MWC 2018: Huawei Shows MacBook Pro Killer, Large-Screen Tablets

Huawei has launched a “Pro” laptop squarely aimed at Apple’s designs, along with two tablets, with all three devices featuring larger-than-average screens.

At the Mobile World Congress (MWC) expo in Barcelona, the Chinese multinational also talked what it claims is the first commercial 5G chipset conforming to recent 3GPP standards, about which it offered few details.

Apple itself isn’t present at the conference and isn’t expected to announce new iPhones until the autumn, but a report late on Monday said it may be planning a handset with a giant screen slightly bigger than that of Samsung’s newly launched Galaxy S9+.

China’s Huawei, best known as the world’s No. 3 smartphone maker after Samsung and Apple, has said it’s planning to launch this year’s flagship phone next month.

MateBook X Pro

At MWC it focused on the MateBook X Pro, successor to last year’s MateBook X, with an all-aluminium design and a 13.9-inch 3K touch Gorilla Glass display it says fits into a device the size of a standard 12-inch laptop, taking up 91 percent of the viewing surface.

The new MateBook pulls it off by taking a cue from recent smartphones and reducing the screen’s bezels to a minimum. The user-facing webcam has shifted to the keyboard, where it fits underneath a function key. The camera only pops up when in use, allaying security concerns that have led some to tape over theirs.

The screen has a 1500:1 contrast ratio and an exceptionally wide 178-degree viewing angle.

The new MateBook weighs 1.33kg, featuring two USB-C ports and one USB-A, with a battery Huawei said offers six hours of usage on a 30-minute charge. On a full charge the laptop offers 12 hours of 1080p video playback or 14 hours of office usage, Huawei said. Its charger can support other devices with various wattages.

The device also supports Thunderbolt 3 and includes a headphone socket in a body that tapers from 16.6mm to 4.9mm.

The power button doubles as a fingerprint scanner that securely logs users into Windows 10, and the company says the Kaby Lake R Intel Core M device boots in under eight seconds.

The laptop also features a powerful sound system, with four speakers and the Dolby Atmos Sound System technology.

MediaPad M5

Huawei’s new MediaPad M5 tablets also focus on screen size, with 8.4-inch and 10.8-inch models that are larger than what’s found in other typical models.

They use the powerful Kirin 960 chip, with 4GB of RAM and 8MP or 13MP cameras.

The MediaPad M5 Pro features the 10.8-inch screen and stylus, plus optional keyboard.

Huawei has said it aims to become the top smartphone maker before long, and the company’s chief executive, Richard Yu, has said he thinks even the US government has taken note of the firm’s ambitions.

At MWC, Yu told the BBC he believes the US security services made recent comments depicting Huawei as a threat to national security because the company is “too competitive”.

Giant-screen iPhone?

While Apple isn’t itself at the conference, its products cast a long shadow over the companies who are, as was clear in Huawei’s presentation, which explicitly compared the MateBook X Pro to the MacBook Pro.

The iPhone X’s all-screen design was echoed in the show’s flagship smartphones, including Samsung’s Galaxy S9, Sony’s XZ2 and the Nokia 8 Sirocco.

A Bloomberg report citing unnamed sources shed some light on Apple’s possible plans for the autumn, when it may launch three new models, including one with the company’s largest-ever screen at around 6.5 inches. That would top the display of the new Galaxy S9+, which measures 6.2 inches.

Apple’s also planning an update to the iPhone X and a less expensive model with some of the iPhone X’s key features, the report said. The company is currently running production tests with suppliers and its plans could reportedly change. Apple declined to comment.

Samsung usually introduces new Galaxy Note devices in the autumn, so it may have a Note in the works with a screen larger than Apple’s reportedly planned device.

It’s been noted by a number of industry observers that high-end smartphone design innovations have increasingly limited themselves to incremental changes to components such as screens and cameras. The trend has been accompanied by a levelling-off in sales that saw a decrease of 0.1 percent for 2017, the industry’s first recorded decline, according to IDC.

The Apple iPhone X

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Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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