Huawei MateBook 16s Review: Huawei is really strengthening its ecosystem

Huawei MateBook 16s Review: Huawei is really strengthening its ecosystem

Huawei makes good laptops, and the MateBook 16s is no different. You could buy it for just that, but the real value proposition is the Huawei ecosystem. Indeed, whether you’re using a Huawei phone, smartwatch, earbuds, PC, monitor, and so on, these things are all designed to work seamlessly together. With Huawei’s Super Device feature, the idea is that it doesn’t matter what screen you’re using; it’s all the same device.

My biggest issue with the MateBook 16s is that it doesn’t have dedicated graphics. If that’s going to be the case, I’d rather see this laptop have a P-series processor. There are little things as well, such as only one of the USB Type-C ports supporting Thunderbolt.

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But as usual, the MateBook 16s is a win. It’s a great all-around laptop, and if you’re already in the Huawei ecosystem, it’s even better.

    The Huawei MateBook 16s is a 16-inch laptop that's made to be integrated with other Huawei products, and doesn't fail to deliver.

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Huawei MateBook 16s: Pricing and availability

  • The MateBook 16s Core i7 model is available now from the Huawei Store, and the Core i9 model is coming later from Huawei, Amazon, and more
  • Huawei is offering a free monitor if you order now

Huawei announced the MateBook 16s in June, and the product was made available on July 13. The Core i7 model is £1,299.99, and it ships now from the Huawei Store. However, if you order prior to August 23, it actually comes with a free MateView GT 27 monitor.

The Core i9 model is £1,499.99, and that comes from Huawei, Amazon, AO, Argos, and Currys, and that will be available on August 10. If you pre-order that before July 26, and from the Huawei Store, you’ll get a free Huawei MateView monitor.

Huawei MateBook 16s: Specs

Processor 12th Gen Intel Core i7-12700H processor
Graphics Intel Iris Xᵉ Graphics
Body 351×254.9×17.8mm, 1.99kg
Display 16 inches, IPS, 90% screen-to-body ratio, 3:2 aspect ratio, 2,520×1,680, 189ppi, 300 nits, 100% sRGB, △E<1, 1,500:1 contrast ratio, 178-degree viewing angle, 10-point multitouch
Memory 16GB LPDDR5
Storage 1TB NVMe PCIe SSD
Ports USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 × 2
USB-C × 1 (support data, charging and DisplayPort)
USB-C × 1 (Thunderbolt 4, support data, charging and DisplayPort)
HDMI × 1
3.5 mm headset and microphone 2-in-1 jack × 1
Battery 84 Wh (rated capacity) lithium polymer
Webcam 1080P FHD camera
Audio Microphone × 2
Speaker × 2
Connectivity WLAN
IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax
2.4 GHz, 5 GHz and 6 GHz
2 × 2 MIMO
WPA/WPA2/WPA3Bluetooth:
Bluetooth 5.2
In the box HUAWEI MateBook 16s
90 W/135 W USB-C Power Adapter
USB-C Charger Cable
Quick Start Guide
Warranty Card
Material Aluminum
Color Space Gray
OS Windows 11 Home
Price £1,299.99

Design, display, and keyboard: It has a 1080p webcam!

  • Huawei is finally using a good webcam
  • The screen is good, but not great

Huawei has been pretty consistent with its design choices since it entered the Windows laptop space in 2017 (it entered the Windows space in 2016 with a tablet). The MateBook 16s is made out of aluminum, feels like it has a premium build quality, and comes in Space Gray. Huawei has used other colors over the years, but this one seems to be the one common to almost all of its laptops.

Top down view of Huawei MateBook 16s

The lid is stamped with Huawei text, unlike earlier years when it used the Petal logo. It feels like a 16-inch laptop should feel, weighing in at 4.38 pounds without dedicated graphics. For something with a nice and large screen, it’s light enough to carry.

Huawei MateBook 16s display test

Speaking of the 2,520×1,680 display, it supports 97% sRGB, 67% NTSC, 72% Adobe RGB, and 72% P3, which is slightly below average. If you need color accuracy in your work flow, this probably won’t cut it for you. It maxes out at 320.3 nits brightness, exceeding the promised 300 nits, and contrast ratio maxed out at 1,210:1.

While the color gamut leaves a bit to be desired, it feels like a premium display, with a 178-degree viewing angle. That means that there won’t be any visible color distortions if you view it from the side.

Closeuyp of MateBook 16s screen

The 90% screen-to-body ratio means that it has narrow bezels on all sides, but the webcam is in the top bezel, and it’s a good one. You might recall that in previous MateBook products, Huawei actually put the webcam in the keyboard, billing it as a security feature, forcing the user to pop the webcam up to use it. It was a horrible experience.

