Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold, analysis and opinion

Folding screens are the future of various types of devices and we tell you our opinion of the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold in this review in which we review the good and not so good of the first laptop with a folding screen.

Lenovo is one of the companies that has been taking notebooks one step further for years. We have seen it with their Yoga, with slim gaming laptops, and, above all, with ThinkPad X1s that are the jewel in the crown by combining strategy, portability, and power in a very compact device.

And taking into account the history of the ‘ThinkPad’ label, it seems clear that it should have been a PC from this family that would fly the banner of ‘The laptop of the future. And boy they have since the ThinkPad X1 Fold is the first laptop with a folding screen.

This is a huge advantage in terms of portability and productivity, as well as being extremely interesting and eye-catching, but as we will see in this ThinkPad X1 Fold review, the software and hardware must go to one if they do not want to offer a bittersweet experience.

Review sections of the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold :

  • Design: many laptops in one
  • isplay: a flexible, tactile OLED that looks great
  • Performance: power and speed with an off-site Windows 10
  • Keyboard and touchpad: 100% Thinkpad, but without ‘ball’ and conditioned by the size
  • Autonomy: a battery conditioned by the format and with USB-C charge
  • Conclusion: a promising future that I still do not see on the horizon

Many laptops in one

The ThinkPad X1 Fold is a device that turns heads right out of the box. Even having fiddled with folding mobile phones, having a laptop with this format is something that attracts powerfully attention.

This idea of ​​working with a prototype laptop is something that becomes evident when we start messing with Windows, but it must be recognized that in terms of design we are facing something spectacular.

On the outside, we have a leather cover (which could be synthetic instead of real, Lenovo) that hides a series of rails and hinges that allow that cover to slide when we open the laptop.

The journalist who had it before me treated him a little badly, pushing in some buttons and pulling that piece of leather that covers the equipment, detaching a part. If you buy it, don’t be so … curious, as you can charge it.

In that leather protection, on the back, we find a mobile part, a pin that will serve to place the screen on a table in horizontal and vertical format, as if it were a tablet with its support.

And closed it looks like a notebook with a very, very good finish and a spectacular touch. It weighs 999 grams, but it gives the feeling of being somewhat heavier because it is so small that we associate it with a notebook or diary and it seems more like a trompe l’oeil.

If we look at the sides, we see how Lenovo has solved the problem of folding devices. So that the two parts of the screen do not leave a gap through which dirt and particles that scratch the screen can enter, we have a keyboard.

As soon as we open the Fold we see the upper half of the screen that works as if it were the screen of a conventional laptop and a very, very thin keyboard that has a magnetic back and remains glued to the base (which is still the other half of the screen). On one of the sides, it has support for the pen.

We can remove this keyboard and, as it is Bluetooth, it will be able to be used separately to take advantage of the 13.3 “diagonal in the full format, but we will get to that.

The frames are thick and the finish is with a rubbery material. The thickness of the same is 1.3 mm on two of the sides and 1.7 mm on the other two make the feeling with this ThinkPad is like with the ThinkPads of yesteryear.

On one of the sides, it has a camera and an IR sensor for Windows Hello.

In addition, I do not like this finish very much because, in addition to having marks from so much putting and removing the keyboard, in the hinge area we have a more ‘soft’ finish that does not give a premium look. Definitely, it is a point to improve in future generations.

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The sides are made of plastic and here we do find quality material. And the truth is that there is little to say about these sides because we have two USB-C, a status LED, lock and volume button, four microphones, and dissipation slots. Nothing more.

I miss a 3.5 mm jack, but I understand that it is a necessary concession due to the thickness of the device and the distribution of the internal elements.

If we take off the keyboard and open the fold, we have a giant tablet. The leather protection covers the entire rear and the grip is comfortable due to those large frames (yes, they do something, although I would reduce their size and change the material).

And thanks to the tab that we mentioned a few paragraphs ago, it can be placed on a surface both vertically and horizontally without having to buy external support.

That is, what we have here is a folding screen that allows the company to create a device that is a 2-in-1, a convertible, and a traditional laptop, but all at the same time.

