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(Pocket-lint) - Huawei's Matebook D lineup is usually very competitively priced, and seeks to offer good performance and sleek design, but without the heavy cost associated with premium laptops. In fact, during shopping events, its previous range of machines in this series were among the top selling laptops on the market. 

So how can Huawei build on that? In an event in Berlin, the company sought to answer that question, by delivering a 16-inch version of the Matebook D that seeks to bring all the benefits of having a big screen, but in a compact body that's easy to carry around. And - again - won't cost you the earth. 

Our quick take

On first impressions, we think the Matebook D16 will appeal to a lot of people. With so many moving between work offices and home, having a machine with a big display is a godsend that makes it easy to switch between those two environments without having to use a big, external monitor. With that, plus the AI powered webcam that keeps you centred, it's got a lot going for it. 

We don't think it'll appeal so much to those who have to have the best of everything, but then again, it wasn't designed to be that machine. It ticks a lot of boxes and - crucially - doesn't come with a gigantic power brick that you have to lug around with it. It's an exercise in pragmatism which we appreciate a lot. 

Huawei Matebook D16 initial review: A practical, big-screened machine for Zoomers

Huawei Matebook D16

For
  • Slim and portable for a 16-inch machine
  • Relatively lightweight
  • Attractive aluminium casing
  • Plenty of ports
Against
  • No SD card reader
  • Display is only 1080p resolution

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Design 

  • 356.7 x 248.7 x 18.4 mm
  • Aluminium case
  • Weighs 1.7kg 
  • Mystic Silver and Space Grey colour

There's something quite unfussy about the Matebook D16 design, but in a good way. It's sleek, uncomplicated and slim enough that you could comfortably carry it around in your messenger bag or backpack without too much trouble. That's only helped further by the fact that the charger it ships with is essentially the same size as the one you'd get with your smartphone. 

Pocket-lintHuawei Matebook D16 photo 8

It might not be as skinny and light as the company's Matebook X Pro, or Apple's MacBook Air, but for a Windows machine with a 16-inch display towards the lower end of the market, it's slim. Huawei didn't cheap out and build it from plastic either. 

The casing around the entire laptop is built from aluminium which - in our unit - has a Space Grey anodised finish. There's also a 'Mystic Silver' variant, for those who want a lighter metallic look. 

Pocket-lintHuawei Matebook D16 photo 9

Open it up and it reveals a large, expansive keyboard, featuring a full number pad off to the right hand side and buttons with reassuring tactile feedback. It seems relatively quiet too when typing on it. With that, plus a large display with skinny bezels, you don't get the impression that you're dealing with too many compromises on the design and build standpoint, except maybe for the plastic framing around the display. 

Ports

  • USB-C power port + USB-C port w/DisplayPort 
  • USB 2.0 Type-A port
  • USB 3.2 Type-A port
  • HDMI 2.0 port and 3.5mm headphone/mic port
  • Fingerprint sensor

Huawei's latest Matebook D model is all about practicality, and so it comes with a number of different ports. There are two USB-C connection points, both support charging and data trasfer, but one also supports DisplayPort for hooking up to an external monitor if you want. There's also an HDMI 2.0 port nearby if you'd rather use that. 

In addition, there are two old-school Type-A USB ports. One of those supports USB 3.2, the other is USB 2.0. With those, plus a 3.5mm port -  good for both microphone input and headphone output - you have virtually everything you could need. There's no memory card reader, sadly. 

Pocket-lintHuawei Matebook D16 photo 7

Another thing worth mentioning is the fingerprint sensor. It's built into the power button in the top corner, so it's really easy and convenient to power up and log into the laptop. 

Display 

  • 1920 x 1200 resolution - 141ppi 
  • 16:10 aspect ration
  • 300 nits brightness
  • 1080p webcam 

It's when you look at the display that you get the indication that you're not working with an absolute top tier premium laptop with the Matebook D 16. The aim again is for practicality, rather than for the best-of-the-best. For that, you'll need the considerably more expensive Matebook X Pro. 

Still, at 1080p resolution with a 16:10 aspect ratio and 300 nits brightness, you'll get a decent enough panel for getting work done. On first impressions, you can tell it's not as sharp, vibrant or bright as its more expensive models, but it won't stand in the way if all you really want to do with it is browse the internet, complete office work and get on to virtual team meetings and calls with colleagues. 

Pocket-lintHuawei Matebook D16 photo 4

Speaking of which, the 1080p webcam built into the top edge is designed with Zoom and Teams calls in mind, and features Huawei's version of Centre Stage. It's called FollowCam, and keeps you centred while you move around, cropping in and following you during video calls. 

We've only spent a short time with the laptop so far, so we'll reserve judgement on it until we've tested it more thoroughly, but it could be a useful feature. 

Performance/hardware 

  • 12th Gen Intel Core processor
  • Intel Iris X graphics
  • 8GB/16GB RAM - 512GB SSD storage
  • 60Wh battery - 5W USB-C charger included 

Like a lot of Huawei's more recent laptops, the Matebook D16 combines an Intel Core processor with Intel Iris X graphics. In this instance you get 12th generation Core i5 or Core i7 H-series processors combined with either 8GB or 16GB LPDDR4X RAM and 512GB storage.

Pocket-lintHuawei Matebook D16 photo 11

All combined, this should mean a machine that's more than capable of handling your every day tasks, even if you need to do the odd bit of photo editing for social media on the side. It's certainly more than powerful enough for office and school work, which we feel is the key target for this product.

The 60Wh battery inside is a pretty standard capacity, and will charge relatively quickly thanks to the aforementioned 65W miniaturised charger that ships in the box.

As with everything else, we'll need more time with the laptop to determine just how well this performs.  

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To recap

On first impressions, we think the Matebook D16 will appeal to a lot of people. With so many working between work and home, having a machine with a big display is a godsend that makes it easy to switch between those two environments without having to use a big, external monitor.

Writing by Cam Bunton.