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Lenovo was one of the first companies to really nail 2-in-1 design, and ever since it’s been refining the formula for its top-notch convertibles. And while there are a couple small variables I’m not fully on board with for this year’s edition, there’s no doubt the new 14-inch Yoga 9i is continuing Lenovo’s excellent track record. You get superb battery life, clever (and surprisingly) powerful speakers, good performance, plenty of ports and even an optional OLED display. In short, if you’re looking for a light, long-lasting and very adaptable 360-degree hybrid, this thing belongs at the top of your list.
Now I have to admit, when I first unboxed the Yoga 9i, there was something about its design that just didn’t look right to me. And after thinking about it for a couple days, I realized Lenovo’s attempt to create a luxury aesthetic doesn’t quite go far enough. Most of the laptop is constructed out of matte aluminum including its lid, deck and bottom, while other components like its keyboard and touchpad have been painted to match. Lenovo calls this particular color oatmeal, which isn’t especially flattering, though I must say the addition of subtle brown tones looks better in person than its name suggests. Nothing really unusual so far.
The issue is that for 2022, Lenovo rounded out the Yoga 9i’s sides to make the laptop more comfortable to hold, which is and it feels great. But then the company polished those edges to a mirror-like shine which, when viewed next to its satin finish, feels very mismatched. Then you add in the fact that the only other bit of shiny metal on the entire system is its combo hinge/speaker bar, and you’re left with something that doesn’t quite give off the same vibes as high-end jewelry, and also lacks the appeal of more minimalist competitors like a Surface or MacBook. Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so if you think the 9i looks great, feel free to ignore me. (That said, I maintain a number of Lenovo’s older Yogas looking better than the new one.)
Aside from its appearance, the Yoga offers great build quality with very little flex across its chassis. Other small improvements include a larger touchpad, some handy new media and video calling keys on the right, and a subtle notch around the webcam that makes the lid just a touch easier to open. I also appreciate the dedicated fingerprint reader in the bottom right. My only remaining nitpick is the feel of the keys. They don’t have a lot of travel and their light actuation weight leaves the whole affair feeling a bit lifeless, which is kind of a shame. And having used countless ThinkPads over the years, I know Lenovo can do better.
On the bright side, the 9i includes a stylus that features 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity. It also comes with a built-in USB-C for easy charging. And while there isn’t a place to stash the pen in the laptop like on some previous Yogas, you can throw both the stylus and the laptop in Lenovo’s bundled travel sleeve.
By default, the Yoga 9i ships with a 14-inch 1,920 x 1,080 LCD display with a new and slightly taller 16:10 aspect ratio (up from 16:9 on the previous model). But our $1,500 review unit has a 2,880 x 1,800 OLED screen that’s brilliantly punchy. Not only does it feature VESA DisplayHDR 500 True Black certification, it pumped out just shy of 400 nits of brightness. So you get rich, vivid colors in addition to excellent screen readability, regardless of the conditions. If you have a little wiggle room in your budget, this is a great component to upgrade.
As for audio, the Yoga 9i features Lenovo’s signature speaker bar hinge. So in addition to boasting an innovative design that ensures sound is directed at you in practically any mode (you know, instead of away from you or down into a table like some laptops like to do), the Yoga pumps out great audio with some of the deepest bass I’ve heard from a laptop this size. Look, you’re not going to rattle your neighbor’s china cabinet, but this is one the few times I’m not going to complain about a notebook lacking low-end thump.
In another small, but very welcome upgrade, the 9i comes with a new 1080p webcam that supports Windows Hello. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: 1,920 x 1,080 should be the bare minimum for cameras on modern laptops. And while I admit its image quality can be a bit grainy in low light, it’s still plenty sharp for all your video calling needs. And if you look close, you’ll notice there’s even a physical shutter you can slide closed when it’s not in use. That’s a nice touch for some extra peace of mind.
The Yoga 9i packs a new 12th-gen Intel Core i7-1260P CPU, up to 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD, promising plenty of speed for all your standard productivity needs. Among ultraportables without discrete graphics, it posted top-tier scores in Geekbench 5, PCMark 10, and Cinebench. However, its Intel Iris integrated GPU means that even though it posted a solid time of 37 seconds in our 4K video encoding benchmark in Handbrake, you’re still gonna want something a bit more substantial if you’re looking to do a lot of heavy photo or video editing.
Geekbench 5 (multicore)
Lenovo Yoga 9i (14-inch)
Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2
HP Spectre x360 16-inch
My one small complaint about the 9i’s performance is that when you’re really pushing it, you may hear a high-pitched whine from the fans. I only encountered this while gaming, and you might not find it all that distracting. But even if you do, you can change the laptop’s mode to lower the noise, though that may result in some thermal throttling.
Moving on to battery life, even with its above average performance, the Yoga 9i still turned in an excellent time on our local video rundown test. It lasted 14 hours and 22 minutes, which is the second longest mark we’ve seen this year, only behind the Surface Laptop Go 2’s time of 14:43. And in the real world, I had no problems making it through an entire work day on a single charge.
Lenovo Yoga 9i (14-inch)
Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2
HP Spectre x360 16-inch
On top of that, because the laptop supports charging via USB-C, even if you forget your power brick at home, there’s a good chance you can borrow an adapter from a friend or colleague in a pinch. Finally, I want to give credit to Lenovo for finding room for four USB ports (one Type-A and three Type-C) including two with Thunderbolt 4. A lot of laptop makers have started equipping systems with just two or three ports – even on standard clamshells – so it’s nice to see that the corner cutting hasn’t hit the Yoga line yet.
Not counting my admittedly subjective complaints about the Yoga 9i’s design, this thing is a nearly ideal 2-in-1. It offers good performance, great sound and even better battery life in a well-built and adaptable chassis. Heck, Lenovo even includes an active stylus and a laptop sleeve in the box, the latter of which you can use to stash the stylus while traveling. Its display is now 16:10, which gives you a little bit of extra screen space for productivity, and thanks to its curvy edges, this thing is noticeably nicer to hold than last year’s model. You even get two different options for biometric login.
The only real issue is its somewhat shallow and mushy keyboard. But given the rest of the 9i’s strengths, that’s probably not a dealbreaker unless you’re a truly discerning typist. And while its starting price of around $1,250 isn’t cheap, our review model with its OLED screen costs just $1,500 which kinda feels like a steal. I should also mention that at least in the US, the OLED model is a Best Buy exclusive. However, regardless of which version you go for, you’re getting a quality product. Considering the pedigree of Lenovo’s Yoga line, it’s hardly a surprise that this year’s 9i fares well by almost every metric. So if you’re looking for a premier all-rounder with great longevity, there aren’t a lot of systems that do it better than this.
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