Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold hands-on: big improvements inside and out

For 2022, the new ThinkPad X1 Fold features a brand new design and a much larger 16.3-inch flexible display.
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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, its software, performance and design were clearly not ready for prime time. But almost two years later, Lenovo is back with a second try and making some serious generational leaps.

The first big upgrade on the new X1 Fold is a larger 16.3-inch OLED display from Sharp. Not only does it have a slightly higher 2.5K resolution, but the larger size means you have significantly more screen real estate. But more importantly, when folded, you now get a device that’s closer to a 12-inch laptop instead of a 10-inch system like the previous model. This should make the X1 Fold more practical any time space is an issue, such as when you’re working on a cramped plane.

In addition, Lenovo has redesigned the X1 Fold’s Bluetooth keyboard. It now uses the same keys as the ThinkPad X1 Nano, so you get longer and smoother operation, and it also has a new fingerprint sensor that works with Windows Hello. While you can still rest the keyboard on top of the Fold’s bottom half in laptop mode, it attaches magnetically to the base of the system while resting on the included stand, which supports both landscape and portrait orientations.

Another big change is that instead of keeping the keyboard inside the Fold, it’s magnetically attached to the stand so it’s a single piece that’s easier to manage. So when you need to assemble, you simply tilt the stand forward until it sits with the keyboard, fold the Fold in half, and then fold everything back together. Lenovo says the change was made in response to feedback from customers who preferred to use the system as a portable all-in-one instead of a convertible laptop. With no more room for a keyboard in the system, Lenovo was able to install a new folding flat hinge, so everything is sleeker and more compact. It’s almost as if the X1 Fold has spent the last two years hitting the gym and wearing a new, custom-made suit.

In addition to the new design, the 2022 ThinkPad X1 Fold has outer panels made from recycled plastic bottles.

Sam Rutherford/Engadget

For the new generation, Lenovo also wanted to improve the Fold’s serviceability, so it’s easier to replace things like its SSD, batteries, and other components in the field. Unfortunately, the X1 Fold is still not waterproof, but it should still be pretty tough, as the Fold is subjected to the same mil-spec 810G test required of other ThinkPads. And despite the significantly larger screen than before, the new X1 Fold weighs just 2.8 pounds, though when you factor in the updated stand and keyboard, you’re looking at a whopping 4.2 pounds.

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

Gallery: 2022 Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold hands-on photos | 5 pictures

When it comes to performance, we’re looking at a serious leap in processing power, with the Fold supporting a 12th-gen Intel Core i7 U-series CPU, 32GB of RAM, and a 1TB SSD, all while featuring a completely fanless design. For those worried about the short battery life in the previous model, Lenovo made room for an additional 16 Wh power cell to supplement the standard 48Wh battery. Since Windows 11 has better support for different layouts and window snapping compared to Windows 10, everything seemed smoother and more responsive with the new X1 Fold for a short time.

So I have to mention that this is still a pre-production device, I really like what I’ve seen of the new X1 Fold so far. But we’ll have to wait a little longer until it resumes sometime in Q4, starting at $2,800, to get a real idea of ​​how this thing will hold up.

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