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Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 7 review: we’ve seen this all before

Lenovo did its part, but Intel dropped the ball

Photography by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

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The ThinkPad X1 YOga Gen 7 open, displaying The Verge homepage.
Lenovo flexes its muscles once again.

Lenovo has the portable business laptop down to a science. The company has done no shortage of experiments across the ThinkPad line, from featherweight chassis to OLED screens to titanium lids. But it’s unsurprising that the company has made very few changes to the ThinkPad X1 Yoga, a tried-and-true enterprise convertible that’s competent across the board. 

Put the latest Gen 7 X1 Yoga next to its Gen 6 predecessor, and you won’t see much of a difference. There’s a new UHD Plus OLED screen option (but I haven’t tested that one — I’ve got a regular 1920 x 1200 LCD panel here), an ever-so-slight difference in weight, and a better webcam, but the primary difference is that the new Gen 7 is powered by Intel’s 12th Gen processors. My unit, currently listed for $2,369, has a Core i7-1260P with eight efficiency cores and four performance cores (as well as 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage). 

Unfortunately, that new processor doesn’t deliver the kind of performance gains I imagine many X1 Yoga users will care about — but it does lead to a decrease in efficiency that I think harms its outlook overall, especially compared to laptops from Apple. That may be an Intel problem rather than a Lenovo problem, but it is a problem all the same.

First note: while the OLED screen may be a tempting option, I think the 1920 x 1200 touch option I received is quite adequate. I would recommend that most people go for this, given how much high-resolution OLED has been decimating the battery on thin-and-light devices this year (more on that later). 

The 14-inch display is 16:10 (like most of Lenovo’s current offerings), and while I occasionally had to zoom out to work in side-by-size windows, it was more than roomy enough. There are a few small upgrades from the panel we got on the Gen 6, including new anti-reflection and anti-smudge technology. I didn’t have many problems with glare, but I did find the panel retaining several visible smudges after a week or so of use. Those who worry about that can instead use the garaged stylus, which is included. 

The touchpad on the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 7.
These are for you to click with.
The ThinkPad X1 logo on the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 7.
And this is for you to write with.

For those who are familiar with the X1 Yoga line, there are a few other upgrades from the Gen 6. The webcam has been bumped from 720p to 1080p resolution (it looks pretty clear, and you can tweak various settings with a preinstalled Lenovo View utility). The new model supports Glance by Mirametrix, which can automatically lock the computer when you’re away and blur it if someone is peering over your shoulder. The Gen 7 supports HDMI 2.0b, where it previously stuck to the 2.0. This Gen 7 model is 0.02 inches thicker and 0.04 pounds heavier than the model we tested last year.

For those who are new here, I’ll briefly summarize what I like and don’t like about the X1 Yoga. On the plus side, it’s a nice-looking device with a unique gray color that pops out from the sea of black ThinkPads you’ll see in many offices (with splashes of red here and there, of course). Build is sturdy, and the hinge is especially impressive — you will not see any screen wobble when you type on this thing, regardless of the angle you set it at. 

Port selection includes two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C and two USB-A in addition to HDMI (note that the two Thunderbolt 4 ports are both on the left, while there’s a USB-A on either side). The keyboard has a great click, and strokes don’t depress the deck, though some aficionados may find the travel too thin. The Dolby Atmos speaker system sounds great — I never needed my music or TV shows at more than half volume to hear everything. 

The keyboard of the ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 7.
There are two upward-firing and two downward-firing speakers.
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 7 in tablet mode displaying The Verge homepage.
The microphones picked everything up without issue.

My two primary complaints about last year’s chassis also remain. First, the touchpad is a bit small. I respect that this may not be a fixable problem on Lenovo’s side. The issue is that the physical clicker buttons (a ThinkPad staple since the dawn of time) take up a fair amount of the touchpad’s vertical space. When I scroll up and down, my fingers are hitting plastic almost 100 percent of the time. While navigation is smooth, it feels ever so slightly cramped compared to other touchpads of this caliber. 

The trackpoint on the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 7.
Don’t worry — the nub remains.

Second, the X1 Yoga’s finish scratches somewhat easily. The unit’s lid had accumulated a few scratches after just a week of use. While I did carry it around in my backpack fairly often, sometimes packed with other things, including other laptops and tablets, that is a lifestyle some people expect their laptops to weather without issue. (Last year, the keyboard deck’s finish also got beaten up fairly quickly.)

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 7 on a black table seen from above, displaying The Verge homepage.
No scratches on the inside.

Like other ThinkPads, this Yoga has a thousand and one configurations. The cheapest one I’ve found is currently listed at $1,456.95 (with a $2,649 MSRP. This is just how Lenovo does pricing; don’t worry about it) and comes with a Core i5-1240P, 8GB of memory, and 256GB of storage. There doesn’t appear to be a Linux option this year like there was last year.

There are then all kinds of things you can add on — the OLED screen adds an extra $194 to the base price, and a fancy Microsoft Computer Vision camera that separates out the RGB and IR sensors is $111 extra. There are 4G and 5G modems available, and then you have your pick of preinstalled software, including Norton and McAfee, as well as Microsoft and Adobe. Glomping on every possible add-on, I was able to spec this ThinkPad up to a list price of $2,972 (which is actually not that horrifying, all things considered). 

The way I feel about the 1260P processor inside this unit is that it’s clearly more than many general business users will need. For things like document markup, presentations, word processing, and video calls, I never got any heat or heard any fan noise — even on the Battery Saver profile, with 15-ish tabs and apps running in the background. 

Unfortunately, I am going to have to say the dreaded sentence: I wasn’t impressed with the battery life. I got an average of six hours and 13 minutes out of this device at medium brightness — and while I sometimes saw the device break seven hours of continuous use with lighter workloads, it died after close to four and a half in other trials. 

Needless to say, even the most generous seven-hour result is one that Apple and AMD are currently wiping the floor with in the ultraportable space (and at higher resolutions). And it is a significant step down from the X1 Yoga Gen 6, which reliably gave me over eight hours from this same workload. While different workloads and use patterns will always produce different battery life results, I’ve put this unit through quite a few battery runs, and I’m confident that most people will see shorter battery life on this unit than they did from the Gen 6.

The processor in that device, the Core i7-1165G7, was also more than adequate for my enterprise workload. For most people shopping for a thin, light, convertible business laptop, I’m just not convinced that increase in power is worth the corresponding decrease in efficiency. 

It feels unfortunate that I can’t be more excited about this device because there are so many great things about it, from the clicky keyboard to the glare-free screen. But I’ve been using the X1 Yoga as my primary work device for over a week, and what I’ll remember the most about the experience is that I kept needing to get up and plug it in. I would trade the 1080p camera and HDMI 2.0 back to Lenovo in a heartbeat in order to get those extra hours of juice. This might be a rare case where I would recommend a previous-generation laptop over a current-gen model for a sizeable group of shoppers.

That might not be everyone’s personal calculus. If you don’t need a device unplugged for more than five to six hours at a time, this is a more attractive computer for you than it is for me. Still, Lenovo is charging a high price for this device, and there are companies out there making processors that will last you twice as long to a charge. I want a device that’s well over $2,000 to last me a workday, and we shouldn’t be asked to settle for less. A device with the ThinkPad’s beauty, power, price, and legendary branding deserves better.