I have found a lot to love in the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 9i, and I really enjoy using it. The battery life is excellent for what I do with it, the 14″ UHD display is gorgeous, and this laptop is powerful enough to do everything I need it to without lagging. Best of all, the Slim 9i is very portable and light, so I don’t think anything of putting it in my backpack and carrying it when I know I’ll need it. If you love the looks of the Lenovo Yoga 9i 2-in-1, but you don’t need the tablet features and you are interested in something just a bit more portable, you will not be disappointed with the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 9i.
- Beautiful all-black aluminum exterior
- Leather-wrapped lid is gorgeous
- Keyboard is excellent
- The haptic touchpad works well
- I like the textured dot coating on the glass palm rest that is unique to the Slim 9i, as it helps you differentiate the touchpad and fingerprint sensor from the rest of the glass surface
- The Dolby Vision display is gorgeous
- Audio is very good
- Video calls sound very clear, even if the camera isn’t great
- Excellent battery life, even if you like to keep your display brighter than average
- Slim, light, and very portable
The webcam is “meh” at best
No USB Type-A ports, so you’ll have to use a USB Type-C dongle hub if you need them
I thought I had found a near-perfect laptop in the Lenovo Yoga 9i, but that was before I met its even more compact sibling, the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 9i. Although choosing the IdeaPad Slim 9i over the Yoga 9i requires you to do without the 360º rotating screen with the Dolby soundbar hinge that makes the Yoga 9i a true 2-in-1, there’s an excellent trade-off. In return, you get an even slimmer, lighter, and less expensive laptop that is also gorgeous to look at, a pleasure to use, and that’s powerful enough to do just about everything.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 9i shares much of what made the Lenovo Yoga 9i stand out from many others. Like the Yoga 9i, the Slim 9i comes in gorgeous Shadow Black aluminum with a bonded black leather lid; it has a 14″ display, an edge-to-edge glass palm rest, and it has the same haptic, all-glass Smart Sensor Touchpad surface and fingerprint reader.
I should start by mentioning that the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 9i can be ordered in several different configurations directly from Lenovo. The configuration that I have in hand is sold ready-to-go on the Newegg site, so that’s the version’s specifications that I will be focusing on in this review.
Just for fun, here are some photos of the Lenovo Yoga 9i and the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 9i together so you can get a sense of some of their size differences.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 9i that I received has an 11th generation Intel Core i7 1165G7 (2.80 GHz) CPU, Intel Iris Xe Graphics, and a 14.0” UHD (3840×2160) touchscreen with Dolby Vision HDR 400, just as the Yoga 9i had. It has 16GB RAM, 512GB PCIe SSD user memory, and it runs Windows 10 Pro 64-bit. This laptop has a total of three USB Type-C Thunderbolt 4 ports which can each serve as display ports (up to 5120×[email protected]) with power delivery. It also has Bluetooth 5.1 and Intel WiFi 6.
The Slim 9i also has a 720p HD + IR camera with Time of Flight (TOF) and Ambient Light Sensors (ALS). I love that the camera has IR and that it works with Windows Hello facial recognition; this is such a convenient feature that I find myself using way more than the fingerprint reader!
If you like working in coffee shops, there is even an alarm that you can set if you need to turn your back on or step away from your computer for a moment. You can do this by going into the Lenovo Vantage app under Smart Assist/Intelligent Sensing. There you can enable the Smart Motion Alarm, which will make your device start playing an obnoxious alarm when the screen is locked (by pressing the Windows logo key and the L key) and the laptop is moved.
So let’s take a look!
In the box, you’ll find the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 9i, a two-part 65W wall charger brick with an attached USB-Type-C cable, a guide for how to properly care for the leather cover (don’t spill anything corrosive on it or use it in the rain), and information on the laptop’s included free year of Lenovo Premium Care. As I mentioned in my Yoga 9i review, I have a much smaller HyperJuice 100W GnN wall charger with two USB Type-A and two USB Type-C ports that I prefer to carry versus the charging brick when I travel; it’s a lot more convenient.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 9i measures approximately 12.5″ long by 8″ wide by 0.55″ thick, and it weighs 2 pounds 12.7 ounces; contrast this to the Yoga 9i’s size of 12.5″ long by 8.5″ wide by 0.6′ thick and weight of 3 pounds 2.7 ounces, and you can see there is a bit of size and weight savings. Just as the Yoga 9i did, the Slim 9i has a black aluminum frame that houses a gorgeously bright 14″ touchscreen with slim bezels on three sides— ~4mm on the sides, ~5mm on the top, and ~11mm on the bottom.
