Lenovo Foldable Laptop: Release Date, Price, Features, First Impressions
The first of its kind.
Lenovo took the wraps off of the world’s first “foldable PC” this week at its Accelerate conference in Orlando, giving the world its first glimpse of a prototype where much remains a mystery.
This foldable laptop has yet to be named, the release date is vague, and the price is unknown. But Lenovo is confident. This foldable laptop — or more likely one its descendants — will change office and home productivity, and how we watch Netflix.
Chris Teismann, Lenovo’s SVP of Commercial Business, showed off the foldable PC’s impressive shapeshifting capabilities on stage Tuesday, showing it can be opened into a 13-inch tablet, folded horizontally to become a booklet, or be placed on a table to mimic the form of a standard laptop. Lenovo’s folding laptop will also come with a mechanical keyboard for traditionalists, and a stylus for creatives and note-takers.
This Folding Laptop Will Be Under the ThinkPad Brand
Tesimann explained it would be released under the ThinkPad line, a series of business-oriented laptops and tablets, which Lenovo acquired from IBM in 2005. But it’ll be like no other laptop before it.
"This is the only device you will need in the future to be productive all day long."
“This is the newest innovation and part of our flagship ThinkPad X1 family,” he said. “Lenovo’s foldable PC combines laptop productivity with smartphone portability to fold into your lifestyle. This is the only device you will need in the future to be productive all day long.”
Lenovo is trending in new water, but the fact that it has set itself up to be first to market might pay off. Industry analysis firm, Global Market Insights, forecasted that the global market for foldable devices will be worth $18 billion by 2025 in January report. Announcing a product early, here in 2019, could secure a large portion of what is expected to be a ballooning industry, but there’s a catch: It’s not a great time for folding tech.
Remember the Galaxy Fold?
Samsung’s much-hyped Galaxy Fold was supposed to be the first big-name foldable phone to hit shelves this spring. But review samples of the the $1,980 handset broke down after only days of use, which seemed to be the result of design flaws.
But Lenovo has paid no heed to the Samsung’s slip-up and decided to dive head-first into creating a new breed of flexible laptops. Here’s everything we know about the first-ever foldable PC.
Lenovo Foldable PC: Release Date
The company only specified that the device would be available some time in 2020. Not holding itself to a specific date might give Lenovo more wiggle room to fix any bugs and perfect its design as next year rolls around.
Launching it ahead of the 2020 holiday season gives the company well over a year to work on it. Plus, a launch in, say, November could boost sales going into December, especially if they’re the only company selling a foldable laptop.
But Lenovo will need to ensure that it avoids a Galaxy Fold fumble. The company’s wide release window suggests Lenovo is being cautious to avoid releasing too early.
Lenovo Foldable PC: Price
Lenovo did not reveal how much its unnamed foldable PC would cost on Tuesday, but interested customers should prepare their wallets. Currently, there are not any similar products to compare the upcoming device. But the eye-watering price tags of foldable phones suggest Lenovo could charge top-dollar.
Huawei’s Mate will start at $2,600 and the Galaxy Fold was priced at just below $2,000. Both of these phones have a much smaller internal displays than Lenovo’s announced foldable laptop. But the price could be balanced out because the PC won’t have extensive camera arrays and exterior screens, like Samsung and Huawei’s handsets.
It wouldn’t be surprising if Lenovo priced it at around $3,000 to $4,000.
Lenovo Foldable PC: Different Forms
Tesimann skipped out on a lot of details during Accelerate, but what he did show off was the foldable PC’s three forms. So far its number-one selling point is adaptability; it can turn into a tablet, booklet, and laptop with just a fold and a flip.
These versatile use-cases can be especially tempting for professionals that enjoy having a single computer for both their leisure and work. Plus the PC’s mechanical keyboard and stylus accessories will let consumers customize how they use Lenovo’s folding laptops ever further:
- Tablet Mode: When both halves of the devices are opened and it’s held horizontally, it’ll become a tablets with a 13-inch OLED display. This is optimal for streaming TV shows and playing games. But using its stylus instantly turns the device into a notebook or sketchpad for students and creatives. Users can also connect the device to its mechanical keyboard to use it like a 13-inch laptop if they’d rather type than tap.
- Booklet Mode: When users slightly close both halves of the screen while holding it horizontally will set it into booklet mode. This is ideal of reading a digital copy of a book as it if were actually printed. But Tesimann teased that users will be able to display an app on each screen, enabling multitasking.
- Laptop Mode: Flipping the device vertically and opening it at 90 degrees will activate laptop mode. The half of the device resting on the table will become a digital keyboard while the other is a compact laptop display. This is made for quick office tasks on the go, like answering emails or taking notes in class.
Lenovo Foldable PC: Specs
Lenovo has yet to reveal any of its foldable PC’s specs, besides the fact that it’ll come with a 13-inch OLED display. But Tesimann did drop a few hints about what consumers can expect to ship with it come 2020:
- Display: 13.3-inch, 4:3 2K OLED display
- OS/CPU: It’ll run Windows and come with an Intel CPU.
- Charing Port: USB Type-C
Lenovo Foldable PC: First Impressions
Accelerate attendees got hands-on time with a prototype of the future ThinkPad. These demos were primarily to test the hardware and didn’t offer a lot in terms of unique software applications.
The next big step for Lenovo will be nailing down an operating system that can leverage its unique forms. It might look really cool, but if its frustrating to use users will flee in droves. But in the mean time the PC has won over many reviewers with just its hardware alone.
The The Verge’s Chaim Gartenberg was itching to see what software Lenovo has in store for its folding PC, but he was enamored by its portability.
“I will say that I really did like the size of it more than I expected,” he said. “Folded up, it’s far smaller than even a regular sized 13-inch laptop, and while it’s not exactly something you’ll fit into a jacket pocket, even a large one, it’s comparatively compact.”
Mark Spoonauer from Tom’s Guide, on the other hand, obsessed with its screen. Unlike the Galaxy Fold that had a notable crease along were the screen folded, Lenovo’s PC is completely uninterrupted. This could be a good early sign about the integrity of its design.
“One of the coolest things about seeing this next-generation ThinkPad X1 in person is that there’s almost no visible crease in the center of the screen,” he said. “So there’s nothing to distract you from your work or immersive content.”
Finally, Michael Fisher who runs the Mr. Mobile YouTube channel, couldn’t get enough of the leather casing that houses Lenovo’s 13-inch display.
“[Its] cover isn’t a separate case, [it’s] an integrated leather sleeve that gives the machine the feeling of a moleskin when it’s closed,” he said. I love this touch building a bleeding-edge computer like this with a display straight out of science fiction and then wrapping it in something as something as classic as leather anchors it.”
Lenovo seems to have done a lot of its hardware design right out of the gate, but it still has a long road ahead of it. In the near-term, Lenovo’s quarterly earnings call is set for May 23.