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Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 vs. XPS 13 vs. XPS 13 Plus

Dell’s XPS 13-inch laptop lineup underwent a shakeup in 2022, with the clamshell splitting out into the lower-cost XPS 13 9315 and the more powerful XPS 13 Plus. Meanwhile, the old 360-degree convertible XPS 13 2-in-1 morphed into a detachable tablet.

That presents something of a challenge if you’re looking for a 13-inch machine and are leaning toward an XPS. Each machine has its place, but which is best for you? Read on to find out.

Specs and configurations

  Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 Dell XPS 13 9315 Dell XPS 13 Plus
Dimensions 11.5 inches x 7.9 inches x 0.29 inches 11.63 inches by 7.86 inches by 0.55 inches 11.63 inches by 7.84 inches by 0.60 inches
Weight 1.23 pounds 2.59 pounds 2.71 pounds
Processor Intel Core i5-1230U
Intel Core i7-1250U
Intel Core i5-1230U
Intel Core i7-1250U
Intel Core i5-1240P
Intel Core i7-1260P
Intel Core i7-1280P
Graphics Intel Iris Xe Intel Iris Xe Intel Iris Xe graphics
RAM 8GB LPDDR4x
16GB LPDDR4x
8GB LPDDR5
16GB LPDDR5
32GB LPDDR5
8GB LPDDR5
16GB LPDDR5
32GB LPDDR5
Display 13.0-inch 3:2 2880 x 1920 IPS 13.4-inch 16:10 Full HD+ (1920 x 1080) IPS
13.4-inch 16:10 Full HD+ IPS touch
13.4-inch 16:10 IPS Full HD+ (1920 x 1200)
13.4-inch 16:10 IPS Full HD+ touch
13.4-inch 16:10 OLED 3.5K (3456 x 2160) touch
13.4-inch 16:10 IPS UHD+ (3840 x 2400) touch
Storage 512GB PCIe SSD
1TB PCIe SSD
512GB PCIe SSD
1TB PCIe SSD
512GB PCIe SSD
1TB PCIe SSD
2GB PCIe SSD
Touch Yes Optional Optional
Ports 2 x USB-C with Thunderbolt 4
1 x nano SIM (optional)
2 USB-C with Thunderbolt 4  2 USB-C with Thunderbolt 4
Wireless Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.1
Optional 5GB WWAN
Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2 Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2
Webcam 1080p with infrared camera for Windows 11 Hell0
2160p rear-facing
720p with Windows 11 Hello IR webcam 720p, Windows 11 Hello IR webcam
Operating system Windows 11 Windows 11 Windows 11
Battery 49.5 watt-hour 51 watt-hours 55 watt-hours
Price $1,000 $749+ $1,299+
Rating 3.5 out of 5 4 out of 5 stars 4 out of 5 stars

The XPS 13 9315 is the most economical sibling, starting at $749 for a Core i5, 8GB of RAM, a 512GB solid-state drive (SSD), and a Full HD+ IPS non-touch display. Max out the machine, and it costs $1,299 for a Core i7, 32GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD, and a touch display.

The XPS 13 2-in-1 is the second-most affordable, with an entry-level price of $1,000 for a Core i5, 8GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, and without the keyboard and pen (which adds $100 to the price). At the high-end, the 2-in-1 is $1,699 for a Core i7, 16GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD, and the keyboard and pen included.

The most expensive XPS laptop is the XPS 13 Plus. Its lowest configuration is $1,299 for a Core i5, 8GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, and a Full HD+ non-touch IPS display. The most you’ll spend is $2,399 for a Core i7, 32GB of RAM, a 2TB SSD, and either a 4K+ IPS or a 3.5K OLED panel.

Design

The XPS 13 9315 and XPS 13 Plus went in different design directions, both from each other and from the previous XPS 13 generation. They look quite similar with the lid closed, dropping the older model’s mix of aluminum and carbon or glass fiber for an all-aluminum chassis. Open the lid, though, and the XPS 13 Plus is a truly modern design with a glass-covered palm rest hiding an embedded haptic touchpad, an edge-to-edge keyboard with large keycaps and minimal space between keys, and LED function buttons. The XPS 13 9315 is much simpler, with a standard island keyboard and mechanical touchpad. Both laptops feature tiny bezels, and the XPS 13 9315 is available in Sky and Umber colors, while the XPS 13 Plus comes in Granite and Platinum.

The XPS 13 2-in-1 is a standard detachable tablet with rounded edges and moderately large bezels. It’s a rather nondescript slate that comes in Sky and Slate (the latter being the only color available with the 5G version). Add the Dell folio keyboard, and it takes on a profile that’s very similar to Microsoft’s Surface Pro 9.

Each XPS laptop is just as rigid as always, representing the best in contemporary laptop construction. Each clamshell laptop’s hinge is excellent, while the tablet lacks a built-in kickstand and instead relies on the keyboard’s three magnetic angles.

