Lenovo has never been shy about its experimental designs, from the keyboard-free Yoga Book to the foldable ThinkPad X1 Fold. Today, Lenovo added some interesting new devices to the list: The Yoga 9i and IdeaPad Slim 9i, two laptops that exchange typical plastic and aluminum materials for more refined textures like glass and leather. These are some of the most daring laptops designs I’ve seen in years.
Let’s start with the cover of the lid. Lenovo is using authentic black leather, partnering with the same leather developers that have worked with popular fashion brands. That’s a good sign, because pleather on a laptop won’t do it any favors.
Lenovo even says the leather has been “ethically sourced” and carefully attached to the aluminum with a “special 20-step bonding process that allows the leather to retain its original appearance.”
“Just like any luxe leather good, the soft, organic exterior of these laptops begs to be touched, and to help ensure the highest standards of reliability, each is inspected and tested to withstand the everyday wear and tear under several conditions, including UV light exposure and tension — up to 3 [kilograms] of pulling force is applied to test durability,” Lenovo stated in its press release.
Leather is a material we’ve seen in laptops like the HP Spectre Folio 13, but it’s still fairly rare. Even more rare than leather is glass. It’s become commonplace in phones, but on laptops, it’s virtually unheard of.
The Yoga 9i changes that by coating the top of its palm rests with a glass surface. This layer is a single sheet of glass that runs edge to edge and cuts off just below the speakers and keyboard. But because this is a single sheet of glass, there is no touchpad or fingerprint scanner. That’s right — no physical buttons or mechanisms at all.
Instead, Lenovo has engineered a haptic feedback system it calls the “Smart Sensor Touchpad.” Like Apple’s Force Touch Trackpad used on its MacBooks, the Smart Sensor Touchpad simulates the feeling of clicking through vibrations.
Rather than a traditional fingerprint scanner, the Yoga 9i and IdeaPad Slim 9i use an ultrasonic reader under the glass located just below the arrow keys. Lenovo says it results in more accurate logins, even with wet fingers.
The glass-and-leather models come standard on the IdeaPad Slim 9i, but an alternate all-metal alternative of the Yoga 9i will also be offered.
The materials aside, there are two major differences between the Yoga 9i and IdeaPad Slim 9i (which is known as the Yoga Slim 9i outside of North America). First, the Yoga 9i is a 2-in-1 convertible, meaning it has a touchscreen and a 360-degree hinge. The IdeaPad Slim 9i is just a traditional clamshell laptop.
Being a clamshell, the IdeaPad Slim 9i is quite a bit slimmer than the Yoga 9i. It weighs just 2.64 pounds and is only 0.54 inches thick. The IdeaPad Slim 9i also comes with a trimmer 90% screen-to-body ratio, with the slimmest bottom bezel I’ve seen on a Lenovo laptop.
By comparison, the Yoga 9i weighs 3.08 pounds and is 0.6 inches thick. The all-aluminum model (without the glass or leather) is slightly thinner and lighter.
The second major difference is that the Yoga 9i features Lenovo’s soundbar hinge, which is featured in a number of high-end Yoga 2-in-1s.
The Yoga 9i 14-inch and IdeaPad Slim 9i are both expected to use Intel’s upcoming Tiger Lake processors, which feature vastly improved Intel Xe integrated graphics and Thunderbolt 4 port technology.
The Yoga 9i also comes in a 15-inch variant, which is 4.4 pounds and 0.77 inches thick. This model is quite a bit more powerful, as you’d expect. It features up to a 10th-gen Core i9 processor, as well as up to an Nvidia GTX 1650 Ti discrete graphics card. This model also comes with an additional USB-A port.
All three models include options for up to a 4K screen at 500 nits, 16GB of RAM, and a built-in IR camera for Windows Hello.
None are cheap, though. The 14-inch Yoga 9i starts at $1,399, and the 15-inch at $1,799. The IdeaPad Slim 9i, meanwhile, starts at $1,599.
Gaming laptop, tablets, and more
Lenovo had a few more products to announce, all set for release this holiday season. First is the Legion Slim 7i gaming laptop, which it claims is the lightest RTX-powered 15-inch gaming laptop at just under 4 pounds. It’s also just 0.7 inches thick. In terms of performance, the Legion Slim 7i sports 10th-gen Intel processors, ranging up to the Core i9, as well up to an RTX 2060 GPU. Other features include up to a 144Hz refresh rate and a new TrueStrike keyboard with 1.3mm of travel.
Lenovo also launched a pair of new Android tablets. The Tab P11 Pro is meant to compete with the iPad Pro, and features an OLED 11.5-inch screen in a unibody silver chassis. It starts at $500, and can be bundled with the optional keyboard attachment and stylus. The second Android tablet is the Tab M10 HD (2nd Gen), a smaller, 10-inch tablet that costs just $130.