Sat. Apr 13th, 2024


Key Takeaways

  • The X1 Fold 16 has an innovative hybrid design with a foldable screen and optional Bluetooth accessories for a versatile experience.
  • The OLED display is stunning with multiple operation modes and a capable processor for multitasking.
  • The computer features a long-lasting battery and solid performance, with some hiccups.


Lenovo’s first-generation ThinkPad X1 Fold 16 Gen 1 isn’t your normal 2-in-1 laptop with a screen that does a back-bend over the keyboard. Instead, the manufacturer crafted a true tablet-meets-laptop experience with a foldable screen, an optional Bluetooth keyboard, and its Precision 2 Pen. While it’s feature-packed enough to keep most professionals and enthusiasts busy, it has faults of its own.

To clarify, the ThinkPad X1 Fold is a separate entity entirely from the ThinkPad X1 Carbon, the X1 Extreme, and so on. Instead, the ThinkPad X1 Fold Gen 1 is Lenovo’s foray into the foldable screen laptop market, which has a similar design to foldable smartphones like the Galaxy Z Flip 5. Not only is the X1 Fold 16 relatively novel, but it offers a streamlined experience for someone who is on the fence about buying a tablet or a laptop. But it also comes with some interesting learning curves and less-than-polished performance in a couple of departments.


The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold laptop folded.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold Gen 1

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold 16 laptop features a vibrant OLED display with a 2,560 x 2,204 resolution, a powerful Intel i5 or i7 processor, an optional Bluetooth keyboard with TrackPoint, and the ability to bend the computer’s display at any angle.

Brand
Lenovo

Storage
512GB (up to 1TB)

CPU
12th Gen Intel Core i5 – 1230U (10 cores, 12 threads; 3.30GHz to 4.40GHz)

Memory
16GB LPDDR5-5200MHz (Soldered)

Operating System
Windows 11 Pro

Battery
64Wh (48Wh + 16Wh) battery

Ports
1x USB-C 3.2 Gen 2, 2 x Thunderbolt 4 (USB 4 40Gbps); all ports support data transfer, Power Delivery 3.0, and DisplayPort 1.4a

Camera (Rear, Front)
IR & 5.0MP discrete (MIPI, fixed focus)

Price
Starting at $2,499.00

Connectivity
Intel Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.1

Headphone jack
n/a

Colors
Performance Black

Build
Aluminum, 100% recycled woven performance fabric, bendable glass with flexible printed circuits and bell-shaped hinge system

Expandable Storage
Optional 1 x Nano-SIM card slot

Weight
Starting at 2.78lbs; Keyboard and stand add 1.38lbs

Model/s:
21ES001WUS

Dimensions
Folded: 6,94 x 10.87 x 0.69in (176.2 x 276.2 x 17.4mm) Unfolded: 13.61 x 10.87 x 0.34in (345.7 x 276.2 x 8.6mm)

Pros

  • Crisp and vibrant 2K+ OLED display with VESA True Black 600
  • Portrait mode, landscape mode, and clamshell mode give it a true hybrid experience
  • Optional Precision 2 Pen works well for photo editing, drafting, and taking notes
  • 4 modes of operation for a versatile performance
Cons

  • Bluetooth keyboard and stand could be sturdier
  • Keyboard and Pen aren’t included
  • Iffy Bluetooth connectivity with the keyboard
  • Gets uncomfortably warm while charging

The Design: A Truly Hybrid Laptop ExperienceThe Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold in the horizontal orientation.

Lenovo has created a versatile and useful tablet-meets-laptop experience in the X1 Fold 16. However, to get the full experience, you’ll need the optional Bluetooth keyboard and folio ($300). The base model comes with the Lenovo Precision Pen, but the Precision 2 Pen ($36) is an upgrade.

On first impressions, the laptop’s screen looked like a giant tablet, not a bendable laptop. But once I messed around with angling the screen or bending it 90 degrees for a traditional clamshell experience, I could see how well the X1 Fold 16 was engineered. The hinge mechanism has over 200 individual parts to make it work, which I found quite impressive—and it felt relatively smooth when I bent it. It didn’t require a lot of effort to change the screen’s angle.

The back features a woven fiber material, a visible hinge, a rubber ThinkPad logo, and a small Lenovo logo.


When used vertically, the top of the frame houses the built-in 5MP IR camera. The quad microphone system is spread out (two are at the top, and the other two are on the right side).

You can use the X1 Fold 16 four ways. These are vertically (portrait mode), horizontally (landscape mode), clamshell mode with or without the Bluetooth keyboard magnetically secured to the bottom half of the screen, or like an eBook reader folded like a book.

