With the ThinkPad X1 Fold, Lenovo has delivered the goods on the foldable X1 tablet we saw last year. It will ship midway through 2020 at a price consistent with a business notebook. And it’s 5G-ready!
Announced Monday at CES in Las Vegas, the ThinkPad X1 Fold will be priced at about $2,499. Yes, you’re paying a bit more for the versatility of a dual-screen, foldable notebook rather than a traditional clamshell form factor. There’s also a somewhat flimsy-looking $24 Fold Stand, sure to be improved if the Fold is reissued in a second generation.
Today Lenovo also released most of the specs associated with the Fold, together with some smart component choices that should reinforce Lenovo’s claims that the ThinkPad X1 Fold isn’t just a gimmick. Lenovo also separately announced the ThinkBook Plus, a laptop with an external E Ink display, as well as the Yoga 5G, formerly known as Project Limitless with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx chip inside.
Keep in mind that we’ve already gone hands-on with the ThinkPad X1 Fold and come away impressed. Lenovo’s take on the dual-screen Microsoft Surface Neo will begin with a conventional Windows 10 implementation, then upgrade to Microsoft’s own dual-screen implementation, Windows 10X, as soon as Microsoft ships it. Lenovo designed its own mode-switching software in the meantime, according to the company.
Lenovo wrapped the X1 Fold with a luxurious leather portfolio cover that includes a pen loop, to hold the new Active Pen that will ship with the device. Unfold the Fold, and you have the option of using it as a 13.3-inch “conventional” (2048x1536, 300-nit) pOLED display, held in place by the stand. Alternatively, you can use it in a more traditional clamshell laptop mode, using either an onscreen keyboard or letting each surface serve as a separate “display.” There’s also the option of something in between: holding it as a traditional “book,” for example. It’s all constructed with lightweight alloys and carbon fiber, Lenovo says.
Like the upcoming Surface Neo, though, the Fold also smartly includes a physical keyboard. The Lenovo Mini Fold Keyboard ships with the Fold and connects via Bluetooth. According to a Lenovo representative, the Mini Fold Keyboard is designed to actively charge when connected to the Fold itself.
The ThinkPad X1 Fold weighs 2.2 pounds. That's somewhat more than the Apple iPad Pro 13, at 1.6 pounds. The Mini Fold Keyboard weighs another 0.39 pound.
But what’s inside it? Lenovo’s still playing coy with the processor inside the X1 Fold, but the “Intel Core Processor with Intel Hybrid Technology” sounds a lot like Intel’s Lakefield, especially as that’s the chip inside the Surface Neo, too. There’s even a 5G option.
What we especially like, though, is the 50Wh battery, good for what Lenovo claims will be 11 hours of battery life. Remember, the display puts out only 300 nits of luminosity.
Lenovo co-designed the ThinkPad X1 Fold with Intel, paying special attention to the hinge. According to Lenovo, engineers from both companies worked through six different hinge designs and more than twenty different variations, finally settling on what Lenovo calls a four-link “torque hinge mechanism” that supports a carbon fiber-reinforced frame plate.
Lenovo also says that the “OLED display used in X1 Fold has undergone extensive durability testing to make sure it meets our usability criteria in terms of tapping, tracing and dropping,” including extensive screen folding cycles, stress tests and pen usage tests. We’re not sure what that will mean in the real world. Will it hold up as well as a clamshell? Will it mean the end of the traditional Windows tablet? How will it compare to the Surface Neo? We hope all these questions will be answered in an eventual review.
Here’s a fuller list of the components inside the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold:
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold basic specs:
- Display: 13.3” Flexible QXGA OLED 4:3 (2048x1536, 300nit) DCI-P3 95% Touch
- Processor: No specifics other than “Intel Core Processor with Intel Hybrid Technology”
- Graphics: Integrated Gen11 graphics
- Memory: 8GB LPDDR4X 4267MHz
- Storage: Up to 1TB PCIe-NVMe M.2 2242 SSD
- Ports: 1 USB-C Gen 1, 1 USB-C Gen 2, 1 USB-C (DisplayPort), 1 SIM slot
- Camera: 5MP HD RGB + IR camera
- Battery: 50Wh
- Wireless: 802.11ax, optional 5G/LTE/4G capable, including LTE CAT 20; Bluetooth 5.0
- Operating system: Windows 10 Pro
- Dimensions: Unfolded: 11.8 x 9.29 x 0.30 inches without cover (0.45 inches, or 11.5mm, with cover); Folded: 6.23 x 9.29 x 1.09 inches (27.8mm) with cover
- Weight: 2.2 pounds, 2.59 pounds with Lenovo Mini Fold Keyboard)
- Color: Black
Price and availability: $2,499, available mid-2020