And that’s why I think this type of panel makes so much sense for the future since Lenovo itself brings together three of its product lines into one with this solution.

A flexible, tactile OLED that looks great

The screen is simply spectacular. This is a 13.3 “OLED panel when it is fully open and has a rare format for laptops, but I personally like it a lot.

Its aspect ratio is 4: 3 and, next to that of the Surface, I think it is the best for an office job since it allows you to have enough space on the vertical axis, something that you appreciate if you work on a split-screen with a text editor and a feed from a social network, for example.

The brightness is 300 nits and yes, we would have liked a little more, but in these four months that I have been with the ThinkPad X1 Fold, I have only missed a little more brightness a couple of times.

The contrast is spectacular, the color depth is typical of an OLED panel and it has a 95% DCI-P3 profile .

It has a Lenovo calibration tool to change the parameters of the screen with different profiles and make it less saturated, optimal for photography, etc.

The resolution is 2,048 x 1,536 pixels when we view the full 13.3 “panel. It is an optimal resolution that is split in half when we put the keyboard on top to offer a smaller screen with a resolution of 1,536 x 1,006 pixels. No, it is just half because there is an area on the hinge that turns off the pixels, just the one that you are playing with the keyboard.

By the way, obviously, when we put the keyboard, the screen area that is just below it turns off and, as it is OLED, it does not consume energy.

The panel is tactile and we will be able to use it with both the finger and the pen. However, I recommend you touch it as little as possible. And the thing is, the traces are very marked and since we are not facing glass, but plastic, it is better to have to clean it as little as possible, just in case.

The answer is perfect and the truth is that when we open the screen completely, the central bar that is on the hinge is not noticeable in the normal viewing angles to work with the laptop.

If we change the angle of the screen to put it in the shape of a shell on a table, but without the keyboard on top, there we do clearly see the effect of bending the panel, but on a day-to-day basis it is something that has not bothered me or the sight or touch when passing the pen or finger over that area.

If you want to see and feel the union zone, you are going to achieve it, of course, but it is something that you are going to have to ‘look for.

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We will be able to consume content perfectly and in very good quality, although it is clear that we are facing a team to work with and that is evidenced by its speakers.

We have a set of four speakers that achieve a correct volume, but that as a whole does not go beyond, well, well, that, to offer a correct sound.

And you may think that it is because of the size, but in an iPad, a Tab S7, or in the MatePad 11 we have a superior sound, and they are thinner.

Power and speed with an off-site Windows 10

We go inside because here we have a lot to talk about. Such a computer needs a special processor and Lenovo has chosen the latest from Intel with low power consumption.

It is a very low-power processor and a particular architecture with 5 cores and five threads with a frequency of 1.4 GHz and a 3 GHz turbo. They integrate LPDDR4x memory (8 GB in our case) and a 500 MHz GPU.

They are compatible with Wi-Fi 6, LTE and their small size mean that they take up very little space inside the equipment. For this reason, they are intended for conventional but ultra-thin laptops, as well as devices with a flexible screen or double screen.

On how it behaves, here is a table of benchmarks comparing the CPU of the Surface Go 2 with its Pentium Gold 4425Y processor that costs much, much less:

It is a team that does not stand out for its power, something that neither intends nor should we look for in this format, at least for now, but I think that if Windows worked well with ARM processors, Lenovo would have looked for a Snapdragon SoC for its X1 Fold, already that it would have gained in power and, above all, autonomy.

But hey, if we stick to what we have in hand, we are facing a fast team that defends itself well with day-to-day programs. I think the best use for this PC is with cloud applications and office environments, but obviously, you are going to be able to install something heavier.

Photoshop or Capture One works well on the X1 Fold and I found the temperature management to be very good. If you do not charge it while you use it, it is a quiet device and it does not overheat. Of course, when you use it while you are charging it, the temperature rises and the fan begins to blow clearly.

Performance is good, but the overall experience with the team has been a bit chaotic. With all updates installed and Windows 10 Pro 21H1 at the time of this writing, Windows continues to behave erratically at times.