Ports: No USB-A, but Plenty of USB-C Options

The X1 Fold has three ports in total. When using the X1 Fold 16 vertically, the first is a USB-C port at the top of the device. The other two ports are Thunderbolt 4 ports—one is on the left, the other on the right.


I found the positioning of the ports useful, as I could find a comfortable place to plug in no matter which way I was using the X1 Fold. I was unable to use any USB-A cords without plugging in a USB-A to a USB-C adapter or USB-C hub.

If I needed to plug in more than two USB-C cords, however, I found slipping the third into the top of the laptop a little awkward. So, I would ultimately suggest opting for a hub to make your experience more streamlined.

The Inputs: The Touchscreen, Bluetooth Keyboard/Stand, and PenParts and accessories of the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold.

Using the ThinkPad X1 Fold 16 without the optional Bluetooth keyboard/stand and pen isn’t a bad experience, but it limits the laptop’s usefulness. However, I found the X1 Fold’s touchscreen to be beautifully responsive, and the touch keyboard worked well for typing at any angle—though clamshell mode felt the most comfortable.


Meanwhile, the Bluetooth keyboard and stand folio give the X1 Fold a more traditional laptop feel, and it was my preference for most typing-heavy tasks since I found it more accurate (and less frustrating for this clumsy typist). The magnetic stand was surprisingly strong for as flimsy as it felt, and although I wish it were built with more robust materials, I didn’t have many issues with it. Still, I preferred the feel of the Bluetooth keyboard whenever I had it resting on a desk or table. The keyboard felt a bit cheap in my lap, though I never worried it would break.

The keyboard connects via Bluetooth by turning it on with the switch and holding down the F8 key for a few seconds. Unfortunately, I experienced frustrating connection issues with the keyboard in the beginning. Almost every time I turned it off and tried to use it again, I had to reconnect it as a “new” Bluetooth device despite connecting to it previously. (At one point, it showed four or five Bluetooth keyboards on the devices list). This remedied itself after a few times, but it was annoying enough to affect my view of its connectivity and make me wonder how often it would happen.


The included TrackPoint is a nice touch and has a convenient shortcut. When I tapped it twice, a menu appeared to adjust settings for audio playback, the microphone system, voice dictation, and battery output.

The Precision 2 Pen was a favorite for me, as I frequently used it to navigate. Scrolling, tapping, photo editing, and handwriting notes that instantly converted to text gave the X1 Fold the hybrid performance I was looking for. There was also a handy screenshot shortcut—I pushed the pen’s eraser button twice and took screenshots without using the keyboard, which was a major bonus since I take many of them.

Display and Graphics: A Gorgeous OLED Screen

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold 16 laptop playing a movie in tablet mode.
Cianna Garrison / How-To Geek

“Soul”


As with any OLED screen, I experienced a significant glare in particular lighting. Nonetheless, the clarity and contrast of color on the X1 Fold 16 was worth it. The 2,560 x 2,024 OLED display delivered a lovely viewing experience whenever I streamed “Soul” on Disney+ or watched 4K YouTube videos of scenery, animals, and distant locales like the Netherlands and Greece.

Brilliant blues and pinks shone through, and I experienced no distracting over-saturation. The laptop also handled black and gray tones well (it has VESA DisplayHDR True Black 600, which gave lifelike shadows and blacks), while the high resolution provided crisp details, such as individual feathers on a bird or strands of fur on a lion’s mane.


Graphics in games were also lovely, with fully realized shadows in dark games like “Those Who Remain” and colorful hues popping in games like “My Time At Portia” and “Life is Strange: True Colors.” I also appreciated the 600nits of brightness, which made using the X1 Fold 16 in bright rooms much more pleasant since I could always see the screen well.

Performance: Multitasking Power Meets a Tablet-Like Experience

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold in the horizontal orientation.
Sergio Rodriguez / How-To Geek

The Intel Evo i5 1230U CPU allowed me to breeze through multitasking, including editing photos in Photoshop, streaming music, watching YouTube videos, and switching between around 20 browser tabs— even while downloading large game files via the Xbox app.


The hybrid setup also gave me far more flexibility in terms of how I worked—whether I used it in clamshell mode with the Bluetooth keyboard or like an angled eReader. Swapping from portrait or landscape orientation on the stand also helped when I was doing particular tasks better suited to one or the other. For instance, landscape mode was great for streaming movies, gaming, or working in web tabs or Word documents, while portrait mode offered me a fuller reading experience while reading eBooks or using split-screen tabs.

