Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 full review
The Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 is a Windows 10 2-in-1 convertible laptop with stylus support that’s available with either 14- or 15in displays and the option of Intel or AMD processors.
Whichever option you plump for, you’re promised respectable performance and solid, all-day battery life, up to 12 hours. The prices are not out of this world either, with the cheapest model priced at £529.99 just at the top end of the budget laptop market.
Aimed at both mobile workers and students, the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 is lightweight and supports the latest WiFi 6 standard, so wherever you’re working, you’ll be able to connect to some of the fastest wireless speeds currently possible.
Design & Build
Lenovo sent an IdeaPad Flex 5 with a 15.6in Full HD (1920x1080) display, and an Intel Core i3 processor.
The IdeaPad Flex 5 comes in two colour versions: fancy teal and business-like light grey – our review model came in the latter. The chassis itself is a mixture of metal and plastic, which has a matt finish, which gives a pleasing look and feel.
Despite coming with a large display, it measures 358 x 238 x 17.9mm (or 20.35mm deep when folded up in tablet mode), although it’s a pretty heavy 2kg.
A curse of thin laptops in this price bracket is that usually, something has to give in order to hit that £500-ish mark. Sometimes that’s usually cutting down on ports, or the display; I'm pleased to say that the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 doesn’t skimp here.
You get all the usual ports you’d expect, and the display, bordered by slim 4mm bezels, is more than adequate for the kind of work most people will be doing on a device like this.
As the name suggests, the design is flexible, so 360-degree hinges allow you to put the laptop in various different modes.
Keyboard & Trackpad
The Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5’s keyboard follows the layout of many Lenovo laptops, coming with curved keycaps, and features a numeric keypad on the right.
Sadly, there are a couple of instances of keyboard clutter, namely where the ‘#’ key is a little too close to the Return key, and the arrow keys are all crammed in towards the bottom right.
Users with larger hands might struggle with the layout here, but it’s likely that in time you’d get used to the arrangement. Another drawback is that the keyboard is not backlit, which means working in dark lecture theatres/student halls/workspaces etc could be tricky.
Generally, the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 is easy enough to type on. The keycaps are nicely textured, which makes getting comfortable easier, and they’re reasonably snappy, even if there is a bit of flex in the centre of the board.
Regrettably, the trackpad is not quite as ample, especially when you consider the real estate available. It’s shunted off to the left a little too, which is great news if you’re left-handed, not so great if you’re not. It’s also a little unresponsive by default, but at least that’s easy to fix by tinkering in the Touchpad settings.
Screen & Speakers
Considering that the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 is a mid-ranged device not geared towards gaming, photo editing, or any kind of high-end work at all, the display is pretty good.
Lenovo quotes a not-brilliant maximum brightness level of 250 nits on IdeaPad Flex 5s with a Full HD display. I actually recorded an impressive 360 nits on full brightness. That’s bright enough for you to be able to work in most conditions. Perhaps not outside, on an incredibly sunny day with no clouds in the sky, but good enough in almost all other scenarios.
The 4K version supposedly kicks out 500 nits on full brightness, according to the firm. There's support for a stylus but one was not supplied for testing.
Viewing angles, though, are not exactly fantastic. Colour distortion is evident the moment you move your view even slightly to either side. That said, I’ve seen worse (far worse), and the issue is not so bad that you can’t watch a film or TV show with one or two other people and not enjoy it.
As with the Lenovo Yoga Slim 7, you get a pair of 2W Dolby Atmos-certified speakers here and it’s great to hear surround sound leaping out at you, whether you’re watching a show where a car zooms from left to right across the screen.
At high volumes (i.e. upwards of 60%), things start to sound muddy, muffled, and messy, but generally, these are good laptop speakers. The speakers are mounted on the top side of the deck, so everything sounds great when you’re watching something in laptop mode. In tent mode, things are still audible, but naturally, there’s some sound lost here.
Specs & Performance
By now, you should have gathered that the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 is not a high-performance machine, and so the results I gleaned from benchmarking were not exactly class-leading. I tested an Intel Core i3-1005G1 model.
In real-world terms though, is the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 good enough to hammer out essays on, crop and resize photos, and get in a bit of Netflix binging at the end of the day? Of course it is. You might struggle to do much more than that, mind, but for certain buyers, that’ll be fine.
See how the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 compares to similarly priced and specced laptops here:
A real stand-out feature is the battery performance. When working, you will comfortably get a days’ use out of the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5. Not at any point did I feel like working off the battery was going to be risky, though I’d occasionally slide into the 20% danger zone after seven hours.
Looping a 720p film with the brightness set to 120 nits saw the Lenovo Yoga Slim 7 last an impressive 11 hours and 40 minutes.
