When we assessed the first generation Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold, we were excited about the prospect but felt let down by the execution. Screen folding technology was still in its infancy – some argue it still is – and the X1 Fold Gen 1 was too small and not powerful enough to warrant a recommendation.
If those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it, we want to declare Lenovo the opposite of doomed. Revealed at IFA 2022, the ThinkPad X1 Fold Gen 2 is more than just an improvement over the original; it feels like a brand new product. Gone is the small screen and keyboard of the Gen 1 model, replaced by a vibrant 16.3-inch foldable OLED display and a larger Bluetooth keyboard that feels much better.
Price and availability
The starting price for the ThinkPad X1 Fold Gen 2 is $2,499, although several internal configurations will be available and it’s unclear at this point what the base model will include; in the 13.3-inch original X1 Fold, Wacom’s keyboard and smart stylus were paid for as extras. It’s worth noting that the X1 Fold Gen 2 actually shares a starting price with the base model of the original, which is impressive considering it’s much bigger and more powerful.
That base model will get you an Intel Core i5 processor, but models with i7 chips will also be available. The other variable specs run up to 32GB of DDR5 RAM, up to 1TB of PCIe 4.0 SSD storage, and an optional Nano SIM slot for the 5G-compatible model.
Like the original, the ThinkPad X1 Fold Gen 2 has a range of orientations to suit any work environment. The keyboard and stand are both magnetically attached to each other and attached to the laptop itself, collapsed and snapped to the outside of the chassis when folded. The optional Wacom pen also connects magnetically to the edge of the screen.
The X1 Fold Gen 2 feels very robust, which is a relief given the tendency of folding technology to simply break under very light loads. The outer panels are made of a pleasant, grippy fabric that is made from 100% recycled plastics. That eco-minded design ethos extends to the rest of the product; the speaker chamber, internal battery housing and AC adapter are all made from at least 90% post-consumer recycled materials. Even the packaging is fully compostable.
The OLED screen is quite nice, with 600 nits of brightness and HDR certification. Colors pop and blacks are deep and sharp. Being a bendable panel the surface is thin plastic which has some very minor imperfections around the hinge area but that is practically unavoidable at this stage. It feels good to use the touchscreen with a fingertip or the compatible Wacom stylus, making this potentially a great option for digital artists.
As we mentioned above, the new keyboard has greatly benefited from the upgrade to a 16.3-inch form factor. The original X1 Fold’s keyboard was a cramped, awkward affair; this one feels much easier to use, with full-size backlit keys offering a decent amount of travel. Naturally, it features Lenovo’s signature red Laptop Nipple (sorry, ‘trackpoint’) in the center. The newly enlarged haptic trackpad is sensitive enough but feels a bit flimsy and doesn’t offer a very satisfying click.
We weren’t able to properly test the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold Gen 2 in our short time with it, but we’ll be sure to include our usual set of benchmark results when we get our own unit and update this review.
Despite this, we are confident that the X1 Fold Gen 2 will blow its predecessor out of the water. With the generational leap in performance offered by Intel’s 12th Gen Alder Lake CPUs, we should see improvements across the board. The lack of a discrete GPU means it probably won’t be capable of very demanding workloads, but everyday use and low-to-medium intensity tasks should be a breeze.
Battery life can vary significantly between models as the X1 Fold Gen 2 can be configured with a dual battery setup that places a battery on either side of the central hinge. The stock main battery is actually a 48 Whr unit compared to the 50 Whr of the first-generation model, which is a little concerning – although Alder Lake’s reduced power consumption will hopefully mitigate this somewhat. The optional secondary battery is a much smaller unit at 16 Whr.
An interesting feature of our hands-on was the disassembly of the hinge, showing how Lenovo designed a pair of graphite plates to touch when the laptop is unfolded. This ensures superior thermal transfer across the two halves of the device – a must, as the X1 Fold Gen 2 is completely fanless.
The competition is finally heating up in the foldable laptop space, as Asus simultaneously announces its new Zenbook 17 Fold OLED. Both Asus and Lenovo themselves seem to have learned lessons from the mistakes of the first ThinkPad X1 Fold, with larger screens, sturdier designs and more powerful hardware.
Comparisons are inevitable, but it will be impossible to judge which foldable laptop is superior until we can properly test them both. For now, we’re just saying that the ThinkPad X1 Fold Gen 2 was a joy to use, and we’re a small bit sad we couldn’t do a whirlwind heist to get our hands on one from the Lenovo event venue.
IFA 2022 is Europe’s biggest tech show, and GadgetMasti is in Berlin to bring you all the latest news and announcements, plus our hands-on first impressions of the new TVs, wearables, audio devices and other gadgets on display.