Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (4th Gen) review: Sleeker and lighter, but still excellent

thinkpad-x1-yoga-g4-header.jpg
  • Editors' rating
    8.6 Outstanding
  • $1,649.00

Pros

  • Slim but solid industrial design
  • Up to a 4K touch screen
  • Mobile broadband option
  • Rapid battery charging
  • Stylus (provided) charges in an on-device housing

Cons

  • 4K screen drains the battery
  • Proprietary Ethernet port requires (provided) adapter
  • Expensive

In Lenovo's world, 'ThinkPad' means a business laptop, 'X1' means a premium ultraportable and 'Yoga' means a 360-degree rotating touch screen to enable laptop and tablet modes, and points in between. Lenovo is now on the fourth iteration of its ThinkPad X1 Yoga 2-in-1 convertible. 

The ThinkPad X1 Yoga 4th Gen shares many characteristics with its laptop ThinkPad X1 Carbon 7th Gen stablemate, and the 2019 update sees it keeping up with top-end specifications. It's an expensive choice, starting at £1,449.99 and rising to £2,179.99 (inc. VAT) for a model with a 4K screen and integrated mobile broadband, as reviewed here. In the US, prices start at $1,595, rising to $2,729 for a model with a 10th-generation Intel Core i7 processor.

The industrial design is as you'd expect from a ThinkPad X1 device: a slim but robust aluminium chassis to protect the innards, and a lid I couldn't bow in my hands, make for a laptop that should travel well without a protective sleeve. 

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The ThinkPad X1 Yoga comes with a choice of 14-inch touch screens, from FHD to 4K resolution, and Intel Core i5 or i7 processors. LTE mobile broadband is also an option on this 1.35kg convertible, which supports laptop, presentation, tent and tablet modes.

Images: Lenovo

Weighing in at 1.35kg this is a lightweight laptop considering its 14-inch screen -- HP's 13.3-inch EliteBook 830 G6 weighs 1.3kg, for example. It's also relatively compact for a 14-inch laptop, measuring 323mm wide by 218mm deep by 15.5mm thick. (The ThinkPad X1 Carbon 7th Gen measures 323mm x 217 mm x 14.95mm and weighs 1.09kg, while the ThinkPad X1 Yoga 3rd Gen is slightly larger and heavier than this year's model at 333mm x 229mm x 17.05mm and 1.4kg.)

Much of the difference in desktop footprint between the 3rd and 4th Gen ThinkPad X1 Yogas is the result of thinner screen bezels on the 2019 model. Whether this creates problems for working in tablet mode will be down to how you hold the device, but with the top bezel also relatively shallow some users might have issues. 

There is a webcam in the upper bezel, complete with a ThinkShutter sliding lens cover. If you want an IR camera for Windows Hello facial recognition you'll need the top-end model.

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The keyboard is distinctively Lenovo with its pot-bellied keys, red TrackPoint sitting between the G, H and B keys and a corresponding set of buttons above the trackpad. This arrangement does mean the trackpad is a little shallower than some, but ThinkPad fans clearly don't mind this as it's a perennial and iconic feature.

There are five variants of the ThinkPad X1 Yoga 4th Gen available on Lenovo's UK website at the time of writing, with screen specification a key differentiator.

  • Intel Core i5-8265U, Windows 10 Home, 14-inch 1,920 x 1,080 touch screen, Intel UHD Graphics 620, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD
    £1,449.99 (inc. VAT)
  • Intel Core i5-8265U, Windows 10 Pro, 14-inch 2,560 x 1,440 touch screen, Intel UHD Graphics 620, 16GB RAM, 256GB SSD
    £1,659.99 (inc. VAT)
  • Intel Core i7-8565U, Windows 10 Pro, 14-inch 2,560 x 1,440 touch screen, Intel UHD Graphics 620, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD
    £1,869.99 (inc. VAT)
  • Intel Core i7-8665U, Windows 10 Pro, 14-inch 2560 x 1440 touch screen, Intel UHD Graphics 620, 1GB RAM, 1TB SSD
    £2007.19 (inc. VAT)
  • Intel Core i7-8565U, Windows 10 Pro, 14-inch 3840 x 2160 touch screen, Intel UHD Graphics 620, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, integrated mobile broadband
    £2,179.99 (inc. VAT)

My review unit was the £2,179.99 (inc. VAT) model with an Intel Core i7-8565U processor, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, a 4K (3,840 x 2,160) touch screen and integrated mobile broadband. The high-resolution screen is likely a key reason for its somewhat disappointing battery performance.

