Lenovo Flex The First 5G Laptop Review |

 The First 5G Laptop

Lenovo Flex First 5G Laptop Review |The First 5G Laptop


It's thin, mostly. It's light, kinda. And it's always connected to the internet. The real question is one extra wireless G worth
an extra half a G in dollars?  

By now, the always-connected PC formula is pretty well established. You see, instead of a chip from Intel or AMD powering the Lenovo Flex 5G


It's an ARM-based Snapdragon 8cx that has much more in common with smartphone silicon. 

That means that instead of being optimized for raw power, it's optimized for lower battery consumption, for faster wake-ups, for
operating without a fan, and yes, for staying always
connected to the internet.

Lenovo Flex First 5G Laptop Review | The First 5G Laptop

Now, all that was also true of the Samsung Galaxy Book S. I called that laptop the first always-connected PC.

I'd actually buy because I felt it hit the sweet spot between functionality, portability, and price.  


In Samsung's case, a cool $999. Lenovo wants an extra $400

to $500 for the Flex 5G, depending on whether you buy it directly or from carrier partner Verizon. In exchange, it brings more features. True to its name, 

Lenovo Flex First 5G Laptop Review | The First 5G Laptop


Folds Back:

The Flex can fold back on itself to become a tablet on demand. Its display is slightly larger than Samsung's at 14 inches, and its battery is much bigger at 60 watt hours to Samsung's 42.  


Those improvements make it easier to forgive the added weight and the deleted microSD slot. Of course, the principal reason
for the premium price is 5G, which is included in both Sub-6
and Millimeter Wave flavors, so you can indulge your need for speed regardless of carrier. 

My review unit came with a Verizon SIM preinstalled to matched the on-device branding. So I took it across town to one of the 5G Millimeter Wave nodes in Brooklyn and fired up my speed test
for the expected results. 

Yup, Verizon's speed promises with its 5G network are no joke. Ultrawideband really does deliver insane downloads. And in my view, Millimeter Wave 5G makes a lot more sense
on a laptop than a phone. 

See, with a phone, you're typically walkin' around or at least shifting it from hand to hand, and as I've now demonstrated
in several videos, even those tiny movements can break the fragile and finicky Millimeter-Wave connection. 

Well, with a laptop, I mean, think about it, you're typically more stationary. You pop it open on a table and you're gonna be there for a bit, which makes it easier for the machine to hold onto the signal. 

To further help with that, Lenovo built a seven-element antenna array with modules all around the perimeter of the base. So you should expect the same or similar reception in laptop and tablet modes. Of course, that's assuming you're willing to work outside.  

Millimeter Wave has a difficult time penetrating even dense foliage,
let alone shop windows. And in this phase three of reopening NYC, the only cafes I could find were well-covered by 4G LTE, with no Millimeter Wave in sight. 

It's enabled 5G uplink, I'm still not seeing nearly the
upstream speeds I should be. 4 Chan reported the same up in
Boston, for what that's worth. 

Now yes, you can pop in a T-Mobile SIM and get some low-band 5G instead, and Verizon will be launching its own low-band 5G later this year, but that particular flavor
of fifth-generation wireless is only gonna give consumers
about a 20% increase over 4G speeds at best.


Okay, let's put connectivity aside for a sec, talk about the laptop. It's almost perfectly average. I love that the keyboard deck is covered in comfy SoftTouch, which is nice and forgiving on the palms. And if you don't wanna use the Windows Hello Camera to login, there's a fingerprint scanner right, where you expect it. 

As for the keyboard itself, I had issues with dropped keystrokes on my first review sample. Lenovo was kind enough to
overnight me a second device, 

but I still ran into similar issues on that deck. That said, I'm still the only reviewer 

I've talked to who reports this issue, so I don't know, maybe it's me. 

Even when functioning properly, key travel is just as shallow and unsatisfying as on the Galaxy Book S. Speakin' of shallow, the
speakers are both underpowered and tinny, despite their
Dolby Atmos tuning. And on the display front, the panel is bright
enough for outdoor use, but only when adaptive
contrast isn't screwing it up. 

This is a Windows 10 feature meant to save battery and reduce eye strain, but it effectively reduces the brightness of the display if you're looking at anything but a blindingly white background. That makes it both harder to use outdoors and more frustrating
if you're doing things like editing photos.  

While other machines allow you to toggle this feature, this one doesn't, and that's a bummer. Back on the bright side, there's a handy hardware switch to disable the laptop's radios in case you need to save a little bit of battery. But to be honest, you
probably won't need it. 


On my first run-through, I got nine hours of use on a mix of WiFi and cellular networks, with both indoor and outdoor browsing at an average of 90% screen brightness. 

My second and third runs trended even better. Now, there's no hibernate option here and the battery drains
at about one percent per hour in standby, so you will have to charge it every night.

if you're a heavy user. But there's no question that the Flex 5G should be able to see most folks through even a packed workday.

Keep in mind, though, that that killer combo of connectivity and
endurance comes at a cost. Even though for a web-heavy
a workflow like mine, the combination of Microsoft Edge and web apps get me through 90% of the work I need to do, the fact remains that you still can't run as many legacies Windows programs on ARM. Including old standbys like Photoshop. And that makes it a more complicated pitch to the business users.


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