Lenovo Yoga 9i review: The sleek leather cover sets this 2-in-1 laptop apart

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TOP-PICK-2021-TOP-OF-ARTICLE

The past few years have seen PC design improve across the board. It seems manufacturers are taking design, build quality, and functionality more seriously. I tend to credit some of that to Lenovo as the company has been really producing some quality devices year after year. That attitude towards design and quality is certainly evident in the Lenovo Yoga 9i.

Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

The Yoga series is the company’s 2-in-1 line of devices, and Lenovo has been doing this form factor for a long time now. The defining features of this particular Lenovo Yoga 9i are the leather cover and the optional Shadow Black color. These design elements take an already amazing laptop and give it a look and attitude all its own. Read on for the full review of the Lenovo Yoga 9i.

Specifications

The Lenovo Yoga 9i sent to us has the following features and specifications:

  • Processor: 11th Generation Intel® Core™ i7-1185G7 Processor (3.0 GHz, up to 4.80 GHz with Turbo Boost, 4 Cores, 8 Threads, 12 MB Cache)
  • Operating System: Windows 10 Home or Pro
  • Display: 14.0″ UHD (3840 x 2160) IPS, touchscreen with Dolby Vision™, HDR 400, 500 nits
  • RAM: 16 GB LPDDR4X 4266MHz (Soldered)
  • Battery:
    • 4 Cell Li-Polymer 60Wh
    • Up to 10-hours for UHD model
  • Storage: Up to 1TB PCIe SSD
  • Graphics: Integrated Intel® Iris® Xe graphics
  • Certs: Evo Certified
  • Audio: Dolby Atmos and Array Mics
  • Camera: 720p HD
  • Connectivity:
    • WiFi 6 802.11AX
    • Bluetooth 5.1
  • Ports/Slots:
    • USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 (Always On)
    • 2 x USB-C 4.0 / Thunderbolt 4 (DisplayPort™ & Power Delivery)
    • Headphone / mic combo
  • Lenovo Active Pen
  • Ultrasonic Fingerprint Reader
  • Backlit Keyboard
  • Dimensions: 319.5mm x 216.7mm x 15.3 – 16.5mm / 12.57″ x 8.53″ x 0.60 – 0.64″
  • Colors:
    • Shadow Black (leather cover optional)
    • Mica

What’s In The Box

  • Lenovo Yoga 9i
  • AC adapter
  • Power Cable
  • Quick start guide
  • Pen
Lenovo Yoga 9i Leather Cover Techaeris
Love the leather top cover

Design

As I mentioned in the introduction, Lenovo has been killing it in terms of design for several years now. I think they’re one of the leaders in building a better-looking and better functioning PC. The Lenovo Yoga 9i takes it up another level with its beautiful leather top cover.

The leather cover is optional; you can get the 9i in Mica and Shadow Black without the leather. But seriously, this cover looks amazing, and I think is far better than the attempt Lenovo made on the X1 Fold. While the one on the X1 Fold is nice, this leather looks and feels far nicer.

A leather top isn’t without its disadvantages, though. The leather can get scratched and marred fairly easily, and that may be a problem for some. Lenovo provides a care guide for the cover so that you can get the most life out of it. Still, some users may like the look of it but opt not to get it simply because it’s not as durable as aluminum. We dig the leather cover and would recommend it.

Our Lenovo Yoga 9i came in Shadow Black, and holy cow, what a great color choice. The Shadow Black combined with the black leather really gives the whole laptop a sleek and sophisticated look. It’s really a very nice pairing and gives the laptop a unique look over its Mica-colored sibling. One slight downside, the Shadow Black does grab fingerprints a bit easier.

There’s not much to talk about on the bottom of the Lenovo Yoga 9i, just a large vent that keeps the innards cool and two long rubber feet for stability. Of course, the top has that leather cover with the Yoga branding embossed in it.

Around the back is that Yoga hinge, which also houses the Dolby Atmos speakers. There is a light grey Lenovo branding on the hinge. The front lip is accented in grey and subtly branded with the “Yoga 9 Series” logo.

The right side of the Lenovo Yoga 9i is pretty bare, with only the power button living on this side. The left side houses one USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 (Always-On) port, two USB-C 4.0 / Thunderbolt 4 (DisplayPort™ & Power Delivery) ports, and the headphone/mic port.

Opening the Lenovo Yoga 9i up reveals the beautiful 4K display with slim bezels all the way around. The 720p HD webcam is up top and has a privacy shade; I love that. That Yoga hinge is down below the display, again with the grey Lenovo logo and housing the Dolby Atmos speakers.

The keyboard is the same Lenovo keyboard they’ve been using for years now; it’s great. I prefer the ThinkPad keyboards as I think they travel better and offer a better tactile response, but these are great as well. The trackpad is fantastic, and there is no drag at all.

The fingerprint sensor is to the right and is flush with the rest of the palm rest. Actually, I’m not too fond of this. I found it difficult to feel it without looking down at it. There is a sticker under it that has some texture to it, but most people will remove this. The fingerprint sensor was also finicky and did not read my print 40% of the time. I ended up having to log in using my pin.

Overall, this design is what I’ve come to expect from Lenovo. It’s well done and well-executed. This is certainly a machine you’ll be proud of showing off.

Lenovo Yoga 9i Tablet Mode Techaeris
Tablet mode

Display

Our Lenovo Yoga 9i came with the optional 4K 500 nit display, and it is brilliant and stunning. It’s totally noticeable how nice this display is once you have gone through the initial Windows setup process.

