Laptops with 16-inch screens fall into place for a variety of use cases because, if designed and built properly, they can offer a successful combination of screen real estate and reasonable portability. The modern Huawei MateBook D 16 impressed us with its simple design, ergonomic keyboard with separate number pad, and traditional webcam. However, we thought the battery life could be better.
Enter the MateBook 16s — the successor to the AMD-based MateBook 16, which we saw earlier this year “could be a real winner” with a better webcam. This comment was directed at Huawei’s well-known twisted camera that popped from a switch in the Fn row, giving an unfamiliar viewing angle during video calls. This is fixed in the new model, which is based on the 12th generation Intel Core H-series processors and features a 2.5K IPS touchscreen as well as a large-capacity battery.
This all sounds very promising, but is the MateBook 16s – which starts at £1,299.99 in the UK and currently comes with a free 27-inch MateView GT display at £199.99 – practically delivering?
The MateBook 16s is very clearly of the same stable design as the D 16, offering a smart but minimal look based on an aluminum body and a Space Gray colorway. It has a slightly larger area, is thinner to the touch (17.8 mm versus 18.4 mm), and weighs 290 grams more. At 1.99kg, however, it’s portable enough for a single trip, if not your daily commute.
The main differences between the two 16-inch models become apparent when the lid is opened, which reveals a keyboard surrounded by speaker grilles rather than accommodating a separate number pad, as well as a much larger touchpad. The keyboard is backlit, offers a key travel distance of 1.5mm, which is comfortable and quiet to use. Above the screen, right in the center of the screen frame, is a 1080p webcam.
16-inch IPS screens are different too, with the MateBook 16s offering 10-point touch functionality and 2.5K resolution (2520 x 1680, 189 ppi) with a 3:2 aspect ratio, compared to the more modest D 16 that doesn’t Touch panel FHD+ (1920 x 1200, 142 ppi) with an aspect ratio of 16:10. Both panels offer a maximum brightness of 300 nits and support 100% sRGB color gamut, but the MateBook 16s has an advantage in contrast ratio – 1500:1 versus the D 16’s 1200:1. Huawei also claims the MateBook’s high color accuracy (ΔE <1) 16s, making it a more suitable platform for creative use cases such as photography.
The MateBook 16s is based on the 12th generation Intel Core H Series processors. Our £1299.99 review unit houses a 14-core Core i7-12700H CPU (6 performance and 8 efficiency), while the high-end Core i9-12900H model is also available for £1499.99. Both options have 16GB of LPDDR RAM and 1TB of NVMe PCIe SSD storage, and there are no time-of-purchase or user-upgrade options. The GPU is Intel’s integrated Iris Xe Graphics – no discrete graphics support here.
Wireless connections are handled by the Intel Wi-Fi 6E AX211 module, which, as the name suggests, supports the latest tri-band (2.4GHz, 5GHz, 6GHz) Wi-Fi 6E standard along with Bluetooth 5.3.
There is a good, but not lavish, selection of ports on the MateBook 16s. On the left side are two USB-C ports, both supporting data, charging, and DisplayPort and one with Thunderbolt 4 support at 40Gbps. Also on the left side is a full-size HDMI connector and a 3.5mm audio input/output jack. The right side has two USB-A ports with support for 5Gbps USB 3.2 Gen 1. SD or MicroSD card slots are increasingly common and useful on laptops, but you won’t find either here. Photographers who love the look of the screen may be disappointed with this.
The MateBook 16s has a large-capacity 84Whr battery—a huge step up from the MateBook D 16’s 60Whr unit, a reflection of this laptop’s high-resolution screen and more powerful processors.
Performance and battery life
The 14-core Core i7-12700H processor in our MateBook 16s review unit delivered Geekbench 5 benchmarks for the 1840 (single-core) and 9715 (multi-core) CPUs, which are comparable to those we scored on the M1 Max-based 16-inch MacBook. Pro – 1790 (single core) and 12780 (multi-core).
Within the PCMark 10 benchmark set, the MateBook 16s achieved an overall score of 5,628, comfortably exceeding recommended performance levels for the Essentials, Productivity, and Digital Content Creation sectors.
All of this suggests that the MateBook will perform most workloads with great capabilities, but what about demanding graphic applications — especially given the lack of a separate GPU?
To investigate, we ran two 3DMark benchmarks: Night Raid, a DirectX 12 test for PCs with integrated graphics (such as the MateBook 16s); and Time Spy, a DirectX12 test for gaming PCs (with discrete GPUs). Not surprisingly, the MateBook 16s performed significantly better in the less demanding Night Raid benchmark, with frame rates of 99.6 and 119.7 in our graphics tests, compared to 11.4 fps and 9.9 fps on the equivalent Time Spy tests. The Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080-equipped notebook gets an average Time Spy graphics score of 12,073 (at the time of writing), which puts the MateBook 16’s score of 1,743 in perspective.
