After Asia, Europe is typically the next destination for new devices from Huawei’s Honor brand. Though the new Honor 8 was recently announced for the US market (read our full hands-on here), the smartphone is actually launching first in Europe, where it’s available today for €399, or £370 if you hail from the UK. The handset may look significantly different to Huawei’s flagship P9, but there are more than a few similarities on the spec sheet. A 5.2-inch, 1080p display, for example, as well as a dual 12-megapixel camera arrangement (one RGB sensor, one monochrome) and 8MP front-facer.
The dual camera setup might not be endorsed by Leica this time around, but it affords many of the same features. These include being able to play around with focal point and background blur in post-processing, as well as take native black and white shots. Like the P9, the Honor 8 also runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow with Huawei’s Emotion UI on top, and hosts a fingerprint sensor on its back.
The Honor 8 is another play for those who have high expectations and mid-range budgets. Clad primarily in glass with an aluminum rim holding everything together, it features a Huawei-made, octa-core Kirin 950 chip (four 2.3GHz cores plus four 1.8GHz cores), paired with 4GB of RAM and 32 gigs of expandable storage (microSD cards of up to 128GB supported). The 3,000mAh battery supports fast-charging through the Honor 8’s USB-C port, too, reportedly taking you from 0 to 50 percent in half an hour.
Available in blue, black and white, the handset can now be purchased through Honor’s vMall online store. In the UK specifically, it’ll also land at Amazon and other retailers including Clove, Ebuyer and Expansys in due course. Exclusive UK carrier partner Three will also begin offering the Honor 8 on contracts in the coming weeks.
It’s not even been a year since Huawei brought its affordable Honor line to the US, and the company is already releasing a follow-up. The Honor 8 is a smartphone designed with millennials in mind, and will be available for pre-order on August 17th via the Honor website, Best Buy, Amazon and a bunch of other e-tailers for $400. I had a chance to check out the Honor 8 ahead of its US release and was impressed by its dual-sensor camera and eye-catching design. At that price, however, the Honor 8 faces some stiff competition.
Huawei believes millennials are energetic, expressive and passionate. Thus, Michelle Xiong, vice president of the company’s handset division, said it decided to focus on three key points to target the young crowd: unique aesthetics, solid cameras and a useful fingerprint sensor.
The Honor 8 was made with what Huawei calls “multilayer optical filming” that helps it catch and reflect light in a subtle way. Although it looks a lot like the Galaxy S6, the 8 is quite pretty in its own right. When I tilted the phone from side to side, I could see vertical lines appear and fade. In addition to the slightly curved 2.5D glass all over, the handset’s bezel is also made of aircraft-grade aluminum.
Huawei also offers a special warranty for the Honor 8 on top of its standard 12-month option that fixes damage to the handset’s glass covering for the first three months after purchase.
Thanks to the attention to materials, the Honor 8 feels sturdy, but ZTE’s $400 Axon 7 has a more solid build. I also appreciate that Huawei kept the rear cameras under the glass instead of having them jut out like the cameras on other phones, such as the iPhone 6s, Galaxy S7 and Nexus 5x.
Speaking of the rear camera, Huawei outfitted the Honor 8 with a 12-megapixel dual-sensor setup. An RGB sensor captures color data, while the monochrome lens records details. This combination is similar to that in Huawei’s more premium P9 flagship, which was co-engineered by popular camera maker Leica. The images I snapped with our preview Honor 8 indeed looked clear and bright, with accurate colors, and selfies taken with the 8-megapixel front camera were similarly vibrant.
The camera app offers a bunch of cool modes, such as a so-called Wide Aperture setting that lets you adjust the focal point and amount of depth of field (blurred background) after you shoot a photo. Huawei also made it easier to quickly snap pictures by building in some shortcuts. You can trigger the shutter by laying your finger on the fingerprint sensor below the rear camera or by saying “cheese.” When the phone is asleep, you can launch the camera (and immediately take a picture) by double- or triple-pressing the volume down button, depending on how you set it up.
