The Huawei MateBook 13 is positioned under the MateBook X Pro and aims to offer a competitive alternative to the Dell XPS, Lenovo Yoga and the Apple MacBook Air at cheaper price.

But does Huawei have what it takes to compete in this demanding space, and will it deliver what people are looking for at the price?

Pocket-lintHuawei MateBook 13 initial review image 2

All metal design

  • Aluminium chassis 
  • 3:2 ratio touchscreen display
  • Weighs 1.3kg

Taking the same design ethos as the MateBook Pro X, the MateBook 13 features an aluminium chassis packing in a 13-inch screen in a 12-inch body.

The all-metal body is akin to the MacBook Air, and while the MateBook 13 doesn't feature the wedge design, it is smaller in height and width than the Air measuring 211.07 x 286 x 14.99mm and weighing 1.3kg.

Available in Mystic Silver or Space Gray, which is the same as the Pro X, the design is simple and functional with one USB Type-C on either side and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Open the lid and you reveal a chiclet keyboard, widescreen ratio trackpad and a large 13-inch 2160 x 1440 resolution 3:2 ratio IPS touchscreen with 200ppi. For those paying attention that's slightly smaller than the 13.9-inch screen found in the Pro X. The bezel is slightly thicker this time around, which is a shame, but it's still very thin and certainly in line with what other manufacturers are offering.

The 3:2 screen ratio rather than 16:9 or 16:10 found on other laptops does give you more screen real estate and is hoped will appeal to business users that want more space for Word docs and Excel spreadsheets rather than a letterbox approach for games and movies. A brief check of a couple of apps against a MacBook Pro does show you do get maybe a couple of extra lines on an Excel spreadsheet, but it is negligible.

Sadly, we couldn't open the lid without the base unit lifting up off the table like you can with the MacBooks, but this isn't really a deal breaker.

Pocket-lintHuawei MateBook 13 initial review image 11

Power and performance

  • Intel Core i5 and i7 options 
  • 256GB and 512GB SSD options
  • 2x USB-C with DisplayPort sockets

The MateBook 13 will come in just two variants in the US rather than the option to customise processors, memory, or storage. That means either an 8-gen Intel Core i5-8265U processor with Intel UHD Graphics 620 and 256GB of storage or a Core i7-8565U with Nvidia GeForce MX 150 graphics and 512GB of storage.

Compared to the MateBook Pro X's 8-gen Intel Core i7-8550U processor and 8-gen Intel Core i5-8250U processor options and you can easily see this as a "lite" version of the Pro X.

Aside from the processor, graphics, and storage options, both models will come with 8GB of RAM and are identical in terms of what they offer including a fingerprint sensor within the power button.

Like previous MateBook models, sound is provided by Dolby Atmos, although it doesn't support the audio mixing feature, and there's a 1-megapixel front facing camera for video calling.

Pocket-lintHuawei MateBook 13 initial review image 9

Battery power

  • 65W charger
  • Up to 10 hours battery life

We weren't able to test the battery during our hands-on time, but Huawei claims you'll get 9.6 hours of use with the discrete GPU and 10 hours with the integrated GPU. We look forward to testing that claim when we get a unit in the office.

Charging is via the USB-C slots and Huawei includes a small 65W charger in the box that supports multiple output mode, and quick charge for different devices. 

First Impressions

The MateBook 13 isn't as powerful as the MateBook Pro X, but then it's not designed to be. This is about offering a slightly more affordable models and they are priced $200 less than the Pro X.

The Space Gray model will come with an i7 processor and 512GB SSD drive and cost $1,299. The Mystic Silver will come with an i5 processor and 256GB SSD drive. Both models will come with 1 year of Microsoft Office 365 and a dongle for expanding connections beyond the 2x USB-C slots.

For the price, the MateBook 13 looks to be well made and is likely to impress many who can't stretch to the more powerful and bigger Pro X model.

We look forward to playing with the new laptop when it comes out on 29 January in the US and soon after in the UK.

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