Lenovo made its first ThinkPad powered by a Snapdragon chip

ThinkPad powered by a Snapdragon chip

The ThinkPad X13s has native 5G compatibility as well as a remarkable 28-hour battery life.

Unlike Apple’s M1 MacBooks, ARM-based Windows on Snapdragon laptops haven’t been as successful or popular. With the new ThinkPad X13s, Lenovo hopes to alter that — at least for commercial clients.

The hidden weapon of the ThinkPad X13s is the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 microprocessor, which Lenovo claims is the first time Qualcomm’s newest laptop engine has been used in a commercial product. Because of enhanced energy efficiency and a low-power, 400-nit 13.3-inch display, Lenovo claims that the ThinkPad X13s can last up to 28 hours on a single charge. That said, I’m going to want to double-check this because I’ve been burned before by shorter-than-expected battery life on earlier Windows on Snapdragon computers.

In line with the ThinkPad X13s’ emphasis on mobile work, the laptop has a fanless design and weighs under 2.5 pounds, with top and bottom panels composed of 90% recyclable magnesium. The laptop also supports 5G (both sub-6GHz and mmWave) and WiFi 6E to ensure you have a fast internet connection wherever you go. Other specifications include up to 32GB of RAM, up to 1TB of PCIe storage, and two USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 ports (but no Thunderbolt 4, as that is an Intel thing).

Inside, Windows 11 Pro is pre-installed, with Lenovo depending on a number of Qualcomm cooperation capabilities, such as AI-based auto-framing for its 5MP camera and clever noise suppression that works with the laptop’s triple microphone arrangement. There’s also a human presence recognition function that may dim or turn off the laptop’s display when it senses that you’ve glanced away, keeping critical data safe from prying eyes.

Now, I realize I’m not exactly Lenovo’s target market for the ThinkPad X13s, and I’m not sure I’d purchase a Windows on Snapdragon laptop for myself because they frequently struggle to run games (even casual titles). Nonetheless, throughout my little hands-on time with the gadget, I discovered a lot to enjoy. Even by ThinkPad standards, its design is remarkably elegant, and its magnesium chassis provides toughness without significantly increasing weight. And, of course, there’s the stated 28-hour battery life, which should last for many days of real-world use (if the laptop lives up to Lenovo’s claims).

During my limited time with the notebook, the one fault I observed was a touchpad that seemed softer and spongier than I’d prefer. However, because this is a ThinkPad, you can always utilize Lenovo’s distinctive TrackPoint nub instead. Fortunately, the X13s’ keyboard felt snappy and had plenty of key travel, so ThinkPad diehards shouldn’t have much of a learning curve.

The laptop’s screen is remarkably bright for a low-power display, and the auto-framing camera functioned well, although a little too aggressively zooming in and out as I moved my head back and forth. There are also infrared cameras embedded in for facial recognition and Windows Hello face login. Furthermore, through the App Assure program, enterprise clients may obtain direct assistance from Microsoft to verify that all of their company’s corporate software operates well on the Arm-based CPU in the X13s.

So, despite the mixed reactions to earlier Windows on Snapdragon computers, the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 and Lenovo’s willingness to put that CPU in a ThinkPad for the first time might herald a new era for ARM-based Windows laptops.

The ThinkPad X13s is expected to go on sale in May, with a starting price of $1,100.

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