The demand for 2 in 1 notebooks (or convertibles) is not very big, but models of the type manage to have some prominence in the market. O Lenovo Ideapad Flex 5i is one of the options that represent the category in Brazil.
The model has a 14-inch full HD screen with 360 degree aperture, 8GB of RAM and SSD up to 256GB. There are several processor options, however. This review evaluates the intermediate version, which brings the Core i5-1035G1, a tenth generation Intel chip.
Does this processor do the job? Is notebook tablet mode interesting? Does the battery have decent battery life? I will tell you these and other details from now on.
Lenovo Ideapad Flex 5i Review on Video
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Design, Connectivity and Audio
A thinning on the sides gives the impression that the Ideapad Flex 5i is a slim laptop, but not quite: closed, it’s 17.9 mm thick. Despite that, it’s compact enough to be carried in a backpack or briefcase with ease.
The weight of just 1.5 kg contributes to this. The problem is that, in a way, this relative lightness compromises the robustness aspect. The notebook has a plastic body that doesn’t seem to be the toughest. At least the cover behind the screen is metal.
In terms of connectivity, the Ideapad Flex 5i has two conventional USB 3.1 (Gen 1) ports and an SD card reader on the right side. There we also find the on / off button, which has an LED that is lit when the equipment is on and flashes during sleep mode.
The left side houses a USB-C port, the connection for headphones and microphone, as well as an HDMI port. Ethernet connection? It does not have. That’s all that was needed for the model to be considered perfect in connectivity — or something close to it.
Ah, the Flex 5i also has Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) and Bluetooth 4.2. Both technologies worked well in the tests.
Another important detail: the USB-C port is also powered. Despite this, the laptop comes standard with a charger that uses a dedicated connection.
Unlike most current notebooks, the Flex 5i has an audio output positioned on either side of the keyboard, not the bottom. This approach is interesting because it prevents the sound from being muffled by the notebook’s proximity to a surface.
By the way, the volume isn’t the loudest, but the audio is clear and immersive, and it can even reproduce details that we normally only notice with headphones.
Screen, tablet mode and webcam
The Lenovo Ideapad Flex 5i has a 14-inch WVA-type LCD screen (a standard similar to IPS) with full HD resolution (1920×1080 pixels).
These features make the experience of using the notebook for videos and games very good. You don’t easily perceive pixels, and you don’t have to raise or lower the screen to adjust the field of view — the component looks good from varying angles.
But not everything is perfect. The brightness, at 250 nits, may not be enough for you to see the screen content in a very bright environment. Also, the color intensity of the panel is just ok. A little more liveliness here would be great.
Despite these limitations, this screen is way ahead of the TN panels that are so common in mid-range notebooks sold in Brazil.
As you already know, this is a 2 in 1 notebook, meaning it can be turned into a tablet if you rotate the screen 360 degrees. When this is done, the keyboard and touchpad are automatically disabled.
This mode of use can be interesting for applications that do not require a keyboard, such as videos. For handwritten notes or artwork too: the Ideapad Flex 5i’s screen is touch sensitive, so it can be used with a stylus (Lenovo offers a stylus of the type, but sold separately).
360-degree panels often raise a concern: won’t the hinges wear out over time? That possibility exists, of course, but the Ideapad Flex 5i’s folding mechanisms seemed pretty tight to me. It even takes a little effort to rotate the screen.
I like the fact that the component has thin edges, at least on the left and right sides. The upper part is a little more generous in this regard, on the other hand, it houses the webcam.
At 720p, the camera is simple. You’ll be able to participate in video conferences without difficulty, but don’t expect high quality images here.
If you tend to cover the webcam when it’s not in use, good news: the camera comes with a very discreet retractable locking latch.
Keyboard, touchpad and fingerprint reader
In Brazil, backlit keyboard is often a feature of high-end notebooks. Fortunately, the Lenovo Ideapad Flex 5i breaks the rule: the notebook has LEDs on the keys with two levels of intensity and a white illumination that slants slightly towards purple.
The keyboard also comes in the ABNT2 standard and features keys with a curved base — a feature that characterizes Lenovo laptops — and a texture that makes typing more comfortable.
Thanks to these attributes, we can consider the keyboard one of the Flex 5i’s strengths. But the same cannot be said for the touchpad. The component recognizes touches accurately, but appears to be fragile: sometimes I get the impression that clicks will make the component sink and never come back. Also, the touchpad could be a little bigger, right?
