Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold Review – It’s about the ‘Experience’
A first of its kind product which will only get better
- The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold is the world’s first foldable computer that comes in a compact form factor.
- The machine comes with a 13.3-inch foldable OLED screen with touch input and stylus support, with the Lenovo Pen.
- The X1 Fold runs on Windows 10 and has special software features for the folding screen, including dual-screen usage.
- Does the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold show us the future of laptop designs? Let’s find out!
In the town full of slim notebooks, performance-centric laptops, and gamers with Manhattan-like desktop systems, Lenovo took a step in the direction many would dare not to. With the monotony in the design of laptop systems reaching a saturation point, a change was required. But how? Chip-implants in human beings with Elon Musk’s Neuralink so that we don’t need laptops? Well, that’s a talk from the future, but what we have in the present is the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold, a laptop with a foldable screen.
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold is the world’s first foldable PC, a device that looks as if it’s ahead of its time. Which would be the sweetest spot for your computer to fold? The natural answer will be the hinge that separates the screen from the main body with the keyboard. Now replace the keyboard with another display that performs as an extension of the primary screen. What do you notice? Your screen real estate has suddenly doubled. Now combine both those screens as a single panel with the hinge at the same position, the result is the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold!
The Magic of the Hinge
The ThinkPad X1 Fold looks like a screen when you pick it up at first. Weighing just around the kilogram mark, it feels fairly lighter than most conventional laptops. But that’s not where it starts. The first attempt of trying to fold the device is no less than ‘An Experience.’ After using so many laptops and computers, the screen remains one of the delicate parts that always carries a ‘Handle With Care’ tag in the back of mind. Now with this experience, you are actually going to fold a part of your computer, which you may have barely even wobbled, maybe at some point due to frustration. Yes, we are talking about that ‘Experience.’
When you start folding it, that’s where the hinge starts impressing you. The sight of physically seeing the screen of your computer bend, or flex, can make any grown man act like a child. It can make some people nervous and anxious, which at a point, even we were. Slowly and steadily, you are watching your screen bend until finally, it shuts like a book. And after the first folding of the device, it may take a moment for that to sink in.
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold has a leather finish to itself, and on folding, it legit looks like a writing diary with this texture. Now folding it is just half part of the experience. The real thrill is in opening it back. You place your fingers in the gap, try to open it apart, and the laptop turns its screen on. You can actually feel the entire screen that is folded in front of you. While your eyes have been enjoying this SciFi product in the real world, a hero is working behind the curtains making this possible, the hinge.
From all the engineering that went into making this possible, the hinge makes its presence feel non-existent. Like, even on folding the laptop by holding just one side, there is no wobble or shake of any sort, and the screen folds perfectly in sync with both the edges. Even after being strong enough to pull this off, the hinge is easy on the hands and does not require much pressure to fold and unfold. The feel is just like a normal laptop, but the experience of being able to fold the screen is something to cherish if you are a tech fanatic.
The entire machine is military-grade certified for durability. As being a premium product, the ThinkPad X1 Fold gets dedicated customer care personnel for this model, with over 3 years of premium warranty support if you opt for it.
The Folding Screen
The highlight of the system, the folding screen, is a 13.3-inch OLED panel with support for touch input. With a 2K resolution, the display is sharp, and the colors are really vibrant. If we keep the folding aspect aside for a moment and just talk about the display, the color reproduction is great, and the sharper resolution makes for a good reading experience. The screen gets adequately bright, and we used the device at 60% brightness while testing it.
There’s no mention of any HDR rating, and the refresh rate here is 60Hz. But this isn’t just any regular panel; it is an OLED folding screen with touch input! We had the Lenovo Pen and Keyboard with our unit. In India, the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Fold comes bundled with the keyboard as default, with the Pen being sold separately. First, the touch. The screen is as responsive as your smartphone and detects the touch from your finger accurately. So if you decide to use this system as an all-touch unit, the panel can deliver you a premium experience.
With the pen, or stylus, or whatever you may like to call it, it’s a proper digitizer that detects the pen’s tip when you hover it over the screen. The sensitivity is very similar to that of your touch input. Still, the pen provides you the advantage of pinpoint accuracy while tapping, something that helps while editing photos, taking notes, etc. Also, you can use a pen to draw and even take notes on your X1 Fold. Both of which can be done with the pen and your fingers too!
