Lenovo’s Yoga 9i Is a Beautiful, OLED-Capable 2-in-1 Laptop

Lenovo’s Yoga 9i Is a Beautiful, OLED-Capable 2-in-1 Laptop
Photo: Phillip Tracy/Gizmodo

Lenovo’s Yoga 9i (formerly Yoga 900) laptops have been some of the easiest to recommend in the past thanks to their premium feel and robust feature sets, but they have, in recent years, lacked a certain something. The MacBook Air gets by on build quality and outstanding performance, HP’s Spectres are pure luxury, and Dell’s XPS combines unique materials with a modern design. Lenovo’s Yogas, though deserving of the high marks they often receive, tend to quickly fade into the background, becoming an afterthought in a crowded field of premium convertible laptops.

It seems Lenovo felt the same way when it was designing the the latest Yoga 9i. Now in its seventh generation, the laptop was redesigned with rounded, polished edges for what Lenovo calls a “comfort design.” The sleek, attractive appearance alone should keep the Yoga 9i relevant as competitors arrive throughout the rest of the year. But there is so much more to love: the Yoga 9i now sports Intel 12th Gen CPUs, stunning OLED display options, a 1080p webcam, and one of the best touchpads outside of Cupertino. If you’re in the market for a premium ultra-thin laptop, the Yoga 9i is a standout choice.

Lenovo Yoga 9i Gen 7 (2022)

WHAT IS IT?

A 14-inch convertible laptop with an OLED display

PRICE

Starts at $2,649

PROS

Gorgeous OLED display, New design is sleek and elegant, Fast Intel 12th Gen chips, Loud soundbar speaker, Massive touchpad, IR camera and fingerprint sensor

CONS

RIP stylus slot, No microSD card slot, Battery life on OLED model is only adequate, Top configs are pricey

Price and configurations

As Lenovo’s flagship consumer laptop, the Yoga 9i is not cheap. The least expensive model I could find right now is on sale for $2,649 and comes with a 1920 x 1200-pixel IPS display, an Intel Core i7-1260P CPU, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD.

The unit I tested has a 2880 x 1800-pixel OLED display, a Core i7-1260P CPU, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD.

Rounding out the edges

Lenovo quite literally smoothed out the edges of the Yoga 9i’s design. Exaggerated round edges and corners are the most striking updates to this convertible’s aluminium chassis. As trite as it is to compare anything to an Apple product, I can’t help but be reminded of the rounded edges of an iPhone X or Apple Watch, especially with the little hole-punched grilles that act as speaker cutouts.

Photo: Phillip Tracy/GizmodoPhoto: Phillip Tracy/Gizmodo

There is a certain retro-futuristic quality about the new look that I adore. The polished chrome adds a luxurious element while the smoother front edge doesn’t cut into your wrists as you type — it’s why Lenovo calls this a “comfort design.” In any case, while the past few Yogas were uninteresting aside from their mere specs bumps, the simple changes made to this one give it a softer, more refined appearance that really speaks to me.

It might appear as if the Yoga 9 has a notch, but calling it that would be unfair. A tiny lip on the top bezel houses a 1080p webcam and gives you just enough space to pry the lid up with your fingertips. It also rises up and away from the screen rather than cutting into it.

About that webcam: it’s still not great. The colours in my graphic t-shirt were accurately captured in a selfie I shot but there was so much visual noise that I couldn’t tell the photo apart from one taken with your average 720p webcam.

Photo: Phillip Tracy/GizmodoPhoto: Phillip Tracy/Gizmodo

The Yoga 9i has the continental breakfast of I/O buffets. It’s predictably limited but gets the job done. On the left side are two Thunderbolt 4 inputs alongside a full USB Type-A port; on the right side is a third USB-C port and a 3.5mm headphone jack. That USB-A is a saviour and prevented me from using a dongle when I want to connect my 2.4Ghz wireless mouse. The one major omission here is a microSD slot, which you can still find on many 14-inch laptops, including the HP Spectre x360 14.

At 12.52 x 9.06 x 0.6 inches and 1 kg, the Yoga 9i is a fairly portable system. That came in handy, because I took a carry-on-only Frontier flight from Austin to Denver and the laptop barely took up much space in my backpack. If it had been any thicker, I might have been forced to pay the airline’s egregious checked baggage fees.

