Lenovo Yoga 9i review: Possibly 2022’s best 2-in-1

Lenovo was one of the first companies to really nail the 2-in-1 design and has since refined the formula for its premium convertibles. And while there are a few small variables I don’t entirely agree with for this year’s edition, there’s no doubt that the new 14-inch Yoga 9i continues Lenovo’s excellent track record. You get great battery life, clever (and surprisingly) powerful speakers, good performance, plenty of ports, and even an optional OLED display. In short, if you’re looking for a lightweight, durable, and highly adaptable 360 ​​hybrid, this thing ranks high on your list.

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Now I have to admit, when I first unboxed the Yoga 9i, there was something about its design that just didn’t look right to me. And after thinking about it for a few days, I realized that Lenovo’s attempt to create a luxurious aesthetic doesn’t go far enough. Most of the laptop is made of matte aluminum, including the lid, deck and bottom, while other components like the keyboard and touchpad have been painted to match. Lenovo calls this particular color Oatmeal, which isn’t particularly flattering, although I have to say the addition of subtle brown tones looks better in person than the name suggests. Nothing really unusual so far.

Lenovo Yoga 9i

advantages

  • Gorgeous OLED display
  • Powerful speaker
  • Strong battery life
  • Four USB-C ports
  • Physical webcam shutter
  • Includes pen and travel case

Disadvantages

  • crying fans
  • Flat keyboard
  • No built-in stylus storage

The problem is that for 2022 Lenovo has rounded the sides of the Yoga 9i to hold the laptop more comfortably, which feels great. But then the company polished those edges to a mirror-like shine that feels very out of place next to its satin finish. Then add that the only other piece of shiny metal in the entire system is the hinge/speaker bar combo and you’re left with something that doesn’t quite exude the same vibes as high-end jewelry and also don’t have the appeal of more minimalist competitors like the Surface or MacBook. Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so if she I think the 9i is great, ignore me. (That means I’m keeping a bunch of older Lenovo Yogas that look better than the new ones.)

For 2022, Lenovo has rounded the sides of the Yoga 9i, making it much more comfortable to use and hold.

Sam Rutherford/Engadget

Aside from its looks, the Yoga offers excellent build quality with very little flex across the chassis. Other small tweaks include a larger touchpad, some handy new media and video call buttons on the right, and a subtle notch around the webcam that makes opening the lid just one touch easier. I also appreciate the dedicated fingerprint reader on the bottom right. My only remaining nitpick is the feel of the keys. They don’t have much travel and their low actuation weight makes the whole thing feel a little lifeless, which is kind of a shame. And having used countless ThinkPads over the years, I know Lenovo can do better.

On the plus side, the 9i packs a stylus with 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity. It also comes with a built-in USB-C for easy charging. And while there’s no place to store the stylus inside the laptop like some previous Yogas, you can toss both the stylus and laptop in Lenovo’s included travel sleeve.

Display, sound and webcam

With the speaker integrated into the hinge, the Yoga 9i delivers great audio quality no matter what mode it's in.

Sam Rutherford/Engadget

As standard, the Yoga 9i comes with a 14-inch LCD display with a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 and a new and slightly larger 16:10 aspect ratio (up from 16:9 on the previous model). But our $1,500 review unit has a 2,880 x 1,800 OLED screen that’s brilliantly punchy. Not only does it boast VESA DisplayHDR 500 True Black certification, but it also delivers just under 400 nits of brightness. This gives you rich, vibrant colors and excellent screen legibility, no matter the conditions. If you have a little wiggle room on your budget, this is a great component to upgrade.

When it comes to audio, the Yoga 9i features Lenovo’s signature speaker bar hinge. As well as an innovative design that ensures the sound is aimed towards you (you know, rather than away from you or towards a table like some laptops like to) in virtually any mode, the Yoga delivers great audio with some of the deepest Bass I’ve heard from a laptop this size. Look, you’re not going to shake your neighbor’s cupboard, but this is one of the few times I won’t complain about a notebook that lacks bass.

