Lenovo Flex 3i Chromebook Review: Eat Sleep Flex Repeat
Flip it; Flex it; Flaunt it
- Lenovo Flex 3i is the latest addition to Lenovo’s family of Chromebooks.
- The Chromebook features an Intel Celeron 4500 processor coupled with a 4GB LPDDR4X RAM.
- We are going to have a detailed look at the Lenovo Flex 3i Chromebook and help you make the right purchase decision.
Chromebooks have been widely popular in the US and the UK for some time, but there is still much to be said about them, especially in India. In fact, many people in India do not even consider Chromebooks when thinking about computers.
While there is no concrete evidence as to why Chromebooks are not as popular in India, I think it has a lot to do with the limited options available. But with the steady rise in demand for laptops due to the global pandemic and the shift to online means of communication, many brands have started to launch their Chromebooks in the country.
The latest addition to this lineup of entry-level Chromebooks is the Lenovo Flex 3i.
We have been using this Chromebook for a little over a week now, and here is our Lenovo Flex 3i review.
Build and Design
Let us start with the build and design of the Lenovo Flex 3i Chromebook. Lenovo claims that the Chromebook is made entirely of PC-ABS, a polycarbonate, and ABS plastic blend. But, to be honest, I was skeptical before I got my hands on the device since laptops are in the sub-Rs. 30,000 (~$400) price segment are not known for their build quality.
But I am happy to report that even though the laptop is made of plastic, it’s pretty well built. The laptop feels good and chunky in hand, and overall the Flex 3i Chromebook conveys a sense of solidity.
Still, it’s not perfect. The top case has a bit of flex (no pun intended), so you have to be a bit careful, but still, it’s not a deal-breaker.
Although the notebook only weighs 1.2 kg, it’s not the thinnest, and you do feel some weight when you hold it in your hand. Still, I had no problems carrying the notebook on the go or while working at my favorite coffee store with a cup of hot coffee.
The Chromebook also looks very high-end for a sub-Rs 30,000 notebook. The top lid has a two-tone finish with a nicely engraved Lenovo logo. A rubberized strip on the bottom of the device improves the grip when it is placed on a desk.
Another highlight of the design is the 360-degree folding hinge, and yes, you guessed it right. Thanks to the hinge and the touchscreen support on display, you can flip the screen all the way around and use the device as a tablet. Wonder why no Yoga branding on this, Lenovo?
All in all, I really like the build quality and design of the Lenovo Flex 3i Chromebook.
Ports and Connectivity
Fortunately, Lenovo has not compromised on ports and connectivity in a time when many high-end notebooks skimp on ports.
Although this is a budget Chromebook, the port selection is pretty good for the price. On the left side, there is a USB-C 3.2 Gen 1 port for charging, a USB Type-A 3.2 Gen 1 port, a 3.5 mm headphone jack, and an SD card reader.
On the right side is a Kensington Lock port, followed by a second USB Type-A port and a full-size HDMI 1.4 port. However, an additional Type-C port on the right would have just been the icing on the cake.
The brand has also placed a physical power button and volume rocker on the right side below the second USB Type-A port for easier access.
As for connectivity, the Chromebook supports both 2.4/5 GHz WiFi bands, and I had no issues with the Flex 3i’s WiFi connection and speed.
The device also supports the Bluetooth 5.0 standard, making pairing Bluetooth devices a breeze.
The Lenovo Flex 3i Chromebook features a compact 11.6-inch display HD with a resolution of 1366*768 pixels. Although the Chromebook’s display is pretty decent, I think it’s about time that manufacturers start using displays with higher resolution and slimmer edges.
I could clearly see the pixels on display, and the text did not look very sharp either. Also, the thick bezels around the display are the final nail in the coffin.
As mentioned earlier, the Chromebook can be flipped around thanks to the 360-degree hinge, and Lenovo has hit the bull’s eye in this regard. The hinge works flawlessly for the most part, and there is a satisfying amount of resistance when you close the laptop lid. As a result, you can set the notebook up at various angles and watch the latest Money Heist Season 5 at your leisure while lying in bed on Sunday night.
The flip side of the coin is that the display is touch-sensitive, and it works surprisingly well. In addition, all taps and touches are registered flawlessly, which enhances the overall experience of the Chromebook in tablet mode.
Using the device outdoors was also no problem, thanks to 250 nits of brightness.
Let us address the elephant in the room – the performance of the Chromebook. Google designed Chrome OS to run smoothly on low-end hardware, and the Flip 3i meets that requirement.
