Samsung and Huawei each make an ultra-thin, ultra-light Windows 10 tablet with an add-on keyboard, and choosing between the Galaxy TabPro S and the MateBook isn’t easy. We’ve extensively used both these 2-in-1s, and can help buyers pick which is best for them.
Design and Build
It’s clear the goal for the designers of these tablet/laptops was to make the smallest computer they could, with the limiting factor being the size of the display. Both have 12-inch screens, but Huawei still managed to make its MateBook a little bit smaller: 11.0 x 7.5 x 0.25 inches and 1.4 pounds, to the Galaxy TabPro S at 11.4 x 7.8 x 0.25 inches and 1.5 pounds.
That said, the size difference between these is marginal, even with their add-on keyboards attached. These are both very portable computers, especially when compared to typical laptops. The fact that one is slightly smaller than the other doesn’t really give it an advantage in real world use.
The MateBook comes in either grey or golden, while Samsung offers the TabPro S in black and white. All look professional.
As mentioned, each of these has a 12-inch screen, and both use a 2160 x 1440 resolution panel, giving them a respectable 216 pixels per inch.
But that’s just part of the story. Samsung uses a Super AMOLED display in its product, while the MateBook has a traditional IPC LCD. This doesn’t mean the screen in the Galaxy TabPro S looks significantly better in a typical home or office however, because the real advantage of an AMOLED panel is battery life. More on that later.
When it comes to appearance, neither model’s display comes out ahead, as both are equally nice. We called Samsung’s offering “a beautiful display, with sharp text and images,” and said Huawei’s “looks quite good in an office environment.”
Here, Huawei’s and Samsung’s designers were on the same page. Each product has a single USB Type-C port, which they use for charging, connecting an external monitor, data transfers, and non-wireless accessories. Those who wants to use several of these simultaneously can get the MateBook’s MateDock which adds ports for a monitor, Ethernet cable, and keyboard/mouse, or the Galaxy TabPro S Multiport Adapter, which can be used for a monitor and a keyboard/mouse.
Unfortunately, neither device has a microSD memory card slot, though they do still include headphone ports.
Both 2-in-1s have roughly the same buttons, but only the MateBook has a fingerprint scanner on its right side that can be used to quickly unlock Windows; Samsung didn’t include an equivalent biometric security system in its offering (Samsung Galaxy smartphone owners can pair with the TabPro S to use the handheld’s fingerprint sensor).
Keyboard and Active Pen
The TabPro S comes bundled with a keyboard that can convert the tablet into a laptop, while those who go for the Huawei product will have to shell out $129 for the Portfolio Keyboard. Each of these connects to a proprietary port on the bottom edge of their respective tablets, so Bluetooth isn’t required and the lone USB-C portion each device isn’t taken up.
The actual keyboards on these accessories are quite similar, with 0.7 x 0.7-inch keys that have no spaces between them. The MateBook’s add-on includes a 3.8 x 2.4-inch touchpad, while Samsung’s is perceptibly smaller at 3.5 x 1.7 in.
Each of these cases can function as a stand, turning the tablet into a 2-in-1. However, Samsung’s is definitely more stable.
There are pressure sensitive active pens made specifically for these two devices. When we reviewed the Huawei MatePen ($59.99), we said it was easy to take notes with but not suited for artists. It offers 2,048 levels of pressure and a rechargeable battery.
Unfortunately, we didn’t get the opportunity to test out the Samsung Galaxy TabPro Pen ($79.99) when we were reviewing its 2-in-1. That accessory offers 1,024 levels of pressure, and is powered by a AAA battery.
The Huawei MateBook uses a dual-core sixth-generation Intel Core m processor, with a 2.2GHz m3 and a 2.7GHz m5 version currently available, plus there are plans to release a 3.1GHz Core m7 version. The Samsung Galaxy TabPro S 2-in-1 is only offered with the 2.2GHz m3 chip.
Samsung’s device includes 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. The MateBook is available in that same configuration, as well as 8GB/256GB and 8GB/512GB. Although 4GB of RAM is adequate, we judge that 8GB is better.
Surprisingly, the benchmark scores are different for the versions of these rival computers that both run Windows 10 on a Core m3 processor and have 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. On Geekbench 3, the Galaxy TabPro S pulled in around 4750, while the Huawei device scored about 4250. This isn’t a perceptible difference in day-to-day use, though, and those who want more power can get the Core m5 or m7 version of the MateBook. The m5 version scored 5550 on Geekbench 3, for example.
Bottom line, Samsung’s base model offers better performance than its equivalent Huawei one, but the MateBook is available in more and faster configurations.
Both these 2-in-1s run Windows 10, and they support the new Anniversary Update. This puts them on an even footing this this category.
Anyone shopping for a 2-in-1 should be aware, though, that the Intel Core M series of processors is designed for prosumers, not high-end users. It’s reasonably powerful, and it capable of handling software like Microsoft Office with ease, but those looking for cutting-edge performance in a very mobile device should look at the Core i versions of the Microsoft Surface Pro 4.
While these two have much in common, the time each lasts on a single charge is dramatically different. We did a torture test, with the Galaxy TabPro S continuously streaming video over Wi-Fi, and it lasted 6 hours and 14 minutes. In a similarly grueling test, Huawei’s Core m3 version went just over 4 hours, roughly 35% less.
Part of the reason for this difference is clear: the MateBook has a 4430 mAh battery, while Samsung put a 5220 mAh into its computer. Huawei may also have done some throttling, which would extend the battery life and also explain why the performance benchmarks are different.
The $699 version of Huawei’s product comes with a Core m3 processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD. The version the Galaxy Tab Pro S with this same configuration is normally $899, but is available now for between $699 and $749.
But that doesn’t tell the whole story; Samsung bundles its keyboard case with the tablet, while the MateBook’s is $129 extra. This means that the Tab Pro S works out to be less expensive, if it can be found on sale. With the Samsung model at its original price, Huawei’s costs about $70 less.
The m5/4GB/128GB version of the MateBook is $849, the m5/8GB/256GB one is $999, and the m5/8GB/512GB model is $1199. More expensive, but more powerful.
The Galaxy TabPro S and the Huawei MateBook are quite similar in their overall designs, their displays, and their software. But the Samsung model comes out ahead in some important categories: it has slightly better performance, a much longer battery life, and a more stable keyboard case. The MateBook is the only one with a fingerprint scanner, though.
Assuming the online deals for the Galaxy TabPro S are still available, then it’s the clear winner in this comparison. And even at its regular price, Samsung’s offering is very compelling and only a bit more costly than Huawei’s.
Only those who want a Core m5 or Core m7 model should choose the MateBook, but those people should also look at the Microsoft Surface Pro 4.