Sixteen-inch laptops used to make little sense, because the main reason to own a laptop is portability. And 16-inch screens just didn’t work well in the laptop space years ago, when bezels were still thicker and components weren’t as streamlined.
But display technology has improved to the point that bezels can be ultra-thin, and modern silicon are getting smaller and more energy efficient. This has allowed laptop makers to make 16-inch laptops that resemble the body of a 15-, or even 14-inch, laptop from five years ago.
Apple makes a very good one, running on the company’s M1 Max silicon. If you want the equivalent but in the Windows space with Intel silicon, then Huawei has one for you.
Named the MateBook 16S, this is a Windows machine running Intel’s newest 12th-gen H-series CPU, with a gorgeous 16-inch, 2.5K display with touchscreen support, and a surprisingly thin at 17.8mm. It is not light, at a bit over 4lbs, but considering this is a 16-incher, it can’t be considered heavy, either.
Huawei actually released a 16-inch machine just last year, but that one ran on AMD’s Ryzen processor so this 12th-gen Intel model is an upgrade in processing power. And indeed, in the CrossMark benchmark test, Huawei’s MateBook 16S outscored the recently released and similarly priced M2 MacBook Pro.
The laptop comes in either i7 or i9 configurations, priced at around $1,530 and $1,720, respectively. I say “around” because the laptop doesn’t sell in the U.S., but is available officially in the U.K., and chunks of Asia including Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and obviously, mainland China. In some markets, the purchase price also includes a free monitor.
This is a fair price for a machine with a high-end display and Intel’s latest. However, there is no discreet GPU—Huawei is placing faith in Intel’s Iris Xe graphics. From my testing, this is more than good enough for normal computer tasks, and even casual gaming and video editing, but if you’re doing complicated 4K timelines, render time will be slower than Windows machines with a dedicated GPU, and definitely slower than the 16-inch M1 Max MacBook Pro.
But creatives aren’t the market Huawei is aiming at here, this laptop is still aimed for office and business work. And the machine is very good at it, with a large keyboard with bouncy, tactile keys. At 1.5mm of travel, this keyboard has more depth than most laptop keyboards.
The trackpad has also been much improved over Huawei’s 2021 offerings, I can navigate around Windows 11 without accidentally triggering things like I used to with older Huawei laptops. This is a machine I’m fine to use without a mouse, which I can’t say for many Windows laptops.
Despite the thin build, the MateBook 16S packs more ports than most laptops, too, including two USB-C ports (one of which is Thunderbolt 4), HDMI, headphone jack, and two full sized USB-A ports. The latter are increasingly a rarity in new laptops as the industry tries to force a move to USB-C. To be honest, I mostly use USB-C, too, but it’s still good to have USB-A ports around.
Back to that display: it offers impressive color calibration and maximum brightness, and as mentioned, supports 10-point multi-touch. A touchscreen on a laptop isn’t something I desperately need, but it’s very nice to have. For example, when I’m typing long blocks of words, it’s nice to be able to move the cursor two paragraphs up with a tap of the screen instead of dragging that mouse arrow.
I’m also a fan of the 3:2 aspect ratio instead of wide-screen, because it displays vertical content better. You can even open four apps at once in Windows 11 and not have to squint too much. However, this means major letterboxing when viewing movies or videos.
There are two speaker grills that sandwich the keyboard, and they sound great: audio is loud and full.
This makes the laptop a good media consumption machine, and it has the battery life to match, too. Expect to get at least 11 hours of video playback. For work, I can get about seven to eight hours doing my non-video tasks, which includes using a web browser with a half dozen tabs opened, Spotify streaming in background, and Slack, Twitter opened at all times. This is fine battery life.
Charging is done via USB-C port, the laptop comes with either a 90W or 135W charger depending on if you buy the i7 or i9 model.
On the software front, the MateBook 16S runs Windows 11 as mentioned, but there’s extra benefits for those using Huawei’s ecosystem of devices. You can, for example, quickly connect a Huawei smartphone and mirror your phone screen on the laptop display. This isn’t a dumb connection, but an interactive one. You can actually control most of your phone’s functionality via the laptop screen. If you have Huawei’s excellent MateView laptop, you can also beam content over easily, and also use a Huawei tablet as a secondary display. Outside of Apple, Huawei may have the most seamless ecosystem synergy right now in consumer tech, which the company has dubbed “Super Device”
Ever since major hurdles had been placed in front of Huawei’s then ascending mobile line, the company has pivoted to other areas of consumer tech, and it looks like the company is making the same fast rise in the wearable and computer space as its phones used to do.
The MateBook 16S is an excellent large screen Windows machine for those who need one. Most people would still be better off with a smaller 13-inch model, but for those who just want more screen space, or want something that can realistically be a full-time home computer, this is a worthy addition.