. Now there's a family of MateBook devices spanning E, X and D, the latter both being proper laptops as Huawei mounts an assault on a new segment of the market.
The MateBook E, then, looks to continue what it started previously, but making a big change to the design of the keyboard cover, rather than the tablet itself. This is a new, more productive device, with keyboard changes making it a better device for working on the move. Huawei is taking mobile productivity seriously, as it updates its MateBook.
Huawei MateBook E: A better cover design
- 278.8 x 194.1 x 6.9mm; 640g (tablet), 1100g (with keyboard)
- Premium metal design, grey or gold colours
- Folio keyboard included
In essence, the design of the MateBook E is the same as the MateBook of 2016. You're presented with a metal-backed tablet with a thin design only 6.9mm thick, offering you a 12-inch tablet. It's a good premium design that we like, but it now comes with the keyboard cover.
It's the cover that really changes this tablet into a useful 2-in-1 device and it's in the design of the cover that most of the changes lie. For starters, the keyboard is now completely different. It has moved to a chiclet keyboard style with separated keys, rather than the platform layer of the previous model.
The keyboard action is a lot better and first impressions are that the keyboard sits more comfortably now. The whole thing feels better engineered and that's not just down to the change in the style of the keys, but a significant difference around the back.
The previous version used a folding design, where you had to tuck part of the stand under to form the triangle that would let it stand up. That's not uncommon on tablets with stand cases, but it wasn't a good design for mobile working. Where Microsoft's Surface Pro offers an easy kickstand on the back that's great, the MateBook E now offers a hinged cover design to rival it.
The result isn't the prettiest to look at as there's a hinge running down the centre of the keyboard cover, but it's a lot more effective. You can set it at an angle that works for you and it's all pretty stable. That's a win overall for productivity and practicality, although we've not had the chance to use it for an extended period of time to see how it performs - but we can tell it's better than it was.
Huawei MateBook E: Hardware and specs
- 12-inch IPS touchscreen, 2160 x 1440 pixels, 216ppi, 400 nits
- Intel Core m3-7Y30 or Core i5-7Y54 processors, 4/8GB DDR3 RAM
- 128-512GB SSD
- Fingerprint scanner
- 4430mAh battery
The MateBook E presents you with a 12-inch display with 2160 x 1440 pixels and a reported brightness of 400 nits. It's glossy, but first impressions of the colours and contrast are good, although we've not had the change the judge how it will perform outdoors in brighter conditions. It's responsive to the touch though.
And so it should be. When it comes to power there are choices of the Intel Core m3-7Y30 processor or the Intel Core i5-7Y54 with Intel HD Graphics 615 and 4 or 8GB RAM options. On the storage front you're looking at a 128-512GB SSD choices. So it doesn’t range quite as high as the Surface Pro 4, but it should offer plenty of power for those wanting to work on the move.
As previously, there's a fingerprint scanner to the side of the device for convenient unlocking.
Physical connectivity is a little on the light side, with a single USB Type-C connection and a 3.5mm headphone socket. The USB Type-C will have to connect you to any peripherals (it's compatible with the MateDock) as well as charge the device's 33.7Wh/4430mAh battery. Huawei says that this will give you 9 hours of use (measured using video playback).
The battery life was one of the complaints we had about the 2016 version of this device however. We found it typically only lasted around 5 hours in use, meaning it doesn't get you through the day, something you expect it to be doing.
Hopefully the MateBook E is now better positioned to provide that sort of endurance. It's presenting a better keyboard experience and it would be great to see it deliver on battery life too.
First impressions are good. The MateBook E looks to present a balance of power and design, and it's been much better executed in this model. The change to the cover is a small thing, but Huawei has learnt from the previous experience and moved to make it better for all users.
The Huawei MateBook E is now better for those wanting something lightweight and portable; being able to position the screen at an angle that works for you makes it much more useful, a more viable alternative to the Surface Pro 4 or the new Samsung Galaxy Book.
The Huawei MateBook E will cost you €999 for the m3/4GB/128GB model, ranging up to €1299 for the i5/8GB/256GB version.