In short: This laptop copes well with low-level gaming, but graphics-intensive titles will likely prove too much for the integrated GPU.
To test the performance of the 84Wh battery, we ran two trained testers: one subjected the MateBook 16s to a heavy workload, involving multiple PCMark 10 runs interspersed with live TV broadcasts from BBC iPlayer over wi-fi; The other was a much lighter system, incorporating web browsing, the occasional burst of iPlayer video and some word processing.
On this basis, you can expect between 5 and about 12 hours, depending on your workload mix. Note that our screen brightness is a full 300 nits during these tests, so run times will be longer if you turn this off.
Huawei introduced a 65W smartphone-style USB-C charger with our review unit, though the spec sheet talks about 90W and 135W adapters (the latter for the Core i9). Starting with the battery at 16%, the included charger took 40 minutes to restore it to 50% and 110 minutes to reach 100%.
We didn’t notice undue heat coming from the MateBook 16s, even under heavy load. The cooling system includes dual “gaming” fans, side and rear vents, and dual “extra wide” heat pipes. The laptop runs quietly, too. Here is the thermal image after the MateBook 16s had been running the “heavy” workload combination described above for about 5 hours:
There are two UX features worth noting in the MateBook 16s, the first being the AI camera, which adds three layers of functionality to the 1080p webcam: background, which can be blurry, and a choice of three Huawei offers (living room, office, room meetings) or custom; Autofocus, which maintains the focus of people in the field of view; and Gaze adjustment, which adjusts the image to make it look as if you’re looking at the camera instead of the screen.
This is a more than necessary diversion, and frankly I prefer the IR support on the webcam to enable face authentication in Windows Hello. As it is, you will have to deal with a fingerprint reader built into the power button.
Another UX feature is the Huawei Super Device system, which lets you connect your laptop to other compatible Huawei devices – phones, tablets, and monitors – to share screens, files, and more. Obviously, you need to invest in the Huawei ecosystem to take advantage of the Super Device, but if you are, this is a useful bonus feature.
If you are looking for a laptop that combines a large, high-quality screen, good design, build quality, solid all-round performance, and a degree of portability, then Huawei’s MateBook 16s 16 inch 1.99kg fits many respects. I’ve taken up our main criticisms of the previous generation MateBook 16, which remains a good choice starting at £799.99 and is itself a separate GPU option, and possibly an SD card slot, far from being an unbeatable value.
Huawei MateBook 16s specifications
|The operating system||Windows 11 Home|
|Dimensions||351 mm x 254.9 mm x 17.8 mm|
|Show||16-inch IPS, 2520 x 1680 (3:2, 189ppi), 300 nits, 1500:1 contrast ratio, 100% sRGB|
|Colors||1.07 billion (10-bit color)|
|Screen-to-body ratio||90% (claimed)|
|viewing angle||178 degrees|
|touch screen||10 points multi-touch with finger gesture screenshot|
|Healer||Intel Core i7-12700H, Core i9-12900H|
|Graphics||Intel Iris Xe graphics|
|RAM||16 GB (LPDDR5)|
|storage||1 TB (NVMe PCIe SSD)|
|battery capacity||84 watts|
|battery charger||90 watts (Core i7 model), 135 watts (Core i9 model)|
|WIFI||Wi-Fi 6E (802.11ax, 2.4GHz, 5GHz, 6GHz)|
|links||2x USB-A (USB 3.2 Gen1), USB-C, USB-C/Thunderbolt 4, HDMI, 3.5mm audio in/out|
|keyboard||Full size, backlit|
|Fingerprint Reader||Built in power button|
|camera||1080p FHD (top screen)|
|My voice||4x microphones, 2x speakers|
|Applications / Features||Super Device, Huawei PC Manager, Display Manager (Eye Comfort Mode), Performance Mode (Fn + P), Huawei Factory Reset|
|in the box||Huawei MateBook 16s, 90W / 135W USB-C Power Adapter, USB-C Charging Cable, Quick Start Guide, Warranty Card|
|price||£1299.99 (Core i7, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD) • £1499.99 (Core i9, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD)|
Alternatives to consider
The standard for 16-inch laptops remains the MacBook Pro, which costs £2,399 / $2,699 for the M1 Pro with 16GB of RAM and 1TB of SSD storage. If you’re looking for the ultimate in portability with this form factor, you’ll want to consider the 1,199kg LG Gram 16.
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