Lenovo Yoga 9i review: A worthy flagship?
Introduction, design, and features
Note: This review was first published on 1 June 2022.
Behold, Lenovo’s new flagship
This is the Yoga 9i and it is Lenovo’s newest flagship notebook. That's puzzling because Lenovo's other notebooks like the Yoga Slim 7 Carbon already seems pretty high-end to me. So how does the Yoga 9i differentiate itself? Generally speaking, it’s nicer. Apart from top-end specs, it has a more upmarket design and feel, and extra features. But is it worth it? Or should you stick with something cheaper? Let's find out.
Design, features, and specs
The Yoga 9i doesn’t look and feel like any other notebook mainly because it has highly polished and rounded sides. This reminds me of the iPhone 11 Pro. According to Lenovo, the sides are the result of a 10-step process that requires precision CNC milling, sandblasting, anodisation, and then polishing. A small notch near the top of the notebook makes it easier to lift the display and shows Lenovo’s attention to detail. There are two colour options to choose from: Oatmeal which is a sort of champagne-like gold, and Storm Grey which is a mix of black and grey, like Space Grey. The unit I received is Oatmeal.
To ensure the notebook feels like a luxury device, Lenovo has decided to go with an all-aluminium chassis. This contrasts with the Yoga Slim 7 Carbon which uses a combination of magnesium alloy and carbon fibre. While aluminium looks and feels more expensive, the obvious downside is that it weighs more. While the Yoga Slim 7 Carbon was only a smidge over 1kg, the Yoga 9i is a more portly 1.4kg. Is it cumbersome? No, of course not. But the extra heft is noticeable.
The Yoga 9i is a convertible notebook. This means the hinge lets you fold the display onto itself, allowing you to use the device as a tablet. I don’t find this particularly useful because it’s thick and heavy for a tablet. I suppose it could be handy if you want to unwind on your sofa or bed. You could also fold it halfway and use it in a “tent” mode. This can be useful for watching videos at your desk or on a flight.
Like many new ultraportable notebooks these days, the Yoga 9i features a cutting-edge OLED display. It’s 14 inches large, has a resolution of 2880 x 1800 pixels, an above-average refresh rate of 90Hz, and supports 100% of the DCI-P3 colour space. It also meets VESA’s DisplayHDR500 True Black standards. These are impressive specifications and thankfully the Yoga 9i’s display lives up to them. It’s a fantastic display with vivid colours, amazing contrast, and the deep inky kind of blacks that only OLED displays can conjure. It’s a very high-end display. For more demanding users, a 4K OLED option is also available. And if you want to save some money, you can also opt for a Full-HD display that has a traditional LCD panel.
Equally high-end are the system specifications. The Yoga 9i features Intel’s newest 12th generation Alder Lake processors. The unit I’m testing got a Core i7-1260P processor with 16GB of LPDDR5 memory and a 512GB PCIe 4.0 SSD. A Core i5 option is also available and you can also equip your Yoga 9i with a larger 1TB SSD.
The ports on this notebook are fairly good. You get two USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports, and on top of that, two USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports – one USB-A and one USB-C. This should allow you to connect to just about any peripheral and accessory. There’s also a 3.5mm audio combo jack. Unfortunately, there’s no memory card slot reader.
The keyboard and trackpad are also excellent. The trackpad is a delight mainly because it is extremely big – it measures a whopping 13.5cm by 8cm. It’s also smooth to touch, accurate, and responsive. I can’t fault the keyboard either. The layout is sensible and there’s a column of shortcut keys that enables features like performance modes and switches the system between dark and light modes. The keyboard also has a built-in fingerprint scanner for quick logins, though the Yoga 9i also has an IR camera that supports facial recognition logins.
Another feature worth mentioning is the speakers. According to Lenovo and to the best of our knowledge, this is the first time we’ve seen Bowers & Wilkins-branded speakers in a notebook. They are certainly quite good, easily above average. It’s a dual woofer and dual tweeter setup and their best qualities are clarity, volume, and spaciousness. They get loud and even at high volumes, there’s little distortion. Bass is present in significant quantities but they lack control and therefore sound quite bloated. I think Apple's MacBooks sound better.