Lenovo is one of our favorite Chromebook manufacturers, not just because it makes top-level devices but somehow manages to slap an affordable price tag. Look at the Lenovo Chromebook Duet, the Lenovo Flex 5 Chromebook, and even the Duet 3 Chromebook; you’ve got proof of that right there.
However, the unit we have at our disposal today is the Lenovo Flex 3i Chromebook. It seems good on paper, has quite an attractive price tag, and coming from Lenovo, it couldn’t help but fall under our radar. With such an enticing new Chromebook on the market, this review article will guide you on whether the device is worth buying.
Let’s get started with the tech specs of the Flex 3i Chromebook and pick things up from there.
Lenovo Flex 3i Chromebook technical specifications
- CPU: Intel N100 4-core processor (3.4 GHz speed)
- Display: 12.2″, WUXGA (1920 x 1200p) touch-enabled display, IPS panel, 16:10 aspect ratio, 300 nits brightness
- Graphics: Intel UHD graphics
- Hard drive size: 64 GB
- RAM: 4 GB LPDDR5
- Camera: 720p camera with privacy toggle
- Ports: 2x USB-A 3.2 ports, 1x USB-C 3.2 port, 1x HDMI port, 3.5mm headphone jack, microSD card reader
- Battery: 3-cell Lithium-polymer, 11-12 hours runtime
- Charging speed: 50% in 35 minutes
- Weight: 2.75 lbs (1.25 kg)
- Price: $349
- Buy on Amazon
Lenovo Flex 3i Chromebook in-depth review
Regarding cost-effectiveness, we’re happy to report that the Flex 3i Chromebook offers insane value for money. It bears repeating here that Lenovo, as a manufacturer, has this habit of formulating devices that pack a lot of punch without necessarily breaking the bank. With the Flex 3i, this seems to be the case again, fortunately.
Keeping the device’s pricing in mind, it’s clear where the Beijing-based tech giant has cut corners with the Flex 3i, but at the end of the day, all of those shortcomings seem to fade away when the Chromebook starts shining with everything it gets right. That’s what we’ve loved so far about the unit.
With that said, to help you acquire a better understanding of where this Chromebook excels and the areas it falters in, we’ll be dividing this review into different subsections so you can gauge each parameter separately and get to the bottom of whether the Flex 3i is suited to your preferences or not. Make sure to read until the end for the best results.
To start things off with the design of the Chromebook, the Flex 3i comes off as a compact, small-scale machine with a lot going for it that we’ll get to in just a second. It comes in two colors—Cloud Grey and Abyss Blue—as laid out by the manufacturer, but you’ll probably find the latter on sale more.
From a looks perspective, the unit looks cool but relatively small-scale, considering its 12.2-inch screen size. However, the device’s real estate lends it a ton of portability, so you’ll be able to perfect your on-the-go lifestyle with the unit without breaking a sweat, given how it slides into backpacks with unparalleled ease.
Let’s acquire a better insight into the exterior quality of the Chromebook with a closer look at its overall build.
Build quality and weight
Although the Flex 3i Chromebook has been given a plastic body, it does not look or feel cheap at all, and that’s what has us delighted with the unit. Lenovo is out here, proving to other manufacturers that going plastic doesn’t necessarily mean that the build quality will have to be shaky, wobbly, or insubstantial.
It’s not mil-spec rated, of course, but the fact that you pick the device up and feel that a lot of thought went into making it is enough to reassure the sturdy build of the Flex 3i. There’s minimal flex to it, so you won’t find it bending a lot, even when considerable downward pressure is applied.
As for the weight, it’s a straight A-plus on this front as well. The device, employing a convertible form factor, only weighs about 2.75 lbs, even less than 1 and a half kg. Moreover, it measures dimensionally at approximately 11.18″ x 8.27″ x 0.72″, so it’s the perfect combo of being light and thin in an equal measure.
With the build and the weight cleared, it’s time to cast a lens on one of the most essential facets of any Chromebook—the display.
We didn’t know what to expect from the Flex 3i’s display quality, so we went into it hoping for something passable, considering the price that it comes for. To our shock, Lenovo has done a number on the device’s screen, leading users toward a delightful experience that’s simply second to none in this price range.
It uses a 16:10 aspect ratio, which is pretty much typical in the ChromeOS space, but offers a WUXGA panel, which is a tad bit better than an FHD resolution. Instead of the regular 1080p specification, a WUXGA screen uses a 1200p variation: more punchy colors, relatively clearer resolution, and even better viewing angles.
This puts the Flex 3i in a perfect spot as far as its display is concerned. Moving forward in the same regard, the device also boasts 2-in-1 functionality, meaning that its chassis can rotate back to offer tablet-like usability while being flexible enough to switch to tent mode.
Finally, you can also lay it flat on the ground in a collaborative setting so others can participate in whatever’s happening on the Chromebook swimmingly. There wasn’t a single moment in our review process where we found the touch-enabled display of the device acting janky or sluggish—this is an excellent screen on an otherwise cheap Chromebook.
Another glowing part about the Flex 3i’s screen (no pun intended) is the maximum brightness capacity, which tops things off at 300 nits. In doing so, you have a reasonably bright display panel that can handle outdoor settings like a roaring champ.
300 nits isn’t the brightest there, of course, but we’ve seen Chromebooks priced a lot higher than the Flex 3i and coming with a lower brightness cap, so there’s that. A Chromebook this affordable, and enjoying a screen quality like that is rarely ever heard of.