The only grudge about the foldable display is the crease. This is something which almost every folding screen is susceptible to where the folding area gives a slight jelly-like effect. However, it’s not noticeable much when the device is opened straight and can catch eyes only if you decide to poke deeper into it with your sight. Elsewise, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold display gives your eyes a treat with its colors and folding abilities.
There’s also a retractable stand to the back, which can be used to place the device straight up on the table so you can use the entire screen, with the keyboard kept on your table. The X1 Fold remains pretty stable with this stand at a 45-degree leaning angle for a good view of the screen.
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold comes equipped with the Intel i5 L1G7 chipset, a hybrid chipset that is Intel’s way of taking on ARM. With a base clock of 1.4GHz with a boost up to 3.0GHz and Intel Integrated UHD graphics, the machine may not appeal to be a powerhouse. To sum it up, the chipset here is not too strong, not too weak, and sits on the edge of these two boundaries. While you may not be able to play AAA games on this, which anyways is not something that the ThinkPad X1 Fold is intended for, it delivers for regular usage.
Given the chipset, it’s surely not something one should push against with 4K video editing or games. Still, tasks like presentations, photo editing, and media browsing are the aspects where you actually enjoy the product. With a 512GB SSD onboard, storage is probably not an issue you may face. Being an SSD, the machine keeps the operating system and other installed software very fast and responsive.
We used the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold with Adobe Photoshop, which worked pretty well. The Pen does help a lot in applications like using the Lasso tool, the Pen tool, and selecting perspectives in Photoshop. With web applications in the Chrome browser for various tasks like Google Docs, Meetings, and others, the device does deliver a good performance. During media consumption, the back and forth skipping of videos is something that the X1 Fold handled pretty well, a region where machines with slower storage can be seen struggling.
If you stress the CPU, there is slight heat generation at the backside, which quickly gets dissipated once the device is set to idle. It also gets slightly warmer on the backside while charging. Two cases, which you can see on almost any laptop, are present here as well. But the heat dissipation is pretty quick, and the machine cools down to normal within minutes which is a good thing.
Windows 10, Especially for the X1 Fold
Originally, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold was planned to run on Windows 10X for maximum efficiency with the folding screen. But eventually, the device now comes with a regular Windows 10 Pro with lots of customizations and tweaks from Lenovo. One such notable feature is the Lenovo Mode Switcher, which triggers automatically when you fold the device. It allows you to use the entire display as one screen or split it into two screens and use them separately.
The pen can also be used to draw and type instead of typing on the virtual keyboard on the screen. Many such small integrations in the system from Lenovo’s side make the Windows experience on the ThinkPad X1 Fold much better. But there are certain issues with it as well.
The screen orientation sometimes gets stuck in either landscape or portrait mode, which requires a manual toggle (on/off) of orientation in the display settings. Also, the computer sometimes may not come out of the mini-computer mode after detaching the keyboard. These are some software issues as the ThinkPad X1 Fold is the first of its kind product, and Lenovo says that a fix for this will be provided soon.
Other aspects of Windows 10 are the same as the regular desktop version of the operating system. The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold tries every bit to make you experience the fold set of things with its tiny yet effective software shortcuts.
The Keyboard and the Pen
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold also can attach a magnetic keyboard and a Pen via Bluetooth. The keyboard is bundled with the X1 Fold in India, and you will have to purchase the Pen separately. Coming to the keyboard is very thin, and by thin, we mean it as it’s only 2 millimeters thick! The keyboard carries a good reason for this form factor as it is designed in a way that it fits perfectly between the two parts of the screen while it’s folded. So thin, yet so accurate!
However, the keyboard’s layout due to a smaller form factor can sometimes be a mess. The keys provide excellent tactile feedback on the keypress, and the tiny little trackpad also has click buttons for both left and right. The orientation of the keys can take a while to get used to due to their compactness. The distinctive alignment caused quite a few errors while typing. But it’s a matter of habit to develop once you start using it.
