Huawei MateBook X (2020) review: a sleek, ultraportable Windows laptop

The new Huawei MateBook X for 2020 looks great and works great

Huawei MateBook X (2020)
(Image credit: Future)
T3 Verdict

If you want some decent computing power in a form factor that's super lightweight and easy on the eye, then the Huawei MateBook X (2020) could be the Windows 10 laptop for you – it certainly doesn't let down what has been a strong series of MateBook laptops.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Quality design and build

  • +

    Supremely portable

  • +

    Lovely looking screen

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Integrated graphics

  • -

    Odd webcam position

  • -

    Limited number of ports

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The Huawei MateBook X for 2020 has a lot to live up to – previous versions of the Huawei MateBook and its Pro variant have impressed us very much in the past, combining a lightweight and stylish design with enough processing power to keep most users happy.

With a 13-inch screen, the emphasis is very much on portability, and Huawei has delivered here. You have less display real estate for apps and websites of course, but on the plus side you'll hardly notice this in your briefcase or bag. It's a really nicely designed laptop.

None of the software issues that have recently been affecting the smartphones that Huawei puts out apply here – you've got the full and official Home version of Windows 10 here, and access to all of the usual programs and websites that you would expect.

As is normal for thin and light, carefully machined laptops like this, It is on the expensive side, with European pricing starting at €1,599 (about £1,445). At the time of writing though, we don't have details of when the Huawei MateBook X 2020 will be on sale in the UK.

Huawei MateBook X (2020) review: screen and design

Huawei MateBook X (2020)

(Image credit: Huawei)

Like the MateBook X laptops before it, this is an impressively designed bit of gadgetry, all smooth magnesium aluminium metal and pleasing curves. It's a laptop that oozes premium quality as soon as you look at it or pick it up, and even though that's what we've come to expect from laptops in this series, it's still good to see. The laptop tips the scales at 1 kg (2.2 lbs) and is a mere 13.6 mm (0.54 inches) at its thickest point – it's perfect for doing some computing in a coffee shop or a cramped train carriage. Silver Frost and Forest Green are your colour choices.

To meet those dimensions and that weight, there are just three ports around the sides: a 3.5 mm headphone jack and two USB-C ports that support data transfer, charging, and DisplayPort video output. That'll probably be fine for most people, but power users might want to invest in a hub. There is a webcam, but it's hidden under a keyboard key – that means you know it's not recording when you don't want it to, but it also means it's pointing up at a funny angle.

Speaking of the keyboard, typing on the Huawei MateBook X is a pleasure: you won't have any problems getting through emails, reports, essays, or whatever else you've got to write. At this size you don't get a number pad obviously, but the keys are very well spaced and easy to get around, with feedback that's solid without being too much. Another nice touch is the fingerprint display built into the power button, which makes logging into Windows so much easier.

The screen is fantastic too: a high-quality LTPS LCD touchscreen display running at a resolution of 3,000 x 2,000 pixels and with a maximum brightness of 400 nits. We like these 3:2 aspect ratio displays: not so good for widescreen video, but excellent for documents and websites. Whether you're watching movies or casually browsing through your social media feeds, the display is sharp, vibrant and detailed, with the minimal bezels (Huawei claims a 90 percent screen-to-body ratio) adding to the overall appeal.

Huawei MateBook X (2020) review: performance and features

Huawei MateBook X (2020)

(Image credit: Huawei)

Under the hood of the Huawei MateBook X for 2020 we've got a 10th-gen Comet Lake Intel i5-10210U processor, 16GB of RAM, 512GB of SSD storage, and integrated Intel UHD graphics. Just by looking at those specs you know what this laptop is about: fine for day-to-day tasks but not something that's going to hold up to the demands of video editing or serious gaming (you're going to need a laptop that's a lot chunkier and that emits a lot more heat for that).

The combination of the i5 and 16GB of RAM pushes the laptop way above the budget end of the market though – we didn't notice any slowing down or lag while we were using the MateBook X. If you're someone who likes to have dozens of web browser tabs open at once or who needs to do some image editing then you'll find this is a laptop that can take all of that in its stride. Windows 10 is Windows 10 of course: getting better all the time, and with just about every application you could want.

We really like the fanless design deployed here, with no whirring to put you off your work, and we didn't notice the chassis getting hot during our time with it. It's worth noting that Huawei is pushing seamless integration with its phones, so if you have the MateBook X and a Huawei handset then getting data between them is a breeze – you can even get your phone screen mirrored on your laptop. Windows 10 does some of this natively with Android devices, but Huawei has improved on it.

Battery life seems to be decent, with an hour of video streaming knocking the percentage down from 100 to 82 (so about 5-6 hours of streaming in total) – that's with the brightness ramped right up though, so you'll be able to get more than that from the laptop if you dim the display. It's not got battery life that will change your life, but you should be able to just about make it through a day away from a plug socket. Meanwhile the laptop has a quad-speaker audio setup, which sounds great for such a small laptop.

Huawei MateBook X (2020) review: price and verdict

Huawei MateBook X (2020)

(Image credit: Huawei)

You can't help but be impressed by the Huawei MateBook X for 2020 – like its predecessors, it's beautifully designed and built, and comes with a superb screen (as well as top-quality audio to go along with it). The typing and touchpad experiences are well above average too, and thanks to its compact dimensions and fanless design, it's just about the perfect device to take on the move with you – or just to switch between different rooms while you're at home.

Is it the right laptop for you though? There's no doubt it's expensive – more to do with the quality of the materials used to make it and the display than the specs inside, we would have thought. For the same price you can buy laptops capable of some gaming and heavy duty video editing tasks, though they won't of course come in a chassis that's as slim and lightweight as the Huawei MateBook X.

The price is going to put some people off, and some people are going to want more in terms of performance; meanwhile the battery life is fairly average and the webcam isn't in the ideal position either. Those would be the drawbacks we would have when it comes to recommending the Huawei MateBook X.

However, we can't argue with the quality of the laptop and the experience you get from it – whether that's typing out reports or sitting back to watch some shows and movies. If you need an ultraportable that's among the best-looking Windows 10 laptops we've seen – from the overall finish to the display – and you have the budget to be able to afford it, then the Huawei MateBook X 2020 is definitely worthy of your consideration.

David Nield

Dave has over 20 years' experience in the tech journalism industry, covering hardware and software across mobile, computing, smart home, home entertainment, wearables, gaming and the web – you can find his writing online, in print, and even in the occasional scientific paper, across major tech titles like T3, TechRadar, Gizmodo and Wired. Outside of work, he enjoys long walks in the countryside, skiing down mountains, watching football matches (as long as his team is winning) and keeping up with the latest movies.