Lenovo says the battery should last up to 18 hours. This might be achievable with the FHD (1,920 x 1,080) version of this laptop, but I think it's a stretch for the 4K model I reviewed. In my real-world test, which included writing into a web app, streaming music some of the time, and browsing regularly, the battery went from 100% to 35% in 6 hours. Screen brightness was automatically set to just above 50% by the system, and that was plenty bright enough. It could go lower to conserve battery life, but even then it wouldn't get near the suggested 18 hours. 

SEE: 20 pro tips to make Windows 10 work the way you want (free PDF)    

The good news is that the ThinkPad X1 Yoga 4th Gen supports rapid charge. Lenovo says this will give 80% power in 60 minutes. I tested this by putting the laptop on charge with the battery at 33%. After an hour it had reached 94% -- a 61% power boost rather than the claimed 80%.

Although it's hard on the battery, the 4K screen is stunning. It's reflective, but all those pixels deliver wonderfully well-defined visuals. I found no evidence of the eye care mode that's present on the ThinkPad X1 Carbon (7th Gen), which reduces blue light, but PrivacyGuard is a configuration option on the FHD (1,920 x 1,080) screen. This is a screen security feature that makes it difficult for people sitting next to you to see what you're doing. Another security feature, PrivacyAlert, uses the camera to warn you of anyone standing behind you and peering over your shoulder.

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The ThinkPad X1 Yoga (4th Gen) in tablet mode, with the provided ThinkPad Pen Pro.

Image: Sandra Vogel/ZDNet

Lenovo provides its ThinkPad Pen Pro stylus, which sits in a housing on the chassis that also charges the pen. It's thinner than some styli, but thanks to the on-device housing is less likely to be left behind, get lost, or have no charge when needed.

The Dolby Atmos speaker system has four speakers in total. There is a grille between the two hinges on the upper part of the keyboard behind which sit two up-firing speakers. Two further grilles on the underside cater for a pair of down-firing woofers. At 100% volume sound is somewhat distorted, but 60% is loud enough, and at that volume level there's no distortion and good overall sound quality.  

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Ports on the ThinkPad X1 Yoga (4th Gen): right side (top), left side (above). Note the lack of an SD or MicroSD card slot.

Image: Lenovo

The arrangement of ports is the same as on the ThinkPad X1 Carbon (7th Gen): full-size USB 3.1, a power button and the ThinkPad Pen Pro housing on the right; USB-C Thunderbolt 3/charge connector, USB-C Thunderbolt 3/Ethernet combo (which doubles as the dock connector; RJ-45 Ethernet adapter provided), USB 3.1 port, full-size HDMI and 3.5mm audio jack on the left.

There's also a SIM slot on the back of the chassis for use in models with mobile broadband.

Conclusions 

It might seem strange that Lenovo still produces the conventional ThinkPad X1 Carbon as well as the 360-degree convertible ThinkPad X1 Yoga. After all, the convertible variant offers an extra feature that may be useful at times, even to the most conservative users. Still, both variants remain in the lineup for now.

The ThinkPad X1 Yoga 4th Gen is solidly built with the usual Lenovo look and feel. The combination of high-resolution 4K screen and 4-speaker system on my review unit are ideal for work presentations and after-hours relaxation, the stylus with an on-device housing is a bonus, and there are plenty of security features too. But, as with the X1 Carbon, beware of the 4K screen as it's a battery drainer.