The Pen can sit inside the sleeve of the keyboard placed on the left side. It works flawlessly with the digitizer, and the tip gives a good overall experience even while drawing. Both the keyboard and the pen connect to the X1 Fold via Bluetooth and require a battery. But there’s a questionable choice of charging ports here. The main machine uses a USB Type-C port for charging, so does the Pen. But the keyboard has a micro-USB port for charging, and there’s no micro-USB cable in the package.
It would have been better if Lenovo had opted for the same port across all three peripherals or at least provide a micro-USB cable in the box. But, it is what it is with the keyboard. Complaints apart, the functionality of the keyboard is on point. The wireless connection works great, and the presence of shortcut buttons for emoji, mute/unmute microphone, set screen brightness, etc., are some good features to see.
Selectively Connective, No Headphones!
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold comes with only two USB Type-C ports. No ethernet, no USB-A, no headphone jack, and no display out. The compact form factor and the inclusion of new display technology here lead to the omission of quite a few space-occupying ports on the device. What’s disappointing here is that there is no support for USB-C audio for now. Meaning, you cannot directly connect your regular 3.5mm or USB-C earphones to the machine. The only way to connect headphones is via Bluetooth.
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold excels with WiFi 6, Bluetooth, and e-SIM support for 5G networks in wireless networking. WiFi and Bluetooth work absolutely fine, and we couldn’t test out the e-sim functionality as SIM card operators in India don’t yet support e-SIM cards for laptops. The range of Bluetooth and WiFi is exemplary as over 5-10 meters of distance, and the connection remained uninterrupted.
There’s also a 720p single web camera included, which is compatible with Windows Hello. So you can use your face to unlock your ThinkPad X1 Fold without requiring you to enter a pin or password. The stereo speakers on the device get really loud, and the sound does not muffle even at full volume. The secret behind this? This machine also supports Dolby Atmos, which gives you a 3-dimensional sound effect. Media consumption was a meritious experience on the X1 Fold, with the OLED panel and stereo sound.
The 50Whr battery lasts for about 4-5 hours when we use the ThinkPad X1 Fold on the balanced profile in battery settings. In performance mode, the battery life takes a hit of around 1 hour, but the system’s overall responsiveness gets a little better. You can also try to squeeze a few more hours with it in the power-saving profile. We mostly used the ThinkPad X1 Fold on the balanced profile at around 60% brightness, which gave us an average battery life of about 5 hours.
The 65W charging adapter takes around 90 minutes to charge the machine from 0% to 100%. You can also use the device while it’s kept charging, but that slows down the charging speed. The battery life feels on the lower side considering that it’s an OLED display which is considered power efficient.
Verdict – Should You Buy the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold?
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold does not directly compete against other laptops in the market. It’s that kind of a product which technophiles and professionals would be maximumly interested in, to possess its unique technology which in nature is first of its kind, at a hefty price tag of Rs. 2,48,000/- in India and $2,499 outside, this is indeed a premium product that appeals to a specific set of enthusiasts.
Lenovo has nailed it with a sturdy hinge and a great OLED display when it comes to the hardware part. The only section where the ThinkPad X1 Fold lacks is the software optimization, where there are a few rooms for improvement for multi-tasking, USB-C audio, and more. Since the hardware itself is great, and Lenovo’s word to fix these tiny issues with updates, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold is one such laptop that everyone would like to add to their collection. But for the market of folding computers, it’s all up and ahead from here as the technology will keep getting better!
Before we sum up the review, here’s are some tips about the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold.
Does the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold go beyond 180-degrees like a convertible?
Should you try folding it beyond 180-degrees?
Did we try folding the machine in unusual ways?
Absolutely no way whatsoever.
- Vibrant and sharp display
- Folding screen uniqueness
- Great hinge mechanism
- Dolby enabled speakers
- Very pricey!
- Software needs refinement
- Lack of I/O ports
- The keyboard layout is a little mess
- Battery life could have been better
|Build & Design||
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold definitely is a step towards innovation and nails it in the hardware section. Even after being a first-gen product, the hinge and display are very refined. With improvements in software, the X1 Fold can become a great device for multi-tasking with a premium experience. It also serves as a great collectible for geeks!