Unlike some of its competitors, the Yoga 9i comes with an included stylus and travel case.

Sam Rutherford/Engadget

In another small but very welcome upgrade, the 9i comes with a new 1080p webcam that supports Windows Hello. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: 1920×1080 should be the bare minimum for cameras on modern laptops. And while I’ll admit the picture quality can be a little grainy in low light, it’s still sharp enough for all your video calling needs. And if you look closely, you’ll see that there’s even a physical shutter that you can close when not in use. It’s a nice touch for a little more peace of mind.

perfomance

Packed with a new 12th Gen Intel Core i7-1260P CPU, up to 16GB RAM and a 1TB SSD, the Yoga 9i promises plenty of speed for all your standard productivity needs. Among the ultraportables without a discrete graphics card, it scored top marks in Geekbench 5, PCMark 10 and Cinebench. However, the integrated Intel Iris GPU means that while it managed a solid time of 37 seconds in our 4K video encoding benchmark in Handbrake, you’ll still want something more substantial if you’re looking to do a lot of heavy photo or video editing.

Laptop

PC Mark 10

Geekbench 5 (multi-core)

Cinebench R23

Lenovo Yoga 9i (14 inch)

5.222

6,641

1,583/8,719

Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2

4.213

3,764

1.127/3.115

HP Specter x360 16 inch

4,785

4,200

1,515/3,722

My only minor complaint about the 9i’s performance is that if you really push it, you might hear a high-pitched whine coming from the fans. I’ve only encountered this while gaming, and you might not find it that distracting. But even if you do, you can change the laptop’s mode to reduce noise, although this can result in some thermal throttling.

battery life and connections

The Yoga 9i has a total of four USB ports, including two that support Thunderbolt 4.

Sam Rutherford/Engadget

Coming to battery life, despite its above-average performance, the Yoga 9i still put in an excellent time in our local video rundown test. It lasted 14 hours and 22 minutes, which is the second-longest mark we’ve seen this year, behind only the Surface Laptop Go 2’s time of 14:43. And in the real world, I’ve had no trouble getting through a full work day on a single charge.

Laptop

Battery life

Lenovo Yoga 9i (14 inch)

14:22

Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2

14:43

HP Specter x360 16 inch

10:55

Plus, since the laptop supports USB-C charging, there’s a good chance you can borrow an adapter from a friend or colleague in a pinch, even if you forgot your power brick at home. Finally, I would like to thank Lenovo for finding room for four USB ports (one Type-A and three Type-C), including two with Thunderbolt 4. Many laptop manufacturers have started making systems with only two or three ports gear – even on standard clamshells – so it’s nice to see that the corner cut hasn’t hit the yoga line yet.

Wrap up

Putting aside my admittedly subjective complaints about the Yoga 9i’s design, this thing is a near-ideal 2-in-1. It offers good performance, great sound and even better battery life in a well-built and adaptable body. Hell, Lenovo even puts an active pen and a laptop sleeve in the box, the latter of which lets you store the pen when you travel. Its display is now 16:10, which gives you a little more screen real estate for productivity, and thanks to its curved edges, this thing feels noticeably better in your hand than last year’s model. You even get two different biometric login options.

The Yoga 9i supports USB-C charging, making it easy to switch to a third-party power adapter on the fly.

Sam Rutherford/Engadget

The only real issue is the somewhat flat and squishy keyboard. But given the 9i’s rest of its strengths, that’s probably not a dealbreaker unless you’re a really demanding typist. And while the starting price of around $1,250 isn’t cheap, our test model with its OLED screen is only $1,500, which feels like a steal. I should also mention that the OLED model is a Best Buy exclusive, at least in the US. However, whichever version you choose, you’ll get a quality product. Considering the pedigree of Lenovo’s Yoga line, it’s hardly a surprise that this year’s 9i performs well on almost every metric. So if you’re looking for a top-notch all-rounder with great durability, there aren’t many systems that do it better.

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Russell Falcon

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