Lenovo Yoga 9i Mini Review | A powerful, Stylish 2-in-1 Solution for Visual Content Creators
We have Lenovo to thank for the success of 2-in-1 laptops. It was the original Yoga 13, released in 2012, that paved the way for this strange part-laptop, part-tablet hybrids. Competitors ditched their brazen experiments and adopted the form factor seen on what many would consider the first successful convertible laptop. Since then, the Yoga series has brought one innovation after the next, from the watchband hinge to the soundbar speaker grill.
A New Addition to the Family
The Lenovo Yoga 9i came in strong at the tail end of 2020 as one of the best laptops recently launched, giving us an early look at what Intel Evo is capable of while keeping things stylish and functional. Though it’s a bit on the pricey side – especially with higher-end specs – it’s hard to argue that the extra expense is pretty justified given the price.
A surprisingly powerful laptop, the 11th-generation, Intel Evo-certified Lenovo Yoga 9i is plenty capable of handling just about anything you can throw at it and has a phenomenal battery life to keep you going long after its competitors throw in the towel.
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Intel Evo Designs Verified
Last September, Intel introduced the new Intel Evo platform brand for laptop designs verified to the second-edition specification and key experience indicators (KEIs) of the Project Athena innovation program.
To date, more than 20 laptop designs have been verified to the Intel Evo platform and launched by Intel’s partners, including the Lenovo Yoga 9i.
Intel Evo platform-verified laptop designs are the best devices for getting things done. They are aimed at visual content creators as the machines are high-performance notebooks that work with efficiency, have appealing ascetics, and are lightweight to be used in the studio or on the field.
For instance, the new 11th Gen Intel Core processors and Intel Iris Xe graphics work together efficiently to help you edit photos and videos three times faster than a two-year-old laptop.
Also, these machines must have a long battery life to ensure mobile working, the ability to maintain power at least for four hours within 30 minutes of fast charging, and having a responsiveness time of one second at the moment you open the lid to be used immediately.
The Yoga 9i’s Shadow Black façade isn’t limited to its dark, elegant paint job, although that would be reason enough to consider it over the other existing alternative, the Mica variant with a metallic look-like. Instead, Lenovo dives much deeper than it ever has into the world of luxurious laptop design, and it pays off.
The lid of the laptop is covered in leather, making it feel way more premium than if it were just aluminum. In the box, Lenovo includes care instructions for the leather if you’d like to get as much life out of it as possible. The dark animal skin comes from “responsible sources”.
When you open the lid of the Yoga 9i, the luxuries continue with a frosted glass-coated palm rest and trackpad. If you’re not used to it, the glass on your wrists can feel a little strange, but it still gives you that cold sensation you look for from aluminum. It’s a lot silkier, but relatively comfortable, nonetheless. The rest of the interior materials are metallic, and the aluminum feels solid and offers a pleasant visual balance.
The all-new Glass Sense touchpad brings a whole new experience with 50% more active surface area and haptic feedback. The 360-degree rotating system allows you to use this device in laptop mode, tent mode, or tablet mode.
The Yoga 9i makes for not just a great productivity laptop with the flexibility of a 2-in-1. It’s also a candidate for creative professionals who need fast photo and video editing.
Running the show is an 11th generation Intel Core i7-1185G7 quad-core processor with integrated Iris Xe graphics and 16GB of soldered LPDDR4x 4,266MHz RAM. In Geekbench 5, the Yoga 9i scores 1,285 in single-core mode and 5,551 in multi-core mode.
If you are wondering what the difference is between the Core i7-1185G7 and Core i7-1165G7, the answer is that the former has a base frequency of 3.0GHz to the latter’s 2.8GHz and a Turbo-Boost frequency of 4.8GHz rather than 4.7GHz.
The Yoga 9i’s 4K UHD IPS touchscreen display is one of its best features. Its diagonal is 14″ (35.56 cm), and the resolution – 3840 х 2160. Additionally, the screen ratio is 16:9, the pixel density – 315 PPI, their pitch – 0.08 x 0.08 mm. The screen can be considered Retina when viewed from at least 28 cm (from this distance, the average human eye can’t see the individual pixels). Its viewing angles are excellent under different light conditions.