In return, Lenovo has placed a fingerprint reader on the Ideapad Flex 5i. Reading is fast and works on the first try most of the time. I wouldn’t say this is an indispensable item in notebooks, but when you are used to unlocking Windows with your fingerprint, you don’t want to know passwords anymore.
Performance, software and battery
The Core i5-1035G1 that powers the Ideapad Flex 5i tested in this review is a 10th generation Intel processor designed to, as much as possible, balance performance with low power consumption.
This mission is successfully accomplished here, albeit within certain limits. The notebook smoothly ran all tested productivity or entertainment applications: Word, PowerPoint, Photoshop, Chrome with multiple open tabs, Google Earth, meetings via Zoom, Netflix in full screen, among others.
As the device has 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB SSD, loading the operating system and opening software are usually quick actions, as well as switching between applications.
In games that demand more from the GPU — an integrated Intel UHD — the situation changes. Asphalt 9: Legends, for example, only runs well with medium graphics settings, and even then it’s possible to notice a drop in frame rate with some ease. It’s no surprise: the Core i5 here is not a chip destined for demanding tasks.
A detail that pleased me a lot: even when working at full speed, the notebook doesn’t get too hot. You’ll hear the fan spin, but it’s not like the laptop is going to take off.
But I also found a detail that bothered me a lot: the RAM memory of the Flex 5i is soldered to the motherboard. This means that you cannot increase the memory or simply change the module in case of failure.
It’s important to note that the notebook comes with Windows 10 Home and, luckily, no antivirus trial. The only extra software here is Lenovo Vantage, which allows you to configure some features of the device and, at the same time, serves as the brand’s advertising channel.
It remains to talk about it, the battery. The component has 53 Wh and, according to Lenovo, can reach ten hours of autonomy. To take the test, I played a 2h15min video on Netflix with maximum screen brightness, used Chrome for an hour, listened to Spotify via speakers for an hour as well, and made a video call for 20 minutes.
I ran these tests with power saving mode turned off. As a result, the battery charge dropped from 100% to 8%. That is, we can estimate the autonomy in approximately five hours when there is no performance limitation. It’s not a bad number, but yes, the battery could last a little longer.
The recharge time from 10% to 100% with the laptop turned off was 2h15min. There is a quick recharge mode that cuts this time by approximately half.
Lenovo Ideapad Flex 5i: is it worth it?
What makes the Ideapad Flex 5i interesting is not its 2 in 1 proposal, but the fact that the notebook brings together features typical of more advanced models. I’m talking about the WVA screen, the backlit keyboard and the fingerprint reader.
At least in Brazil, it’s not difficult to find notebooks that have similar hardware, but that don’t include one or more of these features.
Given this, I believe the only thing missing for this to be a complete notebook is the Ethernet connection. If this feature is not essential for you, the other attributes make the Flex 5i worthwhile, yes.
It’s true that the external finish could be more robust, that the laptop deserved a better touchpad, that the webcam isn’t that great, and that soldered RAM is a major limitation. But, looking at the work as a whole, the positive points stand out.
The price doesn’t help — although that goes for any notebook sold in Brazil today. The configuration analyzed here has an official price of R$ 5,349. Expensive.
As of the publication date of this review, you can find the model with around R$500 off on Lenovo’s website and at some retailers. The price is still high even with that, but it’s something.
Lenovo Ideapad Flex 5i notebook
- Comfortable, backlit keyboard
- WVA and full HD screen instead of TN
- Fingerprint reader is always welcome
- Firm display hinges
- Fragile finish
- Basic webcam
- Missing Ethernet connection
- Processor: 1GHz quad-core Intel Core i5-1035G1 with UHD Graphics GPU (there are versions with Core i3 and i7)
- RAM: 8GB of 3.200 MHz DDR4 (soldered to the motherboard, no expansion)
- Storage: 256 GB NVMe M.2 SSD
- Screen: 14-inch WVA LCD, full HD (1920×1080 pixels), touch sensitive, 250 nit brightness
- Drums: 52.5 Wh (three cells)
- Connectivity: Conventional USB 3.1 Gen 1 (2), USB-C 3.0 (1), HDMI (1), Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac), Bluetooth 4.2, connection for headphones and microphone
- OthersFeatures: ABNT2 keyboard with LED backlight, fingerprint reader, 360 degree folding screen (tablet mode), 720p webcam with protection, two speakers, SD card reader, graphite color
- Operational system: Windows 10 Home
- dimensions: 321.5 x 217.5 x 17.9mm
- Weight: 1.5 kg