Huawei Matebook E Review: What A Windows Tablet PC Should Be

If there’s one company that’s making pretty great products in the PC space nowadays, it’s actually Huawei. It took quite a while to reach our shores but we finally got our hands on the Huawei Matebook E.

Now, it wasn’t that long ago that I took a look at the Asus Vivobook 13 Slate OLED. In fact, I took a look at it twice. To sum up my experience, it wasn’t the best and I had quite a few suggestions on what it should have to be a little more competitive. Little did I know, Huawei has been doing just that all along.


The Matebook E is a hybrid device just like the Slate OLED but features up to an Intel Core i7 just like the Surface Pro, exactly what I wished the Slate OLED should’ve been. But does that mean you should get this right away? Well, not quite.


Let’s start first by talking about the design.


First of all, it’s a pretty large tablet and decently sized laptop. It comes in at 12.6-inches and weighs about 700g (709g / 1.56lb). Yet despite the thinness just shy of 8mm (7.9mm), the Matebook E does actually come equipped with a fan. This is by no means a fanless design. A con for some perhaps, but a pro in our books for sure.


At the time of filming, it is only available in one colourway, Nebula Gray, and it’s as simple as it gets with just a small Huawei logo adorning the back. The matte finish is a nice touch, however, helping to lessen fingerprints a little while providing some extra grip. The back is also where you’ll find the 13MP rear camera, complete with a flash. The overall image quality is pretty good and depending on your use case, you might find it useful.


Arguably, however, the front camera is far more important; glad to say, it doesn’t disappoint. For the most part. Image quality is great for a front camera, thanks to the 8MP sensor and the microphones aren’t half bad either. Unfortunately, it doesn’t support Windows Hello, so it isn’t perfect.


In a nutshell, a really simple and clean design. But we come to the display and this is pretty much as good as it can get here.

It’s a 12.6-inch OLED with a resolution of 2,560 x 1,600 at 60Hz, a max brightness of 600 nits, support for P3 colour and of course, support touch.


I might sound like a broken record by now but I really can’t say much other than the fact that it is a beautiful display that you’ll definitely enjoy using. The colours are rich and vibrant, the blacks are deep, the high resolution is really nice and it’s bright enough to use outdoors without worry. The only downside is that I wished it was capable of 90Hz. That would’ve made it much better. But still, a fantastic display nonetheless.


The other thing that’s pretty fantastic and a genuine surprise are the speakers. There are a total of 4 speakers, each located in each corner and just like the Matebook 14s, these have been tuned by Huawei which they call Huawei Sound. Despite the size and form factor, the speakers can get pretty loud without distorting and they sound great. To give a bit of context, they perform better than the iPad Mini, really close to the large iPad Pro and definitely much better than the Slate OLED. Two thumbs up here.


But then we talk about the Smart Magnetic Keyboard and this, unfortunately, gets a thumbs down. The overall typing experience is fine and the trackpad is pretty large with NFC support to boot, so you can easily place your Huawei smartphone right on the trackpad and easily connect the two devices to share files and more.

However, what I don’t really like is the way the kickstand mechanism works. Unlike most other hybrid devices, you flip open the top half and pull it all the way down. Technically, it’s the same result. But the annoyances start when you try to adjust it. Naturally, you will have one hand on the device itself while your other hand adjusts the kickstand. While angling it down is fine and all, the moment you try and prop it up, you’ll pull the device off the back instead. That happens far more often than I would’ve liked. Additionally, the magnets aren’t actually strong enough to support the weight of the Matebook E itself. If you attempt to close it by holding onto the accessory, it’ll actually pop off and fall flat. Not ideal for sure.


Now the cons kind of continue as we talk about the battery life and the port selection. The Matebook E has a 42-watt hour battery and I could generally get just under 6 hours of battery life from normal usage. Not fantastic for sure, especially with how you would use this very device.


As for ports, you get a single Thunderbolt 4 port and a 3.5mm combo jack. You also do get your power button with a fingerprint reader, as well as your volume rocker. While Thunderbolt 4 is very much welcome, that is also pretty much all you get.


But enough about the cons, let’s talk about perhaps what’s equally as important as the display, the performance. The Matebook E can be fitted with up to an Intel Core i7 but we have the Core i5 model here with us today. So, an Intel Core i5-1130G7, 16GB of RAM and 512GB of PCIe 3.0 SSD storage.


Now, the Core i5 is only configured for 9 watts, which makes it lower than the typical configuration of 15 watts. But even then, this can push some decent performance. So we set the power profile to Performance and ran Cinebench R23.


It managed about 2800 on the Multi-Core and just over 1200 on the Single-Core. That might not sound like much, but if you compare it with the Pentium N6000 Silver from the Slate OLED, that’s more than a 50% uplift in performance.


We tried some gaming as well at 1080p.

For CS:GO and Valorant, this is actually more than capable, able to push above 60 frames per second with few hiccups or major drops in fps throughout our gaming sessions. Genshin Impact on the other hand was basically unplayable, achieving only about 2 frames per second. In short, it’s purely for light gaming and light gaming only.


Temperatures-wise, it’s really well-controlled thanks to the presence of a fan. Around 70 degrees celsius at most for the most part with the CPU drawing the full 12 watts and pushing 2GHz.


So here’s the thing about the Matebook E. It literally is what I would’ve liked the Slate OLED to be.


It’s got a great OLED display, that hybrid form factor, yet it does pack the performance to run slightly more demanding applications and handle day-to-day tasks without hiccups. And despite it not being a fanless design, the fans are still pretty quiet under load, really reasonable. However, does that mean you should go for this? No, not quite. While it is a lot more powerful as compared to the Slate OLED, you do have to pay a premium.


The Slate OLED with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of SSD storage goes for about S$1,199 or US$749.99, while this Matebook E will set you back S$1,998 or approximately US$1,400. That’s about twice the price. Which, if you’re simply looking for a secondary device to bring around occasionally and such, the price might deter you. But it is without a doubt that Matebook E is the better performing device and you will definitely appreciate the smoother day-to-day performance.


The Huawei Matebook E is certainly a genuine surprise and it’s much more capable than one might initially think. If you’re in the market, looking for such a device specifically, shortlist it. It is honestly pretty good.

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