None of those features are new for Huawei’s phones, though. Like the P9, the Honor 8 comes with the company’s EMUI 4.0 software overlaid on Android 6.0 Marshmallow. This brings nifty features such as the ability to assign custom tasks to individual fingers laid on the sensor, as well as using your knuckle to outline a specific area of the screen to capture it.
The similarities to the P9 don’t end there. The Honor 8 also has a 5.2-inch, 1080p display, a USB Type-C charging port and a 3,000mAh battery that supports fast charging. Huawei says the phone will go from 0 to 50 percent after 30 minutes of being plugged in.
While both phones use the company’s own octa-core Kirin chips, the P9 has the faster Kirin 955, as opposed to the Honor 8’s Kirin 950. Huawei said the Kirin 950 is equivalent to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820, which powers most of this year’s flagships, but we’ll have to put the Honor to the test to see how it holds up.
The Honor 8 comes in black, white and blue, the latter being my personal favorite. It’s so popular, in fact, that folks in China are snapping up that version (which retails at about US$360 there) and reselling it for about US$500, according to Honor president George Zhao.
Too bad the Honor 8 doesn’t cost the same in the US as it does in China. Other midrange phones on the market, such as the OnePlus 3, the ZTE Axon 7 and the Alcatel Idol 4S cost the same and the latter even comes with its own VR headset in the box. But so far the Honor 8 appears to have a pretty decent camera, and if it does offer performance that parallels its rivals, it could be a worthy adversary. Stay tuned to see how well it stacks up against its competitors.
There’s no question that China isn’t as much of a money maker for Apple as it once was. However, it’s not about to quit the country — if anything, it’s settling in for the long haul. The company has unveiled plans to build a Chinese research and development center by the end of the year. Just what it’ll work on isn’t evident at this stage, although it’s part of an overall increased investment in Apple’s second-largest market.
It has a few good reasons to set deeper roots in China. Much as with the massive investment in Didi Chuxing, it’s at least partly about assuaging regulators who’ve been banning services and are otherwise jittery about an American company on their turf. Apple is trying to show that it can create jobs and otherwise contribute to the Chinese job market beyond stores and factory contracts. This also helps Apple recruit Chinese talent that would be difficult or impossible to bring overseas.
The moves might be necessary in a nation whose smartphone market is particularly volatile. Apple isn’t the only one hurting — IDC estimates that Xiaomi, a darling of the Chinese market just a year ago (it’s sometimes billed as China’s Apple), saw its shipments plunge a whopping 38.4 percent year-over-year during the second quarter. The exact reasons for its trouble are mixed, although it’s a latecomer to advertising (it historically relied on online sales) while rivals have stepped up their game.
Both Apple and Xiaomi might also simply be facing a changing of the guard. While Huawei is still the top phone brand in China, it’s technically eclipsed by BBK’s rapidly growing smartphone empire. It owns Oppo and Vivo, whose shipments surged (in Oppo’s case, by 124 percent) to make them the second- and third-largest phone brands in China this spring. Combine that with the smaller but plucky OnePlus badge and BBK largely has the country covered, ranging from budget phones for the mass market to attention-getting flagship devices. Anyone trying to take on BBK faces a multi-pronged assault, making it that much harder to topple.
Source: Reuters, IDC
Multitouch input, as we know it, is mostly for scrolling, rotating plus zooming with two fingers, and you can use more to toggle various actions on supported trackpads. But if you ask Mountain View-based Qeexo, we’ve only scratched the surface of this technology. Over the past couple of years, this company had been working on a software solution dubbed TouchTools, which can let you bring up virtual tools such as a pen, an eraser, a camera, a tape measure, a ruler, a magnifying glass or even a mouse using intuitive multitouch gestures. Many of these resemble the way you’d hold the real thing which is where the challenge lies, yet TouchTools works on all existing hardware that use a standard multitouch screen controller, which should appeal to device manufacturers.
Without giving away his secret sauce, Qeexo CEO Sang Won Lee explained that TouchTools uses just multitouch data plus machine learning to tell the pose of one’s hands. “It’s not just the number of fingers on the screen; just those data will not be enough to decide which tool to use. We need to understand the orientation [of fingers] and size [of fingertips].” After going through multiple stages of evaluations earlier, the result is a lightweight software engine that claims to accommodate 99 percent of users right out of the box, and it’s now available to OEMs plus app developers.
