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Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold (2nd Gen) Hands-on

In late 2020, I reviewed Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Fold, the first PC with a foldable screen. At the time, it was a very good idea, but needless to say, unusable. Today, Lenovo announced its second foray into the “next-generation” ThinkPad X1 Fold. I spent a few minutes with the device and I’ll tell you: I’m more than optimistic about it.

Much of this new X1 Fold is familiar not only to the previous X1 Fold, but also to the ThinkPad line in general. The device is outfitted in the series’ standard black and red color scheme with the ThinkPad X1 logo prominent on the lid. There’s a ThinkPad-style keyboard with trackpoint and inverted-T arrow keys. It is well built, solid and elegant.

But some changes have been made and I think they are correct.

Every major issue I had with the original X1 Fold was in some way related to its 13.3-inch size. The 13-inch is fine for use as a tablet, but when folded into laptop mode (a big part of the appeal of foldable screens like this), it’s too small to be practical for everyday use.

The second-generation device is 16 inches, a 22 percent increase in size. (It’s also 25 percent thinner than the previous model). Having played with the new device, I find it very practical. The screen is clearly large enough that I can navigate around my normal workflow and keep multiple tabs open side by side.

ThinkPad X1 Fold closed on a white table.

Lenovo says it’s the lightest 16-inch business laptop available at 2.82 pounds.

A larger chassis also allows for a larger keyboard. The 2020 X1 Fold’s keyboard is well-made, but having to fit horizontally on a 13.3-inch device means it’s really cramped. Some of the keys had four characters filled in on them and I had to press three at a time to get the question mark to appear.

This new keyboard deck (which magnetically attaches to the bottom of the chassis when folded into laptop mode) is full-sized and backlit. I can type like I normally type. The keys felt ThinkPad-quality. I don’t need to say A lot Love it.

While we’re talking about the deck, there’s also a haptic touchpad on this thing. We’re starting to see more of these in Lenovo’s more compact ThinkPads, including the super-thin Z-series. I often find them a bit thinner than other trackpads, but this one felt okay. I need more time with it to get a full impression.

It says bar for touchpad So less The first generation was not large enough to scroll, let alone navigate regularly. It’s a clear improvement simply because of size.

ThinkPad X1 Fold in tablet mode with a Bluetooth keyboard in the display area.  The screen displays a merry-go-round image.

It makes a very beautiful picture.

Inside, the X1 Fold is powered by 12th-gen Core i5 or i7 processors with integrated graphics and optional support for Intel’s vPro business platform. Lenovo didn’t detail the exact models that will be available, but ThinkPads are infinitely configurable to the point of stressing me out.

You can get up to 1TB of SSD storage and up to 32GB of DDR5 memory with a choice of Windows 11 Home or Windows 11 Pro. There is an optional Wacom pen that attaches magnetically to the chassis. The screen is a 16.3-inch 2024 x 2560 touch OLED that shrinks to 12 inches when folded.

There’s a 48Whr battery (with an optional extra 16Whr “depending on configuration”) and no battery life estimate yet, which…scares me a bit, since the first X1 Fold gave me a charge in under five hours and had a 50Whr battery. Asus’ 17.3-inch ZenBook 17 Fold, also announced this week, proves OLED is foldable can do Can break for six hours. We have to see about that.

In laptop mode the ThinkPad X1 folds open and is angled to the left.  The screen displays a pastoral night scene.

Use it like this on your lap and unfold it for your desk.

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold is closed from the bottom in the demo area.

Oh look, it even has a port.

In the short time I used the device to hop on Chrome and watch some videos, it seemed to work well. That is a very good sign. I had a good time using the first-gen X1 Fold, but the experience had all kinds of hiccups, especially with the onscreen keyboard. Since (unlike some other laptop manufacturers) Lenovo isn’t known to ship glitchy software left and right, I’m looking forward to seeing how Windows 11 performs on this new chassis.

The ThinkPad X1 Fold is visible from the right side of the demo area.

They didn’t lie – it wasn’t thick!

And then there’s the elephant in the room: the price.

This device, if you haven’t guessed, is not cheap. It is expected to hit the shelves in November with a starting price of $2,499. Note that the stylus and keyboard are not included with the 13-inch model and add $250 to their price.

That’s, interestingly, the same price as the 13-inch model (and it’s a bigger, thinner, and generally more usable device). And it’s a lot cheaper than the $3499.99 ZenBook 17 Fold, the only foldable we’ve seen so far this year that’s even close to this size.

This could end up being a significantly better deal for foldable-buyers than the 17-inch Fold – though, we haven’t tested this thing extensively yet, so there could be all kinds of catches.

Lenovo X1 Fold seen from above on a white table.

I don’t expect this device to be perfect. While Lenovo has done its best here, the experience of using the device may have a lot to do with how other companies treat their software.

But when the Lenovo reps walked me through the device, I got the feeling they were really excited about it. I think they understand exactly what the limitations of the 13-inch fold are and are happy to have a bigger foldable screen. Perhaps in this new form factor, Lenovo can finally make the groundbreaking device they wanted the first X1 Fold to be.

The foldable future may not be here yet, but with each release, it gets closer.

Photography by Monica Chin / The Verge

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