Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i Chromebook Plus Review: Great for the money

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Chromebooks come in all shapes and sizes, and the days of having a Chromebook that’s only capable of using Google Chrome are long gone. The latest-generation Chromebooks are far more capable than laptops a few years ago, and the new Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i is the new convertible in the block to show off what’s possible at just $500.


Suppose you’re after a budget Chromebook that feels good, powerful enough for work and play, not to mention a bit of entertainment for consuming content. In that case, that’s where Chromebooks can offer far more than a tablet, or a cheap Windows laptop. The IdeaPad Flex 5i Chromebook Plus – rolls off the tongue – offers exactly that, in a chassis that’s small, compact, with all of the power you need to get work done, study at college or university, or play a few games and watch some movies after a long day.

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Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i (2023)

Editor’s Choice

The Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i is a well-balanced Chromebook, providing all of the essentials in a compact, light, 2-in-1 form factor. It has plenty of power to run Android apps and games and has Wi-Fi 6, making it great for cloud gaming and consuming content.

Pros

  • Superb 2-in-1 Chromebook
  • Bright and colorful display
  • Great overall performance
  • Backlit keyboard
  • Excellent port selection
Cons

  • Average battery life
  • The plastic build doesn’t feel premium
  • No fingerprint reader

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i: Price & Availability

The Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i was announced on October 2, 2023. The Flex 5i Chromebook Plus is already available, starting at $499.99 in the US. The laptop is widely available in North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

Selected IdeaPad laptops also come with three months of Photoshop web and Adobe Express Premium plans for free.

What’s in the box

The Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i Chromebook Plus comes in a standard box, containing the laptop itself and the charging cable. There’s plenty of padding that protects the laptop during shipping, and if you’ve ever bought a laptop, you know exactly what to expect.

Hardware & Design

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Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i Chromebook Plus (2023) Review / Source: Roland Udvarlaki, Pocketnow

  • Compact design
  • Elegant looks
  • Comes with all the essentials

The laptop measures 0.8” x 12.4” x 9′ in (19.7mm x 315.5mm x 229mm) and weighs just 3.57 lbs (1.62kg), making it easy and compact to fit in any backpack, without adding a ton of weight. It’s light enough that you can just pick it up and take it with you anywhere, and the 2-in-1 design makes it easy to fold the laptop and use it as a tablet.

Looking at the device, you could easily be fooled into thinking this is a premium device made of premium materials. While the lid is actually made of aluminium with a grey/black finish that Lenovo calls Storm Grey, the chassis and the palm rest are made of plastic. It’s worth noting that Lenovo managed to color-match the plastic so closely, that without touching the device, you could be fooled into thinking it’s made of aluminium.

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Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i Chromebook Plus (2023) Review / Source: Roland Udvarlaki, Pocketnow

The aluminium lid and plastic chassis are both this machine’s strengths and weaknesses. The lid makes the device feel premium and elegant, while the chassis itself can flex a little more than I would like and expect. This isn’t a dealbreaker, given that the hinge appears to hold up just fine. Given the flex, the hinge feels sturdy, holding it all together securely. I never thought I could break the laptop, requiring the right force to open or close the device.

With all of that in mind, you might not be surprised that the IdeaPad Flex 5i fails the one-handed opening test as the chassis lifts up when opening the lid.

The IdeaPad Flex 5i features six ports, a USB-C 3.2 Gen 1, and a Kensington lock on the right side, and a USB-C 3.2 Gen 2, USB-A 3.2 Gen 1, headphone / mic combo jack, and a microSD card slot on the left side. Additionally, the right side houses a power button and a volume rocker – similar to how it’s often placed on smartphones and tablets, and similar devices of this kind. Sadly, this also means that the device lacks a dedicated fingerprint button, which would’ve made it much easier to log in to the laptop.

The IdeaPad Flex 5i features a 14-inch IPS LCD display with 16:10 aspect ratio and 300 nits of peak brightness. Given the convertible form factor, it’s not surprising to see that it supports touch input, which also supports the Lenovo USI pen that’s sold separately. The screen features a Full HD display with 1920 x 1200 resolution, and it’s sharp and bright enough in most cases. I haven’t had any problems with the viewing angles or the colors. It has slim bezels, and it looks modern and stylish.

Specifications

  • Great selection of ports
  • Bright and colorful display with great viewing angles
  • Excellent hardware, given the price

The model I’m reviewing (IP Flex 5 Chrome 14IAU7) came equipped with the Intel i3-1315U 1.2GHz chip with integrated graphics. It has 8GB of memory and 128GB of eMMC storage. It has a 14-inch WUXGA display.

Generally speaking, it’s an excellent device for some light gaming, whether that’s Android apps or games optimized to run on Linux or via Stream. Non-professional apps will run perfectly fine without issues, and the device will be more than powerful enough to tackle all workflows that require a browser only.

There’s also a great selection of ports, and users will be able to charge their devices using USB-C, mount their microSD cards, and use USB 3 ports, or the more modern USB Type-C standard. When it comes to the speaker, the laptop sports a 2x2W stereo speakers with Waves tuning. There’s also Wi-Fi 6E on board with Bluetooth 5.0, and the web camera has a privacy shutter that lets you hide your video when you finish the conference call.

