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BERLIN (Pocket-lint) - Huawei announced the MateBook 16s laptop alongside the MateBook D16 during an event in Berlin at the end of June. 

The two devices offer some similarities, which you can read about in our separate feature, but the MateBook 16s is the more premium of the two offerings.

Here are our first impressions of Huawei's MacBook competitor, the MateBook 16s. 

Our quick take

The Huawei MateBook 16s is certainly a striking laptop in terms of design. It offers a premium look and feel, with plenty of features on board. The large touch display is great and responsive and there's plenty of punch in terms of colours, while the surrounding slim bezels make for a lovely viewing experience. 

Whilst we couldn't test the performance of the MateBook 16s during our brief time with it, it's certainly a device we are looking forward to trying out properly and putting through its paces. 

It's not small, and for some, the 16-inch display and the size of device that results in won't be the best option, but the MateBook 16s will no doubt attract some well-deserved attention.

Huawei MateBook 16s initial review: Taking on the MacBook Pro

Huawei MateBook 16s

For
  • Premium design
  • Large and vibrant touchscreen display
  • Slim bezels
  • Lightweight for size
  • Great design
Against
  • Only one colour option
  • Size means it won't be for everyone
  • More powerful options get expensive

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Design and display

  • 351 mm × 252.9 mm × 17.8 mm, 1.99kg
  • Space Grey
  • 16-inch FullView, 2520 x 1680, 3:4 aspect ratio
  • 10-point multi-touch

The Huawei MateBook 16s is a lovely slim and sleek laptop. The metal unibody offers a premium finish, like Apple's MacBook options offer, and it's really quite impressive in the flesh. 

While the MateBook 16s isn't as slim as the cheaper alternative MateBook D16, you're still only looking at 18.4mm, so it's certainly not thick by any stretch of the imagination. At 1.99kg, it's light enough too and while carrying it around everywhere might not be preferable given its size, it's possible.

Pocket-lintHuawei MateBook 16s initial review photo 4

Like the Apple MacBook Air, the MateBook 16s offers a uniformed design. There's a centralised keyboard, flanked by speaker holes either side, while the trackpad sits in the middle below. Sounds like an obvious statement, but the MateBook D16 opts for a slightly off-centred track pad and we have to say, we prefer the symmetry this model offers. 

The 16-inch FullView display is surrounded by super slim bezels, which perhaps makes for one of the most striking elements of the design of the MateBook 16s. It's a lovely bright and punchy display, offering a 2520 x 1680 pixel resolution and several features including 1.07 billion colours and support for 10-point multi-touch - the latter of which is something the MateBook D16 doesn’t offer, nor do Apple's MacBook options.

Pocket-lintHuawei MateBook 16s initial review photo 5

The MateBook 16s also offers a slightly different aspect ratio at 3:4 and there's claimed to be a colour accuracy rating of ΔE<1, though this isn't something we could test in our brief time with the laptop and in the environment we were in.

Elsewhere, there's a fingerprint power button in the top right corner positioned away from the keyboard rather than integrated into the design like the MacBook Air offers. You'll also find multiple ports on each side of the Huawei MateBook 16s - more on those further down.

Hardware

  • 12th Intel Core H Series up to i9-1200H
  • Xe Graphics
  • 84wH battery

The Huawei MateBook 16s runs on the 12th Intel Core H Series Processors, with the top model offering the i9-12900H, and the bottom model featuring the i5-12500H. It has a high performance mode of 54W and it also offers Iris Xe Graphics. 

Pocket-lintHuawei MateBook 16s initial review photo 27

The MateBook 16s has 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM, and a choice of 512GB or 1TB SSD. There are also a number of ports on board as we briefly mentioned, including a 3.5mm headphone jack and a HDMI port that are positioned on the left edge. 

You'll also find a full-feature USB Type-C port, a Thunderbolt 4 port and two USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports. When it comes to battery, the MateBook 16s has an 84wH battery with a 90W adapter in the box, but it's not yet clear how long this will give you.

Pocket-lintHuawei MateBook 16s initial review photo 19

We couldn't test the performance of the Huawei MateBook 16s during our brief time with it, but we will of course be doing this during our full review with the device. From our short amount of time with it, everything appeared to run smoothly and fluidly though so we've got good expectations.

Features

  • Super Device
  • Smart Conference
  • Fast Nearby Connection

The Huawei MateBook 16s has plenty of features on board, many of which are particularly convenient for those that have bought into the Huawei ecosystem, much like an Apple MacBook is for an Apple user. 

Aside from working wirelessly, or with a cable, with a Huawei MateView to offer a larger screen, the MateBook 16s also has multiple modes, like Collaborate Mode, Mirror Mode and Extend Mode that make it play nice with a Huawei tablet or phone

Pocket-lintHuawei MateBook 16s initial review photo 24

For those that have the Huawei FreeBuds 4, or the company’s Bluetooth Mouse (2nd Gen) or Ultrathin Keyboard, the MateBook 16s offers support for fast nearby connection that will see a pop up appear on the display for quick pairing with a compatible device. 

Move away from the Huawei ecosystem and you'll find yourself with Windows 11 and a feature called Smart Conference. Smart Conference sees the MateBook 16s offer an AI Camera and AI Sound to make those dreaded online video meetings that little bit better.

Pocket-lintHuawei MateBook 16s initial review photo 8

The AI Camera has multiple features on board, including Virtual Background, that allows you to customise a background and apply it to any video call software and Eye Contact that adjusts the camera to the user’s line of vision. There’s also FollowCam, which like Apple's Centre Stage, sees the screen adjust to the subjects position in real time, making sure you are always centre of the screen, even if you move around.

Meanwhile, AI Sound sees on-edge dual-microphones to pick up sounds within five metres and there's an AI noise cancellation algorithm to reduce echo. There’s also Sound TrueVoice that is designed to eliminate the interference of ambient noise while enhancing the human voice and Sound TrueHD is designed to capture every detail of the human voice so there’s plenty on board here.

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To recap

The Huawei MateBook 16s is certainly a striking laptop in terms of design. It offers a premium look and feel, with plenty of features on board. The large touch display is great and responsive and there's plenty of punch in terms of colours, while the surrounding slim bezels make for a lovely viewing experience. Whilst we couldn't test the performance of the MateBook 16s during our brief time with it, it's certainly a device we are looking forward to trying out properly. 

Writing by Britta O'Boyle.