- ✓Small, neat and solidly built
- ✓ThinkPad Pen Pro included and housed on-device
- ✓Optional mobile broadband
- ✓Useful security options
- ✕Gets expensive as you add features
- ✕Average battery life
Lenovo has a wide range of laptops on its books, including the Yoga brand which signifies a 2-in-1 system with a 360-degree rotating screen. While the ThinkPad X13 Yoga Gen 1 is, as its name suggests, the first in a new line, it's also a very close cousin of 2019's ThinkPad X390. There's also the superb -- and expensive -- 14-inch ThinkPad X1 Yoga and the traditional ThinkPax X1 Carbon to consider.
Heritage aside, the ThinkPad X13 Yoga Gen 1 is a small, neat 13.3-inch laptop that's made for portability. Prices start at £1,097.99 (inc. VAT; £914.99 ex. VAT) in the UK, with our high-end review unit costing £1,511.99 (inc. VAT; £1,259.99 ex. VAT).
The design is utterly distinctive: an all black chassis, with the ThinkPad logo on the lid, and the dot of the 'i' glowing red when the laptop is in use. Inside, the red TrackPoint between the G, H and B keys and its companion three physical buttons above the touchpad are also giveaways.
The X13 Yoga Gen 1 is solidly built, meeting 12 military-grade MIL-STD 810G tests and exhibiting typical ThinkPad durability in both the lid and the chassis. There's a little flex in the lid, but not enough to worry about, while the base is solid, with no flex at all in the keyboard. This tough build does impact the weight, which starts at 1.29kg.
In laptop mode, the X13 Yoga has a desktop footprint measuring 310.4mm wide by 219mm deep, and it's 15.95mm thick. It's a compact laptop that will fit into even my smallest rucksack -- in fact, the rather chunky two-piece power adapter is more of a pain to accommodate.
The 360-degree screen hinge is smooth and tight enough to hold the display in any desired position. The trade-off with a laptop that's designed to function in tablet mode is relatively wide screen bezels. I measured the X13 Yoga's side bezels at 8mm to the outer edge of the chassis, the top bezel at 17mm to the outer edge, and the bottom bezel at 22mm to the inner edge of the chassis frame, with another 10mm to the very edge of the chassis. The wider upper bezel is understandable, but in these days when the trend is for taller screens that reduce the bottom bezel to a minimum, that 32mm really rankles. The screen to body ratio is just 72%, compared to 80.5% for the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1.
If you don't need the X13 Yoga's rotating screen, the 14-inch ThinkPad X1 Carbon (7th Gen) might well prove a better option, as it's comparable in size (323mm x 217mm x 14.95mm vs 310.4mm x 219mm x 15.95mm) and significantly lighter (1.09kg vs 1.29kg).
The screen itself is a pleasure to use. At 13.3-inches it's rather small if you want to have two working documents open side by side, but the quality of the FHD (1,920 x 1,080) panel on my review unit was excellent. I found it equally good for watching video as for document creation and editing. Bear in mind though, that the screen on the entry-level iteration only offers 300 nits of brightness; my review unit had a 500-nits screen.
The screen is touch responsive, and Lenovo provides its ThinkPad Pen Pro for stylus-based input. This lives in a housing on the front right of the chassis, so it's less likely to be lost or forgotten.
A 4K (3,840 x 2,160) OLED panel that supports 100% of the DCI-P3 colour space is available as an option, but there are two security feature that are only available with the FHD-resolution panel. These are: Privacy Guard, which is invoked via the keyboard and obscures the screen for people sitting on either side of the user; and Privacy Alert, which uses the webcam to let you know if someone is looking over your shoulder. Further security features include a fingerprint reader and Lenovo's ThinkShutter sliding privacy cover for the 720p webcam.
The keyboard is a joy to use. The large, pot-bellied QWERTY keys are springy and responsive, the Fn keys are slightly larger than you might expect and squared off, the cursor keys are sizeable, and the Enter key is double-height and wide. The keyboard is almost silent in use, and as noted earlier, there's absolutely no flex at all. The trackpad is responsive, too.
Processor-wise, the ThinkPad X13 Yoga Gen 1 is based on 10th generation Intel silicon. The seven off-the-shelf configurations available in the UK use either Core i5 or Core i7 chips, with my review unit sporting a top-end Core i7-10510U. RAM is either 8B or 16GB, as in my review unit, while SSD storage varies between 128GB, 256GB and my review unit's 512GB. LTE mobile broadband is integrated into some of the off-the-shelf options, with the SIM caddy on the right edge of the chassis.
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There are two USB-C ports on the left edge, one of which supports Thunderbolt 3 and is incorporated into a 'double dock' that can also accommodate an Ethernet dongle or a Lenovo docking station. The other USB-C port is used for charging. Also on the left edge is a USB 3.1 port and a 3.5mm headset jack, and space for an optional smartcard reader. There's a second USB 3.1 port on the right side, along with a full-size HDMI port, the SIM caddy and the stylus housing. The power switch is also here, conveniently located if you want to leave the screen facing outwards following a tablet-mode session.
Lenovo claims a battery life of up to 18.2 hours in its detailed product specs, although elsewhere it simply talks about 'all day' life from the 50Wh battery. I used the system's default settings for my rundown test, although in everyday use I might dial the screen brightness down a little to conserve power. Over three hours of a mainstream workload involving writing into web apps, browsing, and streaming video and music, the battery lost 30% from a full charge. On this basis, users might struggle to get through a day's work and then a movie, but rapid charging will get the battery from zero to 80% in an hour.
Lenovo's ThinkPad X13 Yoga Gen 1 impresses on several fronts, including its solid build, well-made 360-degree screen hinge, high-quality display, bundled ThinkPad Pen Pro, and configuration options that include smartcard and mobile broadband, plus screen security features.
On the downside, the latest 11th-generation Intel Core processors are not on offer, and battery life is distinctly average. Bear in mind also that if you want more than 128GB of storage and a 300 nits screen, or mobile broadband, you'll have to spend considerably more than the £1,097.99 (inc. VAT) starting price.
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