The Best MacBook Pro Alternative Got A Refresh And A Cheaper Sibling

Photo: Sam Rutherford, Gizmodo

When Huawei released that MateBook X Pro last year, it took me by surprise. Despite coming from a company known more for making smartphones than computers, even after testing a number of other laptops, I kept coming back to the MateBook X Pro as my favourite ultraportable of the year.

That’s why I was happy to hear that at MWC 2019, Huawei will be giving the Matebook X Pro a timely spec update and a new, slightly more affordable sibling. Now as far as its chassis goes, the 2019 MateBook X Pro remains almost entirely unchanged from last year’s model aside from Huawei switching up the logo on the lid from the company’s traditional flower icon to simple block lettering.

Like pop-up headlights on cars, this webcam will always be cool. (Photo: Sam Rutherford, Gizmodo)

Yet the X Pro still has a nifty pop-up webcam hidden in its keyboard, one of the best aluminium unibody chassis this side of the macOS/Windows divide, and the same vibrant and slim-bezel 14 inch 3000 x 2000 touchscreen.

The new stuff for the MateBook X Pro all comes on the inside, where Huawei has upgraded its flagship notebook with your choice of either an 8th-gen Intel Core i5-8265U or i7-856U CPU, larger storage, support for Thunderbolt 3 for one of its USB-C ports, and improved networking thanks to Bluetooth 5.0 and faster 802.11ac wi-fi.

One Hop file sharing in action. (Photo: Sam Rutherford, Gizmodo)

Huawei also added what it’s calling One Hop file sharing that allows you to drop your phone onto the little NFC sticker found on X Pro’s palm rest, and transfer files from the PC to smartphone (or vice versa) using Huawei Share 3.0. The one caveat to this is that this only works with Huawei phones, which could be a non-starter for a lot of folks in the U.S.

But to me, the biggest upgrade to the MateBook X Pro is its new optional Nvidia MX250 GPU. The MX250 was first announced at CES 2019, and should give the X Pro even more flexibility to edit photos and videos on-the-go. However, up until now, the new GPU hadn’t found its way into many laptop configs.

The difference in size between the X Pro and MateBook 14 is there, but it is very slight. (Photo: Sam Rutherford, Gizmodo)

Software-wise, the X Pro features a few tweaks that let it snap a screenshot simply by dragging three fingers down from the top of the screen, which can then be copied to your clipboard and pasted directly into a project on your smartphone. Though once again, you’ll need a Huawei phone to make that last part work.

Alternatively, while Huawei has yet to reveal official pricing for the revamped MateBook X Pro, it also made a slightly more affordable version of its 14 inch laptop in the new MateBook 14.

While the body of the new MateBook 14 appears nearly identical, when compared side-by-side, it’s easier to see that the MateBook 14 sports a slightly larger and thicker body than the MateBook X Pro.

On its sides, Huawei switched up its connectivity a bit by installing two USB-A ports, one USB-C port, and one HDMI. (The X Pro offers two USB-C and one USB-C.) This should make the MateBook 14 a little easier to use if you don’t like carrying dongles around.

Elsewhere, the main differences between the MateBook 14 and MateBook X Pro are that the MateBook 14 gets two Dolby Atmos speakers instead of four, a slightly lower-res 2,160 by 1,440 14 inch touchscreen, and no support for Thunderbolt 3. All told, its not a huge change, but it could be a nice option for people less concerned with the size and thickness of their laptop and more worried about blowing up their budget.

Both models will be available in two colours: space grey and mystic silver. (Photo: Sam Rutherford, Gizmodo)

Regardless of which one suits your style best, in case you missed out on the original model after it became so popular Huawei had trouble keeping it in stock, it’s nice to see one of the best mainstream laptops from last year get spruced up for 2019. Though there’s no word on pricing or availability as of yet.

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