The laptop’s black leather cover is one of the things that sets it apart from all the other black laptops out there, other than the Lenovo Yoga 9i, of course. This cover is also composed of responsibly sourced leather applied with a 20-step bonding process; the Lenovo logo has been heat-stamped and then glossed, and it shows subtly in the upper left when the laptop is open.
Just as we saw with the Yoga 9i, the Slim 9i’s leather cover is soft, sumptuous, and has slight natural hide imperfections showing. The more you use it, the more character it will take on, but an occasional wipe with a quality leather conditioner will help keep it clean and conditioned.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 9i’s front cover has a slight overhang, so it lifts quickly with one finger. “9 SERIES” is subtly embossed in the center of the aluminum lid, facing you as you lift it.
There are two USB Type-C Thunderbolt 4 ports and a 3.5mm headphone/microphone jack on the left side.
On the right side, there is a power button with an LED that will blink white when the laptop is charging, and then it will go out when the battery is fully charged; it will glow white when the laptop is in use. Next to it is a conveniently placed USB Type C Thunderbolt 4 port, which I find myself using more often than not for charging versus using one of the ones on the left side.
You might remember that the Yoga 9i did not have this option, although it included one USB Type-A port and two USB Type-C Thunderbolt 4 ports.
The last item is a slider switch that cuts off power to the laptop’s 720p webcam shutter to ensure privacy when you want it.
As you’ve likely caught by now, there are no USB Type-A ports on the Slim 9i; if you need one for any of your peripherals, you’ll need a USB Type-C dongle hub. Luckily, they are easy to find in a ton of configurations and generally inexpensive on Amazon.
The back of the laptop is primarily the 180º hinge, but I want to point out how slick the rounded edge of the laptop’s bottom looks with the slightly recessed straight edge of the lid. These little things that show the Lenovo designers’ thoughtfulness delight me; what can I say? 😉
On the bottom, there are two short oblong rubber feet and a long, thin rubber strip running near the hinge to keep your laptop from sliding on smooth surfaces, and there are perforations in the aluminum case that cover the fan — which I don’t think I have ever heard turn on! So either the laptop hasn’t run hot in the couple of months that I have been using it, or it’s just that quiet! Ha!
Opening the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 9i’s lid, the first thing you’ll notice is the laptop’s glass palm rest, which has a “blink and you’ll miss it, but you’ll feel it” textured dot coating on it. In the center, there is a smooth 4.1″ wide by 2.5″ long haptic, all-glass Smart Sensor Touchpad surface.
Unlike the Yoga 9i, which doesn’t have the textured dot surface around the touchpad, the change in textures makes it a lot easier to differentiate with your fingertips between where the palm rest stops and where the touchpad starts on the Slim 9i without having to glance down.
The Smart Sensor Touchpad produces haptic feedback when pressed, so when you “click” on it, it does feel like an actual click — even though nothing is actually moving. As I mentioned in the Yoga 9i’s review, the Smart Sensor Touchpad works similarly to the touchpads you’ve used before; scrolling, three-finger gestures, swiping, and all the other touchpad tricks you’re used to using are present, and they work well.
The one exception is when you try to do a handoff-from one finger that’s dragging an object to another finger — you’ll drop the object every time. This also means that if you have a massive chunk of text to copy and paste, you will have to break it up into several portions. It’s annoying, but it’s not a deal-breaker.
Like the Yoga 9i, the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim keyboard also has TrueStrike keys; this keyboard’s keys feature a slightly concave design that is an absolute joy to type on. They are just the right height to feel satisfying when pressed, and there are none of the clickety-clackety sounds some keyboards produce when you are really hammering on them; it’s a much more muted sound that people around you will appreciate.
To manually adjust the backlighting on the keyboard, you hold the function key and strike the space bar; the options are Off, Low, and High. But the keyboard also has intelligent backlighting, so the keyboard backlight will adjust on its own depending on the ambient light in your room to save battery power and reduce eyestrain.
