Huawei MateBook 16 review: powerful personal computing in a laptop

Huawei MateBook 16 review: powerful personal computing in a laptop

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With so many models now vying to be the best laptop you can buy, choosing the right one isn't easy – and the Huawei MateBook 16 is another contender to weigh up if you're after a laptop that combines a decent level of performance with a relatively affordable price.

Obviously it's not quite as big as the best 17-inch laptops but it's still considerable in size: a laptop to look at if you prioritise screen real estate over portability; nor is it as powerful as the best gaming laptops, but it has enough in the way of performance for most consumers.

In this Huawei MateBook 16 review we'll answer all the questions you've got about the laptop – from the resolution of the screen to the sort of battery life you can expect from it – to help you decide whether or not this is the right choice for your next laptop upgrade.

Huawei MateBook 16 review: powerful personal computing in a laptop

Huawei MateBook 16 review: screen and design

At first glance the Huawei MateBook 16 has a look that's very MacBook Pro: there's the same grey aluminium chassis for example, and speakers either side of the keyboard (which sound decent, but no more than that). Huawei has definitely got a stylish, minimal aesthetic going on here, with an impressive fit and finish all round the laptop and a simple Huawei logo on the lid. It's difficult to fault in terms of its experience.

If the design is good then the 16-inch display is great: you get 2520 x 1680 pixels arranged in a 3:2 aspect ratio, a maximum brightness of 300 nits, and a contrast ratio of 1500:1. Creatives will want to know that 100 percent of the sRGB colour gamut is covered. The screen's bezels are pleasingly thin, everything from documents to movies looks bright and sharp, and we are absolutely fans of the 3:2 aspect ratio – it makes a real difference when it comes to the vertical space you've got for documents, webpages and so on.

Overall, this is a relatively compact and lightweight laptop for one that has a 16-inch screen. The Huawei MateBook 16 measures 351 mm x 254.9 mm x 17.8 mm, which is 13.8 inches x 10 inches x 0.7 inches and tips the scales at 1.99 kg or 4.4 pounds. It's going to slip into most bags and backpacks, though it's probably not the laptop to go for if you're wanting something that qualifies as an ultraportable.

In terms of ports and connections, the laptop offers two USB-C ports (supporting USB 3.2 Gen 2), two USB-A ports (supporting USB 3.2 Gen 1), one HDMI 2.0 port, and a 3.5 mm audio jack that can accept either a microphone or a pair of headphones. That's a decent selection, though a memory card slot would be welcome. As with some previous Huawei laptops, the webcam is rather awkwardly placed under the top row of keys on the keyboard – when you need to use it, you tap the button and it pops up.

Huawei MateBook 16 review: performance and features

Our Huawei MateBook 16 review unit came with a AMD Ryzen 7 5800H processor with integrated Radeon graphics, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of SSD storage. You can also pick up the laptop with a slightly slower processor, the AMD Ryzen 5 5600H, if you want to save yourself some money in return for a performance hit. It's a quality spec for an everyday laptop, and it's only really in gaming and video editing where the Huawei MateBook 16 is likely to start struggling.

When it comes to having several applications and loads of browser tabs open, the laptop has you covered, and won't even get particularly loud or hot either – Huawei has done a good job with the cooling here. As always the performance has to be measured against the price you're going to pay, but in terms of its specs the Huawei MateBook 16 has enough about it to cope with almost everything you're going to throw at it.

We should also mention the typing experience, which is excellent: the keys on this laptop have a soft, springy feel, and they're just right for powering through a serious amount of typing when you need to. The trackpad also feels like a top-quality component while you're sliding your fingers across it, and it's only the rather noisy and basic click mechanism that feels a bit on the cheap side.

An hour of video streaming – with the display brightness ramped right up, the audio volume low, and the battery mode set three-quarters of the way to full performance – knocked the battery level down by 12 percent. That works out at around 8-9 hours of video streaming in total between charges, which is a reasonably okay result without breaking any records. If you're using the Huawei MateBook 16 for demanding tasks like video editing, you might struggle to get through a whole working day on a single charge.

Huawei MateBook 16 review: price and verdict

Unfortunately availability of the Huawei MateBook 16 is rather limited at the moment. You can pick it up from European retailers for around €1,100, which at the time of writing is the equivalent of approximately £935 or $1,245. At that price, the laptop is actually at a very respectable point on the value-for-money spectrum, though whether you're going to be able to get it at that price is another matter.

It's a shame that the Huawei MateBook 16 and many other Huawei devices are so hard to get in the UK and the US, because on the whole they're decent pieces of hardware that are worth putting on your shortlist. They can be imported via the web but you need to make sure you're dealing with a reputable retailer, and you'll need to pay over the odds, most of the time. You'll probably need to supply your own power cable too.

A few niggles aside, we like the design and the fit and finish of the Huawei MateBook 16, and it feels like a premium device when you're using it. The battery life might not be spectacular, but the performance is very good, and in general it's a portable computer that's a pleasure to use. We don't think that many people who invest in the Huawei MateBook 16 are going to be disappointed by it.

That doesn't mean it's all that easy to work out if the Huawei MateBook 16 is for you. If you don't need a laptop that's quite so nippy, you can save yourself a substantial amount of money. On the other hand, if you need a laptop that's going to be able to play the top games of the moment, then you might have to spend quite a lot more – take a look at our best gaming laptop guide for further details.

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George Washington

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