I reviewed Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Fold, the first PC with a foldable screen, in late 2020. At the time, it was a very interesting idea, but not particularly, shall we say, usable. Today, Lenovo announced its second attempt, the “next generation” ThinkPad X1 Fold. I spent a few minutes with the device and let me tell you – I’m much more optimistic about that.
Much of this new X1 Fold will be familiar to fans of not just the previous X1 Fold, but the ThinkPad line in general. The device features the standard black and red color scheme of the series, with the basic ThinkPad X1 logo on the lid. There is a ThinkPad-style keyboard with a trackpoint and inverted T-shaped arrow keys. It is well built, sturdy and elegant.
But some changes have been made and I think they were the right ones.
Almost all of the major problems I had with the original X1 Fold were due, in some way, to its 13.3-inch size. It was fine to be used as a 13-inch tablet, but when folded into laptop mode (an option that’s a big part of the appeal of folding screens like this one) it was too small to be comfortable for everyday use.
The second generation device measures 16 inches, with a 22% increase in size. (It is also 25% thinner than the previous model). After playing with the new device, I think it is much more convenient. The screen is clearly large enough to allow me to navigate through my usual workflow and have multiple tabs open next to each other.
The larger chassis also allows for a larger keyboard. The keyboard of the X1 Fold 2020 was well made but had to fit horizontally on a 13.3-inch device which meant it was really cramped. Some keys contained up to four characters and I had to press three at the same time to bring up a question mark.
This new keyboard (which magnetically attaches to the bottom half of the chassis when folded into laptop mode) is full-sized and backlit. I could write it as I normally write. The keys were ThinkPad quality. Needless to say, I much prefer this one.
While we’re talking about the bridge, there’s also a haptic touchpad on this thing. We’re starting to see more of Lenovo’s more compact ThinkPads, including the ultra-thin Z series. I often find them a bit thinner than other trackpads, but this one looked fine. I will need more time to get a complete impression.
That said, the bar for this touchpad is so low. The first generation was barely big enough to scroll, let alone browse regularly. This is a marked improvement due to the size
Inside, the X1 Fold is powered by 12th generation Core i5 or i7 processors with integrated graphics and optional support for Intel’s commercial vPro platform. Lenovo hasn’t outlined the exact models that will be available, but ThinkPads tend to be infinitely configurable to the point of stressing me out.
You’ll get up to 1TB of SSD storage and up to 32GB of DDR5 memory, with the Windows 11 Home or Windows 11 Pro option. There is an optional Wacom stylus, which attaches magnetically to the chassis. The display is a 16.3-inch 2024 x 2560 OLED touchscreen that shrinks to 12 inches when folded.
There’s a 48 Watt battery (with “additional 16 Watt depending on configuration”) and no battery life estimates yet, which … scares me a little, as the first X1 Fold gave me less than five hours of charge and had a 50 Watt battery. The 17.3-inch Asus Zenbook 17 Fold, also announced this week, proved that a foldable OLED can be capable of shredding six hours. We will have to see about this.
In the short time I’ve used this device to browse Chrome and watch videos, it seemed to be working quite well. This is a very good sign. I enjoyed using the first generation X1 Fold, but there were all kinds of issues in the experience, especially with the on-screen keyboard. I can’t wait to see how Windows 11 performs in this new chassis, because (unlike other laptop manufacturers) Lenovo isn’t known for shipping glitchy software left and right.
And then there’s the elephant in the room: the price.
This device, if you hadn’t guessed it, won’t be cheap. It is expected to arrive in November with a starting price of $ 2,499. Note that the stylus and keyboard weren’t included in the 13-inch model, and those added $ 250 to the price.
Interestingly, it’s about the same price point as the 13-inch model (and it’s a larger, thinner, and generally more usable device). And it’s significantly cheaper than the $ 3,499.99 Zenbook 17 Fold, the only other folding close to this size we’ve seen so far this year.
It might end up being a much better deal for folding buyers than the 17-inch Fold, but of course we haven’t been able to test that extensively yet, so there could be all kinds of pitfalls.
I don’t expect this device to be perfect. While Lenovo has done everything possible here, the experience of using the device could have a lot to do with how other companies can get their software to behave with it.
But when Lenovo reps showed me this device, I felt like they were really excited about this device. I think they understand exactly what the 13-inch Fold’s limitations were and were happy to have a larger foldable screen. Perhaps in this new form factor, Lenovo can finally make the revolutionary device it wanted to be the first X1 Fold.
The foldable future may not have arrived yet, but with each of these releases, it’s getting closer.