OLED, enough said

I only needed to look at the Yoga 9i’s spec sheet to know my retinas were in for a delight. Whenever that four-letter acronym — O-L-E-D — appears in the “display” section, you can count on vivid colours and perfect black levels. Sure enough, the Yoga 9i’s 14-inch, 2880 x 1800-pixel OLED panel is magnificent.

Photo: Phillip Tracy/GizmodoPhoto: Phillip Tracy/Gizmodo

The screen gave life to every video I watched or photo I admired. Even Windows 11 felt rejuvenated thanks to the wonderfully vibrant colours of its redesigned icons and soothing backgrounds. Colours were punchy, blacks were inky, and the soaring contrasts made everything pop. I’m also glad that Lenovo shifted from a 16:9 to a 16:10 aspect ratio, a slight tweak that gives you more vertical screen real estate. Perfect for browsing the web or writing up a document.

My only gripe, and I’m nitpicking here, is that the screen doesn’t get particularly bright. I clocked a max brightness of 318 nits (Lenovo rates it at 400 nits, interestingly), which is enough to view the screen under most lighting conditions but, as I found out, not ideal when the Texas sun is beating down on you.

Photo: Phillip Tracy/GizmodoPhoto: Phillip Tracy/Gizmodo

I’d probably choose this OLED display if I were configuring a Yoga 9i, though I wouldn’t blame you for saving a buck and going with the 1920 x 1200-pixel IPS panel, which should enable longer battery life. If you’re a creative pro needing the highest resolution, Lenovo also offers a 4K OLED display, though those extra pixels won’t be generous to the battery.

Closing the garage

Recent Yogas are known for two standout features, only one of which made it to this latest model. Returning to the Yoga 9i is the soundbar hinge, a clever engineering feat that gives the laptop 360-degree audio.

Photo: Phillip Tracy/GizmodoPhoto: Phillip Tracy/Gizmodo

The speakers generally sound excellent. Tuned by Bang & Olufsen, they get extremely loud and didn’t distort at the maximum volume levels. The 3W subwoofers on the sides of the laptop and twin front-facing tweeters located on the hinge even produced a decent “thud” of bass while keeping the midrange and treble clean and crisp. That said, complex instrumentation can sound shrill as I learned when listening to The Killer’s “Mr. Brightside,” a song most laptops can’t seem to contain.

Photo: Phillip Tracy/GizmodoPhoto: Phillip Tracy/Gizmodo

Sadly, the pen garage didn’t survive the redesign, so we can go back to searching for stylii between couch cushions and in the bottom of backpacks. The stylus slot was a beloved add-on, but the 9i’s suite of useful features that still includes an IR camera, a dedicated fingerprint scanner, and a sliding webcam cover.

Massive touchpad, shallow keyboard

Speaking of practicality, the Yoga 9i’s keyboard and touchpad are both quite good. The touchpad, in particular, deserves accolades. The 5.4 x 3.2-inch surface is now 45% larger and one of the biggest you’ll find on a portable laptop — we’re talking almost MacBook big. Better yet, my fingers effortlessly glided across its glass coating like skates on a freshly Zamboni-ed sheet of ice.

Photo: Phillip Tracy/GizmodoPhoto: Phillip Tracy/Gizmodo

The keyboard is also fine; its fingertip-shaped keys are adequately sized and generously spaced, a combo that made my hands feel right at home the moment I started typing this review. Unfortunately, below-average key travel prevents this keyboard from challenging the HP Spectre and Microsoft Surface — I found myself bottoming out, or hitting the deck, just as key inputs were registered. That didn’t slow me down, though, and I typed at a speedy 123 words per minute with a 97% accuracy on a standardised online typing test.

Photo: Phillip Tracy/GizmodoPhoto: Phillip Tracy/Gizmodo

On the right side of the keyboard is a vertical row of what Lenovo calls “1-click functions.” From top to bottom, these include a power mode changer, a background blur button for video calls, an audio profile switcher (music, gaming, video calls), and a light/dark mode slider. I have mixed feelings about the dedicated keys. On one hand, it’s great that users can make simple changes to customise their experience without tinkering with software. On the other, some of these functions — dark/light mode, audio profiles, battery profiles — could easily be automated. I could see myself using the background blur button, though I wish Lenovo had included a video on/off key (there is a mute microphone key) as it would have been easier than sliding over the sticky webcam cover.