Running PC Mark, the ThinkPad X1 Fold 16 scored a 4,256 overall, with a 9,134 in essentials and a 5,606 in productivity.

I experienced a glitch while using the X1 Fold 16. One morning, the laptop wouldn’t turn on, and there were no signs of life from the screen. I was pretty sure it hadn’t died, but I plugged it in and left it charging to make sure. Then I realized it wouldn’t turn on while plugged in either.


After troubleshooting the issue, I reached out for help. The representative I spoke to informed me of a reset button located next to the USB-C port at the top section of the X1 Fold’s display, where the camera is. When I stuck a paperclip into the small hole, I felt a button click and held it there for about 30 seconds. Then, I removed the clip and hit the power button, which rebooted the X1 Fold 16 as though nothing had happened. According to the Lenovo team, the reset button “cuts all power, allowing for a full reboot,” and is a surefire method if the laptop seems to have an inexplicable issue like this.

Gaming and Media With the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold 16

I’d only recommend the X1 Fold 16 for casual gaming, and I’d advise keeping your expectations low. I found it enjoyable for lower-resource games like “My Time At Portia,” “Spiritfarer,” or “Stardew Valley,” but beyond gorgeous graphics, I found the CPU and GPU couldn’t handle many games where it counted. When adjusting the graphics settings to medium or low, some halfway playable games included “Those Who Remain” and “Life is Strange: True Colors.”


For reference, its Time Spy stress test score was 97.4% (just above passing), while its graphics score was 840 and CPU score was 3,075. Its estimated game performance in 1080P hovered around 30FPS for “Battlefield V” and “Red Dead Redemption 2” but upwards of 165FPS for “Fortnite.”

Sights and Sounds: The Webcam, Quad Microphone System, and Dolby Atmos Speakers

The 5MP IR camera on the X1 Fold 16 does its job. It captured clear pictures in bright rooms and some grainier ones in dim lighting, but overall, it was more than sufficient for both casual and professional video calls. In Zoom, however, and a couple of other video chatting applications, the orientation appeared upside down or sideways, so it took some fiddling with settings to remedy this.


The X1 Fold 16 intelligently selects two of the three speakers based on the laptop’s position. In my experience, this offered pleasing sound, and the Dolby Access app allows you to customize sound further. At 100% volume, the speakers delivered a clear stereo sound, but the mid-tones for particular music were a bit squashed. The speakers functioned best at around 85%. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much bass. But with reasonable expectations, the X1 Fold 16 handled audio well for streaming music, movies, and playing games.

The quad microphone system works similarly to the speakers. Only two turn on at a time to intelligently capture sound. While the noise-canceling feature clips your loud noises like singing or yelling at higher volumes and notes, I was pleased with the microphone array’s ability to put my voice at the forefront of recordings and meetings. Even in a noisy environment with music playing and dogs barking in the background, my voice was center stage. The X1 Fold also offers two mic settings: a center mode for mono sound in front of the laptop and spatial sound to capture stereo in the entire room.


Battery Life and Charging: Drain Isn’t Too Severe

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold in the vertical orientation.
Sergio Rodriguez / How-To Geek

For a powerful laptop, the ThinkPad X1 Fold does pretty well on battery life, thanks to its Intel Evo CPU. On average, I experienced a drain that hovered between 12% and 25% per hour, depending on the task.


The charging speed was also decent, though nothing extraordinary. I measured a charging rate of about 0.64% per minute or about 38% in one hour, so a full charge would take about 2.64 hours.

I did notice that using the laptop while charging was a bit uncomfortable. It has decent cooling, but it gets pretty warm to the touch after some time, so it’s better to avoid charging it while using it in tablet mode.

Should You Buy the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold 16 (Gen 1) Laptop?

If you’re looking for a hybrid laptop with versatility, portability, and a powerful processor, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold 16 Gen 1 delivers an above-average experience and decent battery life. It’s also an excellent option for content creators or anyone who wants to enjoy media on a large OLED screen.

It isn’t perfect, though, and some people might opt for a hybrid that offers an attached keyboard, like the Lenovo Yoga 9i, the ThinkPad X1 Yoga, or one of the top-ranked 2-in-1 laptops, over the X1 Fold’s folio design.

But if this laptop has caught your attention, you can buy it today starting at $2,499.

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold laptop folded.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold Gen 1

Premium Pick

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold 16 laptop features a vibrant OLED display with a 2,560 x 2,204 resolution, a powerful Intel i5 or i7 processor, an optional Bluetooth keyboard with TrackPoint, and the ability to bend the computer’s display at any angle.



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By John P.

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