Lenovo Yoga 9i review: A stylish laptop that gets the important stuff right

Quick verdict: Lenovo's Yoga 9i comes wrapped in luxury leather, delivering quality performance for its price while looking that extra bit stylish. Its speakers are impressive, and stylus users will appreciate that the bundled sketching device doesn't have to sit on the side, because it can smartly hide within the body of the laptop itself.

Pros

  • Leather gives luxury feel
  • Rotating Atmos-capable speakers
  • Good battery life
  • Choice of Core i5 or Core i7 processors
  • Stylus is included and lives within the laptop body
Cons

  • Fingerprint sensor isn't accurate enough
  • Limited ports
  • Leather also used to be a cow
  • Aluminium finish collects lots of fingerprints

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In the high mobility ultrabook space, it's genuinely hard to stand out. Every manufacturer has their take on a thin and light laptop, and with few exceptions they all get access to the same small crop of processors and graphics cards, the same display panels and so on. So how do you differentiate? If you're Lenovo, you do it with small touches that make a big impact.

The Lenovo Yoga 9i isn't the absolute fastest laptop out there if you're just after raw speed. But, the entire package is put together so well that it surpasses many in its class if you need ultra-portability, flexibility and just a little dash of style.


Lenovo Yoga 9i review: Design

Lenovo Yoga 9i review

Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

Easily the most contentious part of the Lenovo Yoga 9i's construction will be the fact that the lid is constructed from hand-stitched leather. This isn't your "vegan leather", a shiny and suspicious smelling plastic, but instead something that very much used to be the outside wrapping of a cow.

For some folks, leather means luxury, and that's very much the way Lenovo would like to pitch the Yoga 9i. It does give it a nice grippy feel at the top, with subtle Yoga embossed branding in the corner. Of course, for others, the use of actual leather could be quite problematic. However, you're not stuck with leather as Lenovo does produce a fully aluminium-clad variant, although not all retailers might carry both versions.

That difference in construction does lead to some small variances. If you want the thinnest Lenovo Yoga 9i, you'll want to opt for the aluminium version, which measures in at 319.4 x 216.4 x 14.6-15.7mm compared to the leather-clad variant's 319.5 x 216.7 x 15.3-16.5mm.

Aluminium is understandably slightly lighter at 1.37kg compared to the 1.44kg of the leather version. That's above the sub-1kg category of ultrabook models like the 14-inch LG Gram or HP Elite Dragonfly, but still well and truly light enough for everyday mobile use.

Lenovo Yoga 9i review

Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

Open the Lenovo Yoga 9i up, and you're faced with a 14-inch display with either an FHD (1920x1080) 400 nit glossy panel, or a higher-end (and more expensive) 14-inch UHD (3840x2160) 500 nit glossy panel with 90% DCI-P3 coverage. Surprisingly, Lenovo sent me the lesser model to review.

It's a pretty common trick for laptop makers to send the "best" unit out for review, as that'll look better in the longer term. Still, outside potential glare issues for any glossy panel, there's little to fault the regular model's display for.

Like Yoga models of old, the display sits on a fully rotating hinge, so you can flip it around and use it as a 14 inch tablet if that suits your needs. A nice small touch here lies in the hinge itself, which houses stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos support. Many ultrabooks struggle with good audio, because there's not much space for audio separation or even decent reverb.

Lenovo Yoga 9i review

Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

The speakers on the Lenovo Yoga 9i are an absolute joy to use for less "business" uses such as watching Netflix or game playing. I guess if your work involved either of those pursuits, that would be perfectly justifiable. As it is, you could convince your boss to buy you a Lenovo Yoga 9i on the basis that its audio would make it a very good teleconferencing machine. That certainly sounds plausible, although the Lenovo Yoga 9i's 720p camera isn't particularly special in this class. 1080p would have been a more welcome inclusion.

Lenovo Yoga 9i review

Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

Like many thin and light laptops, there are some compromises when it comes to connectivity ports. You get just four of them in total, with a combo headphone and microphone jack, single USB-A type 3.2 Gen 2 port and dual USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 and Thunderbolt 4 ports on the left hand side. If you're going to be using the Lenovo Yoga 9i at a desk plugged in much of the time, 1 of those USB-C ports handles charging, so in many situations you're going to be left with just the 1 usable USB-C port.

On the biometric front, the Lenovo Yoga 9i incorporates a fingerprint reader that sits to the right hand side of the trackpad. Impressively, outside a few stickers the entire front surface of the Lenovo Yoga 9i is entirely flat, including the trackpad and fingerprint reader.

It's a beautiful design touch, but it does make it harder than you'd think to get a proper "strike" on the fingerprint reader. I had more biometric fails than I'd like from a modern laptop when unlocking the Lenovo Yoga 9i, and often reverted to my PIN to get into it to start working. The other issue with that totally flat design is that it just loves to collect fingerprints, leaving it less sexy and more grimy the more you work on it.


Lenovo Yoga 9i review: Performance

Lenovo Yoga 9i review

Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

The Lenovo Yoga 9i ships with either an 11th Generation Intel Core i5-1135G7 4.2Ghz processor or 11th Gen Intel Core i7-1185G7 4.8Ghz processor, with either 8GB or 16GB of RAM. Like most ultrabooks, that RAM is soldered in place, so it's important to pick properly when you buy, because upgrading is essentially impossible. The model supplied for review was the Core i7 variant with 16GB of RAM.