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i (2023)

CPU
Intel Core i3-1315U | Intel Core i5-1334U

GPU
Integrated Intel Iris Xe (Intel i5) or Intel UHD Graphics (Intel i3)

RAM
8GB LPDDR4X

Storage
eMMC: 128GB | SSD: 256/512GB

Battery
4-cell, up to 10 hours

Display (Size, Resolution)
14-inch, IPS, 16:10, 1920 x 1080, 300 nits, Touchscreen

Speakers
2 x 2W tuned by MaxxAudio

Colors
Storm Grey, Stone Blue

Ports
1x USB-C 3.2 Gen 1, Kensington Lock, 1x USB-C 3.2 Gen 2, 1x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1, Headphone/Jack Combo, microSD card slot

Dimensions
0.8” x 12.4” x 9′ in (19.7mm x 315.5mm x 229mm)

Weight
3.57 lbs (1.62kg)

Model
IdeaPad Flex 5i Chromebook Plus (14”, 7), 14IAU7

Keyboard
Backlit

Webcam
1080p FHD with privacy shutter

Connectivity
Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.0

Starting Price
From $499.99

Performance

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Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i Chromebook Plus (2023) Review / Source: Roland Udvarlaki, Pocketnow

  • Excellent overall performance
  • Futureproof connectivity features
  • It doesn’t heat up while browsing or playing less intensive games or apps

I’ve used the IdeaPad Flex 5i for both work and play, and it proved to be a great choice. The laptop was plenty powerful to tackle my usual workflow of editing and writing posts, editing photos using various online tools, and playing a few Android and cloud games.

I’ve used the Android version of Minecraft without issues, edited photos using Canva, and edited multiple documents using this machine. I’ve also spent considerable time watching movies, listening to music, and chatting with friends and family. I did some of my holiday shopping and never encountered anything that would’ve stood out as bad.

The Intel i3 in the IdeaPad Flex 5i proved fast and efficient. It was always quick to respond, smooth, and a pleasure to use. Switching between 5-20 Chrome tabs was fluent, and the machine only felt warm when I played games on the device directly.

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Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i Chromebook Plus (2023) Review / Source: Roland Udvarlaki, Pocketnow

Perhaps one thing to note is that the Lenovo Chromebook comes with Wi-Fi 6, which improves the coverage, capacity, and bandwidth and lowers the latency This’s especially important if you want to stream games from cloud gaming services. While I do not yet have a Wi-Fi 6-enabled router, I haven’t come across any latency issues while playing a few games on Amazon Luna.

Generally speaking, the laptop’s performance has been excellent, and I haven’t encountered any hiccups. The web camera is more than usable for video calls, and the speaker is great for watching movies, playing games, and listening to music. All in all, it’s an excellent Chromebook with all of the essentials. Another bonus is that the device is part of the new update schedule that enables the machine to receive updates until at least June 2032, making it an excellent Chromebook for the price that’ll ensure it’ll continue receiving new features and security patches until that date.

Battery

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i Chromebook Plus Review - 5

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i Chromebook Plus (2023) Review / Source: Roland Udvarlaki, Pocketnow

  • Up to 6 hours of battery life with heavy usage or up to 10 hours with streaming and watching movies
  • Support for USB-C PD and fast charging

The IdeaPad Flex 5i is rated to last for up to 10 hours on a single charge, which should provide you enough power to last through a full day. During my use, I achieved anywhere between 6-8 hours of use by using Google Chrome and a few Android apps here and there. This included a few Android games, writing documents, watching videos, browsing, and some light editing using Canva – an online web-based photo editing tool.

Watching videos and consuming other forms of content resulted in an 8 to 10 hour battery life, roughly lining up with Lenovo’s claims. It’s worth noting that your mileage may differ, depending on what other applications you use on the side, and your settings. In general, you’ll be able to go for a full workday, but only if you make a few sacrifices to the brightness levels, and cut down on a few CPU-intensive tasks.

If you’re looking for a laptop that can last up to 6 hours without cutting back on anything, the Flex 5i will serve you well. Those looking to get even more work done will have to carry a charger to make it through a full workday, but luckily, the charger doesn’t take up a ton of space in a backpack. You can also use a USB-C PD charger to top up – so if you already have a fast charger for your phone or tablet, you might be able to get some extra juice.

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i: Should you buy it?

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Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i Chromebook Plus (2023) Review / Source: Roland Udvarlaki, Pocketnow

Buy it if…

  • You’re looking for a thin and light device that enables you to study, and get work done
  • You want to consume content
  • You want to play Android games and apps on a large 2-in-1 Chromebook
  • You’re looking for a compact device with a beautiful display that supports touch and pen input

Don’t buy it if…

  • You want a Chromebook that feels rugged and more sturdy
  • You need a Chromebook that can go all day on a single charge while using more than just a browser

The Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i is a very capable laptop, and an excellent Chromebook. It costs less than other competing premium Chromebooks, and it offers a stylish design, plenty of power to work and play some less demanding games, and a great selection of ports, and an appealing display.

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Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i (2023)

The Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i is a well-balanced Chromebook, providing all of the essentials in a compact, light, 2-in-1 form factor. It has plenty of power to run Android apps and games and has Wi-Fi 6, making it great for cloud gaming and consuming content.

The IdeaPad Flex 5i offers a competitive performance, and while it’s not exactly cheap, it’s on the lower side of things when it comes to Chromebooks, and it fits right in the midrange category. The build quality leaves a bit to be desired, but it held up well during my usage and looks modern. The 2-in-1 form factor also makes it a versatile device that’s excellent for students, those looking for a device when they want to relax, and even those who want to get some work done.

Overall, the IdeaPad Flex 5i offers a well-balanced and great all-around package. It has a beautiful display, plenty of ports, a great backlit keyboard, and just about all the features and performance you need in a budget Chromebook.

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