It was way back at CES 2020 that we first got our hands on the ThinkPad X1 Fold. Being the world’s first folding PC to actually come to market, the ThinkPad X1 Fold stole the show at the conference, which is no easy feat. Over a year later, we’ve finally got to spend time with the production model. Read on for our complete ThinkPad X1 Fold review.
Lenovo is no stranger to dabbling in experimental form-factors. Heck, they pretty much invented the 2-in-1 laptop category with their first Yoga laptop back in 2012. And in 2016 they unveiled the Yoga Book which was the first PC to use two displays, with one being an e-Ink display. Although it was hardly perfect, we really enjoyed the Yoga Book series.
Design and form-factor
Over a year after having played with the ThinkPad X1 Fold prototype, we’ve finally had time to spend with the world’s first folding PC. When we first unboxed it, we were initially smitten by its luxurious leather cover and relatively compact form-factor. Measuring 9.3 inches tall and 6.3 inches wide when folded, and 11.8 inches wide when unfolded, we say “relatively” because it’s not much bigger than a typical diary or journal. That said, with a thickness of 1.1 inches when closed, it’s thicker than your typical laptop. And when closed, because of its leather cover, its design reminds us of a clutch purse.
When it comes to hardware, Lenovo has pulled out all the stops with the ThinkPad X1 Fold. Lenovo says that the device has passed 12 MIL-STD-810G-rated tests. To that effect, the build quality feels excellent and durable. There’s no creaking when you open and close the device. So despite the fact that it has a folding display, we feel confident that this device and its folding display will withstand the test of time, which jives with the durable build that ThinkPad laptops are known to have.
When folded closed, the X1 Fold is designed to house its optional slim detachable keyboard in between the two sides of its display. The keyboard is held sturdy in place using magnets. However, we were shocked to discover that the keyboard is not included and is instead optional, and it costs a whopping $250. The keyboard itself is a bit cramped, and its 2.5 x 1.3-inch touchpad is especially tight, but overall the keyboard is perfectly usable and offers solid ergonomics, although it operates more like a tablet keyboard than a full-size PC keyboard. To put that into perspective, we got 41WPM (words per minute) using the ThinkPad X1 Fold keyboard vs 72WPM on our full-sized laptop keyboard.
The ThinkPad X1 Fold also works with the $99 Lenovo Mod Pen. The keyboard has an elastic holder along its right side which is designed to hold the Lenovo Mod Pen.
The flexible polymer OLED 2k (2048 x 1536) display on the X1 Fold is superb. It’s sharp with vibrant visuals, but it’s unfortunately not as bright as we’d like at just 301 nits, which is significantly less bright than the competition. The X1 Fold comes with the Lenovo Mode Switcher utility software which is used to switch between split view or full screen. We’ve noticed that some other reviewers have complained that the screen takes 3 to 5 seconds to switch between modes, however, our experience has been that it takes about a second to switch between display modes. Perhaps, this is because our unit is running in a newer version of the Lenovo Mode Switcher Utility software.
When it comes to battery life, we’ve been getting 5 to 6 hours of web surfing with the device. That’s not nearly as good as you’ll find on competing devices such as the iPad Pro or the Surface Pro 7.
The ThinkPad X1 Fold is powered by an Intel Core i5-L16G7 CPU and 8GB of RAM. Performance is fine for day-to-day tasks like web browsing and using Microsoft Office, but you can forget about using it for video editing or playing games, because it’s going to struggle on those kinds of performance heavy tasks. Ultimately, the ThinkPad X1 Fold’s performance doesn’t match up to its high price tag. You can easily spend less on a Surface Pro or the Dell XPS 13 and get better performance. To that effect, we used Geekbench to run benchmarks on the device which resulted in a multi-core score of just 1775 and an OpenCL score of 4765
ThinkPad X1 Fold review verdict
The ThinkPad X1 Fold is unsurprisingly pricey. But being a first-gen, first-of-its-kind device, that shouldn’t come a much of a surprise. It’s also quite apparent that Lenovo did not go cheap with the device’s material and build, so that does help justify the price somewhat.
But as much as the ThinkPad X1 Fold is cutting edge and certainly a vision of the future, it still begs the question as to who is going to want one at this price? Most folks with $2500 to spend on a PC, probably want to invest in something more powerful. And at $2500, even passionate early adopters are likely going to be scared off. That said, we think the ThinkPad X1 Fold is a really solid first attempt at a folding PC, and it’s the next generation devices that come after it that we hope will make a bigger impact on the market. In 2025, will the woman next to you at a cafe be typing on a folding PC? We hope so, and like with the original Yoga, Lenovo is paving the way with the ThinkPad X1 fold.
Pricing and availability
Pricing for the ThinkPad X1 fold begins at $2299, and that is without its Bluetooth keyboard which will run you another $250. We’re disappointed that Lenovo couldn’t include its keyboard at that price, and even more disappointed by how ridiculously expensive the keyboard is.