TouchTools isn’t limited to just smartphones and tablets. Lee reckons his software will be particularly handy for large interactive whiteboards, as it’ll save users from having to stretch all the way to a virtual toolbar or fiddle with a stylus. Similarly, it can be applied to digital signage for some fun advertisements. The exec also expects car makers to implement TouchTools on the dashboard touchscreen to let the driver control, say, the temperature or audio volume using knob rotation gestures — they could be differentiated with the size of the spread. As for app developers, Qeexo is offering integration into downloadable apps as well, so you don’t have to be a manufacturer to take advantage of this software.
Even though you may not be familiar with Qeexo, you may have already used its other solutions without you realizing it. For instance, the company’s more famous product, FingerSense, is already implemented on Huawei’s P9 series, Mate 8, Mate S, P8 series, Honor V8 and Honor 7. Here it’s branded as “Knuckle Sense” and lets you take a screenshot by knocking on the screen twice (I’m a big fan of this feature on my P9 Plus), or launch an app by using your knuckle to draw a designated letter, or toggle split screen mode by using your knuckle to draw a line across the screen. Again, this is achieved by using existing hardware — just data from the touchscreen controller plus the accelerometer — in order to distinguish between a fingertip input and a knuckle input. FingerSense has been working well for me all this time, which should be a reassuring sign for the upcoming TouchTools.
Honor might be a Huawei sub-brand, but it’s definitely taking the spotlight today. It’s introducing the Honor Note 8, an upper-mid-range behemoth meant to take on the likes of Xiaomi’s Mi Max. Its focal point is undoubtedly its 6.6-inch, 2,560 x 1,440 screen — it’s both larger and sharper than its Xiaomi rival, and clearly built for people whose smartphone might be their only computing device. You won’t get an exotic camera setup like on the Huawei P9 (there’s ‘just’ one rear 13-megapixel camera with stabilization). However, you will get the P9’s Kirin 955 octa-core processor as well as a hefty 4GB of RAM, an 8-megapixel front camera, a fingerprint reader, a sizeable 4,500mAh battery and 32GB, 64GB or 128GB of expandable storage.
It’s being joined by the Honor 5 (below), a more modest device that sits under the Honor 5X. It’s very much a lower-mid-range device between its 5-inch 720p display, quad-core MediaTek processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of expandable storage, 8-megapixel rear camera and 2-megapixel front shooter. About its biggest perk is its dual-SIM support for people who need more than one line. Still, it’s a viable alternative if the 5X is too big or pricey.
The Honor 5 will be available in China on August 2nd, where it’ll cost a downright frugal 599 RMB ($90). You’ll have to wait until August 9th to get the Honor Note 8, although its Chinese prices range from 2,299 RMB for 32GB ($346) to 2,799 RMB for 128GB ($420). That’s much more expensive than the $230 Mi Max, but a bargain if you’re looking for a massive but capable handset. The question is whether or not any of these devices will reach the US. The 5X did, but it also hit a sweet spot for screen size, features and price — the Note 8 and 5 are more specialized devices that might have a tougher time in the States.
Via: Engadget Chinese, Android Central, Android Headlines
The latest data from market research firm IDC reveals that Samsung shipped nearly twice as many smartphones as Apple in the fiscal third quarter. Android-based Galaxy smartphone shipments totaled an estimated 77 million, compared to 40.4 million iPhones, during the three-month period that ended in late June. For Apple, the fiscal third quarter is seasonally its lowest of the year.
Samsung was the most popular smartphone vendor in the quarter with a leading 22.4 percent market share, nearly double Apple’s 11.8 percent market share. Samsung experienced 5.5 percent year-over-year growth on the strength of the Galaxy S7 launch in March, whereas Apple declined 15 percent compared to the year-ago quarter as customers await the iPhone 7 series in September.