On the storage side, the standard model ships with a 256GB M.2 2280 PCIe NVMe SSD, with options to upgrade to either 512GB or 1TB of storage space. As always, you'll get less available space than those figures, as the operating system and preinstalled apps all take up some of that storage.

On the graphics front, it's reliant on Intel's Iris XE integrated GPU. While Intel has come an immense way since the first ultrabooks struggled to do much more than run Windows, let alone more complex graphics applications, there's still a big gulf in terms of GPU performance between Intel and a fully featured discrete GPU solution. Don't expect full frame rate AAA gaming titles on the Lenovo Yoga 9i, in other words, but then that's no different to pretty much any other ultra light laptop these days.

You can very much see that in how the Lenovo Yoga 9i performs across standard benchmarks. It scores well within its class, but it's definitely a product of that class of laptop. Again, the commonality of parts means that you typically don't – and shouldn't – see much of a gap here.

The Lenovo Yoga 9i ships with either Windows 11 Home or Windows 11 Pro as an upgrade option, along with a predictable slew of preinstalled apps that you may or may not find useful. These include McAfee LiveSafe, Disney Plus and Spotify. Being Windows, you can always uninstall them to save a little storage space.

The Lenovo Yoga 9i has a touch capable screen – it would be a lousy tablet without it – and you could easily miss that it comes with an integrated stylus, the "Lenovo Integrated Pen". Like prior Yoga models we've tested, this hides in the back right hand corner of the laptop body. It can be a bit tricky to remove, but it's a nice design touch that it lives within the laptop, as you're much less likely to lose it or forget it if stylus-based input is important to you.

Lenovo Yoga 9i review

Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

Lenovo's claim is that the Lenovo Integrated Pen provides "a natural pen and paper-like" experience. I can only presume they mean "paper-like" in the sense of "paper, like if was actually plastic", because like every other stylus, it's not a particularly close match for actual paper. I can't claim to have any artistic drawing talent at all, but I did persevere with the Lenovo Yoga 9i's stylus to see how I went. My biggest complaint would be that it's rather small, not much bigger than a Samsung S-Pen stylus, and that could impact how you comfortably use it for any length of time.

If you don't care and you're only ever going to use your fingers with the touchscreen, you can just slot it away and forget it's even there. Lenovo does sell replacement integrated pens if you do manage to lose it.


Lenovo Yoga 9i review: Battery

Lenovo Yoga 9i review

Image: Alex Kidman/Finder

Lenovo rates the battery life of the Yoga 9i as running between 10 to 15 hours depending on whether you've opted for the FHD or UHD display, but as always, laptop battery life can vary by usage, and it deserves more examination than just taking Lenovo's word for it.

With that in mind, I ran the Yoga 9i through our standard suite of battery tests, including a Full HD video loop to battery exhaustion to give a light usage figure, and then PC Mark 10's gaming battery rundown for a more extreme scenario. Your likely battery life should fall somewhere between those 2 positions. Here's how the Lenovo Yoga 9i compared against similar laptops:

At what amounts to 14.8 hours, there's few issues with the Lenovo Yoga 9i's general battery performance for standard office tasks. However, it's not going to handle that kind of strain quite as elegantly if you do throw heavier processing tasks at it, with 1 of the lower scores in PC Mark 10's Gaming Battery benchmark in this selection of laptops. But, it's still within expectations as this really isn't a gaming laptop to speak of.

It's a nicely capable machine that can pretty easily handle a full day's work in more anecdotal terms. Recharging comes via USB-C with a supplied 65W charger in the box. It did struggle to charge from other USB-C chargers, so you're almost certainly not going to be able to slowly top it up from your mobile charger.


Should you buy it?

  • Buy it if you want a stylish ultrabook with good battery endurance.
  • Don't buy it if leather is a turn-off or you need higher level graphics performance.

There's very little that the Lenovo Yoga 9i does wrong within its class. It largely matches every other current ultrabook for performance, while upping the ante in terms of audio presentation, incorporating a stylus in the body of the laptop and doing it all within a unit that genuinely looks premium.

That leather finish could be problematic for some if the aluminium choice isn't available to you, and like any ultrabook, it's not exactly a pixel-pushing machine in GPU terms.


Lenovo Yoga 9i review: Pricing and availability


How we tested

The Lenovo Yoga 9i was tested over a 2 week period by the author, incorporating multiple benchmark runs, battery testing to full exhaustion and day to day usage over a range of common productivity tasks, as well as some light gaming and audio rendering tasks. The author has been reviewing and writing about laptops for more than 20 years now and has extensive experience in this area. The Lenovo Yoga 9i used for review was supplied by Lenovo.


Specifications

Lenovo Yoga 9i

General

Processor Family
Intel Core i7
Processor Model
Core i7-1195G7
Processor Clock speed
2.90 GHz, up to 5.00 GHz
Processor Cores
Quad Core
RAM options
Up to 16 GB

Display


Features

Bluetooth
v 5.1
Wi-Fi
802.11AX
Webcam
720p HD
Touchscreen
Yes

Alex Kidman

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