Huawei has been making some of the sleekest and thinnest laptops on the market for a few years now, but its latest release, the MateBook 14S, sets itself apart from recent Huawei laptops in three ways.
The first is a high-refresh display: the MateBook 14S has a 90Hz panel which is one of the first laptops to offer this technology. Those who follow smartphones will know that high refresh rates have been all the rage in this space lately, as it allows animations to appear smoother and smoother to the eye.
The second big addition, at least for those who buy the Chinese model, is the MateBook 14S, although it is a Windows machine, supports HMS Core, which is Huawei’s mobile mobile services system. This means that the MateBook 14S can run smartphone apps. At the moment, this is only limited to Chinese units, but maybe this feature will come to global versions sold outside of China.
The third change is that Huawei has moved away from its webcam hidden in the keyboard which was ingenious when it was first unveiled in February 2018, but has been slightly problematic in this era of pandemic where we are doing a lot more. video calls (the upward angle of the camera is slightly unflattering).
Other useful features Huawei introduced when returning previous laptops included a touchscreen, fingerprint reader built into the power button, and seamless connectivity with Huawei mobile devices like smartphones and tablets.
The latter is quite unique, and something that flexes the power of Huawei’s HarmonyOS. For example, a MateBook 14S, an Intel machine running Windows, can connect to a Huawei MatePad 11 tablet that is running HarmonyOS, powered by a Qualcomm mobile SoC. Two completely different operating systems running on a different chip architecture working in unison as was previously considered impossible.
And it’s not just a stupid connection, too. Once synchronized, they can interact with each other quite transparently. I can use the tablet as an extension of my MateBook 14S display. I can drag and drop files between devices. I can even use the stylus on the MatePad 11 to edit the files on the laptop.
The rest of the material
Inside the relatively compact body of the MateBook 14S (weight: 3.1 lbs, thickness: 14.7mm) sits the new 11th generation Intel Core processor in i5 or i7 configuration, paired with 16GB of LPDDR4x RAM and at 1TB of storage. An Intel Iris Xe graphics card manages the graphics. These components can be considered high end for productivity or creative tasks, and acceptable for light gaming.
There’s a four-speaker system that Huawei dubbed “Huawei Sound,” and it sounded pretty good from my testing, although I think my 16-inch MacBook Pro speakers still produce fuller sound.
Two other things that stand out: The MateBook 14S keyboard has a 1.5mm key travel, significantly longer than most modern laptops, and it has more ports than most laptops: two USB-Cs. , a full-size HDMI, a headphone jack, and a USB-A.
Versatile and powerful machine
I’ve only had a short time with the MateBook 14S, and my device runs on a simplified Chinese version of Windows which I can’t read fluently, so that’s not a review. However, I’ve seen enough to know that it’s one of the most versatile Windows machines. The ability to run mobile apps, so far limited to the Chinese version of this laptop, and to connect to Huawei tablets and smartphones adds a new dimension to using a Windows laptop.
I often have to log into WeChat or WhatsApp on a web browser on our work computer, and the process is tedious and unreliable. Being able to run WeChat or WhatsApp natively as an app is a huge plus.
The software shortcomings that plague Huawei smartphones due to the inability to run Google apps are also not a problem on a Windows machine, as we access Google services directly in the web browser anyway.
Huawei already sells the MateBook 14S in China starting at around the equivalent of $ 1,100 (for the base i5 model). The laptop will begin rolling out in the UK from October 27 and other parts of Europe and Asia thereafter, although prices and configuration vary.