One bright spot for Apple was the lower-priced iPhone SE, although the iPhone’s average selling price dropped to $595 compared to $662 last year:
Apple’s second quarter saw the Cupertino-based giant ship 40.4 million iPhones, representing a 15.0% year-over-year decline from the 47.5 million units shipped last year. The new 4-inch iPhone SE proved successful in both emerging and developed markets as the new SE has captured many first-time smartphone buyers as well as Android users switching over to the Apple ecosystem. The success of the cheaper SE did, however, have an impact on the overall average selling price (ASP) for an iPhone in the quarter. The ASP for an iPhone was $595, down 10.1% from $662 one year ago. As smartphone competition continues to escalate and upgrades continue to slow, Apple will look to drive sales with a newly designed iPhone 7 combined with their upgrade program come this fall.
Apple also ceded market share to Chinese rival Huawei, which ranked third among smartphone vendors with an estimated 32.1 million shipments and 9.4 percent market share. Huawei manufactures Google’s popular Nexus 6P and introduced new dual-camera P9 and P9 Plus smartphones in April, but its presence in the United States and other regions is still limited compared to China.
Chinese rivals OPPO and Vivo rounded out the top five smartphone vendors with quarterly sales of 22.6 million and 16.4 million units respectively. OPPO in particular saw explosive 136.6 percent year-over-year growth over the three months, increasing its market share to 6.6 percent compared to 2.8 percent in the year-ago quarter. Vivo had 9.1 percent market share, an 80.2 percent year-over-year change.
Worldwide smartphone shipments totaled an estimated 343.3 million units in the quarter, an increase of only 0.3 percent from the year-ago quarter, when vendors shipped an estimated 342.4 million units. The relatively flat growth is the result of market saturation and lengthening upgrade cycles, which vendors have attempted to offset by offering incentives such as the iPhone Upgrade Program.
On Wednesday, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the company recently sold its 1 billionth iPhone.
Tags: Samsung, IDC, Apple, Huawei
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Huawei filed a lawsuit against Samsung back in May, accusing the Korean corporation of infringing on some of its 4G-related patents. Now, it’s Samsung that’s on the offensive: according to Reuters, it has filed a lawsuit of its own against Huawei for a very similar reason. The Korean chaebol sued Huawei in its home country (China) a couple of weeks ago for allegedly infringing on six of its patents. A spokesperson said the company tried to “resolve this matter amicably” but didn’t elaborate on the nature of the affected intellectual properties.
Huawei didn’t demand money when it filed its lawsuit and asked for a cross-licensing deal instead. Analyst Lee Do-hoon told Reuters that Samsung probably isn’t looking to be paid either. He said both sides might have ulterior motives: Huawei’s is to boost its reputation. “If you look at the patent battle with Apple and Samsung… it ultimately created a lot of benefits for Samsung in a kind of an advertisement,” he explained. Samsung’s motive, on the other hand, might be to compel Huawei to settle as soon as possible.
It’s not the camera, it’s the photographer, right? Actually, sometimes it’s both, as Huawei just proved. It recently posted a lovely image, complete with a lens flare, implying that it was taken with its photo-centric P9 smartphone. “The #HuaweiP9’s dual Leica cameras makes taking photos in low light conditions like this a pleasure,” says the Google+ post caption. The only problem? It was actually taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark III equipped with a very pricey 70-200mm F/2.8 lens worth $4,500 total, as the EXIF data clearly proves.
In retrospect, it’s pretty obvious that this is not a smartphone photo. The 5D Mark III’s shallow depth-of-field has blurred out the background, and the lens flare has a polygonal shape, another DSLR signature. As some Redditors have pointed out, the detail in the hair is also a bit too fine for a smartphone camera.
Huawei technically never said directly that its smartphone took the shot, but it’s strongly implied. It has since taken down the photo and given a statement to Android Police, saying, “the photo, which was professionally taken while filming a Huawei P9 advert, was shared to inspire our community. We recognize though that we should have been clearer with the captions for this image. It was never our intention to mislead. We apologize for this and we have removed the image.”
