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CES 2021: Dell Latitude 9420 flaunts 5G and a clever auto-closing webcam cover

Dell Latitude 9420
(Image credit: Dell)

Business laptops are making a splash at the world's biggest consumer electronics show. Dell is kicking things off at CES 2021 with a fleet of new Latitude 5000, Latitude 7000, and Latitude 9000-series notebooks. 

Normally, this sort of announcement wouldn't get me to a bat an eye, but the transformation we've seen from Dell's business laptops in the past few years can't be ignored. Inspired by the successful XPS series while introducing modern enterprise features, these new Latitudes could inspire you to have a chat with your IT admin. That is especially true of the Latitude 9420, the most premium (and expensive) in this 2021 portfolio.

If you're searching for a new business laptop for yourself or need to update those chunky, sluggish corporate machines being used by your faithful workforce, here are the details on Dell's latest Latitudes.

Dell Latitude 5000, 7000, 9420 price and release date 

Starting with the lower-tier options, the Latitude 5320, 5420 and 5520 will be available on January 12. Pricing had not yet been announced.

The Latitude 7320, 7320 Detachable, 7420 and 7520 will launch in March 2021 at a starting price of $999. We don't have pricing on each configuration. 

The Latitude 9420 and Latitude 9420 2-in-1 will be released sometime in spring 2021 at a starting price of $1,949. Dell will also sell a Latitude 9520 but we're awaiting pricing and info on that version.

Dell Latitude 9420 and 9520 

The crown jewel of this latest batch of business notebooks, the Latitude 9420 (and Latitude 9420 2-in-1) is reserved for engineers, developers, content creators or business execs. It's an expensive laptop with a premium chassis and cutting-edge features. 

With the Latitude 9420, it's all about small conveniences. For example, the SafeShutter webcam cover will automatically close or open when you start or end a video conferencing call. It also has visual sensing tech to instantly log you in using the IR camera. Alternatively, an optional fingerprint sensor is embedded in the power button.

Dell Latitude 9000

(Image credit: Dell)

Connectivity is another area where the Latitude 9420 excels. On the wireless front, you get both Wi-Fi 6 and 5G/LTE network options. LTE is enabled by a Snapdragon X20 LTE-A modem while the Snapdragon X55 upgrade gets you 5G on all major networks. On the hardware front, there is a USB 3.2 Type-A input, the latest Thunderbolt 4 port, an HDMI 2.0, a uSIM tray (for WWAN), a uSD 4.0 memory card reader, and a lock slot. 

But enough about all the extra features, let's get to the heart of this laptop. The Latitude 9420 has a machined aluminum chassis with a brushed finish and diamond-cut edges. The 14-inch display is available in 2560 x 1600-pixel resolution (QHD+) with 500 nits of brightness on the 2-in-1 model or a 14-inch, 1920 x 1280-pixels anti-glare screen with 500 nits of brightness on the clamshell version. Both options have a blue light filter and 16:10 aspect ratios so the panel is slightly taller than your standard display. 

Dell Latitude 9420

(Image credit: Dell)

Powering the Latitude 9420 is up to an Intel 11th Gen Core i7 CPU with vPro and Iris Xe Graphics along with up to 32GB of RAM. Storage goes up to a 1TB M.2 SSD. 

We don't have an official word on runtimes yet but you can choose from two battery options: a 2-cell 40WHr battery or a 3-cell, 60WHr battery. Dell says its Optimizer software, which uses AI to improve performance and efficiency, extends runtimes while ExpressCharge Boose lets you charge to 35% in 20 minutes or up to 80% in just 40 minutes. 

Of course, the Latitude 9420 comes with a bevy of fleet management tools along with a healthy list of security software.

 Latitude 7000 and 7320 Detachable

Stepping down a notch are the Latitude 7000 series laptops alongside the new Latitude 7320 Detachable. These notebooks share several features with the pricier 9000 series but there are a few notable differences between them. 

The Latitude 7320, 7420 and 7520 are available in carbon fiber or aluminum with the 15.6-inch option being new this year. The Latitude 7320 has a 13.3-inch, 1080p display with up to 400 nits while the 14-inch and 15.6-inch version can be upgraded to a 4K anti-glare panel with low blue light.

Dell Latitude 7320

(Image credit: Dell)

The Latitude 7000 series laptops all feature new keyboards and touchpads. We haven't gone hands-on with these devices yet but we'll be sure to fill you in once we receive review units. Adopted from the 9420 is a camera shutter although this one doesn't open and close automatically. 

Wi-Fi 6 comes standard but mobile is limited to 4G LTE, leaving the Latitude 9000 as the only option for 5G connectivity. Under the hood are familiar specs: up to an 11th Gen Intel Core i7 vPro CPU and Iris Xe Graphics, up to 32GB of RAM, and up to a 1TB M.2 SSD. 

For connectivity, you get two Thunderbolt 4.0 ports, a USB 3.2 input, an HDMI 2.0, an optional uSIM (for LTE), a uSD memory card reader, an optional SmartCard reader, a lock slot, and an optional fingerprint sensor in the power button. You also have the option to upgrade to an IR camera for Windows Hello facial recognition login. 

If you want a laptop that can double as a tablet, the Latitude 7320 Detachable could give the Microsoft Surface Pro 7 a run for its money. This detachable 2-in-1 has a 13-inch, 1920 x 1280-pixel display (3:2 aspect ratio) with 500 nits of brightness and a low blue light filter.

Dell Latitude 7320 Detachable

(Image credit: Dell)

As you'd expect, the Latitude 7320 Detachable shares several features with the other 7000 series notebooks. You get Wi-Fi 6 and the option for LTE connectivity. The CPU and storage options are the same although RAM maxes out at 16GB for this slate. 

The benefit of this detachable is the ability to remove the display from the keyboard and use the Latitude 7320 as a tablet. Then, when you need to work, you can place the screen back onto the keyboard and type away, or use the stylus (sold separately) to jot down notes. 

 Latitude 5000

Also getting an update are the Latitude 5320, Latitude 5420, and Latitude 5520, available with 13.3-inch, 14-inch and 15.6-inch displays, respectively. 

The Latitude 5320 is now available in a 2-in-1 version and the Latitude 5520 can, for the first time, be equipped with a 4K display with a low blue light panel. The other display options scale from a 1366 x 768-pixel panel with a mere 220 nits of brightness to a 1080p option with 400 nits. 

Dell Latitude 5000

(Image credit: Dell)

All of these models can be equipped with up to an 11th Gen Intel Core i7 vPro (4-core) CPU; the two larger versions can reach up to 64GB of RAM while the 13.3-inch model maxes out at 32GB. Storage tops out at 2TB for the two smaller models while the 15.6-inch goes up to 4TB with dual slots. The Latitude 5520 can be equipped with an Nvidia GeForce MX450 discrete GPU while the others rely on Intel Iris Xe. 

You still get Wi-Fi 6 on these lower-end models but mobile connectivity is limited to LTE. There is a generous selection of ports on these laptops, including two Thunderbolt 4 inputs, a USB 3.2 input, an HDMI 2.0, an optional uSIM tray, an optional SmartCard Reader and a fingerprint sensor embedded in the power button.