Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold hands-on: Big upgrades, inside and out

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As the first laptop with a flexible OLED display, the original ThinkPad X1 Fold was incredibly ambitious. It was also very experimental. While the concept showed potential, the software, performance and design were clearly not ready for prime time. But nearly two years later, Lenovo is back with a second attempt, taking serious generational leaps.

The first major upgrade to the new X1 Fold is a larger 16.3-inch OLED display from Sharp. Not only does it have a slightly higher resolution of 2.5K, but the larger size also gives you significantly more screen space. But more importantly, when folded, you now get a device that’s closer to a 12-inch laptop rather than a 10-inch system like the previous model. This should make the X1 Fold a lot more practical when space is an issue, such as when working on an airplane without feeling cramped.

In addition, Lenovo has redesigned the X1 Fold’s Bluetooth keyboard. Now it uses the same keys as the ThinkPad X1 Nano, so you get a longer and softer actuation, it also has a new fingerprint sensor that works with Windows Hello. And while you can still lay the keyboard on top of the lower half of the Fold in laptop mode, it also attaches magnetically to the base of the system when resting on the included stand, which supports both landscape and portrait orientation.

Another big change is that instead of storing the keyboard inside the Fold, it attaches magnetically to the stand to become a single piece that’s easier to handle. So if you need to pack, all you have to do is tilt the stand forward until it fits into the keyboard, bend the Fold in half and then press everything together. Lenovo says this change was made in response to feedback from customers who prefer to use the system as a portable all-in-one rather than a convertible laptop. And because there is no more room in the system for the keyboard, Lenovo was able to install a new folding hinge, so that everything is sleeker and more compact. It’s almost as if the X1 Fold has been hitting the gym for the past two years and donning a fresh, tailored suit.

Sam Rutherford/Engadget

For the new generation, Lenovo also wanted to improve the usability of the Fold so it’s easier to replace things like the SSD, batteries, and other components in the field. Unfortunately, the X1 Fold is still not water resistant, but it should still be quite rugged, as the Fold continues to undergo the same mil-spec 810G testing required on other ThinkPads. And despite a significantly larger screen than before, the new X1 Fold weighs only about 2.8 pounds, although you’re looking at a kit closer to 4.2 pounds when you factor in the redesigned kickstand and keyboard.

I also appreciate some of the little touches from Lenovo, like the addition of a third USB-C port (two of which support Thunderbolt 4) and an improved location for the Fold’s 5MP IR webcam to make it more useful. Lenovo even added a third speaker so that regardless of orientation, you still get full stereo audio with support for Dolby Atmos.

Gallery: Hands-on photos of the 2022 Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold | 5 photos


Gallery: Hands-on photos of the 2022 Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold | 5 photos

In terms of performance, we’re looking at a serious leap in processing power, with the Fold supporting up to a 12th-gen Intel Core i7 U-series CPU, 32GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD, while still sporting a completely fanless design. For those concerned about the short battery life of the previous model, Lenovo has made room for an optional 16Wh power cell to complement the standard 48Wh battery. And because Windows 11 offers much better support for different layouts and window clicks compared to Windows 10, everything from my short time with the new X1 Fold felt significantly smoother and more responsive.

So while I should mention that this is still a pre-production device, I really like what I’ve seen of the new X1 Fold so far. But to get a real sense of how this thing is going to hold up, we’re going to have to wait a little longer until it kicks off sometime in the fourth quarter, starting at about $2,800.

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The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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