And, the system is not made for this format, at least for now. If we are working in a format (portable, with the screen, open on a surface, or in tablet mode), Windows works reasonably well.

However, when we start to change the format, there are times when we put the keyboard and the screen that is under it does not turn off, or a green strip appears where the taskbar is, or the screen does not rotate or does not occupy the 100% when we remove the keyboard and want to use it in full screen …

They are a series of errors that are not serious (except once it did not recognize the keyboard, even though it had a battery, and Windows did not start because it asked me to have a keyboard, forcing me to connect an external one), but they are there and no longer just fog experience, but have sometimes made me angry.

Lenovo has included a fix to open tabs at default positions on the screen, but it’s a patch that doesn’t quite fix an obvious problem with the system.

Still, this is something that will fix itself over time and it is still normal because it is a unique device, but I would like to have installed my Windows 11 as an Insider user to see how the new system fits.

100% ThinkPad keyboard and touchpad, but without ‘ball’ and conditioned by the size

The keyboard that you are seeing in the photos is optional, since if we don’t have it, what happens when we click on a text field is that a virtual keyboard appears.

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It is not optimal for work, since neither the speed nor the sensations are the same as with a physical keyboard, and the truth is that the ThinkPad’s is very, very good.

It has a magnetic bottom and charges directly wirelessly when connected to the ThinkPad, but it also has a micro-USB 2.0 to charge it that way if necessary.

It is Bluetooth and we can work with it both attached to the device and separately and the touch is very, very good. The bounce and the sound of the keys are also satisfactory, but because the format is so small, there are keys that have up to four character options.

And speaking of small things, the touchpad is excessively compact. Obviously, it is logical and we need a touchpad in Windows, but it is not comfortable.

In fact, when I am typing (once I have gotten used to the size of the keys) I am comfortable, but it is an ordeal to have to use the touchpad.

On the other hand, we have a pen that is charged by USB-C and that has a more than correct precision, touch and weight.

A battery conditioned by the format and with USB-C charge

In the section of the battery, we do not have something as ‘futuristic’ as the rest of the set and we have a ‘battery’ of 50 Wh.

If I use the device in full-screen mode, I have for about three hours, and if I use it as a conventional laptop, for about five with balanced mode. And without putting a lot of cane, since I have Spotify, Slack, and a couple of Edge tabs.

For a laptop, it is not bad, but we are talking about a device made to live outside the home and I think that carrying an Intel processor, although it consumes very, very little, takes its toll. And, sure, the battery isn’t the biggest or densest they could have put in.

The good thing is that we will be able to leave the house with only one charger if we go on a trip since we can use either of the two USB-C to charge.

The charger that comes in the box is 65 W and it takes about two hours to fill 100%, although if you are going to use it connected to the cable for a long time, I recommend using the Lenovo Vantage software to activate the charge optimizer.

This prevents the load from exceeding a certain percentage when connected by cable to avoid degradation.

A promising future that I still don’t see on the horizon

We reached the end of the analysis of the ThinkPad X1 Fold and the truth is that it is difficult to assess and rate such an innovative product, so unique in its kind.

We have nothing to compare within its segment and there are points that affect the user experience, yes, but also a form factor that is spectacular and very versatile. When it comes to hardware, there are very good ideas. I like the back that covers the device, the plastic on the sides, and the distribution of ports, buttons, microphones, and air outlet seems correct and I also like that the hinge is very well concealed.

That the keyboard is magnetic is a great idea and, in the end, portability is the key in this device. It occupies little in the backpack/suitcase and when I have taken it out for a walk in my hand, it does not bulge much either. It’s a fat notebook, wow.

It performs well, the screen is spectacular and it is fast, but I would have put in better speakers and, above all, Windows needs a turn on the plate to finish being made for devices of this type.

It is an expensive laptop, very expensive, but it is also the first with a flexible screen and that is paid. I think the user is very niche, but if you have the money, they call you the Yoga, but the keyboard bothers you when folding the device to put it in tablet mode, this is the solution.

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