Next up, we’ve got the keyboard to shed some light on. It’s not the best keyboard on a Chromebook, but it’s not overly horrible, either. It’s perfectly serviceable, but as long as long typing sessions go where you have to constantly type away on the screen, picture those out of the equation without a sense of discomfort settling in.
It’s practically unavoidable for a budget-friendly Chromebook to have some cut corners; the keyboard is where this shows the most. The whole component feels cheap, and the key travel isn’t appreciable enough. If you’re a typist and love all the Flex 3i offers, you may want to look into a wireless keyboard for the Chromebook.
And unluckily, we have the same things more or less to report about the Chromebook’s trackpad. It’s neither the smoothest nor the feedback superfluid, but just like the keyboard, it will get the job done and get you through your workday just fine. If you buy the Chromebook and find it unworkable, which is not likely, you always have the option of a wireless mouse.
We have to be honest with you here—the number of ports on a device as relatively smaller as the Flex 3i Chromebook is astonishing. Lenovo seems to have come a long way from the Duet’s—one of the company’s best-selling Chromebooks—with a single USB-C port.
The device sports a duo of USB-A 3.2 ports, a single USB-C 3.2 port, 1x HDMI port, a 3.5mm headphone jack, a microSD card reader to expand your storage options, and even a full-size HDMI port to make external monitor connections easier and smoothen your video conferences on the Chromebook.
This, of course, amounts to terrific connectivity, where you have multiple different options to plug in your peripherals with. You don’t even need a USB-C hub with this device, given how the I/O is already pretty substantial.
We’re approaching a section of this Chromebook that does not align with the rest of the device’s quality. Its 720p resolution webcam is just slightly passable. In other words, it’s utterly poor quality and gets users in for a grainy experience.
We don’t find a good reason to rely on the device’s webcam unless you have to, and the situation is unavoidable. It is best to look into an external camera for the Chromebook otherwise.
This is yet another department where the Lenovo Flex 3i Chromebook impresses us. At times, this doesn’t feel like a sub $350 Chromebook, factoring in the number of pros it boasts. The upward-firing speakers of the machine are genuinely more than just doable.
They are loud enough — not the loudest — and sound great for both voice and music. As far as watching Netflix shows, Amazon Prime Video movies, and anime on Crunchyroll are concerned, you might not want to look into purchasing a Bluetooth speaker for the matter at hand. Again, this isn’t what we expect from a budget-range Chromebook.
Until now, the Lenovo Flex 3i Chromebook has measured up impressively, but we’ve yet to show how the device performs. This is, of course, one of the most, if not the most altogether, metrics that influence a potential buyer’s purchasing decision. Fortunately, the Flex 3i delivers where it matters and does so elegantly.
From the way we see it, this new set of Intel’s Alder Lake-N processors is a match made in heaven for Chromebooks. The device employs an Intel N100 CPU, 4 GB RAM, and 64 GB of flash storage. The processor handles it well, but there can be instances where the internal memory of the Chromebook starts to show its limitations.
That’s only when you overwork the Chromebook, i.e., put it to its paces by opening dozens of different Chrome tabs, many of which are resource-intensive, while simultaneously working with heavy-duty Android apps and Linux software. If you tend to focus on 3 or 4 things at once, which is the usual, expect the device to operate blazing-fast.
To talk about the working mechanism of the touchscreen, which also falls in the performance department, the Flex 3i Chromebook’s response times are excellent. The touch-enabled display is one of the most fluid ones we’ve used so far, considering the added expanse of high-end Chromebooks.
As for the connectivity part, the Flex 3i Chromebook is also pretty future-proof. It sports Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2 to deliver the best industry standards. Again, there’s much to love here and much less to be picky about.
The Lenovo Flex 3i Chromebook has two configurations in total. The one that’s made the focus of this review article is the entry-level model, coming with 4 GB RAM, 64 GB storage, and an Intel N100 processor. Another device model you can buy is relatively beefier, offering more storage, internal memory, and an upgraded CPU for even faster performance.
The latter boasts an Intel N200 processor, 128 GB storage, and 8 GB RAM. It’s not as widely available as its other counterpart, but Lenovo may increase production of this specific variant for its sizable customer base. On the other hand, the aforementioned entry-level model is available right now at Best Buy.
3. Battery life
Thanks to the same Alder Lake-N processor of the Chromebook, the Flex 3i takes pride in its excellent battery runtime. It uses a 3-cell Lithium-polymer battery that charges up pretty fast and can offer up to 12 hours of usage on a single full charge. Of course, if you keep the brightness level moderate, avoid cranking it up to 100%.
At this point, the Flex 3i is no less than a pocket rocket. Its performance, coupled with the time it can hold out before requiring a full charge, is just second to none, given the money it comes for.
4. Final thoughts
To judge the Lenovo Flex 3i fairly, it’s essential to factor in the money it comes for. At $349, the unit is nowhere near perfect. Still, the sheer amount of things it gets right and the fact that it delivers a solid ChromeOS experience at the end of the day makes the device one of our favorite Chromebooks bar none.
It’s a 2-in-1 convertible Chromebook that pushes out reliable performance levels, looks and feels great, and has an A-plus battery runtime that lets you conquer your workday and leave some room for entertainment afterward. The major downsides to the device are its humdrum keyboard and trackpad, followed by a below-average webcam.
But the point we’re trying to make is that the pros of the Flex 3i Chromebook easily outweigh the cons, and there’s no denying it. Picture a scenario where this device goes on sale and allows you to get it for around or less than $300. That would be a fantastic steal and something to look forward to. Keep a good eye out this Black Friday.