So it has been a while since I reviewed a full-size laptop or even, for that matter, a small one! I typically gravitate toward the more compact and light style of laptops as I rank portability as more important than screen real estate. The last one I used was the Dell XPS 15 that I took to Berlin for IFA in 2018.
However, as time has gone on 15″ laptops have become more compact and are being built with better designs to allow them to become thinner and lighter. So, I thought it was about time I took another look.
My chosen target to entice me back into the world of thin and light 15.6″ laptops was a simple choice really, as it is one of the cheapest that is also affordable.
We are of course talking about the newly launched Honor MagicBook Pro. This laptop shares a lot of its features with Honor’s stablemate and parent brand Huawei. They have their own lineup of MateBook Pro devices. That is not a bad thing as it allows a lot of buying power for the company when it comes to the components and you can use the same design templates between the brands as well. Now, I am not saying that this what has been done here, but the new Matebook D 15 does bear a similarity or two to the MagicBook Pro I am now writing this on!
What Honor has done with the MagicBook Pro is really quite impressive, the build is solid and still lightweight. If you are a person who demands a full aluminium exterior body and keyboard deck, then you might as well stop reading now because you don’t get that here. What you do get is an extremely solid plastic build that does feel good under the hand and has very little in the way of flex.
The keys are comfortable to type on having a good amount of travel to them, especially when you consider how thin the laptop is. The trackpad is nice and smooth and seems to be accurate. It also seems to have good rejection software on board as so far I have not had any occasions when it has caused my cursor to jump across the screen.
I cannot say that I am a fan of the speakers that flank either side of the keyboard at the moment as I keep on accidentally hitting them when I try and use the delete key.
The eagle-eyed of you may have already figured out that I am in fact using German configured machine which may also be causing some of the typing issues. The laptop is so fresh to the market that they did not have any UK variants to send out to the reviewers! Don’t worry if you order from the UK you will get a UK Keyboard
Next up is the screen, which is glorious at 16.1″ across and 1920 x 780 resolution with a screen to body ratio of 90%. Yes, you read that correctly the screen has a 16.1″ diagonal but still fits into the size of a traditional 15.6″ laptop. The screen also has an anti-glare coating on it to minimise reflections. This works very well and makes for a nice display to look at. Colours are accurate with 100% SRGB being achieved, so nothing to sneeze at there. If I had one annoyance it would be that it is not a touch-enabled display like the Matebook X Pro from Huawei is. I understand the reason for not doing it but I think it would have nice to have the option of one with and one without and if you want to touch the screen you pay a bit more for the laptop.
Moving on from my petty grumbles to the ports options that we have on board.
This where we start looking good again. More and more companies (Looking at you Apple) are removing ports in a demand to get thinner laptop frames and create a slicker looking machine, well at least that is what they say in the marketing. Well, I don’t buy into that. I want my laptop to have the ability to plug more than one thing into it at a time without flappy dongles.
Fortunately, the MagicBook Pro doesn’t disappoint here, as we have 6 ports on the side of the laptop! On the left we have got two more USB Type 3.0 and a 3.5mm headphone jack.
On the right we can find USB Type C, HDMI 2.0 and USB Type 3.0. Sadly there is no memory card slot either full size or micro but I can forgive that as the SSD is a 512GB unit. There’s also 16GB of RAM so plenty in terms of storage. Bluetooth 5.0 is also present alongside Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac.
Another feature that is present is Honor MagicLink. This is nothing more than a system that allows you to use your laptop alongside your phone over a WiFi direct protocol to allow quick file transfer etc. While it is very useful it will be something I don’t use as I don’t have an Honor or Huawei device that are required to make this system work. If you do need this functionality then it is a very nice addition but not essential as you can use the Microsoft Your Phone companion app if you need this. Just bear in mind it is not as quick.
I am not going to dwell too much on the processor here as that will be done in the main review. However, what I will say is that we have got an AMD Ryzen 4600 CPU supported by an AMD Radeon RX Vega 6. This creates quite a good system but this is not a high-end gaming rig or workstation that the “Pro” moniker may suggest. What this combo does give, especially when combined with the 56WH battery, is a laptop that has plenty of power but will last longer than the Intel counterpart.
In going with AMD, Honor has taken some bold decisions. Battery life has been one of their priorities with this laptop as I think their marketing is going to be pushing this towards students and younger professionals. This keeps it in line with the company mantra from years ago of “For The Brave”.
As such we have got a fast charging via the aforementioned USB Type C port but it doesn’t have Thunderbolt capability, so you cannot hook this up to an external graphics card for example or daisy chain multiple displays together. You do also get fast charging with a bundled charger which is a big plus though not specifically related to the choice of processor.
Again though I think this falls in line with the intended market use for Honor, so I can be happy with that decision. What I would have liked to have seen is a discrete graphics set up, but for the price of the device I cannot complain too much. The Dell XPS 17 has this option onboard but I would be doubling the price even going for the XPS 15, which ramps things up to £1000 plus prices.
That about sums up my unboxing and first impressions for the Honor MagicBook Pro. I am going to use this as much as I can as my daily driver for the next month to see how I can get on with it. I am particularly interested in how long I can stay away from the plug but remain productive.
If you are interested in getting one of these laptops then you can buy them now and you will get a few freebies thrown into the mix as well. It is now available from the Honor store for £849.99 if you buy it before the end of the month.