This isn’t the first time that a marketing team has had this bright idea — Nokia used “simulated” images to show off its PureView cameras back in the day. As one commenter pointed out, however, the least Huawei could’ve done was use a professional camera from its branding partner, Leica — we hear they’re pretty good.
For many people, Huawei isn’t a name they associate with premium gadgetry. Sure, it’s the world’s third biggest smartphone maker, and in China it’s gained a reputation for quality, but in the US and most of the Western world it’s mostly known as a purveyor of cheap phones. With the MateBook, a hybrid tablet that marks the company’s first stab at a full-fledged computer, Huawei is hoping to change that. But while it certainly looks nice, the MateBook’s keyboard cover ultimately dooms it as something I can’t recommend.
“Wow, that looks expensive.” That’s something I’ve heard, unprompted, from several different people while testing the MateBook. It has a sleek unibody aluminum design that’s only 6.9 millimeters thin, and it weighs just 1.4 pounds. In comparison, Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 is heavier and a tad wider at 1.7 pounds and 8.4 millimeters thick. The MateBook’s 12-inch screen takes up most of its front, with very little bezel around the display itself (usually a hallmark of good design). A simple chamfered metal trim adds some additional class.
The MateBook is surprisingly comfortable to hold with one hand, and it feels pretty solid too, with very little flex when I tried to bend the case. Around the sides, you’ve got the usual power and volume buttons, as well as a single USB-C port for charging and plugging in accessories. There’s also an incredibly thin fingerprint reader resting between the volume buttons, which is compatible with the Windows Hello fast sign-on feature. The MateBook’s back is cleaner than most other tablets since it forgoes a rear camera, but there’s a 5- camera up front for video chatting. Huawei throws in a USB-C to micro-USB cable in the box, as well as a USB-C to traditional USB-A adapter.
Unfortunately, Huawei pulled a Microsoft and chose to make the MateBook’s keyboard cover an additional $129. At least it also looks expensive, with a faux-leather finish that wraps completely around the tablet, portfolio style. It offers 1.4mm of key travel, which is impressive for a mere tablet cover, and the buttons are also surprisingly large. The keyboard cover doubles as the MateBook’s kickstand; you just have to fold the back over, similar to Apple’s iPad Pro. It’s fairly thin, but it adds an additional pound of weight to the MateBook. (In comparison, the Surface Pro 4 Type Cover weighs 0.6 pounds.)
That lone USB-C connection probably won’t be enough when using the MateBook as a laptop, so Huawei also developed the MateDock ($89), which adds two USB 3.0 ports, Ethernet and HDMI/VGA connectors. And since this is a hybrid tablet, there’s also the expected stylus, the MatePen ($59), which has 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity, as well as a laser pointer built in. The latter feature probably won’t be useful to most consumers, but I suppose it’s one way Huawei can differentiate it from the scores of other stylii out there.
Display and pen input
The MateBook’s 12-inch display packs in a 2,160 by 1,440 pixel resolution, which is sharp, but less so than the iPad Pro (2,732 x 2,048) or the Surface Pro 4 (2,736 x 1,824). You likely won’t even notice the slightly lower resolution in a screen that size, though. For the most part, the display looks adequate, with strong colors and detail. But it’s also a surprisingly dark at times; I had plenty of issues using it outside in direct sunlight. Even sitting in front of a window with sun pouring in was enough to wash it out. And it didn’t help that the screen is also very reflective, which makes things seem even darker. When it comes to watching movies and reading digital comics, it didn’t have much of a “wow factor.”
Huawei’s MatePen felt similar: It’s an adequate stylus, nothing more. It worked well enough for jotting down handwritten text and drawings in OneNote, and it effectively detected varying levels of performance. But the pen itself isn’t comfortable to hold, and writing on the screen feels nothing like actual handwriting. I gave Microsoft lots of credit for trying to mimic the feeling of pen and paper with its latest Surface Pen (it even has different styles of tips for different tastes). The MatePen feels like Huawei didn’t consider much about the handwriting experience; it simply created a stylus because everyone else did. But hey, it at least has a laser pointer!