On the downside, that 52.5Wh battery took over three hours to charge back up despite using a 65W USB-C charger.
After an hour it got to just 22%, and only 43% after two hours. The good news is that after three hours, when I hit 85%, things sped up, hitting 100% in around 3 and a half hours.
Using the standard mains adapter takes longer; over four hours to fully charge. Not great if you’re working on the go. After one hour on the pump, we were back at just 25%, and 47% and 75% after two and three hours respectively. We were at 96% after three an a half hours, not hitting 100% for another 15 minutes.
Another point to mention is that the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 is set to Windows 10 S Mode out of the box. This is a streamlined version of Windows which doesn’t allow you to install apps from outside the Windows Store. Seeing as most people will want to be able to install whatever they like, we switched to fully-fledged Windows 10 before beginning testing.
Connectivity & Ports
The Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 has two Type-A USB 3.1 ports, a Type-C USB (with Power Delivery only), HDMI 1.4b, and an SD card reader, along with the standard 3.5mm headphone jack and AC jack.
This is all pretty standard stuff, as laptops go, but note that other 2-in-1s, most notably the Microsoft Surface Pro 7, aren’t as generous with physical connectivity, so this is a plus overall.
The lack of Thunderbolt 3 on the Type-C USB is a drawback, but that’s also to be expected at this price point. Another point to mention is that the HDMI 1.4b port, while capable of outputting 4K video to another monitor or TV, it’ll be capped at 30fps.
Things are better on the wireless side, as the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 features a 2x2 Wi-Fi 6 antenna, which is capable of giving you the fastest wireless speeds going at the moment.
When connected to a Wi-Fi 6 capable router, you can expect to see speeds of between 649-1201Mbps when in the same room as the router or a satellite. Check out the best mesh WiFi kits and best WiFi router round-ups for the low-down on the latest Wi-Fi 6 home office solutions.
Price & Availability
The Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 is available to buy now.
The 14in Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5’s start at £529.99 for a model with an Intel Core i3-1005G1 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage. However, you can buy it from AO for just £499.
£764.99 gets you the most powerful version, with a Core i7-1065G7 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a roomier 512GB SSD.
The 15in models are a little more expensive and come with Nvidia graphics. A Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 with a Core i5-1035G1 processor, and 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage will set you back £679.99, while the same model with an Nvidia MX330 dedicated GPU costs £729.
On Lenovo’s US site, prices for 14in models start at $674.99 with an AMD Ryzen 7 chip.
On Amazon’s US site, you can get an AMD version – this 14in IdeaPad Flex 5 comes with a Ryzen 5 4500U, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, for $769.99. There’s also an Intel version (i5-1035G1, 16GB, 512GB) going for $819.
Check out our chart of the best budget laptop to see what else is available.
Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 offers good overall performance and great battery life. You get a lot of ports here for your money, so most people shouldn’t have to spend any more on dongles and adapters, which is always a plus.
For the basics, this is one of the best value Windows 10 laptop-tablet 2-in-1s going. It’s not without its drawbacks, however, and if you don’t necessarily want a tablet, then the Lenovo Yoga Slim 7 might be more of what you’re after.
Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5: Specs
- Windows 10 Home
- 14-inch and 15-inch Full HD (1920x1080) or 15-inch 4K (3840x2160) IPS LCD panels
- Intel Core i3-1005G1 (2 cores 1.2GHz, up to 3.4GHz) Intel Core i5-1035G4 (4 cores, 1.1GHz, up to 3.7GHz), and Intel Core i7-1065G7 (4 cores, 1.3GHz, up to 3.9GHz)
- AMD Ryzen 3 4300U APU (4 cores, 2.7GHz, up to 3.7GHz), AMD Ryzen 5 4500U APU (6 cores, 2.3GHz, up to 4.0GHz), AMD Ryzen 7 4700U APU (8 cores, 2.0GHz, up to 4.1GHz)
- Intel UHD Graphics, Intel Iris Plus Graphics, Nvidia GeForce MX330, Nvidia GeForce MX350
- 4GB, 8GB, or 16GB LPDDR4X dual channel RAM (3200MHz)
- 128GB, 256GB or 512GB (PCIe NVMe)
- HDMI 1.4
- USB 3.1 Type-A
- USB 3.1 Type-C (Power Delivery 3.0)
- SD card reader (MMC, SD, SDHC, SDXC)
- 3.5mm headphone jack
- 2 x 2W Dolby Atmos-tuned stereo speakers
- 720p HD webcam
- 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6
- Bluetooth 5.0
- 52.1Wh 3 cell li-polymer battery
- 321.5 x 217.5 x 17.9mm (14-inch) / 357.6 x 237.9 x 17.9mm (15-inch)
- 1.55kg (14-inch) / 1.8kg (15-inch)
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