The webcam is Full HD, and it's fantastic.

Huawei actually can’t be blamed for how bad that was though. Before March 2020, no one cared about webcam quality. Now with the work-from-home boom, it’s an important feature, and unfortunately, it takes 12 to 18 months for design changes in PCs to come to market, so here we are.

But yes, the webcam is Full HD, it’s placed properly, and it’s fantastic.

Angled view of MateBook ports

Going back to the design, you’ll notice two USB Type-C ports on the left side. Unfortunately, only one of them is Thunderbolt, you you’ll have to keep in mind which one if you’re using a Thunderbolt dock or an external GPU. Normally, I speak in hypotheticals when I talk about connecting dual 4K monitors or an external GPU, but this is a laptop with an H-series processor and integrated graphics. You might want that proper graphics power to do some creative work.

Top-down view of Huawei MateBook 16s keyboard

The keyboard has the standard 1.5mm key travel that you’ll find on most Huawei laptops, and it feels great to type on.  It’s also got a big old touchpad underneath it, which is always great to see.

Close up of power button on laptop

Naturally, the fingerprint sensor is a staple of a good Huawei laptop. They’re some of the best you’ll find on any device, both fast and accurate. When you press the button to power on the laptop, it scans your fingerprint, so you don’t have to scan it again after it boots up. It just seamlessly logs you in.

Huawei isn’t the only one that does this. What I will say is that out of all of the laptops I’ve tested that have the fingerprint sensor in the power button, Huawei’s are the least likely to fail. With many fingerprint sensors, it will say that it can’t recognize my fingerprint, and that’s jut not the case with Huawei.

Performance: There’s a 45W processor and no dedicated graphics

  • Huawei has finally made the move to Intel 12th-gen, but without dedicated graphics, a 45W CPU offers more power than you need, at a cost to battery life

The model that Huawei sent me includes a Core i7-12700H CPU, a 45W processor with six performance cores (P-cores) and eight efficiency cores (E-cores), for a total of 20 threads. Intel’s new 12th-gen processors have a hybrid architecture for better power management, something that it was able to borrow from the Arm side of things. However, AMD has yet to emulate it.

The Core i7-12700H is a good CPU, and Huawei also offers this laptop with either a Core i5-12500H or a Core i9-12900H. The real problem is that there are no dedicated graphics. This feels like something that’s more common with this generation of laptops, and indeed, Intel has boosted the Iris Xe graphics on the H-series to match what’s on the more efficient SKUs.

Typically, we see U-series processors in productivity laptops, and then in more powerful laptops, we see H-series processors paired with dedicated graphics. Intel also now has the 28W P-series to bridge the gap between the two. I’m really not sure where H-series without dedicated graphics fits in. You wouldn’t use this for gaming or video editing.

You could use it for photo editing in Lightroom and Photoshop, and of course, it’s great for productivity. Still, I can’t help but think that a more efficient chipset with the same graphics would have more sustained performance while still being easier on battery life.

Huawei MateBook 16s
Core i7-12700H
Lenovo Yoga 9i
Core i7-1260P
Surface Laptop Studio
Core i7-11370H, RTX A2000
PCMark 10 5,501 5,616 5,573
3DMark: Time Spy 1,957 1,678 5,075
Geekbench 5 1,779 / 9,789 1,736 / 9,525 1,546 / 5,826
Cinebench R23 1,815 / 10,615 1,638 / 7,757 1,504 / 6,283
CrossMark 1,720 / 1,576 / 1,917 / 1,619

Battery life comes in well above the competition.

As you can see from how 3DMark compares to the Surface Laptop Studio, dedicated graphics makes a big difference to the creative work flow. I also added a P-series machine to demonstrate that at least in benchmarking, I don’t always see an improvement when moving to the H-series. Sometimes there’s a short performance boost that isn’t sustained, and I don’t love the experience.

Battery life is actually really good, I’m happy to report. There was not a single instance that I got under five hours, and on average, I got just under six hours. This is while working in the browser and doing my regular thing. The power slider was on balanced and the screen brightness was on medium. There was one instance where I got a little over eight hours, and I was unable to replicate it. Still, when it comes to a Windows laptop, anything over four hours is good. Anything over five hours is really good.

Huawei has some unique advantages over competitors

  • Huawei is one of few PC OEMs, along with Apple and Samsung, that’s building an ecosystem around its PCs
  • Super Device lets you use all of your devices seamlessly together
  • Huawei even built its own Android subsystem to run AppGallery

At Mobile World Congress this year, while all of its competitors in the space had been announcing 12th-gen Intel and AMD Ryzen 6000 PCs since CES the month before, Huawei introduced a range of computers that still had 11th-gen Intel or AMD Ryzen 5000 processors. Moreover, products like the MateStation X all-in-one was set to come without any kind of dedicated graphics.

In a Q&A session with press, the company confirmed that it’s basically last on the list to receive new things. As we all know by now, U.S. companies have to jump through hoops just to do business with Huawei, and that’s also why its phones no longer come with Google services.

Being that it was being handicapped in traditional avenues, Huawei took a different direction. It focused on its own strengths, and things that it could control. It started building out its own ecosystem, rather than depending on Google, or even Microsoft, despite the fact that the Redmond firm doesn’t have the same issues with Huawei.

Huawei focuses on its strengths, building out its own ecosystem, and it nails it.

Because of this strategy and despite still using third-party operating systems, Huawei has put together one of the most seamless ecosystems around. Currently, the only ones even attempting this are Apple and Samsung, although I wouldn’t sleep on Lenovo/Motorola. Apple’s solution is to do everything in-house, while Samsung has opted for tight partnerships with Microsoft, Google, Qualcomm, and more. Huawei’s answer is a bit in-house, while also still using third-party solutions.

Super Device

When I first heard the term Super Device, I was really confused. When something has the word “Device” in it, you expect it to be hardware, but it’s not. Super Device is the term for the experience you get throughout the ecosystem, in a sense. It’s the idea that no matter what interface you’re using, you’re essentially using the same device.

I used it with a Huawei MateView monitor and a Huawei P40 Pro Plus, and everything just kind of works seamlessly. Moreover, they work wirelessly. You just click to connect to the thing you want to, and it works.

Huawei laptop woith phone mirroring

The key experience that Huawei is going for is seamlessness. If you’re signed into a Huawei account, it shouldn’t matter what screen you’re looking at. Also, peripherals will work as well, whether they’re from the FreeBuds line or some portable speaker. I don’t have those, but assuming they’re like all other Huawei devices, you should just be able to bring them near the device and they’ll work.

AppGallery

This isn’t the last you’ll hear from me about AppGallery, because I find this really interesting. With Windows 11, Microsoft introduced the Windows Subsystem for Android, where Android apps would be distributed through the Microsoft Store, powered by the Amazon Appstore. Like I said above though, Huawei seems to have learned its lesson in relying on American companies, so it built its own.

I have to admit, part of me didn’t believe the Huawei reps back in February when they told me that this wouldn’t be powered by WSA, but it’s not. Huawei is running Android apps on Windows. Also, you don’t actually need a new MateBook for this to work. It works on MateBooks going back to 2020, even if they have Windows 10 on them.

Screenshot of Huawei AppGallery

But enough of me gushing about how Huawei seems to have made its own Android subsystem. You start by installing AppGallery, which comes from Huawei’s website (you might find a link in PC Manager). AppGallery should actually work on any MateBook, but if it’s not qualified, it just won’t give you Android apps. It will let you install an app on your Huawei phone, and the company is also working on building out a selection of PC apps, although I didn’t see many.

When you go to install your first mobile app, you’ll be instructed to install Huawei MobileApp Engine. Once that’s done, you can install all of the Android apps that you want, as long as they come from AppGallery.

Here’s the bad news. You do seem to be limited to what comes from AppGallery. I haven’t figured out how to side-load anything, and even Huawei’s own Petal Search doesn’t work. You can download Petal Search – Huawei’s way to solve its app gap by searching third-party APK providers – and run it, but when you try to install an app, it won’t work.

Seeing AppGallery on PC is pretty neat though, and it’s one more way to bring the ecosystem closer together.

Should you buy the Huawei MateBook 16s?

While the Huawei MateBook 16s is a great laptop with lots of advantages, it’s definitely not for everyone.

You should buy the Huawei MateBook 16s if:

  • You’re investing in the Huawei ecosystem
  • You want a big laptop with overall great build quality and solid performance

You should not buy the Huawei MateBook 16s if:

  • You live in the United States
  • You don’t use other Huawei devices
  • Your work load includes editing video or something else that would benefit from dedicated graphics

While the Huawei MateBook 16s is a great laptop on its own, the key thing that puts it above and beyond competitors is all of the work that the company has put into software. It’s designed to work seamlessly with the rest of the Huawei ecosystem.

About author

Rich Woods
Rich Woods

Managing Editor for XDA Computing. I've been covering tech from smartphones to PCs since 2013. If you see me at a trade show, come say hi and let me ask you weird questions about why you use the tech you use.

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