Typing (and cover) experience
This is where Huawei truly broke my heart. On paper, the MateBook’s keyboard should be fantastic. I was looking forward to feeling every bit of its 1.4mm key travel, I really was. But looks can be deceiving. While mashing down on those keys feels pretty good, it couldn’t keep up with my (admittedly harsh) typing style. I could type quickly, but most of the time I’d end up with gibberish that I’d have to go back and correct. I was able to type around 60 words per minute in TypingTest.com’s Aesop’s fables test, which discounted words that I misspelled. On the MacBook Air and my desktop keyboard, I get around 90 accurate words per minute. Key comfort is a big deal, sure, but accuracy is just as important.
Similarly, the keyboard cover’s trackpad looks inviting, with a large and seemingly smooth surface. But it’s incredibly inaccurate when it comes to mousing around Windows; navigating through menus and websites with links closely packed together was an exercise in frustration. The trackpad’s buttons have trouble determining if I’m trying to left- or right-click, and you can forget about trying to highlight text and scrolling at the same time. I gave up after several minutes of trying to copy large chunks of notes for this review.
The MateBook’s cover proves that Huawei has learned how to mimic designs from better computer makers, but doesn’t actually have a clue why consumers love Apple’s trackpads or Lenovo’s keyboards.
Oh, and I haven’t even gotten to the best/worst part: Huawei’s keyboard makes for a terrible kickstand. It can hold the MateBook up in two positions — 67 degrees and 52 degrees — but there’s no flexibility outside of that. And it’s not even good at maintaining those angles. If you move the screen too far back, or simply shift the MateBook the wrong way, the entire thing falls apart. As someone who’s grown to love the Surface’s stable, fully articulating kickstand, Huawei’s implementation feels like a complete disaster. And you can forget about holding the MateBook on your lap: It works, but only if you sit just right. Otherwise get ready for your 12-inch tablet to come crashing to the floor.
Performance and battery life
|Huawei MateBook (1.1 GHz Core M3, Intel HD 515)||3,592||2,867||E1,490 / P887||2,454||538 MB/s / 268 MB/s|
|Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet (1.2 GHz Core M7-6Y75, Intel HD 515)||4,951||3,433||E1,866 / P1,112||2,462||545 MB/s / 298 MB/s|
|Samsung Notebook 9 (2.5GHz Core i7-6500U, Intel HD 520)||5,309||3,705||E2,567 / P1,541 / X416||3,518||539 MB/s / 299 MB/s|
|Dell XPS 13 (2.3GHz Core i5-6200U, Intel Graphics 520)||4,954||3,499||E2,610 / P1,531||3,335||1.6GB/s / 307 MB/s|
|HP Spectre x360 15t (2.4GHz Core i5-6200U, Intel HD 520)||5,040||3,458||E2,672 / P1,526 / X420||3,542||561 MB/s / 284 MB/s|
|Microsoft Surface Pro 4 (2.4GHz Core i5-6300U, Intel HD 520)||5,403||3,602||
E2,697/ P1,556/ X422
|3,614||1.6 GB/s / 529 MB/s|
|Lenovo Yoga 900 (2.5GHz Core i7-6500U, Intel HD 520)||5,368||3,448||
E2,707 / P1,581
|3,161||556 MB/s / 511 MB/s|
|Microsoft Surface Book (2.4GHz Core i5-6300U, Intel HD 520)||5,412||3,610||
E2,758 / P1,578 / X429
|3,623||1.6 GB/s / 571 MB/s|
The MateBook I tested packed in a Core m5 processor running at 1.1 GHz (with boost speeds to 1.4 GHz) and 4GB of RAM. Not exactly powerhouse specs, but enough to get some work done. When it came to browsing the web, using Slack and typing in Evernote, the MateBook held up just fine. But honestly, the best specs on the market wouldn’t make a difference with such a horrific typing and mousing experience. I also noticed that the MateBook’s back got surprisingly warm whenever I stressed the system.
The MateBook lasted around six and a half hours in our typical battery test, which involves looping an HD video until the computer dies. That’s significantly less than Huawei’s claim of nine hours, and it’s on the low-end of the Ultrabooks we’ve tested.
