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Lenovo Yoga Slim 9i flaunts leather lid, Intel Tiger Lake CPUs — watch out, XPS 13

(Image credit: Lenovo)

Lenovo unveiled today the Yoga 9i and Yoga Slim 9i, its newest flagship 2-in-1 laptops and the successors to the Yoga C940.  Along with the new name, these two portable laptops received several updates that could help the Yoga series flourish again after being overshadowed by other 2-in-1s, like the HP Spectre x360 13 and the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1

The Yoga series has made a name for itself over the years for its unique hinge designs, but this year, the showstopping feature is an authentic leather cover on the lid. There is also a new "Slim" model to go along with the 15-inch Yoga Lenovo introduced last year.

The 15-inch Yoga 9i opts for Intel's 10th Gen H-series CPUs while the new 14-inch models employ Intel's upcoming Tiger Lake CPUs with Xe graphics. The new integrated chip should be a huge improvement but if you need a discrete GPU, the 15-inch Yoga 9i comes with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti. 

Lenovo's Yoga laptops are always among the top hybrids but have started to lose their luster — we'll break down the Yoga 9i and Yoga Slim 9i to see if they can bring excitement back to the series. Here is everything you need to know about the Lenovo Yoga 9i and Yoga Slim 9i

Lenovo Yoga 9i (14-inch and 15-inch)

The first thing you'll notice about the Yoga 9i is the leather-bound lid available on the 14-inch model. Adding a hint of luxury to the aluminum frame, the black genuine leather cover goes through a 20-step bonding process so it can withstand abuse but capture those small imperfections that make leather products distinctive. 

(Image credit: Lenovo)

If you don't like the leather, you can opt for an all-metal design in either warm Mica or Slate Gray. Also unique to the new 14-inch version is an edge-to-edge glass palm rest with an ultrasonic fingerprint reader embedded in the glass, and a haptic touchpad that vibrates when clicked (think Apple's Force Touch trackpad). Lenovo says the keyboard uses a two-segment rubber dome design to deliver a tactile click. 

Fans of the previous Yoga models will be relieved to see the Sound Bar hinge on the Yoga 9i. Lenovo promises even better sound quality this year thanks to a larger sound tunnel. Also returning to the Yoga is the garaged stylus (with a new elastomer nib) and the webcam cover.

(Image credit: Lenovo)

The 15.6-inch and 14-inch Yoga 9i models can both be configured with up to a 4K IPA touchscreen with HDR400 and a maximum brightness of 500 nits. Of course, there will be 1080p panels as well if you value battery life over image quality. 

The 14-inch Yoga 9i in metal weighs 2.9 pounds and is 0.6 inches thick. The leather option with a glass palm rest brings the weight up to 3.1 pounds but keeps the thickness at 0.6 inches. The 15-inch model weighs in at 4.4 pounds and is 0.8 inches thick, making it lighter but thicker than the Dell XPS 15.

(Image credit: Lenovo)

The 14-inch Yoga 9i will be powered by Intel's upcoming 11th Gen Comet Lake CPUs with Xe graphics. We'll see these chips in countless Ultrabooks throughout the year but the Yoga 9i will be among the first to demonstrate their power. The larger Yoga 9i will use 10th Gen Intel Core H-series (45W) CPUs and a discrete GPU in the form of an NVIDIA GTX 1650 Ti with Max-Q.

RAM on both models goes up to 16GB, which is disappointing for the 15-inch version considering the XPS 15 can be equipped with 64GB. You can config the 14-inch model with up to a 1TB SSD while the 15-inch version supports up to 2TB of storage. 

Battery life on the 14-inch model is rated at 18 hours while the 15-inch should get around 13 hours. The runtimes posted by vendors are rarely accurate so we'll do our own testing to see how long these two laptops last under a normal workload.

Lenovo Yoga Slim 9i

New this year is a slim variant of these already sleek Yoga laptops. The Yoga Slim 9i is available only in a 14-inch model but does several things to differentiate it from the Yoga 9i. For one, the Slim model is, as you might have guessed, thinner and lighter, at 0.5 inches and 2.6 pounds. 

The leather lid available on the Yoga 9i comes standard on the Slim 9i and this more portable model has a stealthy Shadow Black finish instead of the metallic hues available on other Yogas. Unfortunately, the Slim 9i doesn't have a Sound Bar hinge and there is no stylus slot on the side.

(Image credit: Lenovo)

Like the Yoga 9i, the Slim 9i features an edge-to-edge glass palm rest on the deck with a haptic touchpad. Thin laptops can be difficult to open so Lenovo added a notch above the webcam, a detail we praised on previous models. There is an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor under the deck and an IR webcam (with a webcam cover) for Windows Hello login. 

Lenovo trimmed down the display bezels on the Yoga Slim 9i to achieve a 90.5% screen-to-body ratio. This should modernize a design that was starting to feel stale. Within those bezels is a 14-inch display that can be configured to a 4K VESA HDR 400 IPS touchscreen with a 90% PCI-P3 rating and up to 500 nits of brightness. Additionally, there is a 3D glass option that wraps around the edges similar to some of Samsung's Galaxy phones.

(Image credit: Lenovo)

The Yoga Slim 9i will run on Intel's upcoming Comet Lake CPUs with Xe graphics and comes with up to 16GB of RAM. Storage goes up to a 2TB SSD, twice what the regular 14-inch Yoga 9i can support. I'm curious to see if the Yoga 9i and Yoga Slim 9i use the same CPU. I suspect the Yoga 9i will have a U-series (15W) CPU, but will the Slim 9i house as much power or go for the more efficient but less capable Y-series chips? We'll find out more once Intel reveals its Comet Lake chips in the coming weeks.

The Slim 9i's battery life is rated at 20 hours but we'd be happy if it lasts half as long in our real-world testing. 

Outlook

While the 15-inch Yoga 9i is largely unchanged from the Yoga C940, the 14-inch Yoga 9i and Yoga Slim 9i give this storied line of laptops a much-needed injection of life. 

New this year is a genuine leather lid, an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor embedded beneath a glass palm rest, and a haptic touchpad, not to mention 11th Gen Intel Comet Lake chips. The Yoga Slim 9i goes a step further with its curved 3D display and stealthy Shadow Black finish. 

These exciting new features should help the Yoga series stand out against the competition — something it has failed to do in recent years.