Review Verdict: Huawei has refreshed their excellent 15-inch MateBook D15 for 2021 in the Philippines. The new model now comes with Intel guts and serves as a good alternative to the AMD-powered models unveiled earlier this year.
- Sleek design
- Integrated fingerprint scanner
- Good battery life
- So-so battery life
- More expensive than the model it replaces
Huawei’s switching chip manufacturers for its 2021 line of Matebook laptops, with the brand, completely revamping their entire lineup with chips from Intel. The brand has had great success with its 2020 models thanks to AMD’s Ryzen processors and Huawei is looking to replicate the same success with Intel’s 11th gen chips. Did they succeed?
Huawei’s design language for their MateBook line is well established by now: you’re getting a device with a metal chassis milled from aluminum, with very little in the way of branding aside from the requisite Huawei logo on the lid.
It’s a formula that’s worked well for the company ever since the debut of their first models, and personally, I find very little to criticize in the laptop’s overall design. The build quality is very good, with zero hints of play in the construction of the laptop.
The long and short of it is that the 2021 refresh of Huawei’s 15-inch laptop looks, and is built like, the 2020 model.
One recurring feature that we like seeing on Huawei’s laptop is the inclusion of the fingerprint scanner embedded in the power button. It’s a nice touch and makes biometric unlocks a breeze using Windows Hello.
As far as ports and connectors go, there are two USB 3.1 connectors on the right side along with a 3.5mm jack. The left side holds a single USB Type-C port that doubles as the laptop’s charging port, along with another USB 3.1 connector and a full-sized HDMI port.
The only thing that I don’t like with the port layout is that you lose a Type-C port when the laptop is plugged in and taking power, though the upside here is that you can use a power bank if it’s powerful enough to charge the MateBook D15 (2021) if you can’t find a wall socket to plug into.
The MateBook 15 2021 uses a 15.6-inch, full HD IPS panel as its display. You’re looking at a screen-to-body ratio of 87%, which is pretty good.
The screen-to-body ratio is achieved via the skinny 5.3mm bezels on the side and the top, which gives you more screen real-estate to work with.
Huawei also boasts that the MateBook D15 has Flicker-Free and Reduced Blue Light certifications from TÜV Rheinland for better eye comfort during use.
There’s no mention of color coverage here, so I wouldn’t recommend the laptop for anything requiring accurate colorwork like photo editing and video editing, though for normal use the colors produced by the screen are more than enough for the average Juan.
Keyboard and trackpad
Just like the other MateBooks, the MateBook 15 (2021) uses island-style keys that span the width of the laptop’s chassis.
And just like the keys on its older siblings, the MateBook 15 (2021) has excellent key travel and is very tactile, which makes typing on them a breeze.
The trackpad is nice and big and makes a satisfying click when you press on it.
The webcam is still in its old place, hidden in between the F6 and F7 keys until you press on it to reveal it. This allows Huawei to reduce the bezels of the display, though at the expense of unflattering angles during Zoom and Google Meet meetings.
Performance, software and battery life
Huawei has gone with Intel’s 11th gen chips this time around, with the entire MateBook lineup for 2021 sporting 11th generation Core i5-1135G7 processor, paired with 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage.
The 11th generation chip managed to beat the Ryzen 5 3500U that was in the previous model (that was also in the MateBook D14 that we’ve included in the comparison) but fails to put significant distance between it and the Ryzen 5-4600H on the MateBook 14.
In fact, the Core i5-1135G7 was beaten by the Ryzen 5 4600H in almost every metric in our synthetic benchmark test.
The only appreciable win that the Core i5-1135G7 had over that technically older processor of AMD was in graphical performance, which translated into better PCMark 10, 3DMark, and GeekBench 5 compute scores, where GPU performance is put at a premium.
This is all thanks to the inclusion of Intel’s new Iris Xe integrated graphics in the chip, though the better graphical score doesn’t necessarily translate to better gaming performance. The MateBook 15 (2021) doesn’t have discrete graphics, and while you’re technically getting better graphical performance VS last year’s model, you’re getting a few additional frames at best with more mainstream games like CS: Go and Valorant.
Battery life isn’t anything to write home about, as our YouTube battery drain test recorded a time of 3:40 minutes with the better battery preset.
Like Huawei’s other MateBooks, the 2021 version of the D15 also has Huawei Share, the quick and convenient sharing system that allows you to quickly transfer files from your phone to the PC. Take note that to use this feature you’ll need to have a Huawei phone that runs EMUI.
Wrap-up and verdict
Huawei’s newly refreshed MateBook 15 2021 is a mixed bag. It has many of the same things that made the previous generation great, but the switch to Intel’s 11th generation chips feels like a lateral move, especially considering Huawei’s other offerings in the same space.
The MateBook 14 (2020) for example, offers a better-performing CPU that delivers slightly worse GPU performance but better metrics across the board, including double the battery life.
Sure you’re getting a slightly smaller display, but the 14-inch panel is sharper and is more color-accurate. It’s also a few thousand pesos cheaper than the MateBook D15 2021, making it a better buy all-around.