Photo: Phillip Tracy/GizmodoPhoto: Phillip Tracy/Gizmodo

I’ve already mourned the loss of the stylus garage, but that death makes way for the Precision Pen 2, a full-size stylus with tilt support that is included with the Yoga 9i and can be stored in a faux leather sleeve — another nice accessory that comes in the box. This new stylus is much more comfortable and capable than the petite one that would slot inside previous Yoga models. I’m by no means an artist, but the stylus keeps up with my erratic swipes and the tilt function worked as advertised.

Intel 12th Gen P-erformance

This is the first ultra-thin laptop I’ve reviewed with Intel 12th Gen processors and the results, so far, have been positive. My Yoga 9i is powered by an Intel Core i7-1260P processor paired with 16GB of RAM. If you’re confused by that “P,” these new P-series processors are 28W processors that slot between the ultra-low-power U-series and high-performance H-series chips. You can expect to see Intel P-series in compact systems like the XPS 13.

This one in the Yoga 9i has 12 cores split among eight performance cores and four efficiency cores. It has a minimum assured power of 20W and maximum turbo power of up to 64W. In practice, the Yoga 9i delivers considerably faster performance than comparable systems running on last-gen chips.

Photo: Phillip Tracy/GizmodoPhoto: Phillip Tracy/Gizmodo

On the Geekbench 5.4 overall performance test, the Yoga 9i notched a single-core score of 1,792 and a multi-core score of 9,516. It demolished the Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 (1,468, 5,570) running on last year’s Core i7, and had an edge on the Asus ZenBook 13 OLED (1,349, 6,824) and its Ryzen 7 5800U CPU.

It took the Yoga 9i around 6 minutes to render a 3D image in Blender, a task the Razer Blade 13 needed more than nine minutes to complete. The Yoga lost out to the ZenBook 13 OLED (5:18) but just squeaked by with a win over the MacBook Air with M1 (6:24).

On the video encoding test, the Yoga 9i took 9 minutes and 2 seconds to convert a 4K video to 1080p. Again, the Lenovo defeated the Galaxy Book Pro (12:29) handily and was just barely outpaced by the MacBook Air M1 (8:52).

I’m hopeful that Intel’s now-shipping Arc discrete graphics will eventually find their way into systems like the Yoga 9i. Until then, ultraportables will rely on Intel Iris Xe graphics, an integrated solution that won’t do much for gamers.

Just enough juice

The Yoga 9i is further evidence that opting for a high-res OLED panel doesn’t necessarily mean being plugged into an outlet all day. With the screen set to 200 nits, the system lasted for 8 hours and 41 minutes on our video playback test.

Photo: Phillip Tracy/GizmodoPhoto: Phillip Tracy/Gizmodo

That’s a decent result when you factor in the OLED screen, and just about matches the Spectre x360 16 (8:48). Of course, if battery life is of utmost priority, then I recommend dropping down to the 1920 x 1200-pixel IPS panel.

Should you buy the Yoga 9i?

Photo: Phillip Tracy/GizmodoPhoto: Phillip Tracy/Gizmodo

I’m asking myself the same question as I glance over at my battered Dell XPS 15. I’ll need to buy a new laptop soon, and my preference is something ultra-portable with a great screen that doesn’t compromise on performance or battery life.

To be honest, I wasn’t expecting the Yoga 9i to be in contention. As mentioned, the previous versions just didn’t hold my attention — there weren’t any glaring flaws, but they didn’t inspire, either. And for that reason, I’ve been leaning toward an HP Spectre x360 14 or Dell XPS 13. With its refreshed design, OLED display, and fast 12th Gen processors, the Yoga 9i Gen 7 gains the “it” factor previous versions were missing.

Would I recommend this laptop to folks in search of an ultra-portable travel companion? Yes, and without hesitation. It does just about everything right, boasting excellent performance, a stunning OLED display, a best-in-class touchpad, and powerful speakers. I wish Lenovo had squeezed in a microSD card slot, and the keyboard and battery life are only OK, but those are minor shortcomings on a device that does so much right.

Where to buy the Yoga 9i gen 7?

Lenovo has it starting at $2,649.