Editor’s Note: This is the same Flex 5 Chromebook model that LaptopMag reviewed back in June (opens in new tab)—just from a different perspective. We retested this configuration with all of their main benchmarks for good measure.
Lenovo has another winner on its hands with the IdeaPad Flex 5 Chromebook (opens in new tab). This lightweight machine packs a one-two punch of portable functionality thanks to an intuitive form factor and decent battery life; this 2-in-1 is ideal for socially-distanced students and business travelers alike.
Packing capable specs, a responsive touchscreen, and a full-size keyboard, the Chromebook flavor of Lenovo’s Flex 5 series is tempting enough to consider abandoning Windows 10 altogether—at least for a little while. If you already do most of your work in the cloud, it’s never been a better time to explore new productivity options with Chrome OS.
Take heed: Chromebooks won’t give you the same power as a fully loaded Windows gaming rig, but most of them aren’t meant to replace those higher specs. (Yet.)
Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 Chromebook: Features
- Core i3 processor is capable for most daily tasks
- Convertible 2-in-1 design transitions easily between tablet, tent, stand, or laptop mode
- Stylus support is useful for undergrads, business uses, and heavy multitaskers
- Webcam privacy shutter adds some peace of mind to any dorm room
For the price, this is one of the best Chromebooks around. Touch-typists will love the click-clackable keyboard, and multimedia multitaskers will love the rest. The 2-in-1 form factor is incredibly diverse for all kinds of education-based environments.
Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 Chromebook: Build and Connectivity
- Bouncy keyboard is fantastic for word processing
- Comes with all the basic ports, including two USB Type-C on either side
- No HDMI support means fewer connectivity options
The Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 Chromebook measures 12.2 x 8.3 x 0.7 inches and weighs 2.97 pounds; this is (just barely) lighter than its 2-in-1 Chromebook rivals: the HP Chromebook x360 12b (opens in new tab) (2.98 pounds), Asus Chromebook Flip C434 (opens in new tab)(3.1 pounds), and Acer Chromebook Spin 713 (opens in new tab) (3.0 pounds). The graphite gray color is low-key professional, and the trackpad doesn’t feel cramped.
Lenovo equips the IdeaPad Flex 5 Chromebook with the usual ports: USB Type-C (2), USB Type-A, headphone jack, microS card reader, and Kensington lock slot. If you’re looking to use your Chromebook for a dual-display setup, however, you’ll want to splurge for a machine with an HDMI port, such as the Acer Chromebook Spin 713.
The backlit, island-style keyboard is the best thing about the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 Chromebook, and it’s one of the most comfortable typing experiences you’ll find in a 2-in-1. The keyboard deck exhibited zero flex in our testing; it was an absolute pleasure for word processing in particular.
If you like this form factor but still aren’t ready to cut ties with Microsoft just yet, Lenovo offers a variety of 14- and 15-inch Windows-based options in the IdeaPad Flex Series (opens in new tab), with a similar starting price for baseline configurations. (Around $500, depending on the retailer.)
Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 Chromebook: Performance and Battery Life
- Subpar battery life doesn’t stack up to other Chromebooks
- Decent performance with midrange specs
We put the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 Chromebook through its paces for a full week, using it to surf the web, stream YouTube videos, and write this review. Even with 30+ Chrome tabs and two 1080p YouTube videos open, we had no problem opening other apps and tapping away on Google Drive—sans system lag or general slowdowns.
The Flex 5 Chromebook comes with an Intel Core i3-10110U CPU and 4GB of RAM: these specs are modest, yet capable for most lightweight chores such as schoolwork, internet research, e-book reading, and so on. (Acer also offers an even lighter-weight version of this Chromebook, which has an Intel Celeron processor and only 32GB of RAM; as of this writing, there was no word on pricing, but based on these specs, this is probably an ideal configuration for the price point.)
With a score of just 972 on the Geekbench 5 (opens in new tab) overall performance test, our test unit fell well below the category average (1,563); it couldn’t even comes close to the Asus Chromebook Flip C434 (6,968) or Acer Chromebook Spin 713 (3,253).
The average battery life for Chromebooks to be around the 10-hour mark, but the Flex 5 only lasted 8 hours and 55 minutes on the Laptop Mag battery test. Both the HP Chromebook x360 12b (8:06) and the Asus Chromebook Flip C434 (9:58) offer similar endurance; this is still plenty of juice for a full day’s work.
Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 Chromebook: Screen, Camera, and Sound
- Screen brightness is lackluster
- Webcam privacy shutter is a handy addition
When it comes to the Flex 5’s display, there’s nothing to write home about. (Unless you’re writing home anyway, that is.) YouTube videos came through vibrant enough on the 1080p touchscreen, but even with the brightness jacked all the way up, it simply doesn’t compare to the beautiful 2256 x 1504-pixel (QHD) display on the Acer Chromebook Spin 713, which utilizes an innovative 3:2 aspect ratio.
Speaking of writing, this Chromebook comes with stylus support, (opens in new tab) which is quite useful for one-the-fly productivity. While we did not get the chance to fully test this feature, your stylus can potentially be used to take notes and screenshots, or act as a laser pointer/magnifying glass.
At the top of the display bezel sits the 720p webcam, which itself is concealable via sliding privacy shutter. Not every laptop comes equipped with this feature, and it’s a welcome perk for students of all ages.
Audio quality from the Flex 5’s top-firing speakers is surprisingly robust, and loud enough to fill a small room. It is not powerful enough to throw a rave with, but it’s not meant for extended multimedia sessions anyway. If this is your only sticking point, though, just invest in a pair of quality headphones.
Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 Chromebook: Warranty and Customer Service
The Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 Chromebook comes with a one-year limited warranty, which is standard fare for this laptop category. Lenovo scores consistently well during Laptop Mag’s annual Tech Support Showdown, which should give you some extra piece of mind when you toss this thing into a backpack.
Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 Chromebook: Verdict
Now is the time for cheap, lightweight laptops in the education sector, and there’s a lot to like about the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 Chromebook. Featuring a top-notch keyboard/trackpad combo, a responsive touchscreen (with stylus support), and a fantastic 2-in-1 design, you can’t go wrong with this Chromebook.