Huawei Matebook: Australian Hands-On

Alongside a fleet of new smartphones at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, there's one announcement that stood out to me as a particularly interesting piece of tech. Huawei's Matebook is an extremely thin, lightweight Windows 10 tablet — its first foray outside of Android — that it wants to take on the Microsoft Surface with.

The first thing that you notice about the Huawei Matebook is just how thin it is. At 6.9mm thick across its entire flat and almost entirely featureless chassis, and weighing only 640 grams, the Matebook is very similar to the Samsung TabPro S — it, too, has a 12-inch screen with a 2160x1440pixel resolution, although the Matebook's is a LCD where the TabPro is AMOLED.

The rear panel is blank apart from a slightly embossed Huawei logo, and so are all four edges save for a headphone jack, a combination volume control and power button that also functions as a fingerprint reader, the Matebook's single multipurpose USB Type-C power and data jack, and a proprietary seven-pin connector that connects the Matebook to its bundled leatherette portfolio keyboard case.

That keyboard is surprisingly good for a first-time attempt from Huawei, and feels extremely similar to Microsoft's Surface Type Cover. 1.5mm of key travel makes sure that it's not a terrible typing experience, and while it's unlikely to be appropriate for bashing out War and Peace it should be great for bashing out emails and short stories alike.

The screen, too, is surprisingly good. With such a thin profile, I expected Huawei to opt for a low maximum brightness to extend battery life, but there's plenty of detail and a good range of luminance from the 12-inch TFT LCD panel. It's touch sensitive, too, which is a necessity considering the fact that the Matebook might get quite a lot of use while detached from its keyboard dock.

Under the hood, though, is where the Matebook shines; a sixth-gen Intel Core M processor in a range of specs along with up to 8GB of RAM and up to 512GB of solid-state storage make for a pretty impressive and MacBook-equalling computing device. A pretty sizeable 33.7Wh, 4430mAh battery provides what Huawei claims is 13 hours of light usage battery life and 9 hours of full-power video.

It's very strange that the Matebook, which is otherwise nearly identical to Samsung's TabPro S, doesn't have any kind of 4G networking onboard — there's no SIM slot or eSIM support. Integrated Wi-Fi is super-fast 802.11ac, of course, but you'll just have to be near some fast wireless to actually get your business done. Bluetooth, too, connects the Matebook to its optional pen accessory, which boasts a crazy 2048 levels of touch pressure.

In terms of software, the Matebook runs full-fat Windows 10 — no cut-down version, no weird Android dual-booting. From my quick look, there wasn't even any Huawei bloatware on show. And that's a great thing, because it puts the focus more on Huawei's excellent industrial design and the excellent specs of the Matebook itself. There's no word on pricing or a release date for Australia, but I personally can't wait to get a hold of one. [Huawei]

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