The color reproduction is bright and saturated, with vibrant colors coming very close to the look of an OLED display. This particular display comes in at 500 nits which is excellent in outdoor conditions and bright conditions. I had no issues using this outdoors or in bright sunlit conditions.

The panel on our Lenovo Yoga 9i also comes with touch; you can opt for non-touch panels too. Touch responsiveness is great, and all of the Windows 10 gestures and touch controls work fine here, and those who will use this in tablet mode should be pleased.

Lenovo’s 4K displays are really awesome, and they look amazing; there’s no doubt about it. But really, for the average user, 4K is probably more than most need. If you’re looking to save some money or put it into a different part of the laptop, I’d go with the 1080p display instead.

While it’s only a US$100 savings, you could put that money into an upgraded SSD or RAM. You’ll also save battery life going with the 1080p display. And honestly, the 1080p displays look good too, and they’re rated at 400 nits, so it will still perform well in bright conditions.

Overall, I have no issues with the 4K display on the Lenovo Yoga 9i. It is bright, colorful, and touch responsiveness is spot on. It’s an excellent display and if you have the extra money to spend on it, why not. If you don’t, the 1080p display will serve you well too.

Lenovo Yoga 9i display Techaeris
4K display with touch and Windows installed.

Software/Ecosystem

There’s really not much to say about Windows 10. Since its release, there haven’t been any major changes, at least nothing that’s impacted its look and feel. It still works as well as Windows has ever worked, and it’s just fine on here.

Lenovo has gotten better with its addition of bloatware. They used to include a lot of bloatware and we’ve called them out many times over because of it. While they have improved, they are still hanging on to the worst offender of bloatware, McAfee.

McAfee is total garbage and the user experience would be improved if Lenovo left this off their devices. What’s worse are the ad/notifications from McAfee that bug you consistently. You can, of course, go and uninstall McAfee but we really think it shouldn’t even be installed in the first place.

Overall, Windows 10 great…McAfee, steaming pile of bloatware.

Performance

Our Lenovo Yoga 9i came with the Intel Core i7-1185G with 16GB of RAM; this is the higher configuration available. You can outfit these with the Core i5’s and less RAM, but if you want the Shadow Black, you’ll have to get the i7.

Our Lenovo Yoga 9i had no issues getting through everyday tasks, including email, office apps, streaming movies, YouTube, web browsing, and basic photo editing. I didn’t install Affinity Photo or DaVinci Resolve on this machine, but I don’t think it’s intended for creators.

Overall, the performance was excellent and this configuration is more than enough power for the average user.

Speakers/Sound

The Lenovo Yoga 9i features Dolby Atmos tuned speakers that live inside the device’s hinge and actually face you while you use it. This isn’t the first laptop Lenovo has done this with, but we love it.

The sound here is loud, clear, crisp, and really great for a laptop that is. Even watching movies and listening to music is enjoyable. Generally, listening to entertainment media isn’t great on laptops, but this is an exception.

Now, by no means will these speakers replace a great pair of headphones or even great external speakers, but these are above-average laptop speakers and deserve praise. Overall, I don’t see anyone being disappointed in these speakers.

Camera

So, now that we’re on a high over the speakers let’s take you on the low over the camera. I generally don’t say much about the webcam on laptops in my reviews and have come to expect the typical 720p webcam. But considering so many are working from home and using teleconferencing. I’d say it’s more important than ever.

Lenovo opted for the typical 720p camera here, and I’ve harped on every PC maker out there about this. 720p was no good before we all were forced to teleconference, and it’s even worse now that we all have to teleconference.

Listen, it’s not horrible, it’s better than 480p, but really, we should have 1080p cameras on all laptops at this point. This isn’t just a Lenovo thing, it’s industry-wide, and we hope it gets fixed.

Lenovo Yoga 9i webcam Techaeris
The 720p webcam

Battery Life

Our Lenovo Yoga 9i battery life is rated for 10-hours under normal use. If you get the 1080p panel, you’ll gain 5-hours. That’s a huge gain, and I think worth getting the 1080p panel if you’re concern is battery life.

Battery life is highly dependent on how you use your laptop. What apps you’re running. How bright your screen is. How strong your WiFi or Bluetooth signals are. It’s all very user-centric, and your mileage will vary.

We used the 9i very conservatively and for basic usage. I did pretty much everything I normally do except for video and photo editing. I was able to run the 9i for just under 9-hours before it needed charging. That was with brightness down around 80%.

I think the estimated battery life numbers are accurate. But again, if battery life is your main concern, get the 1080p panel.

Price/Value

The Lenovo Yoga 9i starts at US$999.99 and goes up from there depending on how you configure it. This is a competitive price point, and this device really delivers in performance, design, and features.

Wrap Up

In my view, Lenovo has been consistent with its devices over the past few years. Every year they either remain as solid as the previous year, or they make improvements. The Lenovo Yoga 9i in Shadow Black with the leather cover is really an amazing little laptop and well worth the money.

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Last Updated on May 4, 2021.

Lenovo Yoga 9i

Starting at US$999

Design

10.0/10

Display

10.0/10

Software/Ecosystem

8.5/10

Performance

9.5/10

Speakers/Sound

9.5/10

Camera

8.0/10

Battery Life

9.5/10

Price/Value

9.5/10

Nailed it

  • Awesome design and unique leather cover
  • Amazing build-quality
  • Stunning display
  • Wonderful keyboard and trackpad
  • Powerful speakers with excellent sound
  • Good battery life, better if you skip the 4K display
  • Good price
  • Privacy shade on webcam

Needs work

  • Annoying McAfee ads
  • Antiquated 720p webcam
  • Finicky fingerprint sensor
Lenovo Yoga 9i feature image techaeris
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