It’s also easier to find the all-glass Ultrasonic Fingerprint Reader on the Lenovo IdeaPad 9i than it was on the Yoga 9i, thanks to the glass palm rest’s textured dot coating, which abruptly stops right at the fingerprint reader. The Slim 9i’s fingerprint reader is liquid-resistant, and it works well with damp, freshly sanitized fingertips, as well as “slightly greasy because I was just snacking on Zapp’s Voodoo Kettle Potato Chip” fingertips. I’m guilty of testing that one out to see if it worked, not gonna lie.
Unlike the Yoga 9i, the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 9i has Windows Hello facial recognition, which for me, is a killer feature. It’s a convenient way to sign in to your computer without having to enter a password, PIN code, or fingerprint. After you’ve set it up, you open your laptop and look at the two red blinking LEDs on either side of the camera; it recognizes your face, and you’re in. It works like a charm!
The Slim 9i uses Glance by Mirametrix. ThroughGlance’s settings, you can set your screen to blur for privacy if you aren’t looking at it for a certain amount of time; I have mine set for 3 seconds. When you look at your computer again, the screen will immediately unblur. You can also set it to notify you when someone is looking over your shoulder and might be reading your screen.
Glance will warn you if you are sitting too close, hunched up to your laptop’s display, and it will automatically mute your microphone when you back away from your computer during video conferencing if you want it to; it can even let you know if you are talking with your mic muted.
I have the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 9i with the optional UHD display, which has 3840 x 2160 pixels with HDR 400 at up t0 500 nits; this 16:9 aspect ratio display is beautiful and bright, and it is easily viewable both inside and outdoors.
My only real complaint with the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 9i is that the webcam is only 720p, and yet it somehow seems a bit worse than the 720p camera on the Yoga 9i! Now that I have to do video conference calls every other day, it’s just as important to me that I don’t look fuzzy or washed out during calls as it is that I can hear and be heard properly. Well, the good news is that calls are clear and certainly loud enough, but the camera is solidly in the meh-zone.
As far as power and pep, the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 9i does a fantastic job with everything that I have thrown at it so far. You all know that I am not much of a gamer, but I do keep about 45-50 Chrome tabs open at all times whether I am actively working or not, and that’s enough to strain some laptops; it certainly hasn’t been an issue here. The Slim 9i’s 11th generation Intel Core i7 1165G7 (2.80 GHz) CPU in tandem with its 16GB RAM is blazing fast and snappy. It’s fabulous for all the things that I need to do!
Lenovo shows the following battery benchmarks for the UHD display that I have:
- MobileMark 2014: 12 hr (UHD)
- Local Video (1080p) [email protected]: 15 hr (UHD)
The real world never hits those benchmarks, but even so, battery life has been better than expected. I can get about seven to eight hours of work done on the Lenovo IdeaPad 9i before the low-battery warning hits, and that’s better than I’m used to seeing. I do tend to keep the display at 75-80% brightness, and I also like to play music while I work, so depending on how you are using it, the battery life could be even better.
I have found a lot to love in the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 9i, and I really enjoy using it. The battery life is excellent for what I do with it, the 14″ UHD display is gorgeous, and this laptop is powerful enough to do everything I need it to without lagging. Best of all, the Slim 9i is very portable and light, so I don’t think anything of putting it in my backpack and carrying it when I know I’ll need it.
If you love the looks of the Lenovo Yoga 9i 2-in-1, but you don’t need the tablet features and you are interested in something just a bit more portable, you will not be disappointed with the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 9i.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 9i starts at $1,250; it is available in customizable configurations directly from the manufacturer (note the upgrade to a 1TB SSD for just $75!), or you can the same one I reviewed for $1,299.99 from Newegg.
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample
What I Like: Beautiful all-black aluminum exterior; Leather-wrapped lid is gorgeous; Keyboard is excellent; The haptic touchpad works well; I like the textured dot coating on the glass palm rest that is unique to the Slim 9i, as it helps you differentiate the touchpad and fingerprint sensor from the rest of the glass surface; The Dolby Vision display is gorgeous; Audio is very good; Video calls sound very clear, even if the camera isn’t great; Excellent battery life, even if you like to keep your display brighter than average; Slim, light, and very portable
What Needs Improvement: The webcam is “meh” at best; No USB Type-A ports, so you’ll have to use a USB Type-C dongle hub if you need them