High-end build quality
Versatile folding design
Small keyboard and trackpad
Terrible battery life
About the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold
We tested a ThinkPad X1 Fold model with the following specs:
Processor: Intel Core i5-L16G7 processor (1.4 GHz 5-core with up to 3.0 GHz Turbo Boost and 4 MB cache)
Memory: 8 GB LPDDR4X 4267MHz RAM
Storage: 256 GB PCIe NVMe SSD
Display: 13.3-inch AXGA Foldable 2K (1536x2048) OLED touch screen
Battery: 50 Whr battery with Rapid Charge
Ports: 2x USB Type-C 10Gbps (one with DisplayPort)
Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6 802.11AX, Bluetooth 5.1, Optional Qualcomm Snapdragon X55 5G Modem-RF System
Weight: 2.2 pounds
Dimensions: 1.09 x 6.23 x 9.29 inches (folded) and 0.45 x 11.79 x 9.29 inches (unfolded)
There isn't much in the way of configuration available, though you can upgrade to 1TB of storage if need be. On its own, the X1 Fold doesn't come with the Lenovo Fold Mini Keyboard, but you can buy a bundle with the keyboard and Mod Pen for a bit more money. We tested the model with these accessories, and consider them pretty essential for the full experience.
What we like
It feels very sturdy, despite its size
In traditional ThinkPad style, the X1 Fold screams "premium" as soon as you take it out of the box. The outside of the Fold is covered in a leather cover that looks and feels fantastic, and while the entire machine is quite small—about the size of a hardcover book—it feels like it could take a beating if need be thanks to its thick chassis and rubber bezels. The hinge opens smoothly, and while we can't speak to its longevity—we're still in the growing pains stage of foldable devices—it felt very high quality during all our testing.
Not only that, but the folding nature necessitates an OLED screen. That means you get perfect blacks and stunning colors, great for watching movies or browsing through photos. It isn't the brightest, so it may not be ideal for work in direct sunlight. But for most cases, it'll look better than the typical IPS display bundled with many other laptops.
It friggin' folds!
Look, let's not mince words: the design of this machine is remarkable. Open one of these up, and everyone will be asking you about your baller folding laptop. Plus, its small size means you can pack it up pretty easily and take it anywhere, even if you're only carrying a purse.
The folding form factor is also designed to be versatile: you can use it as a tiny clamshell laptop with Lenovo's slim keyboard, unfold it into a 13-inch tablet for couch surfing, or use the built-in stand and an external keyboard and mouse to use it more like a small desktop. And I didn't find the crease to be much of a bother in unfolded mode, since it's barely visible when the screen is showing an image.
What we don’t like
The keyboard and trackpad are far too small
Here's the problem: as cool and versatile as the Fold's design is, it's not exactly practical. The slim keyboard that can be bundled with the fold is far too small for doing any real work since even basic keys are relegated to non-standard locations, making it much harder to type on. Not only that, but some characters—like the question mark—require the Fn and Shift keys to type, which is incredibly clunky. I usually write my drafts on the laptop I'm reviewing, but I just couldn't write this whole piece on that tiny little keyboard. For a quick email or two, it'll serve you fine, but that's about the best you can do with the included peripherals.
The tiny trackpad is arguably worse, and doesn't have nearly enough room to move your finger across the whole screen—especially if you want to click with one finger and drag with the other. Again, you can use it in full 13-inch mode with an external keyboard and mouse, but this setup isn't exactly portable, so it somewhat defeats the purpose of the compact form factor.
Those are the worst downsides of the design, but they aren't the only ones: the X1 Fold only comes with two USB-C ports (no headphone jack), one of which is situated on the bottom of the display, so you can't even use it when propped up by the stand. And while the machine automatically adjusts the screen's orientation based on how you're using it, it can be a little finicky when you switch from tablet to clamshell mode. That's a growing pain I'd be willing to deal with—the other problems, though, are inherent to the form factor and undo a lot of the versatility the Fold was designed to have.
Performance is subpar
We benchmark every laptop we review using a suite of different workloads, so we can compare each device's performance to its competitors. Unfortunately, the Fold is one of the weakest Windows laptops I've tested at Reviewed—with the exception of a couple duds, even the sub-$500 laptops we've tested have fared better than the Fold in our GeekBench CPU test. And forget about gaming (unless you're playing some simple tablet games from the Microsoft Store).
The Fold got pretty hot during those benchmarks as well, with most CPU cores hovering in the low 90s except for one which thermal throttled at 98 degrees celsius. That's par for the course for compact Intel laptops these days, but at least those other laptops have decent performance to go with the heat.
Battery life is paltry
Finally, we tested the X1 Fold's battery the same way we do other laptops that come through Reviewed's proverbial halls: we set the display to a moderate 200 nits of brightness, then rotate through websites in Chrome until the machine dies, to simulate a typical user's light workload.
We hope for at least eight hours of battery life in this test, but will settle for five or six if we have to. Sadly, the X1 Fold only achieved about three hours and 20 minutes, which is disappointing enough to be a deal-breaker on its own.
Should you buy it?
No. It's unique but comes with too many sacrifices at far too high a price.
The X1 Fold is undoubtedly unique and futuristic, and its malleable form factor is designed to be used in a myriad of different ways. It's durable, and it's a head-turner, but ultimately, it's not practical at all, and most of its flaws outweigh whatever versatility it's designed to offer.
All that would be enough of a disappointment on its own, but seeing as the machine costs over $2,000—with the keyboard and pen sold separately as a $250 add-on—it's not even a good value. It's too similar to a mid-2000s netbook to cost ten times the price of one.
If you like the idea of a tablet that morphs into a laptop or "desktop," you'd almost certainly be better with a traditional 2-in-1 convertible, though those are a fair bit bulkier than the X1 Fold. If you really want something that transforms back and forth, Microsoft's Surface Pro is a better device in almost every way for a far more reasonable price, and the Surface Book is another good alternative if you want a more traditional laptop form factor. Or, if you want a better tablet experience that can pull double duty when necessary, the iPad Pro is a contender as well.
I'd love to see Lenovo take another crack at the Fold, and these types of devices may very well be the future of computing—but it's definitely not there yet.
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Meet the tester
Whitson Gordon is a valued contributor to the Reviewed.com family of sites.
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