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Specifications

General
Packaged Quantity 1
Embedded Security Trusted Platform Module (TPM 2.0) Security Chip
Operating System Windows 10 Pro 64-bit Edition - English
Processor / Chipset
CPU Intel Core i5 (8th Gen) 8265U / 1.6 GHz
Max Turbo Speed 3.9 GHz
Number of Cores Quad-Core
Cache 6 MB
64-bit Computing Yes
Features integrated memory controller
Cache Memory
Installed Size 6 MB
RAM
Memory Speed 2133 MHz
Configuration Features provided memory is soldered
Technology LPDDR3 SDRAM
Installed Size 8 GB
Rated Memory Speed 2133 MHz
Storage
Interface PCIe
Memory
RAM 8 GB (provided memory is soldered)
Technology LPDDR3 SDRAM
Speed 2133 MHz
Display
LCD Backlight Technology LED backlight
Resolution 1920 x 1080 (Full HD)
Widescreen Display Yes
Image Aspect Ratio 16:9
Monitor Features 72% color gamut, anti-reflective, anti-smudge, glossy
Type LED
Touchscreen yes (10-point multi-touch)
TFT Technology IPS
Diagonal Size (metric) 35.6 cm
Display Resolution Abbreviation Full HD
Audio & Video
Graphics Processor Intel UHD Graphics 620
Sound Stereo speakers, quad array microphone
Hard Drive
Type SSD
SSD Form Factor M.2 2280
Capacity 256 GB
Hard Drive Features NVM Express (NVMe), TCG Opal Encryption 2
Input
Type TrackPoint, UltraNav, digital pen, digitizer, keyboard
Localization & Layout English - US
Features multi-touch touchpad, spill-resistant
Communications
Wireless Protocol 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 5.0
Wireless Controller Intel Wireless-AC 9560 - M.2 Card
Features Gigabit Ethernet via optional Ethernet (RJ-45) adapter
Optical Storage
Drive Type no optical drive
Type none
Processor
CPU Type Core i5
Generation 8
Manufacturer Intel
Clock Speed 1.6 GHz
Battery
Technology Lithium ion
Capacity 51 Wh
Technology lithium ion
Run Time (Up To) 18.1 hour(s)
AC Adapter
Input AC 120/230 V (50/60 Hz)
Output 65 Watt
Connections & Expansion
Interfaces USB 3.1 Gen 1
USB 3.1 Gen 1 (Always On)
2 x USB-C 3.1 Gen 2/Thunderbolt 3/DisplayPort (Power Delivery)
HDMI
Lenovo Ethernet extension connector
Headphone/microphone combo jack
Header
Brand Lenovo
Localization English
Country Kits United States
Packaged Quantity 1
Miscellaneous
Color iron gray
Case Material aluminum, magnesium alloy
Integrated Options 3-axis gyro sensor, 3-axis accelerometer
Security Trusted Platform Module (TPM 2.0) Security Chip, fingerprint reader
Features MIL-STD-810G tested, administrator password, hard drive password, power-on password
Compliant Standards RoHS
Included Accessories ThinkPad Pen Pro, USB-C power adapter
Manufacturer Selling Program TopSeller
Theft/Intrusion Protection security lock slot (cable lock sold separately)
Security Slot Type Kensington mini security slot
Networking
Data Link Protocol Bluetooth 5.0, IEEE 802.11a, IEEE 802.11ac, IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11g, IEEE 802.11n
Interface (Bus) Type M.2 Card
Ethernet Controller(s) Intel I219-V
Wireless NIC Intel Wireless-AC 9560
Monitor
Diagonal Size 14 in
Image Brightness 380 cd/m2
System
Notebook Type 2-in-1
Mechanical Design 360° flip design
Platform Windows
Hard Drive Capacity 256 GB
Embedded Security Trusted Platform Module (TPM 2.0) Security Chip
Security Devices fingerprint reader
Dimensions & Weight
Width 12.7 in
Depth 8.6 in
Height 0.6 in
Manufacturer Warranty
Type 3 years warranty
Audio Output
Compliant Standards Dolby Atmos, High Definition Audio
Environmental Standards
ENERGY STAR Certified Yes
Physical Characteristics
Weight 3 lbs
Operating System / Software
OS Provided: Type Windows 10 Pro 64-bit Edition
Video Output
Graphics Processor Intel UHD Graphics 620
Graphics Processor Series Intel UHD Graphics
Input Device
Backlight Yes
Interfaces
USB-C Ports Qty 2
USB-C Features USB Power Delivery
Comment Always On, Power Delivery
Service & Support
Type 3 years warranty
Service & Support Details
Type limited warranty
Location pick-up and return
Full Contract Period 1 year, 3 years

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Where To Buy

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (4th Gen) - 14" - Core i5 8265U - 8 GB RAM - 256 GB SSD - US

Part Number: 20QF000MUS
Price
$1,649.00