Review of the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold 16: This adaptable, foldable OLED device is too expensive

Review of the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold 16: This adaptable, foldable OLED device is too expensive

When the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold 16 Gen 1 ($2,499, available here) is opened, it unfolds into a substantial, black book that appears professional. However, the 16-inch OLED touchscreen is a sight to behold.

The ThinkPad X1 Fold 16’s gorgeous OLED touchscreen is the main attraction, and every feature is made to ensure you can use it in a way that suits your needs.

A brief setup tutorial for the folding 16-inch screen on the Lenovo X1 Fold is included with the device, so users may easily use it as a tablet or laptop. Its onscreen keyboard is passable but cumbersome to type on, so if you want to avoid that, you’ll have to shell out more cash for a Bluetooth keyboard.

That captures a lot of the experience of attempting to use the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold 16 as a conventional laptop. Because of its weight, folding form, and lack of ports, it’s a little more difficult to use than many of the best laptops if all you want to do is whip it open on the train to finish some homework or send off some emails.

However, the ThinkPad X1 Fold 16 has a lot to offer if you’re looking for an elegant folding PC that can be used as a tablet, laptop, or anywhere in between. I’ve started to recognize the areas in which this compact PC excels after using one for both business and pleasure. In this review, I’ll take you through the pros and cons of owning a Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold 16 Gen 1.

SPECS

Row 0 – Cell 0Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold 16 Gen 1Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold 16 Gen 1 (as reviewed)
Price$2,499$2,946
Display16.3-inch (2560×2024) OLED touchscreen16.3-inch (2560×2024) OLED touchscreen
CPUIntel Core i5-1240UIntel Core i7-1250U
GPUIntel Iris Xe integrated graphicsIntel Iris Xe integrated graphics
RAM16GB16GB
Storage256GB512GB
Ports2x. Thunderbolt 4, 1x USB-C2x. Thunderbolt 4, 1x USB-C
Dimensions13.61 x 10.87 x 0.34 inches13.61 x 10.87 x 0.34 inches
Weight2.82 pounds2.82 pounds

Although the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold 16 is rather quick for a foldable laptop, it is still limited to performing simple tasks like web browsing, light gaming, and office work.

This is most likely a result of the earlier versions of some of Intel’s less powerful CPUs being marketed with it. Even while our review device had a somewhat more potent CPU than the ThinkPad X1 Fold 16 entry-level model, it still had trouble holding its own against laptops that cost around the same during our tests.

Poor performance

Though it still struggles to perform tasks beyond simple office work, web browsing, and light gaming, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold 16 is fairly quick for a foldable laptop.

This is most likely because some of Intel’s less powerful CPUs are sold alongside older models. Even while the review machine we received had a somewhat more powerful CPU than the ThinkPad X1 Fold 16 entry-level model, it still had trouble competing successfully in our tests against laptops that cost equal amounts of money.

We put the X1 Fold 16 through our rigorous testing program as soon as we received it, and the results showed that it lags behind the competition. I put together a comparison of the testing results with our recent reviews of the $3,399 Dell XPS 16 and the $1,669 MacBook Air 15-inch M3 to help you understand what I mean.

The graphic above illustrates how the ThinkPad X1 Fold 16 falls short of the competitors in every category. In Geekbench 6’s single-core CPU test, the 12th Gen Intel Core i7-1250U CPU did enough to nearly tie the 14th Gen Intel Core Ultra 7 chip in our Dell XPS 16 review unit, but in the end, it was unable to overtake it.

This is important if you intend to use this laptop for intensive work, such as intensive multitasking, picture and video editing, or coding. As an example, the X1 Fold 16 performed shockingly slowly in our in-house video editing test, which times how long the laptop takes to transcode a 4K film down to 1080p using Handbrake. It took two or three times as long as the premium laptops from Apple and Dell to finish the same operation.

Limited ports inconveniently placed

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold 16 is equipped with just three USB-C connectors. There are three USB-C 3.2 ports and two Thunderbolt 4 ports.

That is to be expected considering the 0.34-inch thick foldable’s size restrictions, but it still limits the usefulness of your peripherals and accessories. While using it at a desk, you can increase its usefulness by connecting an adapter or USB hub, but that gets annoying when you try to handle it like a tablet or fumble with the fold to change the laptop’s configuration.

The port’s somewhat uncomfortable placement is the second problem. There are numerous ways to arrange and use the ThinkPad X1 Fold 16. However, if we consider the short edge, which houses the 5MP webcam, to be the “top” of the laptop, there are three ports: one on the top, one on the left, and one on the right.

If you’re using it as a regular clamshell laptop, that arrangement is rather simple; but, if you need to use the top-facing port in this configuration, it looks a little awkward.

However, you frequently have to give up one of this laptop’s few ports to fully utilize its adaptability. You lose access to the port on the long side facing the desk, for example, if you arrange it like a landscape painting or a propped-up book. Additionally, the port on the short edge is either oriented toward the desk or positioned so high that a cable coming out of it runs the risk of unbalancing and tipping the entire laptop if you arrange it like a tall vertical mirror.

Although extremely pricey, peripherals are essential for complete functionality.

This laptop’s versatility is one of its main advantages, but to fully utilize it, you’ll need a Bluetooth keyboard, a stand, and an active stylus.

Of course, Lenovo will gladly sell you some if you don’t already have any, and from my experience with the Precision Pen ($69) and Keyboard Folio ($299), I can attest to their excellent functionality.

The only issue is that, given how essential they are to fully utilize this laptop, they are a little pricey. Although the stylus isn’t very expensive and isn’t necessary, Lenovo’s Keyboard Folio feels incredibly painfully expensive at $300. It’s a fantastic add-on that simplifies utilizing all of the Fold’s features, but it doesn’t seem like a $300 addition.

I must admit, after using it for a bit, that although the Lenovo Keyboard Folio stand supports the X1 Fold 16 well. To fully utilize the foldable this is essential. However, the remainder of the keyboard falls short.

The keyboard’s well-known red Lenovo TrackPoint nub is conveniently located in the center, but typing on the board itself feels flimsy and thin. Furthermore, I occasionally noticed that the trackpad was missing or misrepresenting my swipes, and it wasn’t always responsive.

Conclusion

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold 16 is a device I enjoy. It’s difficult not to because everything on the gadget, including games, movies, and books, looks beautiful thanks to the OLED touchscreen.

Another feature I adore about this device—which many foldables have in common—is its adaptability. Even though I keep breaking or wearing out that pricey, gorgeous display after weeks of use, it’s still a little unsettling. Although I can’t say for sure yet how well the folding OLED screen will hold up over time, I can say that once you start reading or watching something, the fold’s seam doesn’t stick out.

I still can’t endorse this Lenovo 100%, even if it makes the best case yet for me to give up my old clamshell and join the folding laptop craze. First and foremost, the cost is excessive given the quality of the performance. Additionally, the beginning price approaches $3,000 when you consider the additional $300 or more that you may need to purchase the Keyboard Folio and possibly a stylus, all of which are essential to fully utilizing this gadget.

For that amount of money, you can acquire a variety of laptops, ranging from powerful portables like the Dell XPS 16 or Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 to long-lasting ultraportables like the 15-inch MacBook Air M3, which offers an incredible 15+ hours of proven battery life, as opposed to the X1 Fold 16’s 7-8 hours.

These laptops now pale in comparison to the special features and affordability of the foldable X1 Fold. However, Lenovo’s most recent foldable has effectively committed itself to being an apparently niche product for well-to-do people who want a fancy folding laptop with a lovely screen because it lags so far behind the competitors in terms of performance or utility.

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