Speaking of keyboards, each one is very good, with plenty of space and snappy, precise switches. Of the three, the XPS 13 Plus’s keyboard is the best. In addition, while the mechanical touchpads on the XPS 13 9315 and XPS 13 2-in-1’s folio keyboard are just fine, the XPS 13 Plus sports a haptic touchpad that offers precise control over its entire surface and virtual button clicks that feel natural. Whether that laptop’s LED function buttons are a good thing is purely a matter of preference, but they work fine.

Connectivity is almost exactly the same across each laptop, which is to say, it’s quite limited. The 2-in-1 has a nano SIM slot for its optional 5G WWAN support, and none of the laptops have audio jacks. All of them include USB-C to USB-A and USB-C to 3.5mm audio dongles in the box. Wireless connectivity is identical as well, although, as mentioned, the XPS 13 2-in-1 has optional always-connected internet support.

Finally, the XPS 13 2-in-1 has a superior 1080p webcam compared to the 720p versions on the clamshells. Each laptop has an infrared camera for facial recognition login via Windows Hello.

Performance

The edge of the Dell XPS 13 Plus' chassis.

The XPS 13 2-in-1 and XPS 13 9315 both utilize 9-watt Intel 12th-generation U-series CPUs with 10 cores (two Performance and eight Efficient) and 12 threads. As such, they both provide less performance than the XPS 13 Plus with 28-watt P-series CPUs with 12 cores (four Performance and eight Efficient) and 16 threads. Dell very deliberately differentiated between the XPS 13 Plus and the XPS 13 9315 in a few important ways, and performance was one of them.

The XPS 13 2-in-1 was faster than the XPS 13 9315 Geekbench 5 and our Handbrake video encoding test, while the latter was faster in Cinebench R23. The tablet was also faster in the PCMark 10 Complete benchmark than both clamshells, which was surprising. But in our CPU-intensive benchmarks, the XPS 13 Plus was the clear leader. None of the machines make for particularly good gaming laptops.

Geekbench
(single / multi)
Handbrake
(seconds)
Cinebench R23
(single / multi)
PCMark 10
Complete
Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 9315
(Core i5-1230U)
Bal: 1,435 / 6,099
Perf: 1,572 / 7,028
Bal: 139
Perf: 144
Bal: 1,064 / 3,032
Perf: 1,065 / 3009
4,535
Dell XPS 13 9315
(Core i5-1230U)
Bal: 1393 / 4,459
Perf: 1,477 / 5,350
Bal: 333
Perf: 192
Bal: 1379 / 3457
Perf: N/A
4,023
Dell XPS 13 Plus
(Core i7-1280P)
Bal: 1,316 / 8,207
Perf: N/A
Bal: 170
Perf: 94
Bal: 1,311 / 6,308
Perf: 1,650 / 7,530
4.309

Display

Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 front view showing display.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

If you want the best possible display, then the XPS 13 Plus is the clear choice. It offers higher-resolution OLED and IPS options with superior colors and, with the former, intense contrast with inky blacks. The XPS 13 2-in-1’s display was sharper than the XPS 13 9315’s Full HD+ panel, and it offers slightly better colors with much better contrast. The XPS 13 Plus’s OLED display is the best option for anyone who wants to do (limited) creative work on the laptop, and it’s also the best option for dedicated media consumers.

Brightness
(nits)
Contrast sRGB gamut AdobeRGB gamut Accuracy DeltaE
(lower is better)
Dell XPS 13 2-in-1
(IPS)
480 1,840:1 99% 78% 0.8
Dell XPS 13 9315
(IPS)
444 1,390:1 96% 75% 1.33
Dell XPS 13 Plus
(OLED)
386 386,030:1 100% 99% 0.83

Portability

The USB-C port on the Dell XPS 13.

The laptops are of similar size in width and depth, while the XPS 13 2-in-1 is naturally the thinnest and lightest without its keyboard attached. All the XPS machines are highly portable laptops that you’ll barely notice in your backpack.

Battery life was best in the XPS 13 9315, with the XPS 13 Plus coming in second place and the XPS 13 2-in-1 offering the least longevity. The two clamshells are more likely to approach a full day’s work without plugging in, and each enjoys small power bricks that are easy enough to carry around.

Web browsing Video
Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 9315
(Core i5-1230U)
Five hours, 55 minutes Eight hours, 25 minutes
Dell XPS 13 9315
(Core i5-1230U)
13 hours, 18 minutes N/A
Dell XPS 13 Plus
(Core i7-1280P)
Eight hours, zero minutes Nine hours, 20 minutes

Different, but all solid 13-inch machines

If you want an XPS tablet, then there’s just one choice: the XPS 13 2-in-1. That’s not to say that it can’t compete with the other two as a laptop, although it’s not as good in a lap as clamshell machines. The clamshells don’t support tablet mode with inking.

Outside of that major consideration, the question then becomes: Do you want a faster, more modern, and more expensive laptop with a superior display, or do you want to save some money and go a less performant route? We think the XPS 13 9315 is a great “budget” option among premium laptops, while the XPS 13 Plus is the better laptop at a higher price. In choosing between them, then it all comes down to which form factor you prefer and how important performance and ultra-modern features are to you.

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