The maximum measured brightness is pretty high – 477 nits (cd/m2) in the middle of the screen and 460 nits (cd/m2) average across the surface with a maximum deviation of 17%. The Correlated Color Temperature on a white screen and at maximum brightness is 6900K – slightly colder than the 6500K optimum for sRGB.
This display covers 99% of the sRGB/ITU-R BT.709 (web/HDTV standard) in CIE1976, and 89% of the DCI-P3 gamut, which ensures punchy, vibrant colors.
Local video playback is automatically scaled up to the highest resolution so that you get an ultra-clear entertainment experience.
The 16:9 screen ratio is more suitable for split-screen apps and also to get the most out of this laptop to be used as a tablet as well. Also, this proportion is more comfortable for media consumption. From streaming movies to creating audiovisual content.
Therefore, if you are a visual content creator, this display will facilitate your workflow for video or photography editing.
The 720p webcam does have a privacy shutter and shoots pretty decent videos with appealing rendered colors. Unfortunately, this webcam is not an IR webcam, so it doesn’t support Windows Hello for unlocking — an annoyance for personal security and privacy.
When you click on the trackpad, it doesn’t physically move, instead of emulating a click with a pressure-sensitive haptic motor. It’s similar to what Apple does on the MacBook, but it’s not as good.
False clicks are common, and it is difficult to get consistency when selecting the text, for instance. Single clicks are pretty accurate most of the time and so are two-fingered clicks, but you’ll undoubtedly feel more random vibrations than you may expect.
In a nutshell, the trackpad is still a bit early in its development and hopefully, Lenovo could improve the experience through future updates.
Lenovo placed the fingerprint scanner below the glass which makes it difficult to find. The only thing they did to highlight the placement of the sensor and the trackpad was adding a couple of glossy borders. You can barely feel these borders, let alone see them.
If you want any chance of knowing where the fingerprint sensor is, you have to keep its accompanying sticker.
However, this is just a small learning curve as it is also true that the more you use the laptop, the more you will get familiarized with the placement of the trackpad and the fingerprint scanner until your fingers find them instinctively.
It’s like getting a new camera. In the beginning, you will have to see where the bottoms are placed every time you click on them and then muscle memory will make the action way faster.
Also, it is worth mentioning that Windows 10 Hello support is provided by the fingerprint reader quickly and accurately.
The Lenovo Yoga 9i 14 has what Lenovo is calling a TrueStrike Keyboard, something that we first saw on its Legion gaming laptops. The keys are meant to be more comfortable, quieter, and frankly, better. It was developed by Lenovo’s team in Japan. The key travel is quite comfortable and suitable for typing for extended periods.
Each key has a larger aperture in the baseplate, giving it more of an area for shock absorption. It’s faster and more responsive, while still maintaining comfort and accuracy. The 9i also has backlighting for the keyboard which offers two brightness settings.
Ports and Connectivity
There are two Thunderbolt 4 ports on the left side, and they’re paired with a USB Type-A 3.2 (Gen. 2) port. As the notebook charges by USB Type-C, naturally, both ports would work for charging. The only other port here, by the way, is the Audio jack. With that said, the right side only houses the Power button, while the backside is home to the dedicated stylus. Users will miss the lack of a card reader.
Wireless connectivity is handled by Intel’s increasingly common AX201 card, which supports Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.
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The bundled Lenovo Active Pen is garaged in a slot at the rear just behind the power button. The slot is unobtrusive and secure so if you don’t use it, you can just forget about it. The stylus supports 4,096 pressure levels. A 15-minute charge will keep it powered for 90 minutes.
This is another great advantage for visual content creators who could choose to do edits as a laptop or having a more detailed control using the device as a tablet through a drawing experience. It’s fair to say that the Elastometer nib replicates accurately the feeling of writing on paper.
