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

Two aspects of the laptop stand out: the rotating soundbar and the OLED display

The champagne/pale gold of Oatmeal is a show-stopper
The champagne/pale gold of Oatmeal is a show-stopper (

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An ordinary laptop that ticks all the boxes — I haven't been able to say that in a long time. The Lenovo Yoga 9i may be the most well-rounded laptop of 2022. It doesn't try to be unique or push the boundaries, like some of the other laptops I’ve reviewed this year, but it is a workhorse nonetheless.

The Yoga line was revolutionary when it first came out in the early 2010s. I had instantly placed an order when I first saw and read about that laptop. The Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 (the first in the Yoga series) may not have been the first 2-in-1 laptop released but it was a pioneer of the 2-in-1 concept. Microsoft followed it with its impressive Surface series. Sadly though, there were more than a few issues with the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13, and I had to return it. Ten years later, Lenovo perfected the concept and brought out a fantastic laptop with the Yoga 9i.

The Yoga 9i starts at 1,30,600, is powered by Intel’s 12th-Gen Core i7 processor with 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD. The model I got for review features a 14-inch (2880x1800) OLED with a 16:10 aspect ratio. There’s a 1080p FHD webcam for all those daily conference calls. The battery size is 75Wh (bigger than its predecessor), and is rated at 10 hours (real-world usage is always a lot less). Lastly, the laptop weighs just 1.4 kg, which makes it lightweight and extremely portable.

Great in-hand feel

The Yoga 9i has a matte aluminium finish and feels premium. Some may not like the shiny look but I don’t think it is overdone. The USP of the Yoga series is the display which can swivel almost 360 degrees and then be used as a tablet. The Yoga 9i is one of the prettiest designs of any Yoga laptop of the past. The design may be pretty standard but there’s a polished and glossy look to it and that works in the laptop's favour. The rounded edges have a nice feel to them. It’s beautiful without being loud.

The laptop is offered in two colours: Storm Grey and Oatmeal. The champagne/pale gold of Oatmeal is the show-stopper. Having used the Yoga 9i in several different rooms and cafes, I’ve had to pick it up and put it down, on a desk, many times. The laptop is easy to pick up, open one-handed and has a comfortable palm rest.

The best features

Two aspects of the laptop stand out. The rotating soundbar has been a stable of the Yoga series ever since the Yoga C930 in 2018. Thanks to a partnership with Bowers and Wilkins, the audio quality is a notch above its competitors. The soundbar is fitted with a Dolby Atmos Speaker System and brings 360-degree sound. What surprised me about the audio are the lows (lower frequencies). If you pick up a bass guitar, you’ll hear a lot of lows. The lows are really good and the clarity of the audio, on the whole, was superb.

The almost bezel-less OLED display was top-notch for consuming content. Whether it was Bangladesh vs India squaring off in an ODI match or a car chase in Fast & Furious, the Yoga 9i didn’t disappoint. The display was sharp, vivid and the colours were punchy. With support for Dolby Vision and HDR, the audio-visual experience on the Yoga 9i was fabulous.

Typing out one article after another

The backlit keyboard has a clean and stylish feel to it. It’s comfortable to type on, quiet and has good key travel. It’s almost as good as the keyboard on the company’s ThinkPad lineup. The touchpad is big and functions without any issues. Even after many hours of typing (this review, another article), I haven’t felt tired for even a moment.

There are shortcut keys on the right side of the keyboard. The keys let you set your power profile, log in via fingerprint scanner and even a toggle for dark mode! One of the function keys allows you to blur your background and another to change the audio profile. It’s pretty useful.

I’ve been sitting at a cafe in Vasant Vihar for about five hours and haven’t needed to reach out and charge the laptop. I’ve been watching YouTube videos, listening to Spotify, using Google Docs, making WhatsApp calls, editing photos, and more. Everything but gaming. The laptop has gone from 94% to 40%, and I still have a good 90 minutes left, according to the battery meter in the taskbar.

It’s also safe to say that I didn’t notice any stuttering or lags during my review period unless I pushed it to the absolute limit. It’s a productivity machine and excels in that respect.

With the P-Series, the power consumption under maximum theoretical load is 28 watts, which hampers the battery life because of more power draw. I managed to get about six hours on average, which is below something like the Microsoft Surface Pro 8 and way below what the MacBooks with Apple’s M1 chip have to offer. It’s not bad, but it could be a whole lot better.

What didn’t work

Something that irks me about a lot of laptops, because I mostly work out of cafes, is noise emitting from the fan. Having a noisy laptop is annoying, not just for me but also for the people working, at the tables next to me. The fans on the 4K model get loud.

There’s no dedicated graphics card and this means that one must rely on Intel’s Iris Xe Graphics. If you’re going to be gaming or editing videos then you must consider one of the competitors’ laptops. For me, even running a casual game like TrackMania Nations Forever took a toll on the laptop. The fans kicked in and made a ruckus.

Last but not least is the issue of bloatware. The laptop comes with its fair share of bloatware — McAfee (and its annoying upgrade notifications) and Lenovo Vantage — and that is never a good look for a laptop.

Is it worth your hard-earned cash?

If you aren’t a hardcore gamer or editing videos on the go, the answer is yes. I’ve used a lot of laptops recently (except for Dell’s latest 2-in-1), and Yoga 9i is one of the best of the lot. The OLED display is fantastic (I wish Lenovo brought the 90Hz variant to India), the rotating soundbar is top-notch and typing is a wonderful experience. With an understated but gorgeous design, the laptop is one of the best in the market.

The Yoga 9i is close to perfection but falls short in a couple of key areas, namely battery life. The laptop, on the whole, is a joy to use daily and if I didn’t already own a Microsoft Surface device, I’d be ordering one right away.

The convertible form factor is beneficial in many ways (especially if you’re a creator or consume a lot of media) and it seems Lenovo has finally got it right with the latest generation of its Yoga line.

The Yoga 9i comes with a steep starting price of 1,30,600 and that’s the only thing that might keep a lot of potential customers at bay. It just feels a little pricey, even if it isn’t. Fret not, as Lenovo often has discounts, and this laptop will probably be somewhat cheaper in the coming months. Wait for a discount, and then spring for a fantastic laptop that can easily last you five years.

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