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Lenovo Yoga 9i review: Transforming into a great 2-in-1 device

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Lenovo has introduced excellent new features to its Yoga series over the years but has yet to find the perfect formula for 2-in-1 devices. With the latest high-end release, the Lenovo Yoga 9i, the company has come close to putting everything in balance. The 9i has a 14-inch OLED display (now featuring a 16:10 aspect ratio) that looks vibrant and sharp. It also offers decent performance, very good battery life, and some of the best speakers in the hybrid space. There are still a few small design quirks that could be improved upon, but, for the pound, the Lenovo Yoga 9i is the best 2-in-1 laptop in its class.

Lenovo Yoga 9i Review

Lenovo Yoga 9i . design

The thing that immediately stands out about the Lenovo Yoga 9i is its 14-inch screen. They vary by configuration, from a 1920 x 1200 LCD screen – the 16:10 equivalent of 1080p – and a more luxurious 4K OLED screen. The model we tested sits in the center, a 2880 x 1800 pixel OLED touchscreen with DisplayHDR 500 True Black certification. It’s a great looking screen, especially when watching Dolby Vision (+ Atmos) movies and TV shows. I was a little worried that the glossy panel would be hard to see while working outside, but was relieved to find that the Yoga 9i’s screen is easy to see thanks to its 400 nits of brightness.

Another welcome upgrade, the Yoga 9i’s webcam has been bumped up to 1080p. It supports Windows Hello facial recognition and includes a physical privacy shutter. Webcams are now a staple of computing, but most of them are cheap and a high-resolution camera makes a big difference. Like other portable webcams, though, it’s not perfect: The picture gets very muddy in low light, so you’ll want to pay attention to the lighting when making video calls.

Lenovo Yoga 9i Review
The Yoga 9i 16:10 OLED display is the best quality convertible laptop. Brandon Russell

The Yoga 9i’s body design is impressive if somewhat funky. As other manufacturers work on making their devices flat, Lenovo has broken with tradition, giving them 2-in-1s with rounded edges. It is a fun, friendly and comfortable design to carry. At the same time, the rounded edges also have a glowing, mirror-like finish that contrasts with the matte aluminum. Despite the edges, I enjoy the look.

Aesthetics aside, the Yoga 9i has plenty of practical features, including a 45 percent larger touchpad, a dedicated fingerprint reader, and a job description on the right, which features shortcuts to dim the background during video calls and switch between performance profiles. It’s also incredibly well built. The aluminum frame looks sturdy, and there is no flex in the chassis. The hinge feels smooth and shows no wear after flipping it in tablet mode dozens of times.

Thin on the ports

Lenovo Yoga 9i Review
9i features a primary port selection. Brandon Russell

The Lenovo Yoga 9i provides a small, but decent, array of ports for a powerful laptop. It features one USB 3.2 Gen 2 port, one USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 port (supports Data Transfer, Power Delivery 3.0 and DisplayPort 1.4), and two 40Gbps Thunderbolt 4 USB4 ports. For a 2-in-1, it’s a standard choice and allows users to connect plenty of peripheral devices, including a portable hard drive. However, it lacks many large ports that can greatly expand a laptop gadget, such as an SD card slot or an HDMI port. You will likely need a USB Hub if you plan to connect it to a fully furnished office setup.

The keyboard is fine…

Lenovo Yoga 9i Review
The 9i has a wide keyboard, but the feel of typing leaves something to be desired. Brandon Russell

The Yoga 9i features an edge-to-edge keyboard, giving users more real estate to write enthusiastic emails about hitting quarterly earnings goals. This makes the writing environment nice and spacious. At the same time, though, the keys have an unsatisfactory lightness, which has generally been my experience with scissor keys (the mechanism under each key). However, the keys are quiet, which is great if you share an office or work in a public place.

… However, the rotating speaker bar is great

Lenovo Yoga 9i Review
The Yoga 9i’s speaker system is an amazing feature. Brandon Russell

Lenovo’s signature rotating speaker bar, with two mid/bass tweeters on the chassis and dual tweeters on the hinge, is a smart design that ensures sound always points in your direction, whether the Yoga 9i is in the direction of your laptop or tablet. This year’s edition has speakers tuned by the British loudspeaker (and headphone) manufacturer Bowers & Wilkins, which produces richer, deeper and more spatially sound than previous Yoga 9i models. It delivers really great sound by the standards of a built-in speaker, including some of the most rumbling we’ve tried from a laptop. I live on a busy street but had no problem hearing movies and music as the motors ran through louder, and at higher volume levels, the speaker bar never sounded distorted.

Lenovo Yoga 9i performance

Our review unit included a mid-range configuration with an Intel Core 12th Gen i7-1260P processor, Intel Iris Xe graphics, 16GB LPDDR5 RAM, and a 1TB solid state drive. With that kind of power, the Yoga 9i can easily handle everyday computing needs – watching videos, browsing the web, word processing, and email. I ran Geekbench 5, a benchmark software that can measure system performance, and the Yoga 9i scored high among ultraportables: 1170 (single-core) and 7656 (multi-core), outperforming similar machines like the Dell XPS 13 and HP Specter x360 14.

However, I wouldn’t let it off the hook without testing its limits. I often use a Sony A7III full-frame mirrorless DSLR that features a 24MP sensor. Loading a catalog of JPEGs in Adobe Lightroom was easy and posed no problems. But the device looked less exciting when I started editing more complex RAW files, which is common when using integrated graphics. For photo and video editors, it’s also worth noting that it lacks an SD card slot. There are plenty of other good photo editing laptops on the market if this is an important part of your workflow.

I threw other things at it: The Yoga 9i comes with a stylus that features 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity, so I made some horrific sketches. It is a very capable device for artists and excellent for taking notes. When you’re not using the stylus, there’s a holder for it in the Yoga 9i Travel Case. Not having built-in storage isn’t ideal; If you don’t carry the sleeve at all times, you will have nowhere to store the pen.

I also downloaded Steam and played some of my favorite games, including Gate 2. I admit I haven’t tried to run any recent AAA titles, but this one was not designed for that purpose. If you want to play Marvel’s Spider-Man (2018) On a PC, you’ll need something more powerful.

Battery life

Through my workflow, the Yoga 9i’s 75Wh battery lasted roughly nine hours, more or less. It was enough for me to get through a day’s work when I was fully on top of it. My daily use is generally lighter, so your mileage will vary. When I make longer video calls, YouTube calls, and video streaming, this cuts down on battery life by about an hour. Depending on your usage, this may or may not help you get through a full working day.

So, who should buy the Lenovo Yoga 9i?

Lenovo Yoga 9i Review
The Lenovo Yoga 9i has some design kinks, but nothing beats its powerful performance and vibrant screen. Brandon Russell

The Lenovo Yoga 9i gets a lot right. The now classic 2-in-1 design has been improved and improved, thanks in large part to its impressive 16:10 OLED display. But it’s not perfect: The keyboard could use some work, and the reflective finish doesn’t look great. Personally, a few additional ports would go a long way. As someone who uses a laptop and a tablet, this helped standardize my setup, so I no longer fumble with multiple devices. The Lenovo Yoga 9i is an impressive device worth considering for anyone who wants to jump into the hybrid space.

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