The lid opens and rotates with ease, pivoting around the laptop’s soundbar, which keeps the speakers free from obstruction and firing outward whether you’re using it like a laptop or a tablet. This highlight was made possible thanks to Dolby Atmos technology.
The rotating soundbar (two stereo speakers) built into the hinge is superior to conventional solutions in combination with the two subwoofers, especially given the small form factor, and is welcome to be imitated. The basses are a bit lowered, but they are still clearly noticeable for laptop speakers, and the speakers also get quite loud. The combined audio jack is available for connecting external devices.
Heat is managed pretty well on the Yoga 9i, with venting at the sides and behind the keyboard to help bleed off the hot air from its two internal fans and heat pipe. The fans mean that it doesn’t run completely silent, but even under strain, it’s not particularly loud.
Thanks to Intelligent Cooling, a feature co-engineered with Intel, the Yoga 9i 2 in 1 laptop regulates performance to bring you astounding battery life.
The Yoga 9i isn’t very energy-efficient in Maximum Performance mode. It consumes a maximum of 11 watts in idle usage without the keyboard backlight, and about 1 watt is added for each lighting level. Competitors use about 7 watts in contrast. However, consumption is also reduced considerably in the Intelligent performance mode.
The Yoga 9i’s 60 Wh battery allows almost 10 hours of video playback. Surfing the web over WLAN is possible for between less than 6 hours (100% brightness) and almost 9 hours (150 nits) depending on the brightness of the 4K panel. However, battery life can still be optimized with other Vantage performance modes (e.g., Intelligent mode, Battery Saving mode).
Most of what you’ll need is packed all into the Lenovo Vantage app, which is where you can find the latest BIOS and driver updates, information about the Yoga 9i, and the system settings and warranty information. There is also another app called Active Pen, which allows you to customize the button controls.
- CPU Intel Core i7-1185G7
- GPU Intel Iris Xe
- Display 14.0” UHD (3840×2160), IPS, 500nits, VESA HDR 400
- Body 12.57×8.53×0.6-0.64in (319.5×216.7×15.3-16.5mm), 3.17lbs (1.44kg)
- (1) USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A
- (2) Thunderbolt 4
- (1) 3.5mm audio
- RAM 16GB LPDDR4x, 4266MHz
- Storage 512GB PCIe NVMe
- Connectivity Intel Wi-Fi 6 802.11 AX 2 x 2 + Bluetooth 5.0
- Rotating Sound Bar with Dolby Atmos Speaker System certification
- 2W x 4 (2x woofer, 2x tweeter)
- 6-row, multimedia Fn keys, LED backlight
- Buttonless glass surface multi-touch touchpad supports Precision Touchpad
- Battery 60 Wh, Rapid Charge Express
- Price – Starting at $1025
Pros & Cons
- Top-end Core i7 processor
- Powerful performance
- Excellent display and audio
- Great battery life
- No Windows Hello facial recognition
- Automatic brightness adjustment is not supported
- Touchpad’s haptic action is odd
- The touchpad and fingerprint scanner are too obscured
The Lenovo Yoga 9i, (Starting at $1025), looks great and offers smooth movement and impressive build quality. The screen is a good-quality 4K panel way off the color accuracy standards in sRGB.
The Yoga has top-notch speakers, solid battery life, and an intuitive keyboard. It’s flexible and rugged enough to use in various modes and the body materials are premium.
Lenovo worked some magic with the thermals to squeeze out every ounce of performance, and it shows. The 2-in-1 is well-built, visually appealing, and conducts efficiently.
The biggest downfall is that the haptic touchpad is poor. It won’t be surprising that by the end of the day, users won’t get used to this trackpad and use a Bluetooth mouse instead.
The Yoga 9i in Shadow Black is worth a look if it’s in your price range. It’s a delightful machine, one that’ll pave the way for more experimental machines from Lenovo in the future. This is a great alternative to be considered by visual content creators to facilitate their workflow.