At the IFA trade show in Berlin, Lenovo announced a follow-up to its original foldable-screen Windows device, the ThinkPad X1 Fold. The new one has the same name but significantly increases the size of the screen, to 16.3 inches. Plus, Lenovo has come up with some nifty new accessories that let you use it in so many ways.
We were able to test tablet origami with the device at a preview event in New York, and recorded our session for the video below. Take a closer look at the Fold and a summary of its features.
A bigger and better X1 fold
Asus unveiled a big foldable OLED the day before (more on that in a bit), and we’ve seen big-screen foldable tablet prototypes before, notably the “Horseshoe Bend” device that Intel showed us at CES 2020. But now that we’re going into real time with real products, one thing is clear: this, like the Asus, is one great tablet, dwarfing an iPad or other typical whiteboard.
At full extension, the screen measures 16.3 inches, an unusual size for an unusual product: the original X1 Fold was just 13 inches. The resolution here is 2560 by 2024 pixels and it’s an OLED panel. It looks sharp, bright and quite vibrant in person, and the OLED technology really sings at this larger size. This is a notable improvement over the low-res, non-OLED display on the first Fold.
As with the first X1 Fold and Asus’s latest and similarly sized competitor, the Zenbook 17 Fold OLED, folding the screen feels cool and futuristic. Also, when folded in half, this larger screen size leaves you with two 12-inch screens, much more useful than the two halves of the original; folding a 13-inch screen in two results in screens with limited utility for productivity.
The various folded and unfolded modes of use are much easier to understand when you can see them, so be sure to watch the video. Laptop style mode is probably the most useful and probably the default use case for most. Where the keyboard would normally be is a “second” screen, though of course it’s the bottom of the main screen, the part below the fold. There, you can place additional applications or windows, or use a virtual keyboard for the main screen.
You can also fully recline the screen and use it like a large tablet, in either landscape or portrait mode, which can be good for making layouts, looking at large spreadsheets or documents, or just viewing content on your lap. You can also partially fold it in half, holding it in a “V” shape, and use it as a huge digital book. Unlike the Asus Zenbook Fold, the X1 Fold supports the use of a stylus (Lenovo sells one separately), giving tablet mode more utility.
Some ‘key’ folding accessories
Lenovo says that it will sell the X1 Fold in various packages, with and without combinations of accessories. The design really comes to life with these physical accessories. In addition to the stylus option, Lenovo will offer keyboard and kickstand/back cover parts. Here you can see them both, glued to each other…
The keyboard and stand, when in use, make the X1 Fold look a bit like a large Microsoft Surface Windows tablet: you can place it in front of you in landscape or portrait mode, magnetically attach the keyboard to the front edge, and use the display. like a big monitor. (The magnetic keyboard clip is attached to the bottom edge of the stand.)
The keyboard, which is equipped with Lenovo’s signature red TrackPoint stylus, can also be used wirelessly alongside the tablet on the table, without being attached to the vertical frame. That can give you two full screens in folded mode (or one big, straightened one) to control with a remote keyboard and trackpad.
Even cooler (and another trick that the Asus Zenbook Fold 17 OLED pulls off too), if you put the keyboard on top of the bottom panel, the device will recognize it, switch all content and the taskbar to the top screen, and act on it. like a normal laptop, smaller screen. This didn’t work on the pre-production model we used in the video, but Lenovo says it will be a working feature at launch.
You can also orient the entire, unfolded tablet vertically on the stand as a portrait-mode monitor for long-form programming, reading and editing, or other vertically-oriented work. It’s a bit heavy like this, but that’s something you can’t do with the Asus Fold OLED…
You can also pack all these pieces in a stack to take with you. The stand folds back nicely, while the keyboard can be stacked on top, attached magnetically, and forms a travel-friendly package.
The tablet alone weighs 2.8 pounds, and when the stand and keyboard are attached, it totals 4.3 pounds.
Components for real productivity
At this size, there’s room for some attractive components. Inside, there’s a 12th-gen “Alder Lake” Core U-series CPU, going all the way up to a 13-watt Core i7. The rest of the configuration can be extended to 32GB of memory and a 1TB SSD, so you can get some real work done on this device. There are no discrete graphics options, unsurprisingly, as the tablet only runs the CPU’s Iris Xe display adapter. This is roughly the same configuration as the Zenbook 17 Fold OLED, but we’re still not sure which exact i7 chip will be used.
Connectivity includes USB-C with Thunderbolt 4, a nano-SIM slot, Wi-Fi 6E, and optional 5G. It comes standard with one battery, but you can also pay to add a second one at the time of purchase. Lenovo left a bay open for that second cell, as you can see…
Notably, the device case is made from bamboo sugar cane, has a bamboo handle, and is compostable; We approve eliminating unnecessary plastic waste in packaging.
This power and versatility won’t come cheap: the tablet alone will set you back $2,499 when it launches in November. The additional cost of keyboard accessories and stand has not yet been established. Please check back for a full device review.