Lenovo Yoga 9i hands-on review: Sight for sore eyes

Work is far from only thing laptops are used for these days. Most people often want a laptop that can double for watching Netflix, listening to music, and even light gaming.

As revealed at CES 2022, Lenovo’s new Yoga 9i seeks to fill that hole and then some with some striking new design choices. I got to spend some time with one, and it’s safe to say the Yoga 9i is a laptop that wants to do it all.

The 2022 Yoga 9i vs. the 2021 Yoga 9q.
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Specs

  Lenovo Yoga 9i
Dimensions 12.52 x 9.06 x 0.6-0.65 inches
Weight 3.26 pounds
Processor 12th Generation Intel Core i7-1260P, Intel Core i5-1240P
Graphics Intel Iris Xe graphics
RAM Up to 16 GB LPDDR5
Display 14 inch 4K OLED/400 nits/100% DCI-P3/ 60 Hz/16:10 aspect ratio
Storage Up to 1TB PCIe SSD (Gen 4)
Touch Included, pen also supported
Ports Left: 2x USB-C Thunderbolt 4 USB 3.2, 1x USB Type-A Gen 3.2,

Right: 1 x USB 3.2, 1 x Audio Jack

Wireless Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2
Webcam 2 MP FHD, Windows Hello IR webcam
Operating system Windows 11
Battery Up to 20 hours of local video playback on FHD LCD model. Up to 10 hours in MobileMark 2018 testing.
Price $1,400, April, June 2022.

Design

The rounded corners of the Lenovo Yoga 9i.
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The most obvious thing that makes the Yoga 9i special is the way it looks. The new Lenovo convertible sports a rounded-off design, ridding the squared-off look from past versions. That meant running my hands on the laptop’s edges felt like touching a jewel.

Like the visual effect that you get with the diamond-cut finishes on Dell’s old XPS 13, this all makes the new Yoga a premium-feeling device. The rounded finish carries from the display all the way to the bottom portion for a unified look.

Those rounded edges even make converting the tablet into the various modes a lot smoother, so it’s not jabbing into your skin. That’s important for a device you might end up using in your lap when watching a movie.

But that’s not all. The other signature feature of the Yoga 9i is its speaker bar, which makes a return over the previous generation. Lenovo claims the new speaker is louder than those in past models.

Lenovo Yoga 9i speakers.
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That’s because Lenovo has introduced the first-ever Bowers & Wilkins-designed audio system, optimized by Dolby Atmos.

When I got to try it out, I was impressed. When I pulled up a YouTube video testing the laptop’s bass levels, I immediately felt the vibrations from the woofers on the sides of the laptop. Then, as I converted the laptop into tent mode, the audio kept blasting without muffling or fading away — still shooting at my face. It’s quite an immersive experience, and Lenovo’s software makes it even better.

A “Vibe Check” key on the keyboard can help switch audio profiles — there’s a music mode, gaming mode, and a movie mode. All that means using this laptop made it feel like I was sitting in a movie theater, but I soon would find out the display makes things even better.

Display

Lenovo Yoga 9i display.
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One of the other signature features of this year’s Yoga 9i is the display. Lenovo has slimmed the bezels down significantly, making this convertible ideal for watching movies and consuming other content. The company says the device now has a 90.4% screen-to-body ratio.

The panel onboard the unit I was hands-on with is tuned at a resolution of 3840 x 2400, at 400 nits, but there’s also another OLED model tuned at 2800 x 1800, and a standard 1920 x 1080 FHD LCD option. The higher-resolution models all sport OLED technology, which was pleasing to see, knowing last year’s model came with a duller IPS panel.

The OLED option brings darker darks and lighter brights in certain images. As an example, in a YouTube video, I could make out the finest grains in a painted wooden sculpture, and the colors of the paint engulfing it. Lenovo tells me this is thanks to the Dolby Vision HDR certification, with the device’s peak brightness of 400 nits.

It’s also great to see a 16:10 aspect ratio panel on the Yoga 9i. This means more vertical room when multitasking. Last year’s Yogas were stuck in 16:9, while other convertibles like the HP Spectre moved to the newer 16:10 ratio. Lenovo has finally caught up.

Keyboard and trackpad

Lenovo Yoga 9i trackpad and keyboard.
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New on this year’s Yoga 9i is a series of keys on the right side of the keyboard. Overall, the keyboard looks and feels the same in the past. For most people, it might feel a little bit shallow, but it is squishy and responsive. The keys on the Yoga are also a bit closer together because of the new function keys on the far right side.

Lenovo even moved the fingerprint button away from the trackpad. It now lives on the right side, away from your palms.

The new keys on the right side of the Yoga 9i are pre-programmed for a variety of things. A Smart Power performance mode key can help you get better performance or longer battery life. A background blur key helps you turn on the background blue feature in conferencing apps in one press. The Color mode key, meanwhile, makes it switch into dark mode and light mode.

Specialized keys on the right side of the Yoga 9i keyboard.
Arif Bacchus/Digital Trends

As for the trackpad, it’s now 45% larger. In my time with the Yoga 9i, the large trackpad gave me more room for scrolling and smoother clicks on YouTube.

It’s not as smooth as a haptic touchpad as found on the new ThinkPad Z13 and Z16, but it definitely is decent for a machine of this size.

Ports

The ports on the Yoga 9i.
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Lenovo is including a few ports on the Yoga 9i, including a USB Type-A port. The port options on the left side include two USB-C ports (supporting Thunderbolt, DisplayPort, Power Delivery, and USB 3.2) as well as a USB Type-A Gen 3.2 port.

You’ll also find a USB 3.2 port and an audio jack on the right side. Audio jacks are nice to have on a laptop designed for multimedia viewing, especially considering Dell has taken it away on the new XPS 13 Plus — and we may see that trend extending to other laptops in the future.

Performance

The Yoga 9i in tablet mode.
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The Lenovo Yoga 9i comes with Intel’s 12th-generation processors. Options include the Core i7-1260P or the Core i5-1240P. Just like the XPS Plus, the processors are tuned to 28 watts. That should equate to more performance, especially with 12 cores to play with. It’s hard to judge the performance as I wasn’t able to run benchmarks, but for the limited web browsing and drawing that I did, the Yoga definitely kept up.

Price and availability

Lenovo’s Yoga 9i is expected to be available in the US in Q2 (April-June) of this year. Prices start at $1,400, but Lenovo did not make it clear which configuration this will cover. OLED displays and a faster processor are usually upgrades that can be purchased at checkout.

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