The laptop is powered by an Intel Celeron N4500 processor clocked at 1.10GHz, along with 4 GB of soldered LPDDR4X Ram and 128GB of EMMC 5.1 storage. While these specs would have been devastating on a Windows laptop in 2021, it works pretty well on a Chromebook, but it’s not for everyone.
Suppose you are a student or a person looking for a laptop to surf the Web, write a series of emails, or participate in online lectures/meetings via Google Meet or Microsoft Teams. In that case, the Lenovo Flex 3i will not disappoint. The Chromebooks can handle all of these tasks without breaking a sweat.
Part of my workflow involves always having at least eight to ten Chrome tabs open for writing and research, and the Chromebook exceeded my expectations. In addition, I had no problems using the notebook as my daily companion, which says a lot about its performance.
It starts to struggle when you put more stress on the notebook while gaming or photo editing, so keep that in mind.
However, memory management was average at best, and I struggled with frequent app reloads when using the Chromebook. The boot times are also phenomenal, taking just 8 seconds to boot from dead.
Battery Life and Charging
By far, my favorite thing about the Lenovo Flex 3i Chromebook is the battery life. The brand claims that the Chromebook will last 10 hours on a single charge, which is mostly true.
The notebook is always ready to go, whether watching movies or typing for hours like a keyboard warrior. Idle performance is also exceptionally good for a notebook that is constantly connected to the Internet, so there are no complaints in that regard.
And there is nothing to complain about when it comes to charging the Chromebook either — first, the laptop charges via USB Type-C, which is definitely a trick up the sleeve. Second, Lenovo includes a 45 W charging brick, which took almost 1.5 hours to charge the Chromebook from 0-100%.
The battery life and charging of the Lenovo Flex 3i Chromebook get a big thumbs up from me.
Keyboard and Trackpad
First of all, the keyboard is excellent for the price. The keys have good travel and feel good to type on. I typed on the Chromebook for hours and had no problems at all. If I had to find fault with one thing about the keyboard, it would be the lack of backlighting, which makes typing in the dark extremely difficult. Note that the keyboard does not have a Numpad, which is fine considering the overall size and form factor of the device.
A good keyboard and a lousy trackpad can absolutely ruin a laptop experience. Fortunately, that’s not the case with the Flex 3i Chromebook. Although it’s a bit smaller, the trackpad works pretty well, and the trackpad gestures work flawlessly. In summary, both the keyboard and trackpad work great on the Flex 3i Chromebook.
One of the most important aspects of any Chromebook is Chrome OS. In the beginning, Google designed Chrome OS to be just a browser, but a lot has changed since then, and Chrome OS has come a long way, as far as Kashmir to Kanyakumari.
Many things can now be done natively on a Chromebook offline, and Android app support is just the cherry on top. Still, you should only consider a Chromebook if you are looking for a laptop to spend hours surfing the Web, watching a few shows on Netflix, making video calls to loved ones, or attending online lectures or meetings.
Speaker and Webcam Quality
The Flex 3i Chromebook has a 2-watt dual speaker system that performed pretty average in our test. The speaker quality is nothing to complain about, but it is not exceptional.
Similarly, the 720P webcam does its job quite well and has a camera privacy shutter, which is good. The physical privacy shutter is handy if you are worried about privacy when using the Chromebook.
Lenovo Flex 3i Chromebook Review: Verdict
Alright, should you spend Rs 28,990 on the Lenovo Flex 3i Chromebook? In my opinion, if you have a tight budget of Rs. 30,000 and are fine with Chrome OS for your daily work, including browsing the Internet, binge-watching shows, attending online meetings/classes; then, the Flex 3i is an easy recommendation.
It does a lot of things right, such as excellent battery life, a good keyboard and trackpad, and good performance on light tasks. However, it’s imperfect and has flaws, such as an average display and mediocre speaker quality. Still, you really can not complain about an entry-level Chromebook.
However, you can also save a few bucks and get the Asus Chromebook Flip C214, which offers similar specs, but at the cost of a weaker chipset. Then there is the HP Chromebook 11A, but its biggest drawback is the lack of touch support.
- Good Battery Life
- Nice build and design
- Smooth performance for light-weighted tasks
- Great keyboard and trackpad
- Responsive touch screen
- HD Display
- Sub-par webcam
- Average Speaker Quality
- Not meant for heavy-duty tasks like gaming.
|Build & Design||
Lenovo Flex 3i is the latest addition to Lenovo's family of Chromebooks. Is it worth buying it at an asking price of below Rs 30k ($400)? Let's find out in our Lenovo Flex 3i Chromebook review.