Surface Book (Core i5, integrated graphics)
13:54 / 3:20 (tablet only)
MacBook Air (13-inch, 2013)
HP Spectre x360 (13-inch, 2015)
Surface Book (Core i7, discrete graphics)
11:31 / 3:02 (tablet only)
Apple MacBook Pro with Retina display (13-inch, 2015)
HP Spectre x360 15t
Chromebook Pixel (2015)
Lenovo Yoga 900
Microsoft Surface 3
Samsung Notebook 9
Apple MacBook (2015)
Dell XPS 13 (2015)
Microsoft Surface Pro 4
Lenovo Thinkpad X Tablet
HP Spectre x2
Razer Blade Stealth
Dell XPS 15 (2016)
5:25 (7:40 with the mobile charger)
Configuration options and the competition
The MateBook starts at $699 with an Intel Core m3 processor, 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. Jumping up to $849 adds a much more usable Core m5 chip, and for $999 you can get the m5 with 8GB RAM and a 256GB SSD. At the top end, there’s the $1,199 Core M5 model with a 512GB SSD. Huawei also mentioned that it’ll offer Core m7 processors eventually, but it’s not saying anything about pricing and availability of that configuration just yet. And remember, you have to add $129 for the keyboard and another $59 for the MatePen (not that you’d miss the latter).
Huawei is certainly entering a crowded market. Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 starts at $899 with a Core m3 chip, 4GB of RAM and 128 GB SSD, but at least with that you’ve got the option of a much better keyboard (for an additional $130). If you were really gunning for a hybrid, I’d recommend shelling out $999 for the Core i5 Surface Pro 4. There is of course the slightly cheaper Surface 3, which starts at $499 but is saddled with a much slower Atom processor.
Among other Windows hybrids, there’s the Lenovo X1 Tablet starting at $1,029 (it includes the keyboard cost), and I’m personally looking forward to testing ASUS’s upcoming Transformers. Apple’s iPad Pro is another solid competitor starting at $799, but again you’ll have to add $169 for the keyboard cover. And of course, you’re stuck with iOS and not a full-fledged desktop OS and real productivity apps.
TL;DR: There are plenty of better hybrids out there.
Huawei’s MateBook is a confounding device. It impresses upon first glance, but it’s not long before you realize it’s only beautiful on the surface. If Huawei’s goal was to prove it could make a premium-looking device, well, mission accomplished. It just forget to make a device you’d actually want to use.
Huawei’s Surface competitor, the Matebook, is headed to the US on July 11th starting at $699. Announced back at Mobile World Congress, it’s a 12-inch laptop/tablet hybrid that weighs in at a mere 1.4 pounds and 6.9 millimeters thin. Huawei claims it’s the lightest 12-inch tablet on the market. Even though it’s a hybrid, the Matebook still counts as the company’s first laptop. And as is usually the case with convertibles, there’s a stylus pen accessory with Windows Ink support and 2,048 levels of pressure.
The Matebook’s screen comes in at 2,160 by 1,440 pixels, which is sharp but not nearly as much as the iPad Pro (2,732 x 2,048) or the Surface Pro 4 (2,736 x 1,824). You’ll be able to configure it with core M3, M5 and M7 processors, 4GB or 8GB of RAM, and storage options from 128GB to 512GB SSDs. There’s also a Windows Hello-compatible fingerprint sensor on the side.
While Huawei isn’t exactly known for premium devices, the MateBook’s aluminum unibody design shows that it’s learned a lot from other high-end devices. It’s also shipping with Windows 10 Signature Edition in the US, which means it’ll offer a clean Windows experience without any junkware.
Unfortunately, Huawei learned the wrong lesson from Microsoft and is charging an additional $129 for the MateBook’s keyboard. The Stylus will cost $59 and the MateDock, which includes two USB 3.0 ports, Ethernet, HDMI and VGA, will run you $89.
You can preorder a Matebook starting today from the Microsoft store, and it’ll be available at other retailers on July 11. The base $699 MateBook comes with a Core M3 processor, 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD, and you can go all the way up to a Core M5 chip, 8GB of RAM and 512GB SSD for $1,199.