Dell XPS 13 (2019) full review
The Dell XPS 13 has cemented itself as the laptop of choice for many professionals and consumers over the last few years and that is certainly no accident. It is one of the first laptop lines that comes to mind if you want a smart, portable and powerful companion on your trips around the world or even just around the home.
The 2018 XPS 13 was a real triumph and we managed to get our hands on the 2019 version just before Christmas to give it a once over before its announcement at CES and our full review goes live in the coming weeks. Here we compare the new and old XPS 13 models.
The prime focus for this year’s version is around the webcam which has been delicately reunited with the top bezel after vacationing down below the screen for a while. Although a welcome change, this being the flagship feature for a new device does perhaps suggest a broader lack of innovation across the laptop market that all manufacturers are feeling.
Price & Availability
The Dell XPS 13 for 2019 (the 9380 in model numbner) is available now from Dell and Microsoft. We're sure other retailers like Amazon and Currys will also stock the laptop.
Pricing is cheaper this year with the XPS 13 starting at just £999/$899 due to the addition of a Core i3 model. This comes with an Ultra HD screen so this suggests that the Full HD option will be even cheaper - we're waiting for confirmation from Dell on this.
Moving up to the Core i5 (still with a UHD screen), you'll need to splash out £1,249. We'll add more pricing info when we have it.
As you’d expect, the XPS 13 is highly customisable with the processor, storage, RAM and Display all upgradable. If you really want the best of the best on this device it’s not going to be cheap.
Design & Build: Ready for your closeup
The 2019 XPS 13 maintains the same design language that we’ve come to expect from the series - sleek, professional and understated. This particular line of laptops focuses on remaining as portable as possible without sacrificing build quality or performance – which of course will come at a price.
The colours on offer are a Black/Silver, Rose Gold/White and Frost White. The latter has a white lid and will arrive in February.
The dimensions remain the same as the 2018 version while being ever so slightly heavier:
- Height: 0.3-0.46” (7.8-11.6mm)
- Width: 11.9” (302mm)
- Depth: 7.8” (199mm)
- Weight: 2.7lbs (1.23kg)
The woven fiberglass that is built into the body around the keyboard gives some pleasant premium detail and the aesthetics of the device in general make it look and feel very tight and seamlessly designed. This is more prominent on the white model this year.
One of the more noticeable changes from the 2018 version will be the webcam location, which is now back in the much-preferred position of being above the screen. This has made the top bezel ever so slightly larger on this year’s model (5.975- vs 4mm) but you’d really struggle to notice that unless you picked up a tape measure.
The power-button contains a fingerprint scanner for swift unlocking, and the keyboard provides comfortable typing feedback while the trackpad remains nice and responsive. These all remain the same from last year's model.
A new feature added this year is a varied torque hinge, which does a much better job of keeping the screen in place when the laptop is open, helping to reduce wobble at any angle.
This does make the laptop difficult to open with one hand however, as the strength of the hinge outperforms the weight of the laptop. It's easy at first but quickly offers resistance so before long you'll need a second hand to get it fully open.
Specs & Features: What's new?
The focus of this year's model has been centered around the webcam. Returning to the top bezel above the screen after spending a couple of years down below the display (which left a few people scratching their heads), Dell has put a lot of work into the new camera that allows it to be small yet mighty.
Many laptops come with a webcam below the screen, sometimes even inside its own keyboard key, but the result is an unflattering and awkward angle for the picture looking up at your chin.
The 2.25mm lens has been optimised for video calling, featuring an extremely wide angle so two or more people can sit comfortably at the laptop and be seen and heard. A temporal filtering system works with the sensor to make the camera operate effectively in low light conditions. Dell is taking note of a growing trend in remote working and doing its very best to make the gap between the office and a remote location as small as possible.
Whether this upgrade means anything to you or not is a big question. And for many, it's just something on the spec sheet that never gets used and in fact gets covered for privacy.
This year’s XPS will feature your choice of a 13.3in UltraSharp 4K Ultra HD (3840x2160) InfinityEdge touch display. There's also lower resolution Full HD (1920 x 1080) InfinityEdge touch or non-touch display.
The screens will feature Dolby Vision with a 1500:1 contrast ratio and a 178 degree wide viewing angle.All of this leads to an extremely impressive viewing experience. The screen looks incredible, as you would expect, and the touch feature is beautifully responsive too.
It's the same display as last year so no upgrade here. The Full HD model will arrive in February, a month after Ultra HD.
Core specs & performance
The XPS 13 2019 will come with a choice of Intel 8th-generation Whiskey Lake processors, including the i3-8145U, i5-8265U and the i7-8565U. The interesting takeaway here is the addition of an i3 processor which is a 2 core/4 thread CPU with a 2.1/3.9GHz base/boost frequency.
Back to the normal i5 and i7 options and they are essentially new versions of the chips found in the 2018 XPS 13, only with higher turbo speeds. Dell says to expect a 10 percent improvement in productivity.
While usually, the lower end processors in these laptops don’t tend to be a wise choice, if you don’t plan on doing any heavy computing with your XPS the i3 might be a solid option as it still packs a reasonable punch.
The choice of memory will range between 4-16GB of LPDDR3 Dual Channel RAM, and storage will go from 128GB all the way up to 2TB.
The battery life promises 21 hours with a Full HD display (up from 19) but you’ll want to wait for our full review before we give you a number you can trust.
On the ports front, we’ve got two Thunderbolt 3 with power delivery and DisplayPort, 1x USB-C 3.1 with power delivery and DisplayPort, a microSD card reader; headset jack and a wedge-shaped lock slot.
The XPS 13 for 2019 is a tricky one to summarise, especially with just hands-on time meaning we've run no benchmarks yet.
Since last year's model got the big overhaul, there was little Dell could do to improve the already almost perfect laptop. The repositioning of the webcam simply won't matter to some but will be a real boon to others. Otherwise, the XPS 13 has almost the same design, and only a few small upgrades here and there.
Perhaps the most interesting thing is the addition of a Core i3 model, making the laptop cheaper than before and therefore more easily available to the masses.
Dell XPS 13 (2019): Specs
- Processor: 8th-gen Intel Core i3-8145U, i5-8265U, i7-8565U (WHL)
- Display: 13.3in UltraSharp 4K Ultra HD (3840x2160) InfinityEdge touch display or Full HD (1920 x 1080) InfinityEdge touch or non-touch display
- Memory: 4GB-16GB LPDDR3 Dual Channel SDRAM at 2133MHz (On Board)
- Storage: 128/256/512GB/1/2TB PCIe SSD
- Battery: 52Wh, up to 21 hours (Full HD)
- Ports: 2x Thunderbolt 3 with power delivery and DisplayPort (4 lanes of PCI Express Gen 3)
- 1x USB-C 3.1 with power delivery and DisplayPort, microSD card reader, headset jack, wedge-shaped lock slot
- Dimensions: Height: 302 x 199 x 7.8 -11.6mm
- Weight: 1.23kg