Grab an overpriced cappuccino from your local coffee shop and chances are you’ll be deafened by the unmistakable sound of clattering MacBook Pro keyboards. Apple’s defining ultraportable laptop has been the go-to choice for Photoshop professionals and sleep-deprived students with unhealthy coffee addictions for as long as most can remember.
Countless laptop manufacturers have failed to unsettle Apple’s reign over the years (read: Sony Vaio) and even Microsoft has had some difficulties in shifting its own-brand laptops from shop shelves and into people’s rucksacks.
As we’ve seen in the past, the key to cracking this particular conundrum is to try and ask for less than what Tim Cook and co. are charging, without compromising on features. The launch of Huawei’s MateBook X Pro is a prime example, and now Honor – a Huawei sub-brand – has thrown its hat into the ring with the well-specced, yet affordable, MagicBook laptop. The exact UK price hasn’t been confirmed, but the company tells us it’s looking to halve the price of the MacBook Pro, which is a promising start…
Honor MagicBook review: Keys specifications, price and release date
- 14in / 15in Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) display
- AMD Ryzen 5 3500 processor
- AMD Radeon Vega 8 graphics
- 8GB of DDR4 RAM
- 256GB or 512GB PCIe NVME SSD
- Pop-up webcam
- Fingerprint sensor in power button
- Honor Magic-Link 2.0
- 1 x USB Type-C, 2 x USB-A, 1 x HDMI, 3.5mm audio jack
- 323 x 215 x 15.9mm / 358 x 230 x 16.9mm
- 1.38Kg / 1.53Kg
- ‘Mystic Silver’, ‘Space Grey’
- UK release date: TBC
- UK price: TBC
Honor MagicBook review: Design, key features and first impressions
Despite sounding like a book that was annotated by Harry Potter and his peers during their studies at Hogwarts, the Honor MagicBook is much more than just a silly name. Like Huawei’s own-brand devices, Honor’s first laptop – available in both 14in and 15in configurations – is built with portability squarely in mind and it counts extremely narrow 4.8mm screen bezels among its selling points, with a screen-to-body ratio of 84%. It also weighs a mere 1.38Kg, which is the same as the most recent MacBook Pro.
Of course, the laminated touch display is at the centre of everything. No matter which size you choose, the MagicBook’s panel has a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution and it looks lovely based on first impressions. Viewing angles are great and it was quite bright, even in our woefully-lit office meeting room.
Both models use an AMD Ryzen 5 3500 processor with Radeon Vega 8 graphics and 8GB of DDR4 RAM. However, you do have the option to double the base 256GB of PCIe NVME solid-state storage to 512GB for a little extra cash if you prefer. Honor also says that the 56Wh battery on the MagicBook 14 hits to roughly 46% after just 30mins of charging.
As for connectivity, the MagicBook has one Thunderbolt 3-enabled USB Type-C port, two regular USB-A ports, one HDMI socket and a 3.5mm audio jack. The MagicBook also comes with Honor’s Magic-Link 2.0 technology, which allows you to transfer photos, videos and documents by simply tapping your Honor phone on the NFC chip below the keyboard.
Despite launching at the same time as the Honor 9X Pro – Honor’s first smartphone without officially supported Android – the MagicBook hasn’t been affected by the US government’s trade ban, and can continue using Microsoft software for the time being. This means that the MagicBook ships with Windows 10 and will receive regular security updates.
Honor MagicBook review: Early verdict
Honor is clearly singing the same tune as Huawei when it comes to MacBook-killing ultraportable laptops. It isn’t quite as feature-rich as Apple’s equivalents – it doesn’t have multiple configuration options – but Honor tells us that it’s going to undercut the MacBook Pro by half ($700) when it launches in the coming weeks.
Considering what I’ve seen so far, I reckon the MagicBook is going to be an absolute steal. Will it take Apple’s crown? Probably not, but I still think the MagicBook offers an achingly attractive proposition for the laptop buyer that wants Apple-like levels of quality but on a tighter budget.