The Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Fold marks one of the first foldable notebooks to enter the market. While we have seen other brands showcase prototypes in the past, the company says that the Fold X1 is ready for the market and you can buy one today for R69,999. The Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Fold is a revolution in technology and every inch of it oozes innovation. However, for everything it does well, there’s something that I scratched my head about. Of course, when you’re paying R69,999 for a piece of tech, you just expect the best and the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Fold is just lacking in some departments.
Most of this is forgivable given that it is the company’s first-generation device. If Lenovo does decide to move forward with it then we might see the missing features being added in the future. We could also see a price drop (I pray to the heavens, please). With that being said, there’s a lot to love about the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Fold.
Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Fold Tech Specs
- Display: 13.3-inch 2048 x 1536 Foldable OLED panel / 60Hz
- Processor: Intel Core i5-L16G7 @ 1.4GHz
- RAM: 8GB
- Storage: 256GB SSD
- Wireless Features: 4G, 802.11ax, Bluetooth, 5G
- Dimensions: 0.45 x 11.8 x 9.3 inches
- Weight: 1Kg
- Extra Accessories: TrackPoint Keyboard / Mod Pen
Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Fold Design
If you have not figured it out by now, the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Fold is a fully foldable notebook that turns from an adorable, leather-bounded book-like notebook into a fully-opened 13-inch tablet and then into a laptop thanks to the detachable keyboard. The first time I held the device in my hands I could not believe what I was touching. It was even more magical when I folded it for the first time, scared not to break it. Honestly, at first, I was scared to even fold it completely closed thinking that I would hear a crackle and snap.
It takes a while to get used to holding and handling the device, that’s for sure. It is also pretty cool to show off to people. I showed my family and once I folded it in front of them they were completely taken back by it. If you take this into meetings, people will definitely take you seriously. Well, that is if you own a thriving company because that’s the only way you will afford one.
When it comes to design and form factor, the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Fold is incredibly light. It only weighs 1Kg and is less than an inch thick when it’s open like a tablet. As for ports, there’s a USB-C port for charging the device and other accessories such as the Mod Pen. Ports are very limited here so the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Fold will be like using the latest MacBooks due to it only having two USB-C ports. There’s also a sim slot for LTE connectivity.
On the one side, there’s the on/off and the volume up and down button. There’s also a thick bezel around the display which acts as a great place to hold the device in addition to housing the front-facing camera. The bezel is also a magnet which helps connect the keyboard to the device in a sort of “dock” manner.
The Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Fold is pretty pointless when folded up like a notebook. This position is simply to keep the display safe and carry the device around with you. You can also slide it into a bookshelf to hide it away from your annoying kids who can’t leave your stuff alone. When Folded, the device looks like a bulky book with some black jutting out of the side revealing the Intel Core i5 sticker.
As for the display, the screen features a plastic-like film over the panel which makes it possible to bend and fold the device. For those wondering how the seam looks, it is barely noticeable from a distance and is only present when you really get up close to it. Of course, the display reflection changes a bit when you fold it given the curvature of the screen. It won’t get in the way at all and the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Fold is designed to be used in ways that you won’t see the curve anyway.
The keyboard itself is great. The buttons are fairly large and after clicking the tray onto the device, it felt natural typing and using it. The trackpad is tiny and will take some getting used to. Thankfully, the device includes BlueTooth so you can use almost any keyboard around. This makes for a great way to stand the device up like a monitor and use a larger, more practical keyboard. The keyboard can also stay on the device when you fold it closed. This provides a more snug fold compared to when you leave it out. Neater in the long run.
The stylus is also fantastic. It is great for sketching and generally getting around the OS if you don’t want to tap the screen. It has over 4,000 levels of pressure and I could title the pen to change the position for shading. The Mod Pen is especially great when using the device in its kickstand position. The leatherback folds out quite nicely and has a snappy click to it to hold the screen up. The Mod Pen can then slide into the fabric holder on the keyboard.
While I get the practicality of the fewer ports, it is also an issue in the long run. There are no USB-A ports so sorry for you USB dongles. Then there’s no headphone jack either? Yes, there is no Headphone jack. I was also surprised. Lastly, the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Fold does not include a rear-facing camera. Yet another questionable design choice.
Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Fold Performance and Usability
While the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Fold is an innovation in design, the same can’t be said for the device’s performance. This is mostly thanks (or no thanks) to Intel’s Core i5 Lakefield SoC which is a new hybrid chip meant for mobile devices and ultra-thin laptops. This also means that the overall experience on the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Fold is just pretty sluggish and mediocre. For example, the Geekbench 5 test I performed had a score of 617 points for single-core. This is very low. Multi-core hit 1,699. But the proof is in the testing.
In short, you can do pretty much everything basic on this device. Web browsing with multiple tabs open ran like a charm and then adding a video into the mix or even iTunes which is god awfully slow these days, performed above my expectations.
The Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Fold also uses a full Window 10 experience which may contribute to the limited performance. Instead of using Home or a watered-down version of the software, Lenovo tried to pump the full thing into this device. There’s a good and a bad side to this. The good: users can make use of every Windows x64 app and program around including Photoshop which is most likely what you will use the most here. The bad, the OS can often feel slow due to it being tailored for more-powerful devices.
Getting around the experience is not that bad. A combination of touch, keyboard and Mod Pens make the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Fold a user-friendly device. However, at the same time, it is hard to overlook the drawbacks when it comes to the hardware. In specific, the keyboard will take a while to get used to. The smaller design means fewer buttons are included. There’s no number pad and the other non-visible keys are layered onto other keys. This means to get to a specific button, I often had to press the Shift+Fn a few times. This is definitely something one would have to spend days perfecting. At the same time, the keyboard is small so it makes sense.
General use of Windows 10 on the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Fold was pleasant and even with the CPU, I was able to do loads of stuff while multitasking others. The device is best used in tablet mode and Windows 10 automatically makes it easy to move one window to the left fold and the other to the right. It is fun. With that being said, it also proves how bad Windows 10 is for tablets. The OS is just clunky to use and getting around without trackpad and mouse is a real challenge.
As for the battery life, the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Fold was okay. The company says you can get up to eight hours of life here but that is a very long stretch. Probably while running it on battery saver with 10% brightness maybe. I got just under an hour of intense web browsing, Netflix streaming and this was all at 80% battery. If you are just watching movies then you can get around 4-5 hours out of this device. However, when comparing it to devices like the iPad Pro that can last over 12 hours, it is a letdown. Still, it does what you need it to which is great.
Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Fold Review: Verdict
The Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Fold is one of the most innovative devices I have ever used but the company still has a long road ahead. The overall design is stylish and sophisticated and the general performance is decent. Lenovo just needs to work on adding some ports that people will actually use, a rear camera and pumping that battery life up a bit. Just because it folds does not make it a better sell compared to say an iPad Pro with an Apple Pencil and Magic Keyboard which will cost you R30k less.
This Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Fold review was based on a device sent to us by the local PR. It is available in SA starting at R69,999. Find out more here