Lenovo Yoga 9i review: Transforming into a great 2-in-1
Great refinements, but there’s still work that could be done.
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Lenovo has introduced excellent new features to its Yoga series over the years but has yet to find the perfect formula for its 2-in-1 devices. With the newest high-end rendition, the Lenovo Yoga 9i, the company has come close to putting everything in balance. The 9i includes a 14-inch OLED display (now featuring a 16:10 aspect ratio) that looks vibrant and sharp. It also delivers decent performance, pretty good battery life, and some of the best speakers in the hybrid space. There are still a few small design quirks that could be improved but, pound for pound, the Lenovo Yoga 9i is a best-in-class 2-in-1 laptop.
The Lenovo Yoga 9i’s design
The thing that immediately stands out about the Lenovo Yoga 9i is its 14-inch display. It varies by configuration, ranging from a 1920 x 1200p LCD panel—the 16:10 equivalent of 1080p—and the far more luxurious 4K OLED. The model we tested falls in the middle, a 2880 x 1800p OLED touchscreen with DisplayHDR 500 True Black certification. It’s a fantastic-looking screen, particularly when watching Dolby Vision (+Atmos) movies and TV shows. I was a little worried the glossy panel would be difficult to see while working outside but I was relieved to find the Yoga 9i’s display is easy to see thanks to its 400 nits of brightness.
Another welcome upgrade, the Yoga 9i’s webcam has been bumped up to 1080p. It supports Windows Hello facial recognition and includes a physical privacy shutter. Webcams are now a computing staple but most are cheap and a high-resolution camera makes a world of difference. Like other laptop webcams, though, it is not perfect: The image gets very muddy in low light, so you’ll want to be mindful of your lighting when taking video calls.
The Yoga 9i’s chassis design is impressive if a little unconventional. As other manufacturers are making their devices flat, Lenovo bucked convention, bestowing its 2-in-1 with rounded edges. It’s a fun, friendly design that’s comfortable to hold. At the same time, the rounded edges also feature a garish mirror-like finish that clashes with the more understated matted aluminum. Despite the edges, though, I enjoy the look.
Aesthetics aside, the Yoga 9i features lots of practical features, including a 45-percent-larger touchpad, a dedicated fingerprint reader, and a function row on the right, which features shortcuts for blurring your background during video calls and switching between performance profiles. It’s also incredibly well built. The aluminum body feels sturdy, and there’s no flex in the chassis. The hinge feels smooth and hasn’t shown any wear after flipping into tablet mode dozens of times.
Slim on ports
The Lenovo Yoga 9i offers a small, but appropriate, set of ports for an ultraportable laptop. It features a USB 3.2 Gen 2 port, a USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 port (supporting data transfer, Power Delivery 3.0, and DisplayPort 1.4), and two Thunderbolt 4 USB4 40 Gbps ports. For a 2-in-1, it’s a standard selection and allows users to connect plenty of peripherals, including a portable hard drive. That said, it lacks many of the larger ports that can greatly expand a laptop’s utility, like an SD card slot or an HDMI port. You will likely need a USB Hub if you plan to plug it into a fully furnished desk setup.
The keyboard is just okay …
The Yoga 9i features an edge-to-edge keyboard, giving users more real estate to type enthusiastic emails about crushing quarterly earnings goals. That makes for a nice, spacious typing environment. At the same time, though, the keys have an unsatisfying lightness, which has generally been my experience with scissor switches (the mechanism under each key). The keys are quiet, though, which is great if you share an office or work in a public space.
… the rotating speaker bar, however, is great
Lenovo’s signature rotating speaker bar, with two mid/bass woofers in the body and two tweeters in the hinge, is a clever design that ensures the sound is always pointing in your direction, whether the Yoga 9i is in laptop or tablet orientation. This year’s iteration contains speakers tuned by British loudspeaker (and headphones) manufacturer Bowers & Wilkins, which produce richer, deeper, more spatial audio than previous Yoga 9i models. It offers really great sound by onboard speaker standards, including some of the most rumbling bass we’ve experienced from a laptop. I live on a busy surface street but I had no issue hearing movies and music with loud engines passing by and, at louder volumes, the speaker bar never sounded distorted.
The Lenovo Yoga 9i’s performance
Our review unit featured a mid-range configuration with an Intel Core 12th Gen i7-1260P processor, Intel Iris Xe graphics, 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM, and a 1TB solid state drive. With that kind of power, the Yoga 9i can easily handle your daily computing needs–watching videos, web browsing, word processing, and emailing. I ran Geekbench 5, a benchmarking program that can measure a system’s performance, and the Yoga 9i scored high among ultraportables: 1,170 (single-core) and 7,656 (multi-core), outmuscling similar devices like the Dell XPS 13 and HP Spectre x360 14.
However, I wasn’t going to let it off the hook without testing its limits. I often use a Sony A7III full-frame mirrorless DSLR camera that features a 24MP sensor. Loading up a catalog of JPEG images in Adobe Lightroom was straightforward and didn’t pose any problems. But the device seemed a little less thrilled when I started editing more complex RAW files, which isn’t uncommon when using integrated graphics. For photo and video editors, it’s also worth noting that it lacks an SD card slot. There are a lot of other good laptops on the market for editing photos if that’s a significant part of your workflow.
I threw other things at it: the Yoga 9i comes with a stylus that features 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity, so I made some awful drawings. It’s a very capable device for artists and is excellent for jotting down notes. When you aren’t using the stylus, there’s a holster for it in the Yoga 9i’s travel sleeve. The lack of built-in storage isn’t ideal; If you don’t carry the sleeve at all times, you won’t have somewhere to store the stylus.
I also downloaded Steam and played some of my favorite games, including Portal 2. I admit I didn’t try booting up any recent AAA titles, but this isn’t built for that purpose. If you want to play Marvel’s Spider-Man (2018) on PC, you’ll need something more powerful.
With my workflow, the Yoga 9i’s 75Wh battery lasted roughly nine hours, give or take. It was enough to get me through a work day when fully topped off. My daily use is generally lighter, so your mileage will vary. When I threw in longer video calls, YouTube, and streaming video, it cut battery life by about an hour. Depending on your use, that may or may not get you through an entire work day.
So, who should buy the Lenovo Yoga 9i?
The Lenovo Yoga 9i gets a lot right. The now-classic 2-in-1 design has been refined and enhanced, largely thanks to its gorgeous 16:10 OLED display. But it isn’t perfect: The keyboard could use some work, and the mirrored finish doesn’t look great. Personally, a few additional ports would also go a long way. As someone who uses a laptop and tablet, though, it helped to consolidate my setup, so I was no longer fumbling with multiple devices. The Lenovo Yoga 9i is an impressive device worth consideration for anyone who wants to jump into the hybrid space.