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BERLIN (Pocket-lint) - When flexible displays first started making their way to market, they originally appeared in smartphones. Either in the flip style phones like the Razr and Galaxy Z Flip, or in the larger book-style, like the Oppo Find N or Galaxy Fold series. 

However, at IFA 2022 it became more clear than ever that manufacturers see this technology being applicable to other devices too. Whether it be laptops or gaming monitors, phone makers aren't the only ones getting in on the flexible action. 

We had a brief hands on experience with Lenovo's latest, second generation Thinkpad X1 Fold, and we think it's one of the neatest implementations of this tech in a laptop so far. 

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Our quick take

There's no denying the appeal of the X1 Fold. It's an interesting take on utilising folding, flexible display panels. There aren't many devices like it out there yet, and it's one of the neatest implementations we've seen yet. 

However, there's no denying that with a price tag comfortably over the $2000 mark in the US (with prices starting from $2499). It's a new technology and so - of course - comes with a big price tag. But it's a lot of money to ask for a technology which still feels very much like it's in its experimental phase. 

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold (2022) initial review: Hands on with the bendy, flexible laptop

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold (2022)

For
  • Neat and compact when folded
  • Big and vibrant display when open
  • High end performance and ports
Against
  • It's really expensive
  • Still an experimental technology that won't appeal to a lot of people
  • Keyboard is an optional added extra

Design 

  • 176.2 x 276.2 x 17.4mm (folded)
  • 345.7 x 276.2 x 8.6mm (unfolded)
  • 1.3kg weight 
  • Magnesium alloy chassis, recycled PET plastic fabric cover

The first thing that strikes about the X1 Fold's design, is how practical it is. Unlike Asus' big folding OLED machine, the ThinkPad-branded device from Lenovo is compact and easy to carry around when folded, taking up roughly the space a mini laptop might. 

Its recycled weaved outer layers give it a tactile feel that make it pleasant to hold, and being able to magnetically snap on the additional (optional) keyboard and stand means that it can be stowed inside virtually any bag. It almost feels like carrying an actual notebook in its folded form. 

Pocket-lint Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold photo 5

Open it up though, and you get a 16-inch display with auto-rotate that lets you use the device in both portrait or landscape mode, or you can fold it to an angle, snap on a keyboard to the bottom half of the display and use it like a little laptop. The key word here then is: versatility. 

It doesn't quite have that same polished, refined look and design you'd find in an ultrabook, but there's no denying the practicality of seeking to bring the benefits of a big screen, but in a package that reduces in size for easy carrying. 

Pocket-lint Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold photo 4

When shut, it closes almost completely flush so they're no huge gap, meaning the form factor is virtually as compact as Lenovo could make it. 

Display

  • 16.3-inch 4:3 folding OLED panel
  • 2560 x 2024 - HDR support - 600 nits
  • 12-inch size when folded

Given the form factor and open/shut nature of the X1 Fold, the display is an intrinsic part of its design, but it's also been developed in a way to try and offer a really good display experience. 

Having an OLED panel means really vibrant colours, deep black levels, high contrast and good peak brightness. It's hard to get a real sense of how good the display is with a short hands-on experience, but colours certainly seemed to pop. 

Pocket-lint Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold photo 9

Our only concern seeing it in the flesh is the flexible plastic surface over the display panel is quite reflective, so any bright light sources in the vicinity could reflect very visibly on the display. 

As mentioned, however, it's the versatility and functionality of the display that matters the most here. Being able to rotate the display to portrait, and use it for - let's say - writing a text document, then rotate it to landscape for media consumption is something you can't do on a normal laptop. You also can't usually just slip a huge 16-inch machine into any small bag. 

Pocket-lint Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold photo 1

There are other benefits too, like being able to hold it like a book and having split screen, or using it at an angle and using a touchscreen keyboard for typing. It also supports stylus input, so with that, the optional keyboard and the touchscreen, there's no shortage of options for input. 

Hardware, performance and ports 

  • 12th gen Intel Core (up to i7)
  • Intel Iris X graphics
  • Up to 32GB LPDDR5 RAM 
  • Up to 1TB PCIe Gen 4 storage
  • 2x Thunderbolt 4 USB-C 3.2 ports 

Of course, in any hands-on session we can't really get a feel for what the every day performance of a laptop/PC will like. However, it seems the X1 Fold should have everything it needs to offer a responsive, efficient experience. 

It's powered by the latest 12th Intel Core processor, configurable up to Core i7 and paired with Intel's Iris X graphics. You can also get up to 32GB RAM and 1TB storage, to ensure have all the memory you need. 

Pocket-lint Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold photo 7

It's got a pair of USB-C 3.2 ports with Thunderbolt 4 support, that'll mean speedy data transfers and display output too. 

To recap

There's no denying the appeal of the X1 Fold. It's an interesting take on utilising folding, flexible display panels. There aren't many devices like it out there yet, and it's one of the neatest implementations we've seen yet. 

Writing by Cam Bunton.
Sections Lenovo Laptops