Mobile World Congress

Huawei launches laptop with a hidden camera, in case you’re worried about people spying on you

Key Points
  • Huawei launched the MateBook X Pro notebook at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, on Sunday.
  • Key specs include a touchscreen display that has very thin bezels, and a power button that doubles up as a fingerprint sensor to unlock the device.
  • The MateBook X Pro also has a concealed camera.
  • Huawei also unveiled two tablets: the MediaPad M5 and MediaPad M5 Pro.
The Huawei MateBook X Pro on display at a briefing ahead of the official launch.
Arjun Kharpal | CNBC

Chinese electronics giant Huawei launched a new high-end laptop on Sunday to compete with Apple's MacBook offerings, as it deepens its footprint in consumer tech.

The MateBook X Pro, unveiled at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, has a number of key features:

  • A screen that takes up 91 percent of the front, meaning it has very thin bezels
  • The display is also touch screen
  • A power button that doubles up as a fingerprint sensor. A user can turn on the computer and log on to the device in one press in just over 7 seconds
  • A design that is 4.9 millimeter wide at its thinnest point

One of the features Huawei talked up is a camera concealed in the keyboard. A user has to press the camera button on the keyboard and then it pops up. At a briefing ahead of the launch in London, Huawei executives explained that it was because many people are worried about privacy.

It follows the famous picture in 2016 of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg with tape over his laptop's camera.

Users can press a button on the keyboard of the Huawei MateBook X Pro to reveal the camera.
Arjun Kharpal | CNBC

Huawei launched the first MateBook X last year, its first laptop on the market. The MateBook X Pro is an upgraded version of this. The company has been pushing its smartphones aggressively and is now the third-largest smartphone player in the world by market share. But in the PC segment, it is not in the top five. Huawei is now hoping to make a splash in the space.

"That is a journey they need to start if they want to be in all device categories," Francisco Jeronimo, research director for European mobile devices at IDC, told CNBC in a phone interview ahead of the launch.

The analyst said that the device could be a way to attract corporate customers. There is a growing trend of "device as a service," where companies are renting devices from companies.

"If they want to start attracting corporate markets, which they want, they need to start building a story around the tablet, the laptop," Jeronimo said.

Tablet play

Huawei also unveiled two tablets: the MediaPad M5 and MediaPad M5 Pro. The first comes in an 8.4-inch version and 10.8-inch version. The second comes with a stylus known as the M Pen, similar to Samsung's S Pen and the Apple Pencil.

The Chinese firm already has previously launched a tablet with a stylus, and is looking to expand its offering. But, it's an increasingly tough market with larger players dominating.

"It is questionable whether there is much of a market for mid- and high-range Android tablets. Apple has locked out the market for premium tablets and Amazon dominates the low-tier," Ben Wood, chief of research at CCS Insight, told CNBC by email ahead of the launch.

"Furthermore, there has been little love for Android tablet optimized apps in recent years, meaning